Designers are increasingly trying to create a sense of ‘immersion’ in a garden, where you feel completely secluded and enveloped in a space. This can increase the sense of it being a secret retreat where you’re transported for a while into another world.
A good way to start is by replacing large areas of lawn or hard landscaping with dense planting. Instead of planting being round the edges, it takes centre stage - think generous planting beds coming into the middle of a garden, enveloping seating areas and lining paths.
Imagine starting with plants and carving strategically placed paths and seating into that space, ideally using plants that work together to help create an atmosphere of a particular place such as a forest, meadow or jungle. Large drifts or matrixes of textural grasses and plant communities work well, but equally tall, large-leaved exotic planting can also lend itself to an immersive feel. Greening up the garden perimeters, too, helps create a sense of seclusion. Add layers of planting at the boundaries, as well as vertical layers from underplanting to trees, to create a canopy layer.
Adding a sense of discovery with big-leaved plants or screens of semi-transparent planting, or hedges to hide what is beyond, with paths that take you on a journey, also helps create the feeling of escape from the world – even in the heart of a city.