Formally Informal English Garden...a work in progress.
by Warren Bonesteel
A few plants put in.
First, a quick background: I have four years experience working in landscaping and landscape maintenance in Scottsdale, Arizona and surrounding areas. I also have more than fifteen years experience in buildings and grounds, including management. Most of this experience was gained in upscale apartment complexes (topiary, flowerbeds, sprinkler systems, etc.). As an adult, I've always, where practical, had and maintained some sort of a garden.
My wife and I retired and moved to Oklahoma in March, 2011. We bought an old fixer-upper in the wrong part of town. The house was quirky and we liked it. The landscape? Not so much. It was beyond 'quirky.' Drainage problems had to be addressed ... immediately.
I ultimately ended up with a (more or less) formal layout for a partition garden. Lots of paper, dozens of drafts, hours-days-weeks spent learning which plants I could grow here with any semblance of success. Then, I ran lots of string lines and did lots of digging and toting.
The plan, however, is to use edible trees, bushes and plants while allowing those plants, trees and bushes to maintain their normal shapes.
I allowed for drainage within the garden by grading everything to run towards the center of the garden. The walkway, with a base of landscape fabric and sand, is to be covered by another layer of landscape fabric and pea gravel, will act as a deep well, holding and retaining any run off from rain or irrigation.
The raised beds will - eventually - be level and plumb ad approx. eighteen inches deep. The planks around the beds should be installed by this time next year, although the raised beds will be in use and productive by then.
I've incorporated a central walkway in the shape of a solar cross or an extended Celtic Cross. There is a simple square labyrinth in the garden, as well. The center bed and walkway, with a squint, will reveal a 'squared circle.' The overall design resembles a very simplified Mandala. I've allowed for colors and textures throughout the seasons, including a fall display, fading from reds to oranges and yellows from front to back. Spring and early summer will be an explosion of white blooms in different shapes and textures.
Major plantings will be installed next fall and will include: Persimmon, Peach, Apple, Paw-paw, Cherry, Saskatoon, Jostaberry, red and white currants, spice bush, elderberries, blueberries,huckleberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Keep in mind that this is being done on a very limited budget and that it has all been done by hand. (By a crippled up, half-blind old fart). Literally, I'm doing it all with a bucket, a shovel and a piece of string. Aside from the sand, edging and stakes, so far, I've only used materials that were already on the property.
I should have everything installed by fall of 2013 and finishing touch-ups by spring or summer of 2013.
Update April 2012:
I spent most of the winter re-landscaping and grading the back yard. So, consequently, I didn't make much progress with the front garden.
This summer, I hope to finish the walkway in the front garden, get the pH adjusted in the beds and have the mulch installed before I start ordering the major plantings for our front yard's Informally, Formal English Garden.
By this time next year, I hope to have most of our major plantings installed. The summer after, I hope to start building the boxes around our raised beds.