Friday, January 23, 2015

Garden Vignettes

Small walk of pavers runs through perennial beds.

Don’t you just love to roll the word “vignette” around in your mouth like ice cream on a hot day?

Vignettes are primarily used in the literary world but a garden vignette is a fun proposition.  Used in the garden sense it’s a little area where you’ve made a beautiful, mostly private, setting.  It’s not the whole expanse of yard, it’s that little nook people see when happening upon it while walking.

Occasionally, garden vignettes are nature made like walking a park path and all of a sudden there’s a rock formation or a waterfall.  In yards, vignettes are usually purposeful and designed.

Do you need a park like property to have garden vignettes?  Not really and the possibilities are many.  Some of the possibilities are: 

Down and around a shade walk.
Privacy and isolation:  The space should feel like it’s in another world.  It allows people the opportunity to “feel” as if they are no longer a part of the maddening masses. 

Color and texture: The choices of color and drama reflect the “feeling” you’re invoking.  Soft pastels or all green will calm.  Bright colors and sharp textures will brighten and invigorate.  Do you want the place to bring a bit of peace to your world or hit you with the WOW factor?

Besides nature:  A garden vignette should allow an opportunity to stop for a bit.  Whether designer furniture or a log, being able to sit a spell is an added bonus. 

Getting there:  Garden vignettes look accidental and for that to happen a path of some kind should direct you and your visitors.  One of the compliments I’ve received on my gardens was from a contractor working on something else who talked about how much fun it was to go from point “A” to point “B” and discover some little surprise alcove along the way.  If you’re thinking you can’t afford to lay 2,000 yards of poured concrete to get a path, paths to vignettes can be as casual as mowed grass or mulch. 

Missing the point:  A garden vignette shouldn’t be so well hidden no one ever finds it and you forget to visit, too. 

Tucked in a corner and under the roses and lilacs.
Size:   Garden Vignettes can be a miniature garden tucked into the corner of a porch or the entire area behind and around a structure.  Homeowners may erect a small train landscape over a hill or a major park may have a fifty-foot waterfall at the end of a trail. 

The blessings of accidents:  Some vignettes present their opportunity because you planted some perennial evergreen trees and bushes to hide something, for privacy or as a windbreak.  Others may be the result of a stack of fieldstone someone gave you for free and you never got around to making that patio. 

Keeping up the upkeep:  Garden vignettes can fast become just another weed filled corner unless they are faithfully tended.  Because many are in shaded areas, this helps to inhibit weed growth.  They can also be difficult to mow so making them without lawn grass helps that issue.  Water features most always need regular and routine care.

Looking under the pine branches towards a bird bath.
Location ideas:  (A) Corners provide perfect opportunities.  (B) A view only seen from a certain window or while sitting on the porch/patio.  (C) Tucked into the bushes by an entry door.  (D) Incorporated into the fencing.  (E) Under low hanging bushes or trees.

I remember the Congregational Church in Kewanee used to have this serene garden vignette.  It was the result of a few large pines, rocks and one huge evergreen bush trimmed up on one side to allow small statuary and flowers.  (Today it has lost its “vignetteness” because no one with that vision tends it anymore.)

Whether for your personal pleasure or for guests, adding garden vignettes is another garden tool worth contemplating.


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