Saturday, March 10, 2012

Garden Diary: Framing and screening

Take this cluttered photo of the Brooklyn garden, imagine a golden tree canopy softening the view out, and in your mind's eye erase the field of debris and substitute a planted garden.

Then proceed ...

Peter Holt, an artist and garden designer (and cyber friend) near Halifax, Nova Scotia, sent me this design sketch for a screen for the back (front?) of the Brooklyn garden.

I like the three-dimensional framing of the white (ethereal) Bacchus mask mounted on the back screen so as to be centered within the rectangle of the front screen. As you move around the garden, the mysterious white face will appear to change position relative to the frame edges, giving a greater sense of depth and visual focus; like a magnet, keeping one's eyes within the garden. Being on the central axis, I imagine it will be particularly effective viewed from within the house.

 And if lighted at night, quite a feature.

The varied spacing of the horizontal wooden elements should catch the sunlight in changing patterns throughout the day (similar in concept to the vertically constructed screens Emily has suggested in comments on previous posts).

There are also practical, quotidian advantages to this design ... the screen on the left will hide a composting and maintenance area, possibly even a small tool storage cabinet.

If stained slate gray, this double screen would essentially take the place of the fence at the back of the garden, lending a much more elegant, refined atmosphere than the rough boards of the fencing.

Climbers such as Hydrangea petiolaris or Schizophragma hydrangeoides could be particularly attractive against the dark color.

Question is, can I afford it?


  1. But think of the Return on your Investment, every time you look out, every time you step out.

    1. You're right, Diana. You have such a succinct way of putting things.

  2. As ever, Diana is right. Go for it. Whenever I try to economise, or compromise, in the garden I always regret it. And in the long run, I regret the waste of money on something that's not satisfactory far more than I agonise about how much I spent on something that works. Or I regret that I didn't spend the money and enjoyed the results while I had the opportunity.
    I've just bought two new putty-coloured benches which look so smart against a dark fence. Do I feel guilty? No. Mind you, the bank manager has made an appointment to see me on Tuesday. . .

  3. Thanks for the additional push, Victoria. We need with the contractor Tuesday morning. After that, I'll know the additional costs of all the things that constitute additional costs in the new apartment. We've decided to move the AC/heating unit from the back wall to the roof, and we'll pay dearly for that. Okay, I'll stop complaining.

  4. That's really good of Peter to put together a design for you.

    I think Bacchus would work well against the trellis in that colour.

    Ah now the economics of the thing. The relationship between ends and scarce means equals choice. You need to live off gruel for a couple of months and stick some cash by. The garden is more permanent than your last meal.

  5. I like very much the concept of the two overlapping screens. I wonder, though, if the opening for Bacchus is large enough to act as a focal point? Also, will his face be completely hidden (due to the depth) when viewed from an oblique angle? Is Bacchus really so petite? I often have to make a mock-up of these things (such as with a cardboard box trimmed to size and depth) to test my ideas, but I suspect that I might like to enlarge the proportions of the opening a little bit. If Bacchus needs more scale, then he could be mounted to a decorative panel inside the opening.


  6. Emily, thanks for the good advice. I don't have to use the Bacchus, some other object would do, but I agree with your point about relative size of opening vs. object within it. A cardboard mock-up. Such a simple and important step. Something I'd never take the time to do, and have to live with regret. This weekend, I hope to give a mock-up a try, view it from various angles and distances.



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