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Designing A Small Garden by Clarissa Judd

 Designing a small garden is fun and challenging – I have to be very selective in what I include, and make sure every element is working hard. Most of my clients now have large glass doors looking onto their gardens, so I specialise in designs which look lovely all year round and can be magically lit in the evenings.

A beautiful seat is an excellent focal point for a small garden. I find that they add to the aesthetic texture of the garden as well as drawing you into the garden to sit on. Swing seats in particular have an irresistible pull for people of all ages, from young children who love to play on them, to older people who enjoy the relaxing sensation of gentle swinging.  

In my seven years as a garden designer, I’ve always used Sitting Spiritually’s seats. They appeal to my clients as they are so beautifully crafted, are very comfortable even without cushions, and don’t require winter covers, meaning they can be appreciated all year round.

Martin and his team are also happy to personalise each swing seat. My latest customers, a couple with young children, had a line from their favourite song engraved on the seat’s backrest. We set the seat up so as to catch the evening sun, positioning it with an eye line towards their daughters’ trampoline, so they can bask in the warm glow of the evening sun while sipping a gin & tonic and keeping an eye on their small children.

Wood tones work well with other elements of a garden and, in my designs, I create aesthetic echoes of the seat in other features of the garden. For example, in the garden depicted, the slats of the fence and the slats of the seat sing together, and the curves of the garden’s layout echo the curved shape of the seat’s backrest.

For clients with a tight budget or a very small garden, rather than erecting a more extensive pergola to support their swing seat, I often substitute a simple crossbar raised on a pair of posts. I find this to be an economical alternative to suit clients who want to invest more of their budget in the beautiful swing seat itself. The garden depicted features 150x150mm treated softwood which, once aged, looks very similar to the other wood used in the garden. Depending on my client’s preference, I can either train climbers to envelop the posts completely, creating the effect of a bower, or, as depicted, I can keep the crossbeam exposed to make use of the bold straight lines in the overall design. As Sitting Spiritually’s swing seats come with bolts and springs of the highest quality, they are very easy to hang from two simple holes drilled through the crossbar - and the height of the seats is likewise easy to adjust. This is a boon for clients with mobility issues; it means I can set the seat higher than a standard bench, enabling clients who might struggle to raise themselves from a bench to make use of the swing seat with ease.

The motion of a swing seat provides another opportunity for garden designers which I like to make use of: the possibility of releasing a plant’s scents. As one of my clients gently swings in the sun, his bench brushes up against a lemon verbena plant which releases lovely scents along with such precious memories. What could be more relaxing?

With Many Thanks to Clarissa Judd

Contact details:

+44 7900 884443

Clarissa Judd Gardens Ltd

Photos courtesy of Clarissa Judd

Note from Sitting Spiritually:

We are always happy to work with you on your bespoke pergola,  offering any help where needed. We can design and build a pergola just from the dimensions of the space, or we can work from basic line drawings supplied to us by yourself or your garden designer.

If you have something particular and have completed technical drawings, we can build a structure to your exact requirements.

We are also happy to offer an installation service for our Pergolas, just ask us.

To discuss our pergolas and how we can work together please call on 01297 443084

Posted by Siobhan on November 20th 2023

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