Garden designers have to take account of time as well as shape, colour and texture. This is because the shape and size of a plant will change with the seasons and from year to year. What looks good this year may be horribly out of proportion the next. Interior designers don’t have this problem. If they put together a design for a room and choose a sofa, a rug and a table lamp they won’t find, a year down the line, that the sofa has doubled in size, the rug has changed colour and the lamp has withered away. Their design may become a victim of fashion or taste but that is all.
The problem of the effects of time are startlingly illustrated by my Grevillea Rosemarinifolia. This evergreen shrub is ten years old and has grown into a magnificent plant. It’s in flower from February to November, puts up with the nastiest winters and is as happy a performer as anything in the garden. And yet, it has to go. The problem is that it’s simply too good. It’s meant to grow to a maximum of 5 feet high and 5 feet wide- i.e. 25 square feet. In fact it’s grown to 10 feet in both directions- that’s 100 square feet, or 4 times it’s expected size. The Grevillea was supposed to take up a corner of the sunken garden but has ended up dominating it. The sofa has filled up the entire room and is destined for the skip.