for v1rtu0s1ty - a different(!) sort of layout....

woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)June 11, 2013

I was out taking some pictures in the backyard today and thought maybe these would interest you as an illustration of a rather different layout than is usual - the 'negative space' (i.e. lawn) is a very prominent element because it has a distinct shape rather than being the residual after the bedrs are shaped. It's the calm green heart of the garden where yours eyes (and body!) can rest while you look at the detailed plantings that surround it. It is perhaps a more 'severe' shape than would suit many people and the rectangle is a bit too long relative to its width to be ideal. The path around the sides does emphasize the rectangle a bit more than if the beds came out to the edge of the lawn. I'm disabled so the path makes access easier for me, plus it's an effective barrier to grass moving ito the beds. At all times of year and from all viewing points, the layout is both striking and pleasing to us and to graden visitors here. An oval, or ellipse, or kidney shape, or even an wide meandering green river of grass could be equally effective if they suit your space. The particular shape is less relevant than the making of a specific, identifiably purposeful shape that arrests your attention and provides a feeling of order to balance the 'chaos' of the plantings surrounding it - that's my opinion anyway....!

Two views from the living room window:

From the back porch:

Same view two weeks ago when the white redbud was blooming in the back, north side:

Looking towards the south:

Looking north along the path at the back of the house:

Under the pines across the west side, to the north of the shed:

The path in the picture above exits to the right of the shed as seen here:

A plan view of the bed layout in the backyard garden:

The big old white ash completely shades the backyard so the backyard is my 'green garden' since green and white are the dominant colors.

This sort of thing might not be what you're looking for but perhaps it can give you an idea of what one alternative could be.....

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The negative space idea is wonderful. It caused me to stop and reconsider what I was doing in my enclosed area. Thank you for sharing. Your gardens are magnificent. It is so nice to see well maintained shade gardens.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 9:07AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Thanks Mary. This cool damp spring has been good for the garden here.

Another example of thinking about/using shaping the negative space to add impact is, I've found, to use the shape of one bed to determine the shape of another one, by making the intervening grass or mulch path or lawn a constant width so the two beds 'fit' together like pieces of a jigsaw. That's what we did when we made what we call 'the moat bed' - because it runs along the top of the ditch by the road in front of the house. The outer edge of the bed is a straight line running parallel to the road at the top of the ditch. The inner edge was created by measuring an approx. 3' distance from the main front bed. The resulting 'moat bed' is very narrow due to the space limitations but its tight link to the larger bed, the smooth line of the grass path, and the merging with the driveway border at the south end turned several discrete beds into one linked whole that has a lot of impact even in the fall/winter bare seasons. Of course, its maximum impact is when there is a big floral show going on :-) This show has just finished for the year but you can see that the bed and path layout/connections add value and impact to the picture:

The same sort of shaping the negative space helped my neighbour to the north link an smooth-edged kidney-shaped island bed to a wavy-edged perimeter bed in the back yard. I suggested she measure a constant distance (in her case it's about 8' or so) from the island bed to the perimeter one. The original 'wavy' edge of the perimeter bed was then adjusted to be a smooth curve so now the lawn sweeps smoothly around between the island bed and the perimeter bed . The island is now both a separate feature but also closely linked to the rest of the garden space, and the whole feels much more relaxed.

This post was edited by woodyoak on Wed, Jun 12, 13 at 11:05

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Woodyoak - beautiful pictures of your garden!

What is the hosta with the cupped leaves in the "Looking towards the south" picture?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 12:59PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Ruth - that's âÂÂAbiqua Drinking GourdâÂÂ. I find it rather odd and am not sure I like it (it provokes a desire in me to straighten out the leaves!) but am too lazy to remove it! :-)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 4:03PM
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Well, woodyoak, if we lived close to each other, I'd gladly volunteer to come and dig it for you! I wondered if it was ADG. I don't have it, and don't want to wait for a "baby" to grow up.

Again, beautiful gardens!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 6:52PM
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