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.