A number of features can be used very effectively as the focal point in a garden. Whatever you choose should be positioned as far away from the vantage point as is practical, so that you encompass the greatest possible area. Make sure you position the focal point in the best possible place to suit the circumstances. (An off-centre focal point sometimes works well artistically.)
An effective and not-too-expensive object to act as a feature is a well-shaped, colourful tree or shrub or a Conifer set in an expanse of lawn. Naturally the choice will be determined by the plant’s ultimate size. If you want it to fulfil an all-year-round purpose, select an evergreen, even though this will limit the choice considerably, since there are relatively few evergreen trees suitable for such a purpose.
A very colourful focal point would be the Rose, Rosa moyesii. It is not evergreen, but it makes an excellent show with its rich blood-crimson blooms during June and July, followed by large, flagon-shaped, bright crimson fruits. Another effective way of using Roses is to grow climbers up a pyramid frame; ‘Rosy Mantle’ is a good choice for this.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Ferruginea’, an evergreen with creamy white blooms, and Rhododendron ‘Britannia’, whose flowers are a fiery red, also make strong focal points.
An island bed of appropriate size (according to the garden) makes a colourful outlook from the windows of a house. It could be planted out with herbaceous perennials , which would give a very beautiful display during the summer. The disadvantage of this scheme is that it is dull during the winter, but that can be overcome by substituting a mixed bed, containing a sprinkling of evergreen winter-flowering shrubs and dwarf golden Conifers.
A very beautiful, colourful, all-the-year-round mixed bed can be produced in gardens with acid soil by planting an island bed with Heathers. Such a scheme is both simple and labour-saving. An attractive result would be obtained by planting two summer-flowering Heaths, such as cerise Erica vagans ‘Mrs D. F. Maxwell’ and white ‘Lyonesse’ and one winter one – Erica carnea ‘Winter Beauty’ (syn. ‘King George’), for example – in groups of five or more, according to the size of the bed. In the middle of each group, plant the evergreen Ruta graveolens ‘Jackman’s Blue’, and dwarf Conifers Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’ and the golden-yellow Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’.
Few gardens today have room for formal Rose beds, but one way still to ensure a good display of Roses is to create an island Rose bed as a centre piece of a garden layout. Bushes should be intermingled with a line of standards which will give height and add interest. Equally attractive as centre pieces are a rockery or water garden, particularly if they give some colour throughout the year.
There are numerous ‘hardware’-type objects which can be positioned in a garden so as to give an attractive outlook from the windows of the house. Among the largest and most useful, perhaps, is a summer-house, which would be even more effective if it had a paved area in front of it (for relaxation and outdoor meals), a place for pretty garden furniture. Statues make excellent eye-catchers and can give great elegance to a scene. Stone ones are effective but expensive: for smaller areas, a sundial or bird bath are attractive alternatives.