Garden Joy: See and Sit

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Winter offers the opportunity to look around the garden, to see what you like and don’t want anymore, then take action. To pick a seat for the garden, comfort and style work together. A bench sends an invitation to the visitor to join you, unlike a single chair and small table. Substantial wooden benches make a more welcoming statement than those made of wrought iron. Gliders and swings cast a casual tone, too, no matter their materials. Take the time to consider both how the seat will look, and how it sits, and be sure both fit your style and intention. Visit displays, sit in them, pick out some cushions and get comfortable with the mental picture before you buy.

The deck can be a nice place to sit, but don’t stop there. Walk around the garden and take its measure before deciding where to put a place to sit. Pick a breezy spot if you like, but avoid truly windy corners. Wander out to the edges of the landscape where a sitting spot can look back into the garden and towards the house. Or locate the bench behind a hedge for privacy and create a secret garden there. Shade might seem the most logical choice for seating, but a spot in the morning sun makes a warm place for coffee on a winter day. Deciduous trees offer both the shelter of a summer canopy and sunny winter exposure. Take advantage of the view by placing a bench facing it; add an umbrella or arbor if you want to use the space all year. Choose carefully, and remember that the north side of a structure can be a cool retreat, especially in our regions.

It’s not quite the same as putting down a rug to center the floor plan indoors, but almost. Weeds can clutter the space, mud can puddle and a single chair can look quite lonely by itself. Add a layer of slag, gravel, or pavers under the seat to solve three problems at once. No need to weed under or around the bench, as the rock mulch will suppress most of them. You’ll be able to enjoy the seat even on days when the garden is muddy. And the addition of a permanent blanket under the seating area will ‘ground’ the hardscape to the space. Take time to pick a spot to sit, and sit there often, to create a spot in the landscape you’ll enjoy for years.

Just don’t take a list with you – instead of looking for the next task, enjoy what you’ve done!

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