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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

High Rise Garden

For many people who live in large cities, a garden close to home often remains an unfulfilled dream. Yet this need nto be the case; it is still possible to brighten their environment and bring a little bit of nature within their reach. It may call for a little more ingenuity, but it can be done!

Miniature gardens in the form of window-boxes, troughs, bowls, tubs and other containers placed on balconies, terraces, flat roofs, landings and close to house entrances can, and do beautify many of today's urban dwellings.

This type of gardening offers new possibilities for making use of numerous -- even less well-known plants. However, certain basic principles differing from the common practice of gardening must be taken into account.

The aesthetic relationship of the chosen flower decoration with the various architectural elements is very important. Even the colour of walls to a certain extent influences the choice of plants to be grown. Clearly, a different plant will be chosen to complement a turn-of-the-century stone building than will be selected for a concrete block of flats, condominiums, or a modern family house with its own garden.

Thus for plants lovers staying in apartments, flats or condominium can also have their own garden. Many types of gardens can be created on balconies. With the addition of floral colours, a balcony becomes an entertainment center just right for relaxing. Turf, small shrubs, and dwarf trees can be used to create a suburban landscape in miniature above the ground. Balconies even offer the opportunity for food production, with flowering fruit trees and container-grown herbs and vegetables. ( condominiums point pleasant beach, NJ near bay head and Manasquan NJ 1 block from ocean, steps to NJ transit to mid-town Manhattan )

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Lighting in a garden is particularly useful in summerhouses, on terraces and other places intended for sitting out in the evening. It can also be put wherever it makes some corner accessible in the evening or lights up especially attractive or sculptural plants.

Lamps with wicker or straw shades look well in summerhouses that are mostly constructed of timber. Where the walls are of stone or brick, wrought iron, black painted chandelier-type fitments are better.

Lights placed in the garden to illuminate interesting features should have a dull surface or a non-translucent shade, so they throw light only in the required direction. They may be made of metal or plastics, the important thing being that they should not be a disturbing or even unsightly element during the day. This can be resolved by placing them among plants that partially conceal them.

'Clothes' for the windows are important for Summerhouse. Curtains, blinds and shades are various types of 'clothes' for the windows. Curtains can be custom made or purchased according to your liking and style. Blinds also come in various colours, styles and materials of blinds in the market to suit your liking and theme for your summerhouse. When the windows are 'dressed up', it adds beauty to the summerhouse.

During the day, when it is too hot and glaring, the curtains or blinds can be adjusted to control the amount of light coming from the windows into the summerhouse. Other types of shades may be used as well.

When sunlight is not needed as in the night, or in the daytime, when you feel sleepy, and you need to rest in the summerhouse, curtains and blinds can shut off lights from the windows, creating the privacy you needed and the darkness you desired for your peaceful sleep and rest.

Monday, November 27, 2006


A Summerhouse is a small roofed building of varying forms in gardens or parks designed to provide cool shady places of relaxation or retreats from summer heat.

If your garden extends some distance from the house, you really need a summerhouse so that you can spend long periods in the garden, whatever the season.

In a big garden, a summerhouse can also be a place to rest, or a shelter from which the garden can be observed even when it is raining. So it should always be situated in a spot with a good view of the landscape or in a pretty corner of the garden.

A summerhouse may house garden furniture and tools, or it can be fitted out with easily protable furniture and a cooking stove and so on, so that meals can be eaten there.

All kinds of material can be used to build a summerhouse, but the most suitable is timber, as this is likely to fit in best with the environment. However, buildings of bricks or concrete blocks do last longer. White plaster combined with dark wood for the shutters or railings looks both nice and natural. Various typs of assembled prefab summerhouses save the trouble of building, and the children can play there when the weather is too unsettled for them to play outdoors.

Whatever material is chosen, the main thing is that the summerhouse should not look out of place, but fit in tastefully with the rest of the garden. This can be achieved by planting climbing plants around the building so that it becomes a part of the surroundings.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Garden Paths

Garden paths are not merely functional, connecting the most frequented parts of the garden, they are also important artistic elements.

The placing of paths must be well thought out before you start to lay them down. All paths shold be usable in all weathers, even during prolonged spells of rain or frost. Also, they should not need a great deal of care, but always look pleasing.

The path from the garden gate to the front door of a house ususally takes the shortest route. All the other paths, betwen the house and the sitting-out place, the garage, pool or kitchen garden need not take the shortest route, but they should facilitate views of the prettiest parts of the garden.

Concrete Paths: Although concrete lasts well and is relatively cheap and practical, its use in a garden is questionable from the aesthetic point of view. It must be regarded not only from the functional aspect, but the way the concrete surfaces are arranged.

Paths contribute considerably to the general design of the garden. They must be safe and comfortable, with a well-kept surface, and always in agreement with the character of the garden. Very important are the edges which keep out the surrounding vegetation. The edging stones or bricks should be laid before the layer of gravel. They must be set deeper than the bottom of the dug-out bed of the future path, and always below the level of the surrounding terrain.

Natural stone paths: Natural stone is the most appropriate paving material for informal gardens set in a rural landscape. The type of stone should be chosen carefully, both from the aesthetic and practical points of view. Sand-yellow or ochre shades go well with a lawn. If the stones are too light they are inclined to dazzle in bright sunlight. Also, they should have a rough surface so that they do not become dangerously slippery in wet or frosty weather.

All paths need both a lengthwise and a transverse gradient, so that no water stands on them. On level ground the path must have a transverse gradient from the center to both sides. If it leads along a slope the gradient should be to one side, following the slope. A lengthwise gradient should be half to one centimetre per linear metre. At the lowest point there should be an outlet, which can either lead to the drains or to a sump, so that no puddles form.

Wood paving: A paving of wooden offcuts is very effective, but it is not suitable for damp situations. The offcuts should be at least 20cm thick and can be of any kind of wood though, of course, hardwood lasts longer. To make this kind of paving more durable each piece should first be dipped into a preservative solution and left to dry. The part of the offcut to be inserted into the ground can also be immersed in liquid asphalt and then laid in a bed of sand, so that it does not rot. Take care in the distribution of offcuts of varying thickness with a view to achieving a regular effect, with the thickest at the sides. Then scatter the paving with sand and thoroughly water it in, so that sand reaches deep into all the cracks.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Garden Furniture

A garden must be equipped with furniture so that it can be really lived in. In choosing this, the basic requirements are that it should be comfortable, easily transportable, sufficiently stable, weather-proof, easy to store and should fit in well with the character of the garden. Too bright colours and extreme variations of shape should be avoided.

There is a wide selection of various types of furniture on the market. The least resistant to weather is that made of wicker and bamboo. All sorts of swinging seats or loungers with canvas canopies are very popular, as are deck chairs and other folding chairs. If you do not like what is on sale, you can always make your own furniture.

A convenient bench can can be made of wooden railway sleepers. One sleeper makes the seat, another halfas wide, the back. They can be fixed to a high wall by being strung on two to three metal pipes let into the wall. The bench may be cut to any required length.

A bench that looks well in a naturally designed garden can be made from a tree-trunk with a diameter of about 30cm. Simply cut the trunk in two, lengthwise. A pedestal can be made at each end using either thinner trunks or large stones.

Simple portable seats can be made from logs cut into 40cm pieces which can be placed wherever needed.

A set of table and chairs can be made of round wood offcuts. Best are maple ones with a diameter of 40-50cm and about 10cm high. These make the chairs when each has a 25x25cm metal plate with a welded-on pipe in the middle screwed on to the underside. This is then fitted on to another, narrower pipe fixed into the ground with concrete and stickin gup 35cm above the surface. A table can be made in the same way, but the top of it should have a diameter of at least 80cm and be 15cm thick. The best height for the table is 75cm. The seats should be positioned some 70cm distant from the table. In winter they can be lifted from their pedestal stands and stored in a dry place.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Garden Architectural Features

In the past, particularly in baroque times, many works of art were placed in parks and gardens. In a modern garden too, statues and other works of art can be used to increase its aesthetic value. The effect of any owrk of art is enhanced by certain surroundings, and there is no doubt that buildings, pieces of sculptural art and plants are all mutually complementary.

Of course, the choice of any work of art depends on personal taste. And not only statues, wall reliefs and ceramic pots can be used to beautify a garden, but also useful objects with a decorative element, such as bird baths, flower bowls and sundials. Even big stones with interesting shapes, found in their natual setting -- say, when walking along a beach -- can be very effective in a garden.

Not only the selection of a work of art but its placing in the garden needs sensitive handling. A simple statue can hold its own even when there are striking and multiform plants in its neighbourhood, but an elaborate or large-scale work of art can only be properly appreciated in calm surroundings, for instance against a background of evergreens.

An important role is played by the ration of size between the artefact and the garden. It must be remembered that out of doors everything tends to look smaller than it does in a house. The pedestal should also be relatively big.

A garden must not be overcrowded with art objects, or it will look like gallery or storehouse.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Evolution Of A Garden

No garden is ever completely finished; it is always at a certain stage of development. Its cultivation involves us in endless creative activity. We are constantly influencing its evolution towards what we want of the garden as a whole. So any plans for creating or altering a garden must take into account the aspects of space and time.

The first thing that is subject to change is the garden's economic yield. For instance, after planting apple trees we have to wait for several years before they bear much fruit. This time gap can be billed in by the cultivation of soft fruit, such as currants, gooseberries, raspberries and blackberries and strawberries.

The decorative garden also changes from year to year. In the early stages, when especially the newly planted trees and shrubs are small, it is not very effective aesthetically. It sometimes takes many years for a garden to attain its full aesthetic effect. But this wait for the desired result can be compensated for by strategic short-term planting to create a 'temporary beauty'. These plants, too, will later be discarded or restricted according to the progress of those planted for more long-term effectiveness.

These decorative short-term plantings may be of many kinds. In the first instance, use can be made of quick-grwoing shrubs, which provide a tall, thick screen in a relatively short time. However, care must be taken that they do not compete too strongly with other plants. It often happens that these 'temporary' plants push our or weaken those intended to be permanent, so that the original aim is never fulfilled, or at best becomes still more distant. To avoid such possiblilities, plant temporary, quick-growin gwoody plants at some distance from those that you intend should remain permanently.

Another way is to plant long-term shrubs more closely together than usual, so that their foliage grows together more quickly and the desired overall effect is achieved sooner -- a compact and pleasant mass of green. This kind of thick planting is suitable from the biological and technological point of view too. The thick growth of the shrubs makes for a more favourable microclimate, important for instance in dry sites. There is also less danger of infestation by weeds, and this favourable effect, in turn, improves the growth of the plants.

Bushes make a good thick growth, but trees can also be used. These thick growths may be either permanent or temporary, but care must be taken if the two are mixed, because when endeavouring to thin out the temporary ones later there is considerable risk of damaging the permanent stock.

To guarantee the aesthetic effect of temporary groups of plants they must be chosen to group well together. For instance a young group of low, spreading junipers may be thickened with medium-high perennial grasses, the low-growing garden roses look well in a group of pine trees and so on.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Harmonious Garden

The principles of harmony and contrast can be used in designing a garden either independently or combined. There can be harmony or contrast between groups of colours, light and shade, form and line.

A harmonious picture can most often be achieved by grouping together partially similar elements -- in terms of colours or shapes, for instance, various shades of green or a repetition in various sizes of the same shape of plants. Basically harmony is reptition, but never exact reptetition; it permits small changes.

Also, a harmonious picture may be formed by changing the grouping of identical elements, such as having one species of plants concentrated in thick compact groups in one part of hte garden, but spaced out or even single specimens in another part. Harmonious compositions give an impression of calm bacause they are free of sudden changes, contrasts and tension.

Contrast can be attained by grouping opposites together, whether the opposite factor be one of size, shape, colour, structure, light and shade, the system of lines or whatever. Contrast is one of the most powerful means of expression, as it attracts attention and enlivens and brightens the composition. That is why shady areas should be alternated with well-lit ones, light-coloured statues placed in front of dark backgrounds and so on. It is also effective to combine contrasts of stillness and movement that show up best on close observation, such as the movement of a frothy waterfall descending on the calm surface of a pond.

The incorrect or excessive use of contrast, however, leads to disquiet, fragmentation and lack of truth. Both harmony and contrast must be used in reasonable measure. An excess of harmony makes the composition dull, an excess of contrast makes it confused and breaks up the view.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Artistic Garden

People spend a great deal of time not only in their homes but also in their gardens; children grow up there and family relationships are formed. For these very good reasons, the artistic effect of this environment should not be a matter of indifference. If we think of a garden from this point of view we shall consider its beauty to be a vital feature -- quite as important as its economic yield.

A beautiful garden does not come into being througha random collection of beautiful items. If, at the same time, we do not plan their mutual artistic relationships the result -- at best, will be a collection of beautiful items, but not a beautiful garden. No exact rules can be laid down for planning an artistic garden, because allowance must be made for individual tastes,m but at least some generally valid aesthetic principles can be given.

The artistic planning of a garden is basically guided by the same generally valid rules that apply in other forms of artistic creation. In the first place it must be based on the aesthetic qualities of all the natural elements used, as these will always be the most essential components. Very important roles are played by the special function of planting, the effectiveness of the forms and textures of the green areas, and also the use of colour, light and shade and so on. Then too, an artistic conception of a garden means that the economic and aesthetic aspects must be regarded as a whole, not separately.

Grouping Plants Artistically A beautiful garden does not take shape automatically, by the mere intorduction of beautiful plants. Good results can only be achieved by respecting the relationships between the plants themselves and between them and the garden as a whole. The beauty of many shrubs, for instance, can only be fully appreciated in certain combinations with other plants, buildings or spaces.

There are two basic principles involved in the artistic planning of a decorative garden, that is, two ways of combining decorative plants. The first groups them according to purely aesthetic rules and relationships, the second according to their natural occurrence in the wild.

Planting According To Aesthetic Rules
1. Group plants according to the colour of their flowers, either so that the colours harmonize or are in pleasing contrast.
2. Associate plants according to similar qualities. For example maples, whith their typical palmately lobed leaves, combine well with plane trees, which have similarly shaped leaves. In a small area of the garden there might be a group linked by the analogous qualities of the various species, for instance a corner of dwarf conifers or one composed of predominantly blue or red flowering plants.