Gnome more! South East gardens stuck in the past

BBC Gardener's World presenter Chris Beardshaw pictured talking about the generations of gardens for Bradstone. Picture by Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix
BBC Gardener's World presenter Chris Beardshaw pictured talking about the generations of gardens for Bradstone. Picture by Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix

More than two thirds of gardens in the south east are stuck in the past with homeowners admitting their outdoor space has been influenced by previous decades, according to research conducted by paving manufacturer, Bradstone.

A nationwide survey of homeowners with gardens revealed that in the south east, 70 per cent of gardens’ main features pre-date the 1990s, with 80s wooden slatted fences (46 per cent), 60s manicured lawns (38 per cent) and 50s formal bedding plants (29 per cent) featuring most prominently as design hangovers from the past.

Bradstone says it seems the region’s homeowners have been slow to adopt 21st century garden design, with contemporary features such as mixed native hedging (11 per cent), raised vegetable beds (eight per cent), fire pits (five per cent), and artificial grass (three per cent) each present in just one third of gardens.

While 41 per cent of respondents in the south east said their garden is the most important feature of their home, only 18 per cent are most likely to feel pride when thinking about or looking at their garden, the paving manufacturer added.

Indeed, 16 per cent of the region’s homeowners say they are most likely to feel dread or embarrassment about their garden, and almost one quarter feel envious of their neighbours’ gardens, according to the survey.

The top three changes people in the south east would most like to make to their garden are replacing the lawn with new grass, adding or replacing fencing, and adding or replacing flowers or plants.

In the region, weeds (46 per cent), garden gnomes (38 per cent) and trampolines (33 per cent) topped the poll of unacceptable items within a modern garden.

Award-winning garden designer and TV presenter, Chris Beardshaw, said: “Modern gardeners have an unprecedented range of plants to choose from – from exotic edibles to exquisite ornamentals, from all corners of the globe – all of which can pretty much be cultivated in our gardens.

“Together with easy access to technical information on how to grow plants, it is completely possible to recreate and encapsulate almost any style of garden from any point in history, and from anywhere in the world. So, gardeners simply have to decide how theatrical they want their outdoor space to be.”

Flowers that bloom all year round (41 per cent), more wildlife (38 per cent) and gardening with a purpose (26 per cent) are the top three things people in the south east want most, according to the research.

Toby Stuart-Jervis, commercial director for Bradstone, who commissioned the study to mark the company’s 60th anniversary, said: “No matter what decade your garden reflects, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you have a penchant for 60s inspired crazy paving or favour timber decking terraces popularised in the 1990s, your garden should be a space you enjoy, and an extension of your home.

“There are many quick and easy updates you can make without breaking the bank, and the upcoming May bank holiday weekend is an excellent opportunity to get outdoors and make your garden a space to be proud of.”

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