Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Garden Design - planning special 'moments'.

What do you remember most about a garden you visited recently? Perhaps a sculptural container tucked amidst lush plantings? A secluded seating nook? A stunning combination of plants which together created a vignette so striking that you just had to stop and take a photograph?
A carefully thought out combination of plants using color repetition
My design

When hiking in the mountains we rarely walk to our final destination without pausing to admire native wildflowers, taste a wild berry or appreciate a vista which appears unexpectedly. Likewise a walk though your garden needs to include special treasures to be discovered, appreciated and enjoyed. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

A blue pillar in the style of artists Lewis & Little adds
a  focal point amidst all the plants, yet repeats
the blue of the geraniums in the foreground.
Design by Suzanne Kalish
Striking plant combinations; a splash of unexpected color always catches the eye. Imagine a group of bright orange lilies exploding from a carpet of chartreuse Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) for example. Or an artistic vignette where the colors of one plant are echoed in its partners in such a way that each component is more beautiful for the association than it would have been on its own.

A perfect spot to enjoy the pond and waterfall
My design
Sculpture and art work; from larger-than-life bronze sculptures to a child’s hand made art project, these pieces grab our attention. Their shape stands out from the surrounding foliage and the surface qualities play with light. Shiny, reflective pieces contrast well with matt leaves for example. A simple birdbath peeking from ferns along a woodland path seems perfectly at home and can draw our attention to an attractive group of shade loving plants which might otherwise go unnoticed.

Seating nooks; these provide us with an excuse to sit and savor the surroundings. When we are still we have the opportunity to hear bird song or listen to the wind as it rustles through the leaves of nearby trees. Seating areas can also allow us to view the garden from a new perspective, perhaps looking down the path along which we have just travelled. Such settings can be in open clearings or partially hidden as though in a secret garden.

This small fountain fits easily into the corner of a deck.
My design
Water features; from gurgling pondless fountains to massive installations resembling Niagara Falls, we find ourselves naturally drawn to the sound of water. An additional reward is the birdlife which it attracts. I looked forward to the brightly colored western tanagers arriving every spring to dip and dive into our modest waterfall and smaller birds always stopped to take a quick bath, splashing wildly like a toddler in a paddling pool. Water brings movement and life into a garden.



This small container repeats the purple
and orange colors of the surrounding plants
My design
Containers; can be planted or left empty. A small colorful container tucked into a border can add a new dimension to the space, reinforcing the theme or adding contrast. Larger pieces with an architectural quality can be used like sculpture to provide a focal point or a welcome visual resting place amidst an overstuffed border.

An elegant fountain and container gardens
contribute to the ambience of this serene
courtyard.
Design by Alyson Ross-Markley



So invite a friend to take a stroll down your garden path and see how often they pause. If they don’t seem to linger at all you may need to add a few of these elements to make your garden more memorable. Too many features will be visually exhausting, but one or two waiting to be discovered will make the journey seem longer (a good ploy for small gardens), more intimate and memorable. You will have created an experience, not simply a garden.





2 comments:

  1. You put it so well... "a walk though your garden needs to include special treasures to be discovered, appreciated and enjoyed... one or two waiting to be discovered will make the journey seem longer (a good ploy for small gardens), more intimate and memorable. You will have created an experience, not simply a garden." Bravo, Karen!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Alyson! The beauty of it is that we can incorporate such moments no matter how large or small our garden is. Even a patio garden benefits from one or two special details - maybe colored glass shards covering the soil in a container garden, or the gentle sounds of a windchime hanging from the branches of a tree. Even without a tree these could be fastened to a stake and inserted into a container garden. Fun!

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.