Dream a Space for Dreaming
By Charles Hopkins
Published 10/23/2007 | Home Improvement
"When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden." --Minnie Aumonier
Daydreaming is a well-respected pastime. Not only is it an
excellent stress reducer, but also we may have some of our most
inspired thoughts while daydreaming. And what better place to daydream
than a restful garden?
How do you go about creating the perfect place for this most perfect of pastimes? Why, by daydreaming, of course!
Before you ever lift a spade or buy a plant, take a stroll through
your imagination. Let your mind be the space within which you create
the garden of your dreams. Play with the possibilities. A little
dreaming will uncover those features that will put your personal
imprint on the garden and make it the restful place of your dreams.
Here are a few ways to fire your imagination:
Make a list of garden features that you have seen and liked.
Visit public gardens.
Go to the library and look through garden books and magazines.
Search the Internet where proud homeowners post photos of their gardens.
Observe your house and its surroundings. What style does this
suggest? Can you echo some of these elements in your garden design?
Now do a little daydreaming. See yourself in the garden reading or
playing or entertaining. Stroll around in your mind and notice what
elements your imagination places in this space. Pay attention to how
you feel. What mood do you want to create?
Next make a list of garden features that appeal to you. Here are some possibilities to get you started:
Patio or deck
Shade and fruit trees
Neat rows of plants or elegant drifts and exuberant patches of color
Stretches of green lawn or fragrant groundcovers
Rock garden or water fountain
Statues and urns
Garden gate or archway
The garden features that appeal to you will have an impact on
whether you design a formal or an informal garden. The amount of space
you have also will influence whether you lean toward the formal or the
A formal garden is highly structured. Think of the carefully
manicured gardens of 18th century England. They have a strong central
axis and cross axes. Formal gardens comprise straight lines, geometric
angles and sharp edges. They use symmetrical pairings that mirror one
another and generally have low hedges bordering planting beds. The
landscape uses brick and stone and is populated with topiary,
ornamental pools, statues and fountains.
An informal garden has a more natural look with plants spilling
onto paths. Do not, however, let the casual appearance fool you. An
informal garden is not a license to forego planning! If paths and
plants are scattered willy-nilly, your garden may not engender a sense
of restfulness. While an informal garden may appear more natural, it
still has a strong ground pattern created through crisply defined beds
and strong, well-defined curves. Unlike a formal garden, the focal
points are subtler and the patterns more asymmetrical. The landscape
uses a wide variety of materials -- both brick and organic materials.
There are beds and islands rather than borders.
Larger spaces can support informal sweeps and curves while a
structured approach works better if your space is limited. If you have
limited space but find a traditional formal garden too uninviting, you
can "soften" a formal design by letting plants spill onto the walkway
and by using paves bedded on sand or gravel instead of creating
intricate brick patterns.
Where space is not a concern, consider a formal garden close to the house and an informal garden beyond.
As you begin identifying how you want your dream space to look --
how you want it to feel -- let your imagination roam free. There will
be plenty of time later to hear from your practical,
budgetary-conscious left-brain. For now, just brainstorm the
possibilities. You just may uncover the one element that will make your
garden truly unique.