The Bones of a Garden
By Paul James
I get more ideas on how to improve the look of my garden this time of year than at any other time. That may sound strange, but the reason is simple — I can see its skeletal structure. Because what remains after the flowers have faded and the lush green foliage is gone are the garden’s bones. And you can learn a lot by examining those bones.
The first thing you may realize is the barrenness of your garden, especially if it’s full of deciduous trees and shrubs. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but ask yourself what a difference a few well placed conifers and evergreens would make. A specimen plant (or plants) as a year ‘round focal point can do wonders to alter not just the look but also the “feel” of your garden. And a mix of evergreens of varying heights can create a sense of rhythm, plus provide visual impact in the dead of winter, as well as cover and nesting sites (and in some cases, food) for birds.
If your yard is mostly grass, imagine the difference a stone path might make, ideally one that meanders to a garden bench or two, a water feature, or a chiminea or fire pit. And what if you lined the edges of the path with boxwoods, or even a few boulders here and there? I think boulders are great accents for all seasons, and you don’t have to water them!.
What about your bedlines? Is it time to rethink their layout, softening straight lines and hard angles with soft curves (or vice versa)? Or perhaps expand them to make room for more plants, or line their edges with stone to enhance their look and definition?
I love using large pots as accents in established gardens, especially colorful, double-fired pots that can handle the weather. and I don’t necessarily plant anything in them. I do likewise with statuary, driftwood, and yard art. They really pop when there’s not much else popping in the garden.
Consider walls and fences made of wood or stone. Fences provide definition (and make for good neighbors) and create a backdrop for plants and a surface for vines to climb on. A short stone wall, whether straight or curved, can help establish garden “rooms,” and when capped with wood or flat stones, also serve as benches.
Another great feature to consider is a bird-feeding station, one consisting of wooden posts or metal poles to which you can hang feeders filled with seed and attach suet cakes.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget the birdbath.
Happy gardening, ya’ll!
10 responses to “The Bones of a Garden”
Back to Blog