'Getting into Shape'

How many new year resolutions revolve around coming to terms with the excesses of the festive season and deciding to get ourselves back into some sort of shape? Just as in the human form, most of us see a more shapely garden as a more attractive one and what better time to look over our own with a critical eye than now, when the flattering leaves and flowers are gone, the branches are laid bare and the stark bones of the garden are on full view. We often think that the shape of our garden is dictated by its boundary walls and fences but these can be so easily hidden or disguised with planting that in most gardens we can impose onto it the shape we would prefer. The flat spaces in the garden give us the shapes we see and the easiest and simplest one to manipulate is the lawn. For people who like formality and straight lines, a rectangular or square lawn kept neat and trim with a mowing edge of brick or stone might might appeal to their sense of order and reflected in the architecture of the surrounding buildings will look well groomed and perfectly at home in a village, town or city environment. For those who look out onto the curves of hillsides and the gentle shapes of nature, softer lines might be more appropriate and help place the garden in context. Think of a flower filled meadow with a mown path through, or a lawn sweeping lazily around a group of trees or deep border bending away out of sight to draw the eye to a distant view, a very inviting prospect even if the feet can only be drawn a few yards to a bench at the bottom of the garden. If the shapes we see in the garden flow together, onwards and outwards into the landscape, we can create a beautifully harmonious and restful space. Well that's the theory anyway. In reality getting the garden into shape can take quite a lot of hard work but it's all good exercise and a way that both we and the garden can enter into the new year in great shape!