I've been doing an online PDC course and part of the assessment is to design a site. I've chosen a garden that's around 8m x 9m big and had to provide some concepts before the final design. I found this part really difficult as although I've read the theory, I'm finding it really hard to work out even rough planting locations based on the plants' needs, along with taking all the site factors into account.
Anyway, the feedback I've had is that the proposals are too complex with too many elements for someone to look after. The owner can dedicate about 7-8 hours per week in maintaining the garden (he's also a ornamental gardener by trade) so I've been told to take this more into account. However, I find it really hard to know how long general maintenance takes as I'm not an experienced gardener by any stretch of the imagination (two false starts in veg gardening)!
The designs have a small pond, an espalier fruit tree, a pergola with climbers, an dwarf fruit tree (with Russian comfrey underneath), 2 chickens, a compost heap, some ornamental beds, some herb beds, a wild "meadow patch" and some standard lawn. There is a small bed for salads and another for potatoes and beans. In terms of simplifying it, what do you think would take the most maintenance? I have no idea how much work a pond needs but I'm thinking that I'll need to scrap the chickens. Again, I know dwarf trees and espaliers are more time consuming than vigorous, but no idea of how much time needs to be dedicated.
On another note, I'm advised comfrey isn't good to plant under fruit trees when they're young - would I be better off with lavender, hyssop, nasturtiums, etc? And at what age can you start planting comfrey.