Monday, August 16, 2010

Garden Diary: Linear motif

Peter Holt, friend and garden designer near Halifax, Nova Scotia, suggested I add a new garden feature to extend the visual line made by my long, thin pond near the house, and continued by a long stone-wall raised planting bed. My first thought was to make another stone-wall planter, but the labor and cost were just too much.

So this is the result, a roughly crescent-shaped "resting" area, a clean void in the midst of the garden, constructed roughly in line with the other two linear elements. Well, not actually in line, but in "curve," as a river curves. Picture this out in the middle of the garden. I need to add a few more concrete pavers (16 by 16 inches) then an infill of gravel, and it's finished.

This new feature is located off to the right of this photo, behind the Miscanthus giganteus.

Here is the unfinished approach from the other side.

Now that I've placed it here, amid all the grasses, I see the need to plant bolder plants for more solidity, shape, form. I need large leaves, interesting foliage, pattern, repetition--plants and objects that want to be viewed close up, that help define the space and its qualities.

The view is back toward the house side of the garden, hidden behind the giant Miscanthus at the back on the right ...

I think the grid works well to subdue the wildness of the plantings, as a counterpoint to the swaying verticals and swirling foliage ...

I'm reminded of grid patterns Mien Ruys used in some of her gardens.


  1. I like how you present the problem you want to solve, then the partial execution and then the result, not just a before and after photo. These simplest of forms -- some squares and gravel -- add wonderful intention to the path. Now it is not just a meandering way through the wild plants, but a deliberate element drawing you down the walk. So simple, so effective.

  2. I like your new addition. A little geometry creates a nice contrast.

  3. Laurrie, I'm glad you like it. And I like the way you explain the intention. I think I felt some need to extend the shape out into the garden because it "completes" the metaphor of my garden as a river delta, a flowing out of water after it rounds the hillock on which the house sits. But it was only after Peter Holt urged me to extend the shapes with another planting bed that I fully formed an idea. Then I had to simplify to reduce the cost. I've always loved the look of the aged concrete pavers Mien Ruys often used in her very different gardens, so I settled on the idea of simple concrete and gravel. I hope it ages and colors in a pleasing way.

  4. Les, yes, geometry to contrast with the flow of water over the land. Something you aren't so aware of in the summer months, but a real fact of nature in winter and early spring. I may have to add some more "geometry" in other areas.



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