Woman with trowel: What makes a garden?


A shady garden nook. Photo credit: M. Brehaut

Plants are an essential part of most gardens but there are many other components that add to the functionality and enjoyment of a garden space. Your preferences dictate these elements. Follow me and I’ll tell you what makes my garden mine.

Our garden is small but we still have five sitting areas. Two of them have comfortable chairs for having a leisurely coffee. There are two spots for full on naps and a hammock for a drowse and a swing. For me, chairs and benches have to be comfortable – an invitation to sit and stay awhile. I found my husband out at our little café area the other afternoon, working away under the shade of the umbrella, with one of our dogs under his feet. The image makes me smile.

Entry pathway – wide and easy to traverse. Photo credit: M. Breaut

I love the idea of walking barefoot outside but don’t like stepping on pebbles. So we have smooth flagstone pathways around the house and tumbled basalt cobbles in the front. When it rains, the cobblestones darken and add contrast to the garden. Our dogs like to lounge on them on warm evenings, and I can walk out to the garbage in my bare feet, which pleases me.

Joe Pye weed and obelisk for partial privacy. Phot credit: M. Brehaut

The choice of garden walls will help determine the feel of a space. Do you prefer a sense of privacy or want to showcase your garden? I like partial openness in the front so I use Joe Pye weed for walls that grow to 7 feet and Karl Foerster grass that creates a swaying hint of privacy. Other areas are lower and open, allowing me to borrow the view of my neighbour’s beautiful garden – all of the fun and none of the work.

Intuitive and roomy circulation creates a sense of ease; no one has to work hard to get to the front door. Our front pathway is wide and evident.

Water features are a great entertainment, both for birds and observers. 20 bushtits came to our birdbath the other day, many of them obviously young and still learning to fly with accuracy. I watched them from the hammock, delighted with their visit. Chickadees use our birdhouses; witnessing a chick fledge is like seeing your favorite team score.

I love to garden so my plant selection leans towards the complex. But I also love to read, nap and watch nature in my garden so the elements I have chosen reflect these preferences. My garden suits me.

What makes your garden yours?

Last modified: July 23, 2012

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