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  • Claire Rendall

The Great Outdoors

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

Garden designs

Now that we’re all spending more time outside with the onset of summer and The Chelsea Flower Show, it’s time to really consider your outside spaces.

The same principles apply outside as with interiors. It’s all about a colour palette, shapes, textures and viewpoints. All of this made slightly exasperating by the fact that things grow how and where they shouldn’t and the colour and texture of objects constantly changes with the effects of weather. They also change whether viewed in sunlight or rain. For many and I include myself, this constantly movable feast of an outside space is the biggest challenge.

It’s important to consider the building when designing an outside space. The reason I like to do both the interiors and exteriors is that you get a fluid feeling for space and colour. The exterior should complement the interior and from inside, the view out should gel. I recall asking Lord Bath why he wanted crimson curtains in his Penthouse at Longleat. He told me it was because the colour would contrast with the Capability Brown parkland outside. How right he was! Most of us however seek harmony rather than contrast and with the main palette of green I feel it’s important to carefully balance the colour of the planting.

I personally love the soft greys, blue and whites that sit so perfectly with Bath stone and English light. Crimsons work well with red tiles, white works well with grey.

In Sydney, the palette is totally different as are the plants. Stronger shapes and colours sit well in the harsh sun.

Think about harmony in planters and pots. Keeping a similar colour will automatically look classy and smart. Terracotta looks great with strong greens and bright reds- think pots in Spain and Italy. Lead planters, faux or real look fabulous with greys, whites and soft blues.

If you have a large space, break it up with planters or benches. That way you create something for the eye to alight on and it will give you a sense of scale and draw you in. In smaller spaces having something for your eye to focus on, other than plants will create interest.

As with interiors its about having fun, move things around, experiment.

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