The house is beginning to take shape. However the weather has made the progress of the house — and therefore the garden — much slower than I had hoped. Originally my plan (more of a hope actually) was to begin putting in some of the more distant trees and shrubs by now.
But we still don’t have water on the site – well, except for the excessive amounts of rain — so we can’t really sensibly plant anything that I want to live.
What we can do is start to lay out the paths – the strolling paths for a stroll garden.
Most of the paths are going to be Decomposed Granite, an inexpensive and rather informal surface, just right for walking along in a country garden. It really is crushed stone, sort of sandy or gravelly; and depending on the color you choose it looks like a mixture of sand and soil and feels comfortable and natural, yet is not muddy. I plan to make the edges disappear by covering them with overflowing groundcovers, perennials and shrubs so it should be hard to tell where the path ends and the plantings begin.
Someday it will look like this – a natural walkway curving through the Woodland and the Perennial Border.
I’m working now on a design issue which is a new kind of puzzle for me — how to mark the transitions from one area of the garden to the next. It’s one of the most important ways to help visitors experience the gardens.
In England the best-known method is by creating garden rooms, each separated by a wall, or hedge or structure of some kind.
But I want to avoid the ‘rooms’ experience. I want the garden to be experienced as a whole, an entity as you walk through it, and yet – the different areas are different. It’s like joints on a body. The body is a whole, and yet you know where the calf ends and the foot begins – the transition is the ankle.
So far I’ve worked out a few transitions. The path under the pergola that leads from the house continues to the perennial border. The transition is a pair of evergreens, probably Serbian Spruce that one walks between. Yes, you can see the perennial border before you begin to walk through it, but the pair of trees act as an ‘ankle’ to mark the transition.
A seating area does the job of marking transitions between the woodland, the meadow and the perennial border — as well as offering a peaceful place to stop and rest for a while.
The light of a meadow seen from the shade of a woodland
I think I’m making another kind of transition by using and controlling light. The woodland will be dark, cool, shaded (eventually – gardens are not instant). And as you walk along the path you’ll see a distant glow of the open Meadow, like a burst of light seen from the shade of the woodland walk.
There will be a lot more to come on this important design issue.