Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
December, 2005
Regional Report

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This garden in New Orleans lost its shade, but the "bones" -- fence, table, and bench -- are still standing.

Garden Bones

Whether yours is a new garden, or a garden remade by the storms of 2005, pleasing design depends in large part on hardscape -- the "bones." Present all year and permanent in nature, hardscape reflects your style.

Paths and Fences
Large and small spaces can use paths and fences to define and divide, highlight or obscure views. Because they are permanent installations, the materials used in such walkways and baffles also lend style to the garden. Solid materials and taller baffles work well in wood to screen the view of a neighbor's garage. The timeless appeal of picket fencing takes on a more modern effect when rendered in split bamboo or metal pipe. Yet a fence's role, to define or divide a garden space, remains the same.

A small garden's path can be pea gravel, snaking its way around beds, leading you on a walk to reveal a hidden focal point. But larger spaces benefit from coarser materials or boardwalks to simplify maintenance, and they need longer curves to balance their size.

Upright Inspiration
The second essential ingredient in practical garden design is upright features to lead the eye upward. Whether you choose statuary, trellises, or evergreen shrubs and trees to raise the view, their placement is important. Since they will attract attention on their own, locate the upright hardscape where you want people to look: at the curve in a bed, marking the front walkway, or at the rear of the garden to offer perspective to that view.

Feet Up, Please
Whether you're repairing a damaged garden or starting fresh, be sure to select something to sit on. Benches and tables are for enjoying, entertaining, and stabilizing the design with their substance and permanence. They help remind us not to miss an opportunity to sit in the garden!

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