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French Garden Makeover

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  • French Garden Makeover

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    If you’re pining for Provence, give your garden a Mediterranean makeover with rustic iron furniture and fragrant lavender and lemon trees.

    Action plan

    Remove the old grass.
    Level the courtyard so the new grass and paved areas will be flat.
    Spray-paint the fence a soft green colour.
    Visit nurseries and furniture shops for inspiration.
    Make a grid of nine paving squares using terracotta pavers.
    Position feature pots in the corners of the paved area and plant with topiary spheres.
    Hang a decorative grille or gate on the fence.
    Block the view of the side passage with a horizontal timber screen.
    Plant citrus trees, yellow daisies and lavender in terracotta urns.
    Lay the soft-leaf buffalo lawn as level as possible.
    Bring in the furniture and barbecue.
    Decide on a theme - In small spaces it’s important to think big. One big idea – or theme – will give the garden a focus and help tie different elements together. Essential ingredients for this look include rustic iron furniture, terracotta urns for lemon trees and lavender, and cushions in a classic stripe.
    Hired help may be required for the heavy jobs, such as paving and lifting, but you can do the rest yourself.

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    Garden design

    When planning a garden, there are many issues that need to be addressed, including sun, shade, privacy, screens, fences, uses, levels, plants, kids’ needs, pets, access and furniture.

    Look for ways to divide your space into areas with specific purposes.

    Once you’ve decided on a design, write a list of all that needs doing to help you focus on each step.

    Hit the shops

    You may find it hard to visualise all the pieces of the puzzle together, because they may be in different shops. The chairs need to match the table, the dining setting should complement the decorative grille and feature pots, and the colour of the paint has to create a beautiful backdrop for all these elements, so it’s a good idea to take a digital camera with you when you go shopping. That way you can download the pictures when you get home and decide which pieces work together. Take the time to get it right as you’ll have to live with these choices for a while. Remember, it’s not a bargain if it doesn’t fit your ‘big idea’!

    Putting it together

    The focal point of our garden design is a central paved area. To achieve this, a grid was marked out and terracotta paving squares were laid in groups of four, about 20 centimetres apart (make sure the groupings are large enough to accommodate your table, chairs and feature pots). Greek oregano and peppermint were planted between the squares – not only do they look pretty, they keep the dining area smelling sweet.

    A round, lemon-coloured mosaic table is the main feature of our garden and is surrounded by four iron chairs. The rustic chairs have a decorative design and a sophisticated curve that mirrors the shape of the arched grille, which hangs on the fence. Sitting in each corner of the paved area are four feature pots with a distressed lemon-yellow glaze that matches the colour of the mosaic table, the timber screen and the daisies planted elsewhere in the garden. The feature pots are planted with simple topiary spheres, which give the garden a pleasing symmetry.

    To disguise the fence, we positioned a row of terracotta urns along its expanse. In keeping with the Mediterranean theme, the large pots are planted with lemon trees and lemon-coloured daisies, while lavender spills out of a few smaller urns.

    I can’t live without a patch of grass, even in small gardens. It reduces glare, helps green the scene and feels wonderful under bare feet.

    When it comes to the finishing touches, don’t stray from your theme – even the colours of our plates match elements in the garden and we’ve used a bowl of lemons as a centrepiece to knit the look together.

    Garden care

    Citrus grow throughout Australia, but some dislike frost, so check with a local nursery before selecting an orange or lemon tree for your garden. Providing they’re well fed (give them citrus food every season) and well watered (twice a week during summer), citrus grow well in pots in a sunny part of the garden. Meyer lemons are best for pots, particularly one called ‘Lots of Lemons’, a dwarf shrub that grows to 1.5 metres high. Limes, blood oranges and Eureka lemons also fruit well in pots.

    We under-planted our citrus trees with lemon-coloured Federation daisies, but herbs or annual flowers would work just as well. Feed flowers with a soluble fertiliser (such as a Thrive product for flowering plants) every two weeks and trim off any spent flowers to encourage more. Treat herbs with liquid seaweed solution – don’t overfeed them or they’ll lose their flavour.

    Planting list
    Meyer lemon
    Tahitian lime
    Washington navel orange
    Ruby grapefruit
    Emperor mandarin
    Federation daisy ‘Sunjay’
    Lavender ‘Winter Lace’
    Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Hirtum’)
    Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
    Voilà! C’est fini... A spectacular result with style and substance and the perfect place for an alfresco lunch.

    You can read this article in full on its original site at HomeLife
    Last edited by Hannah-Mercedes; 6 August 2012, 05:09 AM.