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Sensory Gardens (if not necessarily sensible!)

  • Posted on October 26, 2016 at 10:07 pm

To many, a garden is just a glorified bouquet, somewhere to apply an artistic touch and allow nature to do the leg work and, while the aesthetic appeal of this idea is undeniable, to truly
appreciate all that a garden has to offer the senses, we cannot be resigned to be mere voyeurs. A garden can be so much more, and here is a guide to creating spaces that encompass and cater to all of our senses.

Sight
Nothing lifts the spirits like a well-planted garden and starting with the most obvious stimuli a garden can offer, it is important to note the psychological effect of particular hues. As we know, artistic flare alone does not make a great gardener, it also helps to have a basic interest in natural sciences and, in this case, physics. Red, for example, has the longest wave length in the light/colour spectrum and as such appears closer than it really is, hence the reputation it has acquired as a bold and attention grabbing colour. Yellows and oranges can be cheerful colours too that are just as stimulating and exciting. Green, by contrast, could perhaps provide quite a bland palette in a garden, despite the fact that at an instinctive level it is also the most comforting as it holds connotations of water. Along with blues, whites and mauves, it can also have the effect of receding in the garden and making borders feel further away than they actually are. These soft colours can also be more effective in shady conditions or in the evening, standing out in the dim light more effectively than their deeper coloured relatives.

Sound
The most common sounds of a garden are the simplest – particularly that of the wind through the trees and nearby animals and birds, but it is possible to enhance these sounds with diligence paid to your planting. You could, for example, plant stands of bamboo and wait for the breeze to rustle through them, and you can fill the garden with plants specifically to attract birds and insects. Water features are also excellent for attracting birds and their mating songs, aside from providing their own soundtrack to calm the mind and psychologically cool the air.

Touch
There are a myriad of different textures and surfaces that one can implement in a garden to enhance the tactile experience of it. Lets start with a major component of most gardens, the lawn nothing quite beats the feel of cool, soft grass between your toes. Then there are the other surfaces – smooth, sawn paving, warm decking and tactile sandstone spheres, for example. In terms of planting, the exciting textures of foliage and flowers are almost endless, from the soft, felted leaves of Lambs Ears (Stachys byzantina), to the squirrel-tailed flowering stems of Pennisetum setaceum and the smooth, shiny, mahogany-coloured bark of the ornamental cherry, Prunus serrula. They all beg to be touched, caressed and enjoyed. Theres fun to be had too who can forget playing with Snapdragons (Antirrhinums) when they were a child?

Smell
Theres no end to the recommendations we could make where the sense of smell is concerned, anything from lavender, to honeysuckle, to roses would provide a palpable feast for your nose. But look beyond flowers and appreciate the fragrance of foliage too of course herbs are obvious choices, but some ornamental shrubs and trees also have aromatic foliage. The aroma of Nepeta, for example, can drive your cat wild with excitement, hence its common name Catmint. For us, there are lemon-scented geranium leaves, the fresh smell of pine and the pungent fragrance of Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange Blossom), among many others. For best effect, try to plant your scented specimens close to entrances and pathways, where you can more easily appreciate their fragrance as you pass by.

Taste
To achieve a truly delectable, edible garden your best bet would be the addition of a mini-orchard, vegetable patch or herb garden, and nothing beats homegrown produce. However, if this is an impractical measure for you, or if yours is a purely flower-based garden, you can still grow edible plants. Introduce easily grown Nasturtiums to your plot, as these make for an excellent, colourful and peppery salad garnish during blooming season. A patch of Daylilies (Hemerocallis) wouldnt go amiss either as these vivid blooms have a sweet, nutty flavour (and have earned a reputation in Chinese cuisine as excellent flavouring for soups!) Climbing plants can also provide floral interest as well as an edible bounty. Try Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea), for example. It has exotic-looking purple and white flowers and these are followed by orange, egg-shaped fruits, which, while the bright red pulp is not perhaps as flavoursome as the variety youd buy in the supermarket, is still stunning over ice-cream or in Champagne!

Landscaping With Garden Arbors

  • Posted on October 26, 2016 at 6:41 am

If you want to add a new design layer to your lawn or garden you may consider adding a garden arbor. Arbors offer a fairly easy and distinct way to enhance your landscaping designs. There are a variety of designs and styles available; the most important thing is to choose one that fits the look and style of your current landscape designs.

What Is A Garden Arbor?

If you are not already familiar with this type of structure you may wonder what exactly it is. To put it simply an arbor is an archway. Traditionally they were made from real branches and leaves, but modern garden arbors are typically made from wood, metal or vinyl.

To keep with the traditional theme many of them are bordered with latticework or designed in a way where vines and flowers can be grown along them. But those who enjoy a cleaner look often prefer not to grow plants or vines along them.

More Than An Archway

While they mostly function as an archway garden arbors can have additional features, some for functionality and some simply for appearance. Some are made with a bench or a swing which allows you to sit and relax outside while soaking up the beauty of your yard. Some have planter boxes allowing you to create a lush or colorful area around them. Others have a gate and are used as an entryway into a specific area of a lawn or garden.

Where To Use Them

They are often used a as decorative type of entryway. They can be used to create an entry to a specific area of the yard, a garden or on a walkway to welcome visitors. They can also provide an attractive location for a backyard wedding.

Choosing A Design

The design you choose will vary depending on how you plan to use it and depending on the style of your existing home and yard. The shape of the arc is one specific feature that differentiates one garden arbor from another. They are either round like a typical archway, flat or pointed. The material you choose will also affect the style and feel. As mentioned they are available in wood, metal or vinyl; all of which are made to withstand the outdoor elements.

Garden arbors can provide a charming gate into a specific area of your yard or simply an attractive focal point to accentuate a flower garden or walkway. Choosing a kit will provide a relatively easy way for you to incorporate this charming addition to your yard.