A discussion of space and flow in a garden is not just about one’s eye-it is also about providing clear passage and respite for people you like. How I move in, use, work and relax in my garden is easy for me-I live there. I know the shortcuts. It does not take so much to entertain me-sometimes flopping down on the grass works just fine. As much as I love the solitary aspect of my garden, friends visit. They need places to be, and be comfortable.
Should you have one friend, or many-should you have older relatives, and a slew of kids, the issues are the same. Should you be interested in company enjoying your garden, planning for them to be there comfortably is important.
I invite my clients to visit their own home in disguise. Be a guest in your garden for an hour. Where do you park? Can you see the house number? Are you clearly directed to the door? Is the porch large enough for two of you to stand side by side? If there are stairs, are they easy to negotiate? Are the walks and stairs lit in the evening? Your questions will be better than mine-you live there.
Hard flat surfaces are friendly to people. Slopes and uneven surfaces make people focus their attention on maintaining their balance, instead of enjoying your peonies in bloom. My car park doubles as a terrace when I have company-I put my car in the street. Though my fountain garden has a bench, it also has higher than chair height seat walls. It’s easy to sit down in a number of places; it is equally easy for a number of people to casually congregate as they see fit. Even the little dogs like this.
My deck terrace is large enough for dining furniture, a few lounge chairs, the barbeque-and my pots. I bring the garden upstairs; some nights I am too tired go into the garden. Wherever people might be in my garden, there are places to sit, to talk, to linger.
Thomas Church wrote a book entitled “Gardens are for People”. This idea has inspired many a beautiful walkway, bench, pool, terrace, pergola, dining table, croquet lawn-you get the idea. How your friend, or your party of 60 will enter your property, enjoy the garden, have a cocktail and sit down to dinner-this is worth planning for. Sharing a garden is one of the better reasons to own one.
All your friends will appreciate your efforts.