Pew with a view

Rutherglen Reformer - - Home Improvements -

Be­cause it is such a ver­dant year, with ev­ery­thing grow­ing 10 to the dozen, the soil has re­mained moist. So a top up, to­gether with warm sun­shine, has meant it’s lusher than ever. There has been such a lot to do out­doors that some­times you for­get to look. And though gar­den­ing for it­self is a won­der­fully ful­fill­ing ac­tiv­ity, ev­ery so of­ten you need to ap­pre­ci­ate the fruits of your labour. And sit­ting in one place lets you drink it all in. Out­side here at Glebe Cot­tage, there are am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­tem­plate dif­fer­ent parts of the gar­den. Some are pro­vided by seats of dif­fer­ent de­scrip­tions, de­lib­er­ately sited to en­com­pass a par­tic­u­lar view. Oth­ers are just van­tage points on which you perch and pe­ruse. How­ever small your gar­den, hav­ing some­where to sit is vi­tal – be­ing in the midst of it makes you a part of it. Hav­ing lim­ited space doesn’t mean op­tions are few, it just means you must be imag­i­na­tive. An al­cove in a bound­ary hedge could house a rose ar­bour with a seat for two look­ing over a flower bed to­wards the house clothed in climbers. Or you could look out from the house with climbers be­hind you. Need­less to say the “chairs round the edge of the hall” look, a lawn sur­rounded by nar­row beds, lim­its the pos­si­bil­i­ties. With this tra­di­tional ap­proach, there are few op­tions (and not much to look at, any­way). But vis­tas can be cre­ated by di­vid­ing the space – per­haps with di­ag­o­nals. The seats in our gar­den are mainly con­structed of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als. Most are wood, vary­ing f rom tra­di­tional wooden benches, some cov­ered in lichen, to stacks of new tim­ber sleep­ers – three of which, piled one on top of the other, make the ideal height and are long enough to seat sev­eral peo­ple. In two lo­ca­tions, there are sim­ple seats made from old oak planks. We leave our wooden seats in their nat­u­ral state but if you were adopt­ing sim­i­lar ideas in an ur­ban gar­den, they could be painted to match the wood­work of the house. We also have a cou­ple of iron seats – one is rather an­cient but still very pretty. There are so many mod­ern ver­sions of such seats avail­able, some with iron ends, oth­ers with light­weight alu­minium. One slate seat on the shady side of the gar­den is sim­ply the top of a low re­tain­ing wall. I built it for my mum to have a sit down on the way up the gar­den. It of­fers a lovely view, with nar­row paths wend­ing their way down to­wards big beeches. Seats can be made of any­thing from con­crete to chamomile. The im­por­tant thing is they are in keep­ing with the feel of the gar­den. They should never stick out like a sore thumb, although they can be a fo­cal point. In show gar­dens, at the likes of Chelsea and Hamp­ton Court, you some­times get the feel­ing the gar­den has been built around the seat. But it is the plants that sur­round the seat that are the most im­por­tant thing – its rai­son d’etre. It’s safe to as­sume that most seats get max­i­mum use when it’s rea­son­ably warm, so plants near them should be at their peak at the same time. Per­haps the most im­por­tant qual­ity is scent, be­cause when you are sit­ting in a cor­ner of your gar­den on a still sum­mer’s evening, it is the scent of sweet rocket and per­fume of hon­ey­suckle min­gling with the fra­grance of roses that makes you stay, re­lax and en­joy.

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