From The Kitchen Table

From The Kitchen Table

‘I wouldn’t even know where to start,’ said a client recently, as we walked in her garden. She had a point. It was a garden like most I go to visit; something that only its mother would love, and then only on a good day.

When we went back to her kitchen and chatted more over coffee, I said what I say to all clients:

‘Let’s start from inside.’

There’s a super exhibition on at the Tate Modern, in London. The Bonnard CC Land exhibition is a showcase of the French artist Pierre Bonnard’s work, from 1912 to his death in 1947.

Bonnard is famous for his paintings of his wife, his mistress, and above all the landscapes and gardens he spent time in.

I was down in London recently and had a free morning. So off I went to the Tate.

The freak hot weather had just passed and it was a grey, early spring day. Walking around the gallery rooms, the warmth and light of a French summer poured off the canvasses.

I’ve rarely seen images of gardens that I wanted to be in more.

The striking thing about them was that, for the most part, these garden paintings weren’t set within the gardens. They were set inside the kitchen, looking out at the garden through open doors. You can almost smell the jasmine hanging over windows, or hear the birdsong in the trees.

Considering the transition from house to garden is essential, but it can be an overlooked aspect of garden design.

We spend most of our time in our houses, looking out at our gardens. It makes sense that the garden should flow off the house, look beautiful year-round from inside the house, and make us want to go outside rain or shine, summer or winter.

So, this is where I always begin a garden design; from inside.

Try it now. It’s not so hard. Make a cup of coffee and write down what you need from your garden. Dining for 8? A lawn? Seating and maybe a fire pit? Scented flowers? A water feature.

Now go for a walk around your house.

Look at the views out, the exit points, the way the sun moves around the house the layout of rooms, and then shut your eyes and imagine what you’d like to see through your windows.

Only when you’ve got some ideas in your head, go outside.

Does your garden still seem daunting? Or can you now see it with fresh eyes? Do you now know where to start?

(Image Shown – Dining Room In The Country, Pierre Bonnard, 1913)