Having a garden in which you can see all facets of the garden, is like having a house built with only four walls and no rooms. Without rooms, nooks and crannies, a home would be nothing but a shed. Likewise a garden created with rooms makes for a garden with surprises and a sense of journey.
Landscape and garden designers often use garden rooms to overcome problems that may exist. For example, a messy backyard shed can be screened with trellis and climbers, and combined with additional side hedges plus a roof structure, a new entertainment area is formed.
The separation from one space to another can be created by real walls (brick, mortar, timber, etc.) or by the suggestion of living walls (hedges, climbers, potted plants, changed ground level).
Garden rooms are most commonly located beside the home building to function as an extension of the living space thereby extending the lounge, entertainment or dining areas. The current trend for new buildings and renovations is to incorporate this type of garden room during the planning stages.
Alternatively, garden rooms can be created some distance from the home in order to entice residents and visitors into the garden and to travel the journey amongst cherished plants and flowers, past figurines and statues, over bridges and platforms and possibly through ‘middle earth’ – the patch of lawn.
By separating one section from another it is feasible to produce different functional areas… one for entertainment, one for children’s play, one for a themed parent retreat, and so on.
Small gardens can also benefit from this ‘garden room’ design concept. Any garden divided into smaller yet functional garden rooms will give a sense of more space.
For large gardens, the mystery of secret corners, surprise enclosed rooms and hidden nooks will provide a sense of charm and style. Executed on a large scale, acreage gardens have the opportunity to enhance all the senses relating to good landscape design.
Creating a good journey
A good journey is one that does not expose the full path or adventure.
For a garden journey, build the path though one or more garden rooms.
If the journey is to a seat near a water feature encourage the visitor to enter the garden, walk along a pathway, observe one or more focal points (such as a figurine or planting pattern), before reaching the destination. At that point the seat should be sited with a unique view back to the entrance or into another garden room.
If the full length of the pathway is concealed from first glance, then the journey will appear further and offer a sense of surprise.
For every journey there must be a destination. Ensure there is something worthy at the end of the trip such as a view, seat, water feature, entertainment area. Although a common trick with small gardens is to make a pathway that concludes with a dead stop behind the shrubs, this is not ideal of larger gardens as it will foster disappointment in visitors.
Copyright: Paul Plant, Horticulturist and landscape writer