Not everyone enjoys digging countless hours in the garden every year. Nevertheless, these garden owners also want to have it nice. Garden planner Isabelle Van Groeningen reveals her tricks.
In the lockdowns of the Corona period, many discovered gardening for themselves. Monotonous green rectangles with lawns became magnificent bed landscapes. But now normal everyday life is coming back bit by bit - and gardening remains. Does it have to be that way?
No, says Isabelle Van Groeningen, winner of the German Garden Book Prize 2022 for her work "The Seven Seasons". She has designed many gardens and thinks: For a green paradise without much effort, you shouldn't fight against nature. And don't keep changing things.
In your award-winning book you write that the most beautiful gardens have a heart and soul. How do you do that?
Isabelle Van Groeningen: Even if landscape gardeners design and maintain properties, those gardens have heart and soul in which the customer was also involved. It takes a personal commitment.
It's the same with the houses: Even if everything is chic and stylish, you see the most beautiful furniture, but something personal is missing - then it's not a real home. In the garden, this is comparable to the gravel gardens, which are tended to death and do not allow anything spontaneous.
A garden can be a lot of work. How do I avoid this?
When you go with nature, life becomes so much easier. When you accept that certain things are just the way they are. Weeds, for example, that's part of it. Just like leaves belong in the garden and not in the dustbin.
You can compare it to driving a car: If you get in and decide to fight your way through traffic quickly, then you are also in a strenuous fight mode. But a lot of traffic is simply part of it at certain times, just like weeds in the garden.
And you get something back from him: a native herb that is often weeded grows in our tulip bed. But that would be a shame, because it has white flowers and looks really great with it.
How long does a garden take to grow in?
The garden designer Dan Pearson, a friend, once said that this can be done in three-year phases. After three years, most perennials have really arrived, some are a little faster. Shrubs take six years to grow from small plants commonly bought into shrubs with a great presence. For trees it is even nine years.
Of course you can also buy larger plants directly. And you can buy trees that grow faster. But they keep growing and then you end up with something in the garden that is way too big and disproportionate. So I think a little patience is important.
And it's like this: with new gardens, you're happy at first that so much is happening there. But it's only at the point where you can prune something that a garden begins to grow up. And for me, that's where the fun really begins, because from then on I'm allowed to manage the garden.
(This article was first published on Saturday, May 28, 2022.)