Colourful borders and space to play in Tuscany
A garden for a growing family with colourful mixed borders, neat lawns, and a vegetable garden
Set on a the side of a hill with views over the surrounding fields and woodlands, this is the home of a professional gardener, a busy doctor, and their three small children. The approach to the house is flanked by a deep border filled with roses and mixed perennials for a fantastic summer display. Grasses, and the seedheads of many perennials such as Euphorbia, will keep the interest going through the winter months.
The changes in level have been exploited to divide the land in separate areas, with semicircular retaining walls inifilled with scandent perennials which will cover them over time. The children's trampoline is below street level, next to the playhouse in the olive tree, on a small lawn. A deep border screens it from view and gives it privacy. Rough grass and wildflowers mark the transition the orchard and vegetable garden.
A little path leads to the children's hideaway. The plants alongside have been chosen for their tactile and playful quality, like Lambs' Ears (Stachys byzantina) and Stipa tenuissima, and for their scent, like Roses and lavander.
In a dry climate, it pays to restrict the lawn to a single perfect shape. The semicircular lawn is directly before the house, adjoining the pergola. The soft vertical lines of the small front border break up the horizontal expanse of paving and lawn, giving foreground interest from the house and from the outdoor seating area, for a stepped approach into the landscape.
The mixed border includes plants such as Santolina and Lavander which are pruned, afer their summer flowering, to retain their shape, in contrast with softer inflorescences. Helped here by an irrigation system to aid their establishment, all plants are chosen for long-term drought tolerance.
The inside edge of the retaining wall is planted up with a border which sets off the lawn and contrasts with the wooded landscape in the distance. Feathery and airy plants such as a deep pink Gaura, and spires of Perowskia atriplicifolia, play with the wind and frame the views.
A productive vegetable garden with raised beds has been created on the lowest level. Fruit trees have been positioned to echo the lines of the semicircular lawn and postioned to frame, rather than block, landscape views even when fully grown.