Every Garden Needs A Journey

Every Garden Needs A Journey

My two young children love the Easter holiday most of all. Yes, the chocolate, but most of all the Easter egg hunts. The main event is generally at their grandparents’ farm in Scotland; peering under daffodil clumps and into cracks in stone walls and up in the branches of trees. Whatever eggs don’t get eaten come home to Yorkshire, and new hunts are laid. A favourite is a nearby wood, full of bluebells, wild garlic and windy paths. We take four eggs and take it in turns to hide them, find them, hide them again. And on, until the egg wrappers are grubby with soil and the chocolate inside cracked. Finally they get eaten, but it’s the least entertaining part of the outing.  For them, the joy is the hunt.

Whenever I visit new clients I ask them – ‘where do you like to go in the garden?’. Typically its either a seating area very close to the kitchen door, or it’s a tucked-away space where the morning sun shines. If they have children, I ask where the children like to go.

The basic principle is that all gardens, of whatever size should contain a ‘journey’. The journey can be through hedges or walls, through flower borders, under pergolas or trees – and it should lead to one or more special places. The point of a journey is that – like a child’s Easter Egg hunt – it engages you with the garden, makes you want to explore it, and offers a reward at the end. A garden with a journey will always feel bigger, both physically and in your imagination.

And remember, it’s not all about layout. Gardens are sensory things and a good journey should involve the senses – a brush through lavender, past the scent of roses or daphne, through light and shade, the sound and feel of different materials underfoot such as the crunch of gravel or warmth of decking in summer. Even if the destination is very close to the house, designing with the senses can create a journey to reach it. At night, a well devised lighting scheme can make a pathway to a dining/barbecue area a magical experience.

In design terms, figuring out the destination in a garden is often straightforward. The fun comes in creating lovely ways for clients (and children, if they have them) to get there.