The Destination in the Garden
Your garden may be large, small, medium, divided, split, on the side, in the back, or in a courtyard. Where ever your garden grows, there is a reason for visiting it. This is the focal point, or destination. It is the attraction that draws your neighbors to meet you, to stop on their walk and admire, to sit a spell.
Pictured here are a couple more examples of focal points in the garden landscape. To the left is a simple stone bench with a piece of stone the garden owner considered important. The gardener set the white stone off, i.e. highlighted the white, with the dramatic dark green spikes of coral yucca and its coral, hummingbird attracting flowers. Imagine you are looking at this garden from the street on your evening walk and you are caught by the stone and yucca. You slow down, if you know your neighbors, you stop to sit at the bench-exactly what it is for. By sitting on the bench you can enjoy the rest of this bountiful garden. You want to enjoy it to learn what these great hearty plants are blooming in the heat of Austin's summer. In the foreground from left to right: lipstick red canna lily, fall aster (to bloom end of summer), a single purple coneflower in the foreground with the flower above the purple heart, purple heart, sago palm, datura (night blooming for moonlit garden strolls).
Also notice in this plan the ample pathway. The path serves as a way to move through the garden as well as a line of sight or "axis." More on axis and line of sight to come. But understand this, the path or line of sight generally leads your eye to the focal point.
Here is another example of a focal point. What is drawing your attention in this garden? Not only from the point of view of the photo, but from the house. The house is on the right, imagine you are looking into the garden from the back porch of the house, what would you be looking at? The blue pot on the pedestal with a pindo palm planted in it. The focal point is something very different from the rest of the garden. This object is clearly important and an object that most of us would want to inspect more closely. What kind of palm is that-you don't see one of those everyday? What is that pot sitting on (a block of limestone)? Is that a ceramic pot or plastic pot? All questions subliminally worked into the wonderful plan to get you into the garden.
Again, with this example, there is a nice wide path to maneuver through the garden. The path also allows a line of sight to the entertaining area as well as space to move food and/or drinks to the dinning area. Another basic idea of garden design is the 'gateway' effect, demonstrated here with the two fan palms flanking the entrance to the dinning area. This gate, or door way delineates one space from another. Thus, the idea of outdoor 'rooms.'
In most garden designs, the focal point, or destination, is where the plan begins. Think about what you want to do in your garden. Do you want a dinning area, a reading bench, or a water feature? Or, have you received a piece of garden art that needs a home. Walk around your yard, feel where you want that destination to be. Stand or sit in the rooms of the house you use most and look out the windows. Are there spots in the yard that you watch the most? Or are there spots on the other side of your yard you want to disguise or draw attention away from? This spot may be the place where you build your gazebo, pond, or plant that beautiful flowering tree. Mark that element on your site plan and then work your garden around that.