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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Garden Design Elements: Placeness

“Where you going?’ as we like to say around here. Wandering around a garden following paths is fine to do, but eventually we want to get someplace in the garden.

We want our gardens to have places to pause for a moment or two, destinations to arrive at, and focal points that we are drawn to.

I call this element of garden design “placeness”, another word that I can’t quite find in the dictionary.

I want to wander through the garden, but have some places to pause, where maybe there is a bench to sit and rest a minute or an hour, in a spot that offers a view of the garden that I might not see if I just kept walking around the garden.

Of course, these rest stops in the garden need to be in dappled shade, and magically, regardless of weather, there is always a little table set up with a pitcher of iced green tea with ice cubes that never melt, some drinking glasses ready to be filled, and a plate of cookies.

I want to see that just up the path there is a focal point, maybe a statue of a rabbit or a piece of garden sculpture made out of various old hoes and rakes, though not my current collection of hoes. But I definitely want a place where my rabbit statue can be a focal point. It deserves it after being left out in the cold of winter, buried in snow.

I want to be drawn toward a bed of flowers and feel my step quicken as I get closer because I can’t wait to look at and smell each individual flower.

I want to have destinations in my garden so I can announce to no one in particular that I’m heading out to the Vegetable Garden. Or I’m working in the Miniature Garden. Or I’m going to go sit and read by The Pond. (Destinations are always capitalized, by the way.)

This brings up the question of sizing a garden to fit the time and resources you have to maintain it so that you do have time to go sit and read by the pond, one of the keys to achieving happiness in your garden. My garden design must incorporate the five keys to achieving happiness in your garden! But I digress…

I want to be able to tell someone to go by the Grape Arbor because that’s where I think the garden fairies sleep during the day, and they will know how to get to that place.

Yes, my garden needs to have places in it that are distinct from each other but blended by transitions so they relate to each other.

That’s what the garden element of “placeness” means to me.

19 comments:

Darla said...

Oh how I wish to achieve this..

Cindy said...

I have just been thinking about where am I going to put everything this year in the garden. This was perfect to read today.

Kathleen Scott said...

You're so right. We don't stay much in places where we can't rest.

One of the great things about establishing places is that the gardening can be done in stages. One period the butterfly garden, another the arbor and bench, a third the native bush and tree border. Always something to look at now and look forward to.

Commonweeder said...

Carol - Kathleen is right - in fact the places that appear or are created in the garden contain the history of the garden. I'm thinking about new places to add this year. There is always at least one.

Caroline said...

Eagerly scarfing down all your design posts. You speak my language! Wanderability, yes! Placeness, yes! In my garden, DH is insisting on a bit of 'spaceness', too, for throwing footballs or setting up croquet or badminton courts.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I've enjoyed these very much Carol. I wonder will you get a pond? I don't have one, but HH wants one someday. I think they're a lot of trouble, but they attract wildlife and that's great.~~Dee

Kate said...

What a lovely post, Carol. I name my gardens but have not, as yet, come up with good ideas on ways to connect them with paths and purpose.

PS: A Miniature Garden?? I'm dying to learn more. Note to self. Must visit Carol more often.

Anonymous said...

The Japanese will widen a path slightly, or use larger stones at a place where they want you to stop and look around you.

Deirdre

Patsy Bell said...

Great post. I like the bench to encourage folks to linger in you garden.

Anonymous said...

We just have a North garden and a South garden...not connected

Melody said...

I enjoyed my gardens so much more, once I named them and added some type of seating to some of them. I am still working on the seating in others. Having places also helps when you buy plants. Then you can say, "I can put this in the Tropical Garden, or the Yellow Garden or by the Dragon Pond." Those are a few of the gardens I have now. While I still buy one of this and one of that, I at least feel like I am working on a design:)

Rose said...

I think Webster should take note of the new nouns you've coined, Carol, and add them to the next dictionary edition. I would love to have both of these, "placeness" and "wanderability" in my garden. To get from my Butterfly Garden to my Shade Garden is quite a little trek, and from there to the Roadside Garden is a real hike! I need some ideas to consolidate areas so that visitors--and I--don't have to put on running shoes just to see all my garden areas:)

Kathy said...

Is your yet-to-be-named garden designer reading these posts?

Jess said...

I am doing a lot of thinking before I start putting plants et al. in a few weeks about what exactly I can do to create a garden space that has a true design. I am enjoying your posts!

Orlando Realtor said...

I love the idea of the pitchers of chilled tea waiting. Who puts those out for you, the garden fairies? I guess they haven't found my garden yet, and it is in Central Florida, near Orlando, which is a great place to visit.....maybe this year. :-)

Cindy, MCOK said...

I look forward to the 3rd lesson. I think I've achieved placeness in some spots of my gardens. I need to work on it in others.

washer said...

i have taken few of your plans into my garden if u drop in u can see bit of your garden in mine. thanx keep posting

Elephant's Eye said...

Black Stork Island on Ungardening Pond. Paradise Garden (roses). Karoo Koppie. Mediterranean Sun Circle. Woodland Walk (well it will be woodland one year)

Tina said...

Oh ein Easter bunny in the snow, then yes na may come Easter.