Have a Seat
My own garden has grown in stages, partly because my wants often exceed my budget and because I can't always decide what I want to do next. So I've learned a lot about waiting - and that's not such a bad thing. Some of my best ideas have come from the observations I've made from my lawn chair.
The garden in front of our house is a good example. This is what it looks like now, but it took a lot of tweaking to get it to this point.
When my husband installed the bluestone path in front of our house, both of us were so excited about getting rid of the ugly cement walkway, we didn't make a decision about the next step.
The patch of grass at the end of it....
Looks kind of abrupt don't you think? Neither one of us liked it, but we had differing opinions about how to proceed. I thought we were going to use this spot as to sit in, but didn't want to move the the outdoor furniture every time it was time to mow the grass. Paving it with more bluestone seemed like the next logical step to me, but Phil wanted to build a greenhouse there.
At the time, it didn't matter that we didn't agree because we couldn't afford to do either of these things. While we were socking away more cash and debating our next step, I moved a lawnchair to the future spot of the patio/greenhouse and sat down. I have to say, it was a rude awakening. The view of the garden pleased me when I walked through it, but sitting there was another matter. I thought I had enough plants to screen the view of our neighbor's driveway and the road, but from the vantage point of my chair, I felt way too exposed. The afternoon sun beat down upon me and made me feel hot and cranky - hardly the romantic little oasis I had in mind. We needed more shrubs and some shade. In my mind, a pergola with vines seemed like just the right thing, but I wasn't sure about the dimensions, paving or what plants I wanted. On the other end of the spectrum, Phil continued his campaign for the greenhouse. To win him over to my cause, I put up an 8x10 market tent to simulate a pergola and moved our comfy outdoor furniture into it to get an idea of what it would feel like.
Admittedly, it didn't look all that great, but the tent provided shelter from the afternoon sun and gave us a comfortable place to sit. We started hanging out in it at the end of the day, critiquing the design of the garden while drinking wine and bantering ideas back and forth. By the end of the summer, I had him convinced that the pergola was a good idea, and we were measuring up the space and getting estimates for more bluestone.
There are many ways to visualize the next step of a garden, but I haven't found anything that beats sitting in it. Of course, I have to admit that I'm never able to park myself in my chair for long before getting up to inspect a plant or dig out an offending weed. And the next thing I know, I'm moving plants around.