Where the love grows

Ahead of the next week’s royal wed­ding, Han­nah Stephen­son tells how to cre­ate your own ro­man­tic set­ting

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS -

Want to add a touch of ro­mance to your gar­den in hon­our of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? You may not have the re­sources of Philippa Crad­dock, the royal cou­ple’s wed­ding florist, but you can still re­serve a space in your gar­den to cre­ate a lover’s haven, com­plete with heav­ily scented roses, blousy pe­onies and fox­gloves, their cho­sen flow­ers.

Here are some of the fea­tures which could make up your ro­man­tic set­ting...

COT­TAGE GAR­DEN FAVOURITES

Roses, fox­gloves, pe­onies (right) and del­phini­ums in soft, pas­tel shades of li­lac, blues, pinks and whites all have their place in the cot­tage gar­den, which has a re­laxed feel and a dreamy, hap­haz­ard in­for­mal struc­ture.

If you have space, plant nat­u­ral­is­tic grasses in swathes, in­ter­spers­ing them with soft-hued flow­ers, to cre­ate a hazy ef­fect. Re­peat-plant to pro­vide some struc­ture to what typ­i­cally looks like an in­for­mal, un­forced de­sign.

WHITE ROSES

White roses rep­re­sent pu­rity and in­no­cence and were used as a sym­bol of true love, be­fore red be­came more pop­u­larly as­so­ci­ated.

The Sunken Gar­den where Harry and Meghan had their first photo call was planted with white flow­ers to mark the 20th an­niver­sary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

If you want a ro­man­tic cot­tage gar­den, you’ll need an open, sunny area with welldrained soil, en­riched with or­ganic mat­ter — such as com­post or well-rot­ted ma­nure. Other plants which typ­i­cally fit into the cot­tage gar­den set­ting in­clude laven­der, salvia, as­tran­tia, Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis and aqui­le­gia.

COSY SEAT­ING

Even in the small­est space, if you can in­cor­po­rate snug­gled seat­ing and fringe it with scented plants, such as laven­der, or cre­ate an arch­way of roses and clema­tis over it, then you’ll be head­ing for the height of ro­mance.

A se­cluded spot some­where quiet in the gar­den, which en­joys sun for at least part of the day, can be­come a lovers’ re­treat.

WA­TER FEA­TURES

Wa­ter not only cre­ates an air of calm to a gar­den, but it can also re­flect the sky, pass­ing clouds and sur­round­ing fo­liage, as well as help­ing to blot out traf­fic noise.

It can be a fea­ture to ad­mire, or just to lis­ten to at the end of the day. Cou­pled with soft so­lar light­ing and white-flow­ered plants, it’s also an af­ter-dark haven.

If you want the wa­ter to re­flect the sky, go for a fea­ture of shal­low, still wa­ter with­out plants, us­ing a dark ma­te­rial in the bot­tom of the wa­ter fea­ture, to make the most of the re­flec­tions.

FLOW­ERS FOR CUT­TING

Bring the ro­man­tic gar­den in­side by grow­ing flow­ers for cut­ting out­side, in­clud­ing sweet peas, corn­flow­ers and roses. Just a few blooms from your ro­man­tic plot, cut at the back of a plant where it won’t show, can be ar­ranged in a pretty enamel jug or glass vase. Make sure you don’t cut your flow­ers from one place, leav­ing an ob­vi­ous gap in your bor­der.

SCULP­TURE

Of course, a care­fully-cho­sen sculp­ture is a huge ro­man­tic ges­ture in any gar­den. There’s a wealth to choose from, from gran­ite nymphs to heart-shaped iron­mon­gery, bronze lovers, and coloured-glass in­stal­la­tions and as­tro­log­i­cal signs. Be­fore buy­ing your sculp­ture, think about where you’re go­ing to put it and take a pic­ture of the spot to get an idea of size, lo­ca­tion (will it be in sun or shade?) and how the will light change the colour of the piece.

If nec­es­sary, place card­board boxes on top of each other in the spot, to get an idea of scale, and make sure it has enough space to stand out. It may be safer to choose the piece to­gether and share the en­joy­ment — and the ro­mance — for years to come.

BLOSSOMING RO­MANCE: Harry and Meghan in the Sunken Gar­den. In­set, a ro­man­tic sculp­ture

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