Date: 26 May 2007
Originally published in: Telegraaf Woonkrant (Netherlands)
Written by: Wendy Roep
We all know Kim Wilde as the sexy British singer from the eighties. In that time the vamp opened up many boys’ hearts, but after having spent twenty years on stage, she felt it was time for something else. She decided to study horticulture, because she didn’t enjoy anything more than digging in the dirt. After that Kim presented various gardening programmes on the English television and wrote in periodicals with her green fingers. She still writes and now the gardening fanatic has brought together all her expertise in the book ‘Tuinieren!’ (‘The first-time gardener’).
The blonde has won many prizes and awards in gardening shows and has created different show gardens. In 2005 she won a gold medal on the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show with one of her gardens. Not a newcomer then!
Kim: “All my life gardening has been one of my main hobby’s. I can’t relax better than being busy with plants and flowers. By doing gardening you don’t just feel better, it is also a good way to do some exercise. Of course you shouldn’t just fool around in the vicinity of your shed. Gardening helps lower your blood pressure and lowers the chance of heart disease.”
Wilde first turns to the basics of every garden: soil, climate, position and light. Then she explains how to design a garden in concurrence with your budget and wishes. Then great chapters follow with loads of tips. Placing borders, water features, designing raised beds and planting a living willow den are amongst these tips. “And don’t forget the plants!”, adds Kim. “I give you my secrets of a good planting and advice about how to combine plants and to pay attentioon to form, colour and texture.”
In short: an inspiring book to help the gardening novice to turn his ideas into a colourful reality.
Want to know more about Kim Wilde? an interview with her in our magazine Vrouw on Saturday 9 June.
A raised bed is really a large container sitting on the ground that is used to grow plants in. They are usually made of timber, but they can also be made of bricks, slates, logs, woven willow or hazel and, for all wine enthousiasts, even upended bottles – what a great way to get rid of your empties! Raised beds are often used for growing vegetables in, but can be planted with any type of plant. Before starting on this project, decide what size you would like your raised bed to be, where it is to go and how it will fit into the style of the surrounding garden. Don’t make it more than about 1.5m wide, but you can build it to any height.
The unique way wooden terraces are bult, makes them ideal to use on poor soil. They are built easily over difficult spots (you can even built above water this way). Making a wooden terrace can save you a lot of time and trouble. But you can also use raised beds in your garden design. Once they are there, you can fill them with soil and plant anything in them. If your garden is too wet, you’d better accept it and make a soggy garden.
Pergola’s, arbours and arches
Choose a pergola or arbour to reflect the style of your garden. An arbour can be a good use of an otherwise empty corner of your garden. Here, a wisteria-clad arbour provides a shaded spot in which to sit. Especially when fragrant flowers hang overhead they form a little oasis.
A sloping garden
Steep slopes are often the most daunting issue in a garden. Slopes are not easy to walk up or down, and a sloping lawn can be awkward to mow and maintain. Sloping gardens can be landscaped by terracing, retaining walls are necessary, and may be constructed from stone, timber or brick. A large mass of soil behind a retaining wall can exert quite a force, especially when wet. The choice of material should reflect the construction and style of the house and also local materials.
If your garden needs to be terraced, still remember to use the design principles of rooms, focal points and losing your boundaries. For instance, steps will be necessary and these can create a vista and become a feature in their own right.
Terraced gardens can be stunning and dramatic, with different areas to be discovered tucked away on upper and lower levels. Lawns do not usually work in smaller terraced gardens, but that allows more planting space.