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Garden design as important as house design; Gardens are a great place for relaxing, for entertaining and relieving stress, whether you're admiring them or working in them. A cared-for garden also adds to the appearance and potentially value of a property, says architect Neil Turner.

I WAS prompted to write this month's column while I was reading a wonderful book about meadows and the beautiful natural flowers that can grow in our gardens.

The book in question is Wild Flowers, by Dr George Proud a former medical consultant at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

In this country there has been a tradition of landscape architects from Capability Brown to Gertrude Jekyll through to modern landscape designers working up grand visions.

As an architect, I love well-designed formal gardens, that both enhance and add to the design of a lovely house. The lines and symmetry that can be applied to a garden can mirror that of a house design, subtly bringing the two together, not to mention adding kerb appeal.

At this time of year, both Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows inspire us with their carefully-designed masterpieces and the many examples of how to create a variety of large and small gardens.

Often on TV we now see programmes which show where architecture, interior design and garden design cross over.

So, should you plan a formal garden with neat colour co-ordinated borders and colour matched furniture, or go a bit wilder with something more natural? Walt Disney of Mickey Mouse fame once said: "I don't like formal gardens. I like wild nature. It's just the wilderness instinct in me, I guess."

So, a bit like Walt I've decided to go au naturel and give over half my garden to a meadow. My hope is that, within a couple of years I will have long meadow grass full of a variety of plants differing in colours and styles.

Simply by removing the formal grass and seeding with the correct mix of wildflowers we will have a colourful maintenance free garden, which only requires a strim at the end of the season.

Already this year the meadow grass is growing and my wife and I are trying to work out what is starting to appear. We also have two small deer appearing each morning who also seem to be enjoying the sweet grass.

While this might annoy some for us it is a beautiful sight to see.

If you are planning a new house or an extension or simply wanting to upgrade your garden now is the time to be thinking about it, even though the best weather is yet to arrive.

Because of their busy lives, clients often say they are too busy to tend to a garden, or don't want one that appears too fussy or complicated. In your home you have a space or spaces to relax in and can create joy, well your garden can do that too, extending your living space outdoors.

Too often on architecture projects the element that gets removed or value engineered is the landscape.

Yet it's the very thing we look to see when we gaze out of our new feature window or the recently completed kitchen extension.

Even if your garden is modest in size, start by thinking about where you see your garden from inside the house, what views you have and how it looks at different times of the day.

Just as with planning the house and the outlook from various rooms, there should always be something to see at the end of the view.

Think where the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening and this should assist you in planning your garden.

I hope that after reading this you will look at your garden and think, what can I do and, before long, you may be looking outside again and thinking what a beautiful view I have and fall in love with your house once more.

Neil Turner, is a partner at architecture practice Howarth Litchfield, tel: 0191 384 9470 or email


<BNeil Turner's magnificent meadow garden
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 28, 2016
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