Whether it is a balcony, lanai, backyard or rooftop terrace, every outdoor space is more enchanting with a secret garden. Creating this magical space can be as simple as a cozy chair nestled against a planter overflowing with fragrant flowers or as grand as a walled-garden filled with blooming and wandering paths. Whatever your fancy or space determines, there is something universally appealing about a tucked-away private place designed for quiet personal tranquility and restful peace.
“Private garden spaces have the ability to transport people,” shares Rufino Hernandez, owner and creative director of Garden District Lifestyle of Naples. “They make people happy, especially when they incorporate special mementos collected from their travels and are filled with their favorite plants, flowers and colors.”
The first step to creating a special outdoor place, or secret garden, is to understand how it is going to be used. Will it be a secluded spot for reading and meditation or a versatile entertaining center? Which is more important, comfort and functionality or having a beautiful vista in which to admire and relax? Each of these variables plays an essential role in crafting a successful garden design.
Once it is clear how the space will be used, the next thing is to assess its physical properties. (It is smart to be realistic here.) Some areas offer more light, others more shade. While these factors can be addressed, they cannot be easily overcome and should just be embraced with custom garden design. Knowing the limitations at the outset will certainly minimize problems with your garden flourishing down the road.
Like carpeting for indoor rooms, explains Hernandez, “ground cover is fundamental to establishing a look. Bricks, stones, and pavers can be formal or relaxed depending upon whether they are arranged in patterns or if grass is introduced in place of mortar. Balconies present a different challenge, however, there is a growing, and amazingly versatile, repertoire of outdoor carpet and flooring from which to choose.”
From there, Hernandez recommends incorporating a variety of elements including water, metal, and wood. “The sound of running water is relaxing to most people and brings good energy flow into a space. Metal works well in lanterns and furniture, and wooden elements contribute to an organic, natural feel.” It is also critical to ensure that the space looks good and functions well both in the daytime and in the evening. This often involves employing spot and accent lighting to add highlights and dimension to the area.
Ornamental cachepots, statues, a sundial, or specimen tree are often used as focal points in outdoor rooms, as are flowers and shrubs. Architectural elements such as walls, arches, latticework, and gates offer a great deal of interest and charm, as well as to give definition to the space. “The eye has to travel,” says Hernandez.
From Hernandez’s experience, if the garden is visible or is a direct extension of the home, the look and feel of outdoor space should relate to the main property. He stresses a compatible look as opposed to a matching one. “The house is the house; the garden is different. It’s part of the home, but separate too. And that’s what makes a secret garden so special.” On any scale, the experience is the same – a treasured escape providing hours of joy and pleasure.
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Written by Sarah Adams