Garden trends in 2013
Garden architecture has also its icons. One of them is the Chelsea Flower Show, which landscape architects and designers from around the world annually attend. Our colleague, the architect Ferdinand Leffler, is no exception; that is why we are now able to briefly bring you some titbits which we have become aware of throughout the previous year.
GARDEN TREND No. 1 – the return of common sense
As usually happens in life, every cloud has a silver lining. The current difficult economic situation has brought new trends which are a by-product of efforts to save as much as possible. This has also affected garden architecture. Common sense and humility have been promoted in this market segment for some time. This trend is characterised by a return to the natural composition of plant species, the utility function of the garden and a return to simple shapes and solutions.
People do not intend to be slaves to their gardens anymore. Rather, they would prefer to enjoy it. Architects are no longer afraid of the natural aging of materials. In fact, they welcome it gladly, as it becomes an added value. Like wine, a garden should grow older, with a wooden deck that gets a patina or stone stairs overgrown with moss. There has also been a retreat from complex irrigation systems in favour of species that can make do with natural moisture.
The natural composition of plants, which respects the site and works well with different seasons of particular species. The architectural or artistic elements in your garden transform along with the entire garden, they become overgrown and then they reappear. You would literally enjoy such a garden all the year around.
“Antitrend No. 1” – bark and stones have replaced plants
“Maintenance-free” beds covered with bark mulch and gravel are a relic of the early nineties. “People began to confuse “plant architecture”, which is the combination and composition of plants, where – in short – a good knowledge of particular species is important, with something which can be seen at once, which works cleanly and, where possible, is not too arduous. However, nowadays it is known that bark does not belong in garden architecture. Nevertheless, you can still see many examples of such beds with a shrub or a tree sticking up here and there. However, garden architecture appreciates interconnection and diversity; put simply, a well thought-out plant composition is preferable,” says Ferdinand Leffler.
A wall garden needs not necessarily be a job for experts who demand a fat fee for its installation. You can simply engage your imagination a little, search the offers of DIY stores or consult any shop with fence fittings … and you will soon have a distinctive vertical garden. Remember, however, that every garden needs irrigation.
GARDEN TREND No. 2 – A small space as a source of inspiration
This trend actually originated out of necessity. Western society is characterized by a high population density and people do not have much space to spare, especially in the cities. However, they are all the more eager to be green. As such, architects have been forced to look for smart, space saving solutions. They have taken inspiration from skyscrapers and given the garden some vertical dimension.
Ferdinand’s tip: “A wall garden needs not necessarily be a job for experts who demand a fat fee for its installation. You can simply engage your imagination a little, search the offers of DIY stores or consult any shop with fence fittings … and you will soon have a distinctive vertical garden. Remember, however, that every garden needs irrigation.“
The democratization of all the aspects of the garden – edible and ornamental plants go nicely together. Let us put an end to the discrimination against carrots, peas and kale. Who says you have to live in a “vegetable ghetto”? Even to look at, they have some aesthetic value.
Less is more. A generous budget does not necessarily mean a successful and pleasant garden. The author of this playful, imaginative and yet very simple composition has worked with only two rather inexpensive elements: a plain millet field animated with sculptures woven from wicker. And the jury actually rewarded such approach.
Ferdinand’s tip: “A cost restraint does not necessarily mean that you have to just buy some plastic chairs in wild colours. Make use of natural colours: the grey of stones, the rusty orange of weathering steel, the dark brown of wicker furniture, the black of dipped wood or of coal.”
GARDEN TREND No. 3 – Colours
Don’t be afraid of colours. Your imagination, some various inanimate objects, works of art. But you should access to their location always with some humility and try to squish the domination of a natural living world. It is precisely this, what should be the point of the garden! Ferdinand’s tip: “It’s not necessarily that you have to just buy plastic chairs in wild colors. Work well with the natural colors: gray of stones, rusty Corten orange, dark brown of wicker furniture, black of stained wood or of coal.”
Colours do not necessarily mean garish neon pink or dazzling blue. A combination of green and black colours would be usually very impressive and have a unique atmosphere. Nothing can go wrong with it, even in a traditionally prepared garden. One remark: you can place coal around the posts instead of pebbles – it’s a very impressive, yet inexpensive idea.
Children often love to play a game “about something”, but it’s an honest and clean game. On the other hand, we adults have a tendency to “play at something”, because we think that it is expected of us and that we will succeed with it. Don’t look over the fence at your neighbour’s “super-short” mown lawn and forget the exotic wood terrace that you have seen in a fashion magazine. Your garden is yours and yours alone and it should therefore reflect your personality.
“Antitrend No. 2” – Decorative grasses as a garden’s central theme
So called decorative grasses (or ornamental grasses) have become a mass phenomenon. The work with them is simple and the results effective. “They are mainly used by building architects who work with greenery as a mass, but they do not address the dynamics of the space as a landscape architect would prefer. Grasses are justified, but they should be used more efficiently. This is not a trend, but rather ignorance of the various species,” explains the architect.
This garden is like the mythical phoenix which was reborn from the ashes. In this case, fire does not symbolize devastation, but rather a beneficial purifying force which has liberated the garden from layers of unnecessary clutter and given the best and strongest plants an opportunity to grow.
Money is always in the first place. If you do not have any money in the budget, you had better wait instead of implementing some half-hearted solutions. A solid hardwood table made by a carpenter would be not cheap, but it would last for years. And if you want to tweak the atmosphere of a water feature, you need not dig deep into your pockets. A simple, but clever idea could be a good solution.
“Contemporary trends in landscape architecture should be seen as a largely positive result of the current financial crisis; people are forced to save, so they only invest in what truly makes sense. Good ideas which do not require a lot of resources are appreciated.“
GARDEN TREND No. 4 – Water Features
Water features are very popular, because they reliably provide a dramatic touch and a dynamic to a garden. That which previously meant luxury, is much more affordable today. However, it is not necessary to install an expensive waterfall with a pump whose annual electricity consumption represents half of your energy costs. It could be enough to have an original idea: like an old jug from which water flows into a small pool or some bowls from which water drips slowly. And if you want to enjoy a surprise, install a drinking fountain in your garden. You can wait until the first bird bathes in the water with gusto and raises a swarm of drops.
“Antitrend No. 3” – Only a putting green!
Carpet and overly short lawns require persistent care, while being far more susceptible to sunburn and other ailments. “Nevertheless it seems that many people already understand that taking care of a perfect lawn takes usually more time than the rest of the garden put together. Nowadays, we once again have lawn daisies and other species that delight our eye. Carpet lawns in particular are too delicate to introduce them into a completely different environment than the one in which they have grown; it is no wonder that they often do not flourish. A mixture of seeds makes the most sense. In practice, the species which win are the ones which are sufficiently durable – the ones which should win in accordance with the laws of nature,” says Ferdinand.
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.
Source: Home Architect 06/2013
Text: Dominika Záveská ve spolupráci s Ferdinandem Lefflerem
Photo: Atelier Flera