A modern garden. Natural and with a story

Break down the wooden bed linings, forget geraniums and just breathe! A contemporary garden only requires you to work at the extent which is absolutely necessary. You will be rewarded with perfect relaxation … and also with a green backyard.

Maintenance-free, colourful, efficient and relaxed: the words most frequently used in association with modern gardens seem to have passed most Czech gardeners and home owners by. However, if you go about it thoughtfully, you can join almost all its owners’ conceivable needs in one garden. And it does not matter if it is as big as a field or even just the size of a patio or a balcony.

Almost no work, but only almost

Regardless of the opinions of traditional amateur gardeners, times are changing. The fast pace of present-day life has led many of those, who like to rest in at least a small piece of greenery, to the idea of the so-called maintenance-free garden. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we do not want to be slaves to the garden and to spend every evening watering or every weekend weeding our flower beds. The trend for natural gardens, which look beautiful “as if by way of an afterthought”, but for all that offer a relaxing refuge, has been the rage for several years. “However, it should be noted that a completely maintenance-free garden does not actually exist. Someone will also have to take care of it. It just depends on the amount of care which is required,” says Ferdinand Leffler, a garden designer and the founder of Studio Flera.

You can even easily revive a smaller urban terrace easily with a little bit of greenery.

Another “room” for furnishings

If a garden is to really serve as a relaxation space, it needs to be arranged properly like any other “room” in the house. “This is precisely the moment when the work of a landscape architect becomes so important,” remarks Ferdinand Leffler. “Although people often do not realize it, a good architect should encourage them to answer some basic questions about the scheme and the use of the garden. He is able to uncover and reconcile their needs, including needs such as a mini garden for the children, a ping pong table, a herb bed for mum and a closed sanctuary for everybody.” He recommends that you should spend some time in the garden prior to planning and planting. That you should take a look at the space, find out where you could feel good, where you would have to look at the neighbour’s compost pile, where the sun is a little too bright at noon. Even the fact that there is no money left for the reconstruction of the garden after building or refurbishing a house should not be a great problem. “Even in such a situation, it is better is to get a draft prepared and then to work step by step in the garden in the future. At least you will be sure that you are following the correct path to a specific target and you will avoid any unnecessary mistakes,” recommends the architect. His advice is still relevant, even if the prevailing trend currently calls for so-called natural gardens. Anyway, one thing is certain: the wannabe fashion style of spectacular gardens in DIY magazines with

brightly coloured, carefully shaped shrubs and trees, often fitted with plastic imitations of some richly decorated garden furniture is receding nowadays. “It is much better not to play at anything and keep the garden and the supplementary materials in it natural,” says Ferdinand Leffler. Buy some authentic wooden furniture or wooden roofing for the terrace and accept the raw beauty of the concrete, which the garden pool or pond is created from. Anyway, excessive colour and diversity does not add any charm to a garden. “Of course, there could be many replies to this question, but I am a supporter of some moderate variants. That is to say, where the natural tones of green plants and a few basic colours from selected flowers can excel much more than if every flower bed is full of various colours, so that the whole garden exhibits a kind of a unbalanced appearance,” says the architect. Wherever possible, it is much more natural to fill diffuse spaces with grasses and flowers that freely merge into the paths and lawns instead of beds. Maybe some people would like to have a path without any straw, although keeping it so would require much more sweat, but Ferdinand Leffler would not even recommend the currently popular mulch. “Anyone who has looked under the surface and seen all the mushrooms and fungi, would never want to have it. If the bed has been well planted, it will grow up in two to three years and no bark will be needed anymore.”

An original bench at the end. The garden can also be built step by step.

Maybe some trees and flowers from a trip

It is easy to achieve the necessary harmony of the space thanks to the careful planning of the garden. However, it is not enough that the individual plants match each other in their colours and do not complete with each other for moisture or a place in the sun. An interesting and relaxing garden should also tell its own story. “Whatever that story is, is entirely up to you, but it should definitely contain everything a good story needs: a plot, a catchy storyline and a point,” explains Ferdinand Leffler. “Moreover, it is also important that it should be the personal story of your family, not of any neighbours or the editor of a DIY magazine.”

In general, a garden can be planned as one large clear space or you can purposefully create various nooks and crannies, but it is important to link the whole composition in a certain way, such as via the composition of plants. “Of course, it is possible to plant various trees and shrubs in your garden, but best looking are usually the ones which occur naturally here in such combinations,” says the landscape architect. Why not try to find out the names of some of the flowers and trees, which you liked, after a trip through Bohemia. Moreover, it is quite possible that something will fit your garden exactly.

Ferdinand Leffler | Flera Studio

Ferdinand Leffler

Ferdinand Leffler is a garden architect and designer and the founder of the Flera studio. He selects careful, reliable and creative architects for his team. He will help you to come up with a garden which is made to measure to meet your requirements and needs and so that you feel good in it: “We are advocates of the fact that the architecture of a property should express a story which has a beginning, gradation and a point… The garden should arise from the consistent interconnection of all the elements, functions and motifs which the client’s requirements bring to it and it should have a single author.

Lidové noviny

Source: Lidové noviny | 07/2010
Text: Ferdinand Leffler
Photo: Atelier Flera
Managing editor: Tereza Nejedlá

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Hana Víšková

I can really recommend the FLERA studio! From architectural design to the implementation, including landscaping, irrigation and lighting, all that meant easy-going but very professional collaboration. - all testimonials

Ms. Hana Víšková