The Fence Is Up! The Work Has Begun

Well it has been a long time coming, but finally last weekend we defined the boundaries of our garden area and were quite surprised to see that it was significantly larger than we had ever thought or prepared for.  In total in measures 70 square metres.


In an ideal world, this feather edged fencing would have been a breeze block wall rendered in a light duck egg blue, staggered to create shadows as the sun moves round.  In a ideal world I would be rich; I’m working on that – check out the stock we have for sale currently!


I resolved in the end that it’s not the medium you use to create your boundaries, but what you then do to pull the look together.  Speaking of which, what the absolute hell was I going to do with an area 10 metres by 7?  The largest space I had contended with previously was postage stamp sized. Now I was dealing with a vast empty terrain to the back of the property, an allotment to the side and 48 square metre front garden also chucked into the mix.


My main plan has always been, as you know, to go all MCM on it’s ass. But after much taking of advice, deliberating cogitating and digesting, something didn’t sit well with this notion to me and I couldn’t put my finger on why. It did take a few months of mulling it over for me to put my finger on it. Finally it did click; all my research into this project pointed towards the same main themes in MCM gardens.  They were covered in clean lines, minimalism, stark – sometimes almost brutalist – features and a ‘less is more’ approach to planting.  

 Fabulous.  Not me, but fabulous.
Fabulous.  Not me, but fabulous.


This isn’t me.  This isn’t what goes on in my brain.  What goes on in my brain is a bit more like walking through a ticker tape calvalcade of pyschadelic clowns with one person in the corner screaming for everyone to ‘try and keep it down’.  You can share my dilemma, I’m sure.  So how do I match my greatest love with the scratch and sniff of crazy that I really am underneath it all.  Well, like all good ideas, the answer came to me in the shower.  Jungle.  Mid century jungle!

 This image formed part of my inspiration for our final theme.
This image formed part of my inspiration for our final theme.


Hurrah.  Everything has slotted into place.  Like one big unbelievable game of Tetris. So I have split the garden into quadrangles to make it easier to deal with. Below I have shared my very naïve drawing of where I am going with it all now.  


Essentially, there is a tropical area directly outside the french windows from the kitchen filled with the likes of Musa Yunnanensis, Voodoo lily sauromatum vernosus, Alocasia calidora, Gunnera manicatia and Tibouchina urvilleana – for that utterly nuts jungle feeling.  Interspersed in this area there will be a wicker hanging chair, and some kind of marble table.  The flooring will be purple slate chips which will absorb the heat that we have throughout the day and release it throughout the night back to the warmth loving foliage. I want to raise the plants out of the ground so will use repurposed concrete drainage pipes in a nod back to those fabulous atomic age curves.


Next time, I’ll be looking at options for greenhouses.  As always, your comments are invaluable to me and how I perceive this operation!

One thought on “The Fence Is Up! The Work Has Begun”

  1. Hi Paul. I am a Australian garden designer, now living in Italy. I am a long-time mad mid-century modern fan and collector. After moving to Italy 5 years ago, I had to fill a container with my much-loved furniture and odds-and-sods (ornaments, dinner and glasswear, etc.), as I could not bear to part with over 20 years of accumulated love. Anyway, getting back to your garden, you are definitely on the right track to go with a "Tropical Modern" theme if that is largely what you have existing in your yard. Always work to your strengths. Think Roberto Burle Marx. In the end, it is the structure of your garden (the hard landscaping) that creates the backbone, the planting scheme is the finishing element that gives your garden character – like the choice of soft furnishings in your home.

    I don’t know why everyone who thinks "mid-century garden" thinks Palm Springs cacti and succulets. Good Lord! There is more to mid-century gardening than Palm Springs. So, you are right to ditch the ideas in your first photo above. Personally, I find that style of gardening very limited and a little stark and boring. And I also think the garden fence you have now installed is far superioir than any breeze block wall rendered in duck egg blue. The wall you have is much warmer, will age well, and provide a great backdrop for your jungle theme. In the end, you really don’t want to notice your boundary fences, but want them to blend into the background and allow your garden elements (furniture, built structures, plants, etc.) to feature. In this way, you garden will seem much bigger. Before you think too much about planting, think first how you want to use the garden and the spaces you will need to install. Then think about materials. Remember what Thomas Dolliver Church used to say, "gardens are for people", and don’t be distracted into thinking about the plants first. Take an architectural approach, plan your garden on paper TO SCALE, and go from there.

    Give me a shout if you need more help and/or encouragement.



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