One of my favorite activities is exploring gardens. Private or public, all gardens inspire our own outdoor spaces in many ways. I encourage you to visit botanic gardens, parks, private garden tours, garden centers and even amusement parks. Rather than being frustrated looking at an empty yard or blank piece of paper, conduct some three dimensional research while walking through a variety of outdoor spaces.
I recently visited two lovely gardens in eastern Pennsylvania: Longwood Gardens and Chanticleer Garden. Both have strong spaces, fabulous hardscape details, and striking plant combinations. I was beyond inspired as I spent many hours in each one taking photographic and written notes. I also visited Terrain (the photo above), a wonderful garden center that had bonus inspiration oozing every which way!
THINGS TO NOTE WHILE EXPLORING GARDENS:
- What makes you feel good in that garden?
- Look at the overall spaces. Are they well-defined with strong bedlines? Do they feel like rooms in themselves? Is the lawn or patio a strong shape?
- What materials are used on the ground plane that you enjoy? Are they unique or perhaps traditional with a fresh twist?
- What materials are used as garden walls? Fences, plants, other creative elements?
- What materials are being used for the ceiling? Is the ceiling covering a special space?
- Think about the color combinations being used in the planting scheme, hardscapes and furniture.
- What plants are being used and what combinations make you go wow? A great way to make fabulous pairings is to visit successful planting designs regionally.
- Collect your inspirations through photographs, sketches and written words.
- What else inspires you on garden visits? Please share in the comments below!