Noughty by nature: Emma Townshend picks her winners from a decade of grassy knolls, wild allotments and shocking sculptures
Sunday 06 December 2009
Designer of the decade: Piet Oudolf
The king of the grassy knoll, has become famous over the past decade for his drifts of soft perennial planting and grasses, often using flowers from the American prairies. His designs have been taken up with equal enthusiasm by posh stately homes (Scampston Hall in Yorkshire) and huge new metropolitan schemes (such as Chicago's Millennium Park). At Wisley, the RHS's southern HQ, he created long double borders that slant gently uphill, full of feathery grasses and bronze daisies that move with the wind. This is a style that will look distinctively noughties in years to come.
Where to see it: Oudolf's "Rivers of Grass" at Trentham, Staffordshire, where soft swathes of Molina grass are planted on flood meadows to create a garden that can survive winter wet. A peaceful place with a sense of playfulness.
Trend of the decade: Growing our own
We've all gone mad for it on paper, and allotment lists are chocker. But a trip round most sites reveals that the most productive plots still belong to retired folks who can devote the hours to the endless tasks involved. We normal folks are more likely to find ourselves giving up after a year or two as energy flags, passing on our plot to another naively optimistic family.
How to do it (better): Sites such as King Henry's Walk in Islington, where each member receives just 4m x 2m, are small enough to get under control in just a day, but big enough to produce salad leaves, baby beets, peas and new potatoes. And backyard patio growers should train their tomatoes and tomatillos upwards from the growbag, rather than letting them sprawl.
Downside of the decade: Bad sculptures
Unfortunate displays of cast-iron hares, glass baubles and novelty hedgehogs have continued to feature in gardens from the very small to the grand-enough-to-know-better. They also take up an inordinate amount of space at every summer flower show. I suppose we just have to accept that the sale of flawed garden knick-knacks funds the bit we actually like looking at. But my biggest single wish for the 2010s would be a nationwide ban – particularly on the hares.
Who is guilty: RHS Wisley, Surrey; Pashley Manor, Sussex; and many, many others. For good sculpture in an outdoor setting, head for Roche Court, Salisbury (sculpture.uk.com), Henry Moore's Perry Green home in Hertfordshire (henry-moore-fdn.co.uk), and the Barbara Hepworth Garden in St Ives (tate.org.uk).
Chicken chic: Poultry returns for all
Chickens are the new garden residents of the decade. I realised poultry had become glamorous when I sat next to the actors Keeley Hawes and her husband Matthew Macfadyen at a lunch and she showed me pictures of their hens on her iPhone.
Modern chooks will love a recyclable Eglu chicken house, with fox-proof run, feeders, 10 kilos of feed, 10 egg boxes and two live chickens £388, omlet.co.uk
Old-fashioned hens might prefer a wooden Apex hen coop and run £225, happyhutch.co.uk
For buying and keeping advice, check out downthelane. net, which lists suppliers by county and breed
The next 10 years: As debate about the sharp decline of bees rages, add a brood in their very own "Beehaus". Beehaus and beekeeper's protective suit for £495, omlet.co.uk
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