Summer Gardens

10th June 2011

Inspired by the gardens at the recent Chelsea Flower Show? Want to improve your own outdoor space? Why not treat your garden to a quick – but dramatic – Chelsea-inspired makeover this weekend? Topiaried hedges are a great way to revamp your garden: an instantly landscaped look with minimal effort.

Jim Kirkwood, garden tools expert from Worx, advises on how to inject some of the newest topiary trends from Chelsea into your garden:

Pyramid Pruning:

Pyramid pruning gives interesting texture to borders, as seen in Diarmuid Gavin's Irish Sky garden. Sharp structured hedges contrast with soft edges of meadow-planted shrubs.

To achieve this look at home, you'll need:

• Hedge trimmer
• Cordless handheld shears
• Topiary wire mesh (optional)

Begin trimming your hedge at the base, working upwards and angling the trimmer to the desired gradient for your pyramid. You can either cut by eye or use a topiary wire mesh to guide you, taking a few steps back from time to time to ensure an even cut. Once you've achieved a triangular outline that you’re happy with, use a pair of hand shears to go over the hedge to define the shape. Look out for compact models with lithium-ion technology: this makes them super-lightweight so your arms won't tire.

Box-Shearing:

For a formal effect, try box-shearing small leafy trees to create a neat, structured look, as seen in The B&Q Vertical Garden.

Tools for the job:

• Cordless hedge trimmer
• Step ladder
• Topiary wooden frame (optional)

Begin by shaping the bottom of the tree with a cordless hedge trimmer, starting at the base of the trunk and cutting outward. Use a cordless model, giving you more flexibility of movement and meaning there's no danger of tripping on electric leads.

Once you have an even box shape at the bottom, then start clipping the sides and top. You could do this by eye or by using a wooden topiary frame as a template to ensure the cube is cut uniformly.

Statement Sculpture

Coastal-inspired sculptures created from reclaimed and natural materials make fabulous pieces of statement art for your garden or outside space.

Brighton-based Driftline uses the flotsam and jetsam of beach-combing trips to produce contemporary sculptural objects that add a real touch of individuality. The latest works are ammonites, contemporary versions of fossils found widely along the south coast, made from reclaimed sea defences and pebbles.

Available to order, from around £600.

See www.driftline.co.uk for details.

Here Comes The Rain Again…

Even with the promise of a barbecue summer, there are bound to be a few occasions when al fresco eating is going to have to be transferred indoors – but with this lovely Japanese-inspired rain chain in the garden, you won’t mind. The chain catches the falling raindrops and channels them over copper cups in a fountain effect, collecting the water into a decorative splash bowl.

The rain chain, or ‘kusari-doi’, originated hundreds of years ago in Japan, when people sought to live in harmony with all weather conditions. It serves several purposes: a functional alternative to a downspout, a piece of art and a representation of the beauty of simplicity and universal balance.

Solid copper and almost 2.5 metres in length, hang anywhere the rain can fall on them. Particularly effective when attached to guttering, replacing the down pipe, but also great hung over one of a copper effect bowls for birds and pets to drink from – and, of course, delightful when seen from a window. They will weather naturally and take on a beautiful verdigris patina.

Available from www.alife-lessordinary.co.uk in two designs: lily, as seen here, and tulip. £100.

Find Your Local