A winding path creates a garden surprise
Garden 1: A private, hidden space.
I decided to begin, naturally enough, with my own 32- by 22-foot garden (Garden 1, at right). Consisting of a central planting area surrounded on three sides by a walkway, the garden seemed static and two-dimensional. Everything was visible at once, and consequently it seemed smaller and more limited—not as interesting and inviting as I wanted it to be.
I thought that if the garden could unfold more gradually it would seem larger by providing those welcome elements of surprise and discovery that amplify the pleasures of a garden. I also realized that if I put the planting areas on the outer edges, with the living area toward the middle, I could generate more privacy and, at the same time, expand the planting area. This, too, would enhance the sense of spaciousness.
To do this, I built a bluestone path that wanders out from the door to the patio, canopied by two major planting groups on either side. I placed the patio more or less in the center of the yard, planting trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials on all four sides. Adjacent, I built a small fish pond and a stonefaced barbecue.
Now, as you enter the garden area, you get just a glimpse of the pond and a portion of the patio beyond, seen through the leafy overhang of trees and shrubs. It’s only as you follow the winding path that the garden opens up. As you push aside the last of the cascading foliage and step forward, you find yourself in a paved clearing, enveloped within leaves and flowers. The impact is palpable.
Once on the patio, the barbecue and dining table suggest their own possibilities, like summer evening parties, candle-lit dinners, and breakfast with the birds. The pool, situated at the patio’s edge, offers views of flashing fish and water lilies, as well as the sound of gurgling water. I used larger plants here to screen nearby structures while framing views into the tops of neighboring trees; this, too, seemed to expand the garden. I gave the patio an irregular edge by planting ground covers that obscure the lines, contributing to the sense of graceful ease.