Create a Beautiful Atmosphere Outside: Peter Burks’ Top 5 Tips

10th March 2014

Summer – and the chance to sit out and enjoy your garden – really isn’t too far away. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to welcome gardening expert Peter Burks of Potter and Rest to the Distinctive Chesterfields blog today. With the warmer days just around the corner, Peter’s here today t share his five top tips to help you create a beautifully atmospheric garden for those summer barbecues, family parties and alfresco evening drinks.

Potter and Rest is an online garden centre, which aims to be the largest ‘true’ garden centre online, offering free advice to budding and pro-gardeners alike. Peter’s been running garden centres at directorial and managerial level for more than 30 years, and holds a degree in horticulture. Peter, the floor’s yours…

peter burks

Tip one – Create different spaces Dividing your garden up into ‘rooms’ creates interest and intrigue because the space can’t all be viewed at once. You can create pathways to lead you around the garden or into hidden areas. If you can, have several seating areas in the garden, which aren’t visible from each other. Each area could have different scented or coloured plants to create a different mood.

Tip two – Lighting Lighting is essential to create a nice ambiance and they can be used in the garden all year round. Some parts of your outdoor space will need different types of lighting. Subtle accent lighting is great for creating a specific mood and atmosphere. For example, spotlights can be used to highlight a favourite plant, tree or sculpture. If you want a more intense, focused beam, I would suggest positioning the light near the base of the feature or underneath foliage. A softer effect can be created by positioning two spotlights on either side of the feature.

Lighting pic 3

Tip three – Water I think water features can help to create a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere in any garden so if you have the space it is worth investing in one. If you don’t have much room or wish to do much maintenance a simple wall fountain, waterfall or other pondless water feature are good choices. They don’t use much water or grow a lot of bacteria.  

Tip four – Ornaments Adding garden ornaments can help separate your tranquil spaces or bring them together. I always advise people to think about the proportions of their garden when selecting an ornament. For example, larger ones can dominate smaller gardens and distract from other aspects. Also, if you have a modern or urban garden classical ornaments will probably look out of place whereas something more contemporary would be more suitable. Sundials and bird baths can also be used to create focal points perhaps at the end of pathways.

Ornament (1)

Tip five – Plants, plants and more plants I think plants are one of the easiest ways to create a beautiful atmosphere in the garden. Remember, it isn’t just all about the colour but fragrance is very important too. For an amazing scent throughout the winter months, try Lonicera fragrantissima (winter honeysuckle). Viburnum carlesii Aurora is a good choice if you want some spring scent, as it has heavily fragranced flowers, which are in bloom in April. Old English roses are perfect for summer and Lippia citriodora (lemon scented verbena) will give off a stunning lemon zing from its leaves all season long.

For colour and scent throughout autumn and winter try pineapple sage. It has strongly aromatic leaves and bright red flowers.

Rose - Albertine (1)

Aralia elata, otherwise known as the Japanese Angelica tree, can help to create a dramatic look. It has big white flowers in late summer and large double pinnate leaves, which turn purple, red and orange in autumn. Other plants with striking foliage include melianthus major (honey bush), which has strong silvery blue foliage and Ricinus (castor oil plant) has huge glossy green or variegated leaves.

Will you be taking note of Peter’s tips this summer? Have you started work on your garden already?

For more details about Potter and Rest, please go to www.potterandrest.co.uk, call 01278 440500, or email hello@potterandrest.co.uk. 


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