In the Garden:
January, 2002
Regional Report

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A recent snowy morning scene in my garden.

The Lines of Winter

Snowy winter weather reveals so much about our home landscaping. Snow accents all features -- good and bad. For example, I 've found two spots in need of design help.

The first is an aesthetic problem. The snow highlighted a harmonious combination in one small area: the gentle curve of an arching arbor echoes the graceful sweep of a weeping cherry tree. The snow also revealed a harsh note in the picture: a vine trellis with a pointed top stands out because, in comparison with all those curves, its shape is too sharp and too angular. So, I need to exchange that pyramidal tuteur for one with a rounded top. This will reiterate that curving line from the arbor and tree to create a more cohesive, consistent style and feel within the vignette.

Make it Practical

When it comes to design and landscaping, sometimes it pays to give thought to the practical as well as the aesthetic. My second example involves the "service area" outside the kitchen door, where we keep the trash cans.

Right now, we all ignore the existing walk and tromp across the lawn instead. Consequently, we are ruining the grass and tracking dirt or mud or snow into the house each time we use that door. Judging by the muddy tracks across the snow, clearly we need a larger hard-surfaced landing pad for the trash cans and an improved walkway connecting the kitchen door and service area with the driveway.

Plan Pathways

A good footpath or walkway provides clear and direct access over a firm, smooth surface. If the path is uncomfortable underfoot or vaguely defined, or takes "the long way" between two points, people will not use it. I now know exactly where we tend to walk naturally, and thus precisely where the path should lead.

I can also realign the path to both define a new planting area and make mowing easier. All in all, this little project will make my life easier and more pleasant, and that's as much a sign of good design as looking pretty.

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