Monday, February 25, 2013

Garden Designers' Roundtable: Romance

Valentine's Day has come and gone, but why limit romance to just one day of the year?  Today, members of the Garden Designers' Roundtable are talking about romance and the garden, a place near and dear to all of our hearts. For garden lovers — and lovers of gardens — there's no better place to connect with your special someone. Step outside and shut the door on the "business of life" inside your home or office. The garden has a different sensibility and a slower rhythm.  It can awaken and appeal to all of your senses and bring your life back to a calm, centered place.  Then, let the romance begin . . .

Here's my simple, no fail recipe for adding romance to the garden:

1.  Buy a bench.

  • Not just any bench, one that's comfortable to sit on for more than 2 seconds. Look for one with a shaped seat and back support.  Cushions are another option, especially if you're craving some extended together-time.
  • Find a bench that's compatible with your existing design style and other furnishings. It needn't be completely matchy-matchy, but you want an accent piece, not a sore thumb.
  • Get a bench that's just big enough for two people to sit on comfortably (remember, three's a crowd).

classic teak comfort (in my own garden)
stay as along as you like
beautiful for a brief tete' a tete'

2.  Put it in the garden.

  • Ideally, the location for your bench should not be on the porch, or deck, or patio that's adjacent to the house and two steps from the door, but away.
  • Choose a spot that, when seated on the bench, you get a whole new perspective on the world.

rustic Adirondack style

custom mountain cool

Design by Lise Mahnke
3. Make it your special place.

  • Create a greater sense of intimacy by lowering the overhead plane. The boughs of a tree, an arbor or umbrella will filter the light and protect you from the elements.
  • A hardscape backdrop or screen of  lush plantings will enhance the feeling of enclosure and privacy.
  • Add a focal point that resonates with both of you, like a sculpture, water feature, or collected ephemera.
  • Fragrance? You bet.  It needn't be a sticky sweet floral (unless you like it!) — herbs like rosemary and sage are wonderful, too.

shady hideaway

Design by Patty Brittingham

Denver Botanic Gardens
4.  Use it.

  • When seated in the garden, side-by-side with your special someone, it's easier to touch; to hold hands or rest a head on a shoulder.
  • When seated in the garden, side-by-side with your special someone, it's easier to talk; to say the things that are in your heart.
  • When seated in the garden, side-by-side with your special someone, it's easier to communicate.  Isn't that what romance is all about?

Denver Botanic Gardens

Read more about the Garden Designers' Roundtable and romance in the garden, here, or click through to today's participants, below:


David C. said...

Very nice list of tangible ingredients - I need to be more tangible more often! But especially, I like the actionable bits, including the planning of it all, so it is more likely to come together.

Three is a crowd! And being awakened to the calm of a garden might help so much in the stress of the day - each day?

Robert Webber said...

JOcelyn, great post. Like its practical, yet romantic nature. Useless if don't use it romantically. How many benches are not even out in the garden ready for those 'me' or 'us' moments.
Thanks and Best R

Mary Gray said...

Fantastic tips! I especially like tip #2, about placing the bench out further in the garden, and tip #1, about choosing something comfortable. I swear, I hate those little cast iron chairs that you see so often in gardens. I mean, they LOOK romantic, but you certainly wouldn't want to linger in one. I can only fit about 40% of my rear end on one of those things. Great post, wonderful advice, Jocelyn!

Debbie/GardenofPossibiities said...

Jocelyn, We are on the same page today, aren't we?! I love you're last ingredient - I think that's the one we tend to forget. Life gets so hectic it's easy to forget to stop and share some romance. BTW, what is the tree with the white flowers in your shady hideaway photo? It looks a bit like Heptacodium.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Thanks, David --- the planning can be a good "togetherness" project, too!

Yes, Robert: why place a bench in the landscape if you have no intention of using it?! Form follows function!

Thanks, Mary. Comfort and convenience are always high on my list of priorities!

Yes, Deb, you gotta use it or lose it! The small tree is a Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata). A very reliable, late spring bloomer here in Denver.

Pam/Digging said...

I like that your garden romance post is built around the humble bench. Great tips for introducing a romantic spot into any garden, Jocelyn.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Thanks, Pam...sometimes it's the smallest efforts that become meaningful.

Deborah Silver said...

Dear Jocelyn, this is a great post. I am always so wrapped up in the look of a bench, I forget about how it can be a place for two people to meet. Your idea of providing a roof of sorts, in order to create a more intimate space-I doubt I will ever place a bench again without thinking about that. I thoroughly enjoyed this-thanks. Deborah

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

You are most welcome, Deborah! That sense of enclosure is a big key.

Scott said...

Thanks for the wonderfully romantic ideas Jocelyn!