Diana of Elephant's Eye, who has been a long-term blogging friend, posted this comment on my last post. She's absolutely right. Things do lurk in your mind. They are filed away for future reference, until one day you pull the idea out, blow the dust off it and see that, yes, this is the time to put it into action.
Just because your garden has a particular style, often dictated by its aspect, its soil type, the local climate and so on, doesn't mean that you can't appreciate a completely different style.
I have a fairly clear concept in mind for my new garden. The actual landscaping may turn out to be slightly different from my current mental picture, but the style will be the same.
I want something that echoes the surrounding landscape. If you look at the pictures below, you can see how the designers have used evergreens, or sculpture, or hard landscaping to provide a contrast to the very soft, pretty planting.
You may think: "Oh, well, I don't have any of those things." But you probably do. You may not have a wall, but you'll have a house wall (at least, I sincerely hope so)! You may not have a sculpture, but you may have a tree, whose shape you can repeat with the right planting.
This is Tom Stuart Smith (above) for Laurent Perrier at the Chelsea Flower Show 2010. I really admire his work, and the more I see of it, the more I love it. I think he is a master of proportion and "punctuation": his gardens look so simple and so artless, and yet the design is very clever. The eye is led exactly where he wants it to go.
Here's another one of my favourite designers: Cleve West, who won Best in Show at Chelsea 2011 with this garden for the Daily Telegraph. The colour scheme here is so subtle - I love the dark red with the misty greys and purples, injected with pops of pale yellow that pick up the colour of the wall. And I like the restraint that characterises Cleve's work - the flat bare wall makes a wonderful contrast to the fluffy, floriferous perennials.
This is a detail from Cleve's garden for Chelsea this year, which also won best in show. It's the sort of planting that looks terrific in any garden, but particularly in a country garden, where it gives the impression of random seeding, but with a strong shape that makes it stand out.
This is Derry Watkins' garden (above) in Wiltshire. Derry runs a nursery called Special Plants and boy, is it special. She also has a wonderful garden on the other side of the house from the nursery. Don't go there. I went, and look what happened to me. I ended up selling my house in London and moving to Gloucestershire, just up the road.
Here we have the "echoing" effect that I like: the humps and hillocks of the plants in this scree bed reflect the curves of the trees and the hills around the garden.
A fabulous yellow kniphofia, with its upright flowers looking like soldiers standing to attention, echoes the shape of the conifer beyond.
Of course, you don't have to use plants just to echo plants. Here Derry has used a rusted iron sculpture as a sort of exclamation point at the end of the border.
And the kniphofia stands guard at the beginning of a path.
Sorry, I can't say anything intelligent about this picture. It just makes me go weak at the knees. What a view. And in the foreground, the angelica has raided the dressing up box and is pretending to be a tree.
Seriously, Derry's nursery has a lot to do with my reasons for moving. I went there with VP (yes, I blame her too) and Marty Wingate back in August, and had a wonderful afternoon being shown round the garden by Derry herself. We got back to VP's house for supper, and I sat there bleating: "I want to live in Derry's house! I want to have Derry's garden! I want to come and buy my plants at Derry's nursery!"
Marty teased me, saying: "You just want to BE Derry!" and VP said: "Well, why not? You could do it, you could sell your house in London, and move to Wiltshire." No, I couldn't possibly, I said, I have to keep working until my kids are through university, and I enjoy my job, and OK, I might get very tired, and I might really miss the kids now they're both off to college and feel that the house is too big, but it'll be fine.
All the way home, driving along the motorway, that little seedling of an idea took root and grew. Marty went off to Edinburgh for the festival, and I got on the internet and started looking at properties.
I warn you: these women are dangerous.