I was out and about recently in a very pretty village. I hadn’t been there for some years so the cottages and houses seemed a lot smarter and some of the older places had been improved with tastefull extensions, smart new garden walls with metal railings atop. When I retraced my steps, I noticed a wonderful garden design – much more attractive than when I used to frequent the village. The owner had scaled back the lawned area to two smart blocks set at a diagonals, with very smart pebbles surrounding them, leading to the borders which were beautifully arranged – in the shadier side, tall spikey verbenas intermingling with anenomies at the back along the terracing panels, with hydraengas and helleborus in their summer dormancy in clumps of repeated colour down the front. In the other border which was much sunnier, there were fantastic splashes of montbretia, fiery red blossoms on fabulous lime green foliage. These tricks are easy to copy but it takes a designer to really bring out the special effects of staging garden plants.