The urn in this photo grounds the view from the window, the surrounding paths and front porch.
In this final follow-up to our Spring Cleaning newsletter, we offer ideas for creating compelling scenes or views in your garden, with the goal of making the space more attractive and engaging. In keeping with the theme of developing gardens, we’ll focus on ideas that work with smaller additions and changes here, but a taste of the larger possibilities of this concept can be found in our newsletter about features, among other places.
The most important part of creating a view or scene is to consider the viewpoint. Whether we’re working on a new or existing garden, on a large or small area, we return over and over again to the pathways, windows, doors and other areas from which the space will be seen. We can all get lost in our own perspective while working in the garden, looking at a planting or other element from right where we’re standing – even if we’re in the middle of a planting bed! Take a walk around the area you’re working in, pausing at the important viewpoints, considering how changes will appear from each location, and prioritizing the most used points and pathways. Be sure to repeat this routine often through design and layout, as the view will change with each new element (or sometimes just a change in light).
Repeated forms, like these Juniper 'Gold Cone,' are a nice central focus
Creating or enhancing a central focus is the first tangible step in creating a view. Whether you’re adding a hard element, planting, or hardscape, consider that any of them will be balanced by your plantings. Substantial, simple elements will ground your view, where smaller or fussier elements might be lost. A few ideas for eye-catching elements for your scene are:
- Specimen tree with beautiful form (go see the Baltzers!). You may be able to use or improve on an existing specimen in your garden
- A series of three or five striking conifers or other evergreen (sheared boxwood?)
- Ceramic urn, planted or unplanted
- Basalt bowl
- Stone stairs or path
A simple addition to an existing bed.
Even small changes deserve a solid foundation. Building a base of compacted gravel and leveling your hard elements will make a big difference in their effect and usefulness. Don’t hesitate to move or remove plants or other elements that will detract from the long-term goal.
Whenever possible, we like to bring the finishing plants for a space after the primary elements are in place. Often the best ideas for finishing the scene we’re creating comes late in the process. Although the urn in the photo at right was a beautiful element on its own, we didn’t think of the forehead-slappingly obvious addition of a big, blue hosta until after it was in place. You can contrast or echo the color and form of your central elements, but be sure not to bury them in oversized plants.
We hope our ideas for spring cleaning have brought a little fun and inspiration to your garden this year. We’re working out of town this week, but we’ll be back soon with the next newsletter and more ideas for your space.