Plotting a coverup (in the garden)

Covering garden eyesores

Hiding in plain sight: An ivy-covered trellis is strategically placed to hide an unsightly air conditioner.

Winter lays bare the bones of a garden. Some would say this is a terrific opportunity to appreciate its structural framework. With no distracting leaves or flowers or calls for another round of Sangria, what better time to appreciate good landscaping and the clever juxtaposition of trees and flower beds? Since I’m writing this from Southern Ontario, not Southern England where world class gardens like Stourhead are touted as exceptionally beautiful in winter (maybe it’s the classical temples and mystical grottoes), we face a harsh reality. Winter throws the dips, corners, walls, fences, posts, gutters, compost heaps, BBQ and air conditioning unit of a typical backyard into appalling relief.

As I was trolling the internet on the hunt for smart, budget-friendly ideas for covering up less-than-lovely parts of my garden, I discovered this surprising 2-minute video on how to hide that dark corner of the garden where bins and whatnot tend to collect. I’m a big fan of Mr. Titchmarsh, a media star in the U.K. with many books and TV shows to his credit. Typical of this master gardening whiz, he starts off his trellis-building demonstration predictably and then gives the design a unique Oh Wow twist that’s shockingly easy to do and easy to personalize. Without giving the whole thing away, it involves a window and a Greek god. Check it out:

Alan Titchmarsh explains how to cover up a garden eyesore.

For more ideas, Landscaping Networks’ How to Hide Garden Eyesores article has some good tips. I’m inspired by the advice on hiding an air conditioning unit. The challenge is that you need to leave some space around the unit. The article neatly describes a fool-the-eye technique using fine-textured shrubs as camouflage and a bright, bold flowering shrub, placed to one side, that steals your attention.

Next winter, my garden’s bones are going to be spectacular.

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