clear water supporting colorful koi and surrounded
by lush ferns entices visitors to sit and relax in
the nearby chairs.
spring, as you contemplate planting season and changes
to your landscape, strive to make the garden one of
participation. This is the ultimate in design and
participation you might think I am referring to the
outdoor cooking area or perhaps the fort or treehouse
where the children play. Both of these could certainly
be applied in the concept, but a garden of participation
is much more than that.
concept comes from getting your visitors, whether they
are family or friends, to have a participatory
experience by being pulled from one part of the
landscape to another. Important to this design is not to
reveal everything at once. You canít see the whole
garden from any one point.
out in the garden and in the first outdoor room, you
notice another location revealed through a
"door" or "window." Itís not
really a door or window. Looking through frame-like
placement of trees or shrubs is like a window. It could
be a gate, but probably just as easily served by a
curved path or walkway.
you and the visitors are enticed to go to the next
location, you have become an active garden participant.
In the new room or location, the room that was your
starting point is now concealed. Whether or not the
garden ends there is up to you, but hopefully it will
continue to another room or two. Even in a small garden,
curves play the role of hiding what is ahead.
gardens can be ones of fragrance, encouraging visitors
to stoop down to catch some exotic aroma. Around a
corner hidden by evergreen shrubs might be a water
garden, a bench, statuary, herb planter or something
whimsical. All are features inviting participants to
sit, touch or taste.
conceal-and-reveal method of creating a garden of
participation not only makes the garden interesting, but
it transforms the home like almost nothing else can do.
The play area may indeed be around the corner. The path
that takes you to a woodland seating area or a hidden
gazebo has not only revealed a hidden gem but becomes
participatory by encouraging the visitor to sit and
relax, taking in all that nature has to offer.
a look in your neighborhood as you drive to work or
school, or peer into a real estate buyerís guides to
see the homes for sale. It becomes woefully apparent
that landscaping was put on the proverbial back burner
at many homes. When you look at nice houses that have
the mandatory five shrubs, two trees and little else,
you get the feeling that the owner never really
considered it a home, but only a stopping off place on
the road of life.
planting time is just around the corner, and trucks full
of trees, shrubs, flowers and hard features like
furniture and fountains will be arriving soon. Now,
however, is the time to look at your landscape and ask
yourself if it is a garden of participation. Perhaps you
are starting with what might be considered a blank
slate. If you still have your native trees, consider
you look at your landscape and seem a little
overwhelmed, consider starting with trails. Let things
like changes in elevation, trees, shifting patches of
light, and water guide and inspire you. Notice if
animals have already given you some creative suggestions
or your children who have already adopted the space.
Take it in bite-sized increments, and the gardening
experience will be much more rewarding as it develops
into one of participation as the months and years go by.