One of my mentors, Amanda Patton, works on the basis that the structure of a garden needs to be beautiful even before any plants are put in.
Though plants are the blood and soul of a garden if the structure is not right the space will look unformed or cluttered. As with oil painting the longer one spends getting the proportions right the easier the colours can be added, and even if the colours aren’t right the picture still hangs together because of the underlying geometry.
This integrity is vital especially in Winter as the deciduous plants are pared back to their bones and Perennials hunker down underground.
Looking for structure around me, anything can inspire the layout of a garden. I once designed a pot based on the peel of an orange, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture’s front entrance gives a sense both of the majesty of an oak tree yet shows the way we harness and hold fast that power, the radial glory of a tree fern’s leaves can provide a layout for a vegetable gardens and the upward pyramids of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, NSW shows how a simple repetitive form can inspire myths.