It's been a while since I posted about my educational journey towards certification as a landscape designer. I'm still plugging away, moving around and through some roadblocks life dropped in my path, and my journey is taking longer than I want, but anything worth having is worth working for … so I continue to follow my Papa's advice to keep dancin' or, in this case keep studyin'.
One of the lessons involved designing a dynamic space – an area that urges people to move and allows them to do so safely and comfortably. The dynamic space must lead to a static space that encourages quiet, passive activities. My creation for this lesson uses a paver pathway to lead from a flat lawn into a formal herb garden. The four ground-level beds have lower-growing herbs (thyme, Alpine strawberry, globe basil for instance) along the edges of the paved path. Mid-size (lavender, rosemary, chives, sage) and taller (fennel, blueberry bushes, hyssop, tansy) herbs fill the center and outer edges of these beds. A five-foot vine-covered trellis surrounded by mid-height herbs sits at the center of the first paved circle. With no benches or raised areas available for seating, visitors are encouraged to move along the pathways. But the the herb plantings serve as a distraction that slows movement so visitors can leisurely enjoy the scented foliage and colorful blooms of the herbal plantings.
The stroll through the herb garden leads to another circular area paved in an alternate pattern to denote a second garden area. Centered in this circle is a five to six foot tall potted specimen plant – think fig or citrus tree, or a flowering standard specimen. This second circular area denotes the entrance to the butterfly sitting garden. At it's center is a two-foot tall raised bed planter containing a solar-powered fountain – the noise of the moving water helps drown out distracting outside sounds - surrounded by flowering annuals/perennials. At the outer edges of the raised bed, opposite three benches, rests three shallow butterfly-watering basins. While sitting on the benches visitors can observe the butterflies as they flit from flowering shrub to flowering perennial to flowering annual to the shallow watering basins. Square potted container plants sit at the four corners of the square pathway. The planting areas at the edges of the square, paved path are planted with butterfly-attracting shrubs, ranging from three to six feet tall, that enclose the seating area in blooming shrubbery.
This formal design, which calls for paver pathways and granite edging can be adapted to create a less formal feel. Planting beds could have less formal cut-soil edging to keep lawn grass at bay. The paths could be loose gravel, fieldstone, or woodchip gravel. Planters could be simple clay pots. Plantings in the sitting area can also be altered to attract hummingbirds, or the entire design could planted as a kitchen or edible garden. Some of the herbs could be replaced by salad greens, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and beans and the sitting area could be surrounded by small fruiting trees and shrubs.
The idea is to entice visitors into the area using the straight path, slow their movement by the attraction of and interest in the planting beds and, finally, give them reason to stop and reflect on the natural beauty surrounding them as they sit on the benches. Busy gardeners often need to be reminded to stop a while to enjoy the fruits or flowers of their labor. Creating a sitting area enclosed by gardens will do just that.
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