Sunken Garden

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Unusual perspectives

To create depth effect in the garden, the creation of a sunken garden can be worthwhile. This is usually a square or rectangular area in the garden, which is slightly lowered and framed with natural stone walls that unlock up to the normal garden height. The height difference is compensated by a few steps or even several lateral access options - this results in terraced intermediate levels for attractive discounts.

These level differences and differently planted plateaus give especially small gardens a completely new look and width: The area is more charged with tension, opening up new perspectives. In addition, the garden looks bigger than it really is. Among other things, this is due to the water basins and garden ponds, which effectively reflect the sky and the plants and visually enlarge the garden area. If no pond is created in the recessed area, the lowered plateau can also be used as a seat, for example, which is homey and protected by a green border. Contrasts create a unique atmosphere: while clear drawn lines dictate the frame of the lower garden, the planting can be lush and rich in variety. Protective walls and borders keep out cold air currents. This creates a good microclimate in the lower garden in which many plants thrive that would otherwise find no optimal conditions and which one might have to do without.

Lowered garden with seating

A seat makes the Senkgarten a cozy retreat

History of the sunken garden

Changing the outdoor area with height shifts has long been a feature of garden design. Areas similar to an amphitheater were already in Renaissance Italian gardens. Senkgarten is modeled on the eponymous "Sunken Gardens" of English country houses, such as the garden of Packwood House in the county of Warwickshire, which was built around 1900.
Classic, plant-focused sink gardens can be seen, for example, in the Botanical Garden in Hamburg or in the Britzer Park in Berlin as well as in the White Garden in Hadamar. In addition, based on the "Potsdam School", to which Karl Foerster also belonged, a line of garden design has developed that consciously breaks with traditional views. Borders are blurred, the sink garden merges with the surrounding garden. Also, the benefits of the garden is more and more in the foreground.

The lower garden of Karl Foerster

In this country, the "Pioneer of Staudenzucht", Karl Foerster (1874 - 1970), as the inventor of the Senkgarten. His famous garden can be seen in Potsdam-Bornim on his former property next to the house. The garden was created in 1912 by Foerster together with the garden architect Willi Lange.
The lowered and strictly symmetrical area with a length of 45 meters and a width of 25 meters together with the lily pond forms the centerpiece. Around the depression, the perennial breeder created a lush variety of plants, which contrasts beautifully with geometric rigor. In addition to delphiniums, the visitor will find flaming flowers, asters, chrysanthemums, ferns, pennywoods and grasses around the pond, which is lined with iris and daylilies.

The lower garden of Karl Foerster

The famous sunken garden of the German perennial breeder Karl Foerster

According to Foerster, the plants should have the same effect as on a stage. In his book "The Rock Garden of the Seven Seasons" of 1955, he defines the lower garden as follows: "Instead of a garden one sinks near the house, partly for wind protection reasons, partly out of contemplation, a smaller square, the around in two flat stone garden terraces again rises to normal garden height and sometimes - even more deeply embedded in the ground level - contains a small bank and water garden. " Instead of terraces, according to Foerster the height differences can also be intercepted by Sedum planted earth walls.
In addition, the gardener put a rock garden, a spring path and an autumnal bed according to his motto "It is durchgebl├╝ht" on. The garden, reconstructed in 2001, was run by Foersters daughter Marianne until her death in 2010. Now he is in the hands of a foundation and can be visited every day. (Address: Karl-Foerster-Garten, Am Raubfang 6, 14469 Potsdam-Bornim)

Create a sunken garden

First and foremost, it is important to determine how high the groundwater level is. In many regions of the North German Plain, for example, no subsidence can be planted, because the groundwater is already 50 centimeters below the surface of the earth - unless you have previously poured the area correspondingly high.
A sinking garden wants to be well planned, after all, the effort is not exactly low and the designed area should fit well with the plot and the environment afterwards.First, you should be aware of how much budget you have available for the project and what local conditions exist for you. Also, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following: Where in the garden is a lowered part particularly good? Do you want to visually include the house or plot? Which dimension should the sinking plateau assume? How do you want to use the lowered position? Which plants should line the sunken garden and which care do they need? These thoughts and plans in the apron finally determined the construction.

Lower garden with drywall

Plunge gardens give the plot a special and atmosphere. Their level differences are good, especially in small gardens

A stable border is the alpha and omega

In general, it should be noted that the deeper it is buried, the greater the excavation, the more resilient the frame or the terracing of the sinking garden must be. If there are only a few kicks, they can already be caught on turf waves. But even with a difference in height from 40 centimeters you need retaining walls. These can be used in any form - bricked or stacked. Even dry stone walls, embankments and prefabricated elements can be a solution, provided they fit into the overall concept. You should use expert advice. In addition, it is important to pay attention to a possible drainage, as the planned garden is often below normal level and the rainwater naturally collects at the lowest point of the garden. Water basins and ponds require extra planning and are sometimes time consuming to maintain and maintain.

Planting from top to bottom

With the resulting interstices and wall niches your imagination with regard to the planting knows no bounds: Only on the location requirements of the plants you must pay attention - because with the plants growth sizes, space requirement and competing behavior should be necessarily included! Already Karl Foerster gave the advice to work from top to bottom, so to reserve the upper floors of domestic and dry-compatible plants and put them under rather exotic plants.

Lower garden with perennial planting

In the sunken garden Karl Foersters visitors will find magnificent perennial borders

Suitable plants

For the wall joints - thus for the upper area - are suitable: all Sedum, Phlox and Corydalis kinds, the hanging pad bluebell (Campanula poscharskyana), the ordinary Soapwort (Saponarla) as well as Woll-Ziest (Stachys byzantina). In the interstices may ornamental garlic (Allium), milkweed (Euphorbia polychroma), the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), various grasses, such as the lamp cleaner and feather grass, Aster species, catnip, torch lily (Kniphofia hybrids) and some roses Varieties are planted.
Bergenien, Primroses, Funkien, Caucasus forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla), purple bells, the Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii), maidenhair fern or the lily cluster (Liriope muscari) fit into shady areas. Forget-me-nots (myosotis), iris species, marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris), wool grasses (Eriophorum spp.), Lobelia, calamus (Acorus calamus) and rushes are good in or near the pond.
Even potted plants can find space in the lowered area and shape it. To achieve a beautiful unity of architecture and planting, flowering shrubs, fruit trees and grassy fields can surround the lower garden and create a gentle - or deliberately hard - transition to the rest of the garden.
Whether lush flowery or architecturally clear, with a sunken garden you open up new space in the garden, surround yourself with plant diversity and create a retreat.

Video Board: The making of Sunken Garden.

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