If there’s one thing which obsesses most gardeners it’s filling up every available space in the garden.

Preferably in layers. When I was a novice Christopher Lloyd terrified me with things like this, how to have one thing on top of another:

Christopher Lloyd in The Well Chosen Garden

All about layering things up so that there’s never a dull moment….

Not only did I have trouble getting enough plants to make any mark at all on my two empty acres, but stuffing things in like that just felt totally beyond anything I could aspire to. I don’t think it’s legal to intimidate new gardeners this way anymore.

But now our lawns are supposed to have flowers and plants flourishing all over them, turning them into ‘meadows’.

We not only tiptoe through our tulips (as if!) but through our lawns too. I’m not against meadows – we have a considerable and fascinating 200 year old version ourselves.

Meadow at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

But we both find delight in the sudden emptiness after it’s cut in late summer.

Meadow at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham


We allow the grass to grow longer on the lawn round our table – it helps make the mowing easier. 

Crescent Border at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

But better if it were an emptier space?

It’s the same with the border on the right – when that is cut down in July the view across the lawn is suddenly open from the house, and it is a kind of relief.  You can see the lawn. Space. A pleasure then whenever we look out of the window.

Maybe this is the pleasure in the New Perennials flat planting: many different plants to meet our need for alotofplants, with a kind of open view with it?

Piet Oudolf planting at Hauser and Wirth copyright Anne Wareham

Hm. No – I don’t think it offers quite what an empty space does. (Piet Oudolf planting at Hauser and Wirth, Somerset.)

I think we need this visual relief if our gardens are to truly satisfy.

It’s not just about having somewhere to play cricket, or more modestly perhaps, that which we used to strangely call Bumble Puppy. It’s about the contrast, and the feeling of openness and space.

It’s one of my indoor frustrations that I never manage to clear a surface in the house without it tempting me to put things on it and lose that sense of openness and an unusual feeling of tidiness. But at least I can manage it sometimes outside.

View from my desk copyright Anne Wareham

Nice expanse of empty carpet, but things are sneaking on to the surfaces…..

view from my desk copyright Anne Wareham

That shelf is in danger of getting cluttered – and see what has managed to get on to the windowsill.

And, of course, that is the point of a reflecting pool. Or do the reflections spoil it?

Reflecting Pool at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham