The origins of the garden are many, but from Mesopotamia to Persia, and all the way through to Versailles or Sissinghurst, all are based on the principle of providing pleasure and respite from the outside world – a pleasing of the senses, through the enclosure and defining of a private living space.

Garden as enclosure

From the trusty Wikipedia – “The etymology of the word gardening refers to enclosure: it is from Middle English gardin, from Anglo-French gardin, jardin, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German gard, gart, an enclosure or compound.”

One garden design we’re working on at the moment is a true ‘enclosure’; bounded on three sides by a fantastic mid-century residence, and on the fourth by a high timber fence. Just like the very first gardens, this garden in 2017 will serve to provide respite for all the senses: Visual interest is caught and sustained through a balance of linear and curved lines, and cohesion of natural materials. A set of screens with a central gate will provide a foreground to the previously unnoticed backdrop of mature trees growing in the lane behind the property. Although this means condensing part of the garden, it gives the viewer the impression of greater depth. This framing – or restriction – of a view helps to keep it alive, and the addition of a foreground element creates a three dimensional view which is more pleasing to the eye.

Then there is the sound of water, and the feeling of various natural materials underfoot – stone, timber and tile – and the softness and scent of foliage spilling over the confines of the garden beds. The chillies and curry leaves grown by this gardener, are to be tasted while dining outside under the dappled light of the vines overhead. Much the same as it would have been in the gardens of ancient Persia or Greece.

That the nature of the garden has remained the same for thousands of years is one of the aspects I find most satisfying in creating gardens.