Secret Gardens

We’re all for living and entertaining outdoors, but as our gardens become semi-public spaces towards which guests gravitate, it’s nice to carve out a corner that’s just for you, a secret nook in which to unwind on one’s own. Any garden, from a grand acreage to a modest courtyard, can be designed with such a spot; the key is to create a sense of intimacy and sprinkle a little bit of gardening magic.

Where to put a garden nook

The most important consideration when choosing a spot for a garden nook is sunlight and the impact of the seasons. To get the best use out of the space, you want it to capture that illusive winter sunlight, so you’ll be enticed out to soak up some rays, even in the depths of the cold season. Try to choose a spot that’s not immediately visible from the house, whether it’s down the bottom of a winding path, partially hidden by foliage or simply to the side of the entrance and out of direct line of sight.

Creating a sense of intimacy

A cosy garden nook should feel insular and embracing. This sense of enclosure can be simply created with an overhanging tree, a structure or even an umbrella – the key is to feel sheltered from above. Creating this feeling at ground level comes down to vegetation. This doesn’t have to mean planting a jungle in your courtyard; a cluster of potted plants around a cosy seat can be enough to make you feel completely hidden from the world.

Gardening with whimsy

The perfect secret garden nook is made with a dose of whimsy and romance. If you can, make getting to your corner into a journey, with a winding path, stepping stones or soft plantings to brush at your legs as you pass. Create a sense of movement in the garden – the opposite of a tight, manicured landscape – with different textures and types of foliage, particularly those that sway and shiver in the breeze. Choosing foliage that moves (either light and fragile fronds or broad leaves that catch the wind) and plays with the light will infuse the space with a kind of bohemian romance, as well as giving you the sense that you’re part of a living, breathing entity.


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