‘Faites simple’ (was it Voltaire who said it? Or Escoffier?) is often quoted as the soundest, the most essential, stylistic advice. Keep it simple. What does it mean to a gardener? I picture spaces in perfect proportion, a theme of brilliant relevance, an ideal triad of colours, a single tree, or urn, or rock placed precisely to balance a distant spire or crag.
Simplicity – and boredom. How often can you admire the designer’s judgement? The greatest designs have authority, true, which rarely comes from over-complication. You certainly remember a decisive garden better than one made by a ditherer. What Voltaire (or Escoffier) meant, or I hope he meant, is not cut out the fiddly bits, but know what you are aiming for and go for it. Evident intent, consistently pursued, is the winning formula. Decide what you want, and if you are side-tracked clamber back to your original plan as quickly and as gracefully as you can.