Connecting with Nature In Winter

Connecting with nature has long been recognized as an important part of our well-being. It’s said that spending one hour outdoors every day is essential for a healthy mind and body.  I agree.  I don’t always achieve that at this time of year, but I sure notice how good I feel whenever I do.

Near urban areas our gardens are our connection to nature. That’s true when we spend time outdoors but also when we’re inside, but looking out at the natural beauty that surrounds us.

A House in Harmony with Nature

I recently visited a newly finished landscaping project I am especially excited about. It was a highly satisfying project, one that expanding my own understanding of how we connect to nature in an outdoor space.

The Seattle-area project included an opportunity to collaborate with the architect of the house for a remodel of both the structure and the landscape. Giving input for the selection of interior finishes and design features, while designing the new landscape outside, helped me to create a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. Corridors in the house are designed to lead to garden views, and a mini-terrace off the master bedroom overlooks a private corner of the back yard. The kitchen door serves as a side entrance and adjoins an herb garden that provides fresh flavors and smells all year round. As a result of these synergies you feel a connection outdoors, whether you are inside the house or actually out in the garden space.

While a structural remodel might not be in your future, landscape design that is in strategic harmony with the architectural elements of your home can enhance the connection to your outdoor space. Optimizing small spaces as visual focal points can be done with simple container gardens. A water feature adds instant calm while masking any ambient noise. To create separation from close neighbors or municipal structure, use a trellis or arbor to create privacy and reduce visual impact. Beds of seasonal color outside a living room window remind us that summer will come again with time to actually go out and smell the moist earth, dig in the soil, plant the first seedlings and connect…if only for a few minutes.

Thinking Ahead

Want to bring your house closer in harmony with nature? Contact me to begin planning for next summer and a great outdoor room in which to enjoy it.

Best wishes for a joyful holiday season!

Big News For Small Gardens

COYALIPINEGARDENGardening in small spaces?

Living with small outdoor spaces is becoming more and more common and designing for them is getting more and more attention from the landscaping industry. At the recent Northwest Green Conference small gardens were a hot topic.

Rest assured that even if your space is limited, a dynamic garden is still possible. In fact, small garden spaces offer great opportunities. (See my landscape design galleries for some examples.)

The keys to success for small gardens are creating visual spaciousness and engaging all the senses.

Here are just a few of the tricks I have learned after many years of designing small gardens:

  • Create balance and contrast. Select appropriate hard surfaces, then use lush plantings to add a sense of abundance.
  • Connect distinctive areas. Create a theme that connects the contrasting elements in your garden. This can be done with color, repetition or garden art. Carefully placed mirrors can add dimension and depth in dark shaded locations. A simple water feature will provide another sensory experience and create a feeling of relaxation.
  • Think big; free yourself from limitations. Lofty, transparent plants and open trelliswork and arbors increase vertical interest. Take advantage of different elevations: plants spilling over low walls or vines climbing up a backdrop add another dimension. Open areas keep the garden from feeling cramped
  • Create a small pathway. Use strategically placed stepping-stones, shiny pebbles or glass to represent an invitation for entry.
  • As you plan, keep in mind how you want to use your small garden. Is it a courtyard to pass through? Is it mostly viewed from indoors?  Or is it going to be an outdoor room large enough for a couple of comfortable chairs or a barbecue and a small table?
  • Choose plantings that won’t overwhelm the space. Use slow-growing plants and select plants with contrasting leave textures and colors. Choose plants that can be cut back and will come back the next season, fresh and lovely. To create a sense of softness, use low ground covers.
  • Update and refine your design with annuals. Annuals are a great way to add color, keep things changing, and fill tiny spaces for an overflowing, abundant presentation.

We provide garden planning and landscape renovation for gardens of all sizes — from tiny urban gardens to new construction and established estate gardens.

Are you ready to remove the guesswork and increase your success rate with your plantings and garden features? Contact us to learn more about garden planning, landscape design, and gardens in small spaces.

We’d love to help!