12. Circles within circles

Setting out the garden paths is a chance to soften the four-square lines of the house-to-be.

If you want to build the most energy efficient house possible, make it round. For then the ratio of external wall area to internal space is minimised and your heat losses through these walls will likewise be minimised. This principle was clearly understood by our neolithic forebears: the 5,000-year-old dwellings of Skara Brae in the Orkney Isles are like stone igloos. But these days circular living is the preserve of the renovators of windmills, lighthouses and water towers. The rest of us prefer to stick to practical straight lines.

The key thing about a straight line, a bee line, as the crow flies, is that you get from A to B in the quickest possible time. Which usually makes sense in a house and especially in a kitchen. But in a garden there's good reason to slow things down. We are creating a garden of circles not only because we want to take longer to get from A to B but also we want to have more to look at en route. The garden is 6 metres wide and 10 metres long. Not very big by the standards of English domestic gardens but not pokey either. If we just did the traditional thing and planted the edges, with a lawn in the middle, we would have 26 metres of planted edge. But by creating paths radiating away from, and around, a little circular chamomile lawn in the far corner of the garden, we can at least double the length of planted edge. This scheme also ensures that the dense planting of fruit I have planned for the back garden will all be accessible.

To create the paths I set a post at the centre of the 2 metre wide lawn-to-be and started creating lines with a stick on the end of  wire. I then used old barley twist edging to mark out the paths. This decorative edging had all come from the site itself: it is a relic of the old Victorian mansion that was demolished 90 years ago, surviving in the gardens of the houses that replaced it. I dug out all the good muck from the paths, adding it to the beds, and filled the holes with gravel (I want fertile beds not fertile paths).

All of this will have to be covered with boards while the house goes up if my efforts are not to be totally destroyed. The unpleasantly square shed is temporary shelter for the builders. But for now I can see the journey of the future: out of the back door of The Orchard, across the patio and past the pond and onto the curved and narrowing path that leads through a  tunnel of blackberries trained over wooden arches to the bright sunny spot of the chamomile lawn, surrounded by cherries, apricots, raspberries, gages and strawberries. 

1 comment:

  1. The circular paths are wonderful. They really do soften the edges and you have been very clever at not marking out full circles which can reduce the size of borders. Here the half circles and semi-circles create more interesting shapes in the garden. And I like how you've narrowed the path at the end which gives the illusion of depth and distance. Love it!