Ever have one of those moments where you walk into a space, any space, but in this case a garden, and hear yourself say, “ah-ha”? One where you relax with an exhale and, suddenly, all is right with the world?
I love these moments. These are instances I hope for an look forward to. And yes, like the most enlightened, I call them “ah-ha moments”.
One of my more recent experiences with this was our December visit to High Line Park, New York City. Stunning for its design, plantings and borrowed views. Possessing its own life while fitting perfectly into the landscape.
However big or small, formal or informal gardens providing an ah-ha moment do so in part because of the bones of the design. How the shapes of space, positive and negative, fit together. Even if you can’t see around the next corner the entirety of the design still affects the visitor. Typically as harmonious and maybe even as harmony with purpose or surprise.
In many ways, to design a garden is to solve a problem. There is always more than one solution, but for a positive and livable outcome the designer uses an organized approach in an attempt to find the best solution.
Examples of a few successful and not so successful design themes are sketched out to the right. The top two designs show extremely weak compositions. The adjoining forms don’t coincide or are lost within each other. The bottom two designs are stronger. The shapes correspond at natural geometric points or lines and remain evident, even when joined. While rudimentary (not yet possessing the feel of an “ah-ha moment”), they are the beginning to a positive design solution.
The garden to the left, designed by Jared Vermeil of Vermeil Design based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, is a clever example of a well organized, inviting space. It shows inventive use of a tiny city lot, full of limitless possibilities while also a personal sanctuary. The design fits together in perfect geometric fashion, providing an underlying framework with pleasing lines. Using a rectangular-45 design approach, the eye and body are moved to experience and enjoy the garden in a variety of ways. The strength of the theme gives the garden weight and meaning.