by Katie Kroeker, Pacific Ridge Landscapes –
It is the nature of landscapes to change and evolve over time. As you reflect over this past season and think ahead to next year’s garden, here is a checklist of design fundamentals to keep in mind.
A Plan. The best landscapes are thought out in fine detail, resulting in a welcoming, easy feeling. It becomes evident that everything in it has been arranged with care. A landscape plan will ensure that practicalities are attended to so that the focus can shift to the experience of the space. This plan may be your own clear vision of what you’d like to see or a professional design by a qualified landscape designer.
A Focal Point. A focal point invites our gaze to stop and reflect, creating a feeling of rest in the landscape. It may be large and architectural like a fountain or pergola or, on a smaller scale, a bird bath or contrasting plant can be very effective. Remember: it is not ceramic frogs, glass balls or butterflies on a stick – those are accents. Focal points are singular and underscore the intentionality of the design.
Repetition. In the same way interior designers repeat wall and accent colours throughout a house, landscape designers use repetition to create a cohesive landscape design. Colour can be echoed in foliage and blooms, plants can have similar shapes in different sizes, and textures (grassy, glossy, fluffy, etc.) can be repeated throughout the garden. To think of it another way: repetition is like the base notes of a song, creating a foundation, rhythm and purpose. If repetition becomes the melody, it is often fussy and cluttered.
Seasonal Interest. Here on the Island, we get such beautiful fall colours and shapes. Plant lines and texture are highlighted and the whole feeling is a little dreamy. It is at this time of the year when form and the evolving colour palette become the stars of the landscape. In fact, the New Perennial Movement is a style of landscape design that celebrates a naturalistic look and embraces the post-bloom structure of plants. In this method, perennials and grasses are left to their own devices over the fall and winter and enjoyed for their architectural shapes and textures until they are cut back in early spring. Trellises, arbors and pergolas also take on new significance in the fall and winter, providing creative opportunities for landscape lighting.
Secrets. The best gardens have secrets: a mystery that rewards the visitor. This is something tucked away, not immediately visible, but perhaps hinted at. It could be a little nook, a pergola covered with vines or a pretty bench nestled in behind a shrub or the way your garden looks lit up at night. But what can you do if you have a small yard that offers little to no natural mystery? What about those with particularly small spaces such as apartment balconies or rooftop gardens? When mystery is not an option, the unexpected becomes the goal. A whimsical birdhouse, quirky pot or even colourful furniture can be a happy surprise, but just remember that in a small garden, a little whimsy goes a long way.
If you remember these five basics: a plan, focal points, repetition, seasonal interest and secrets, you’ll be on your way to your dream landscape.
For more information, visit www.pacificridgelandscapes.com.