An artist shares her experiences on creatively developing, tending to and nurturing her garden as spiritual sanctuary for herself, her friends and family. Gail Allen contributes her thoughts on creating a sacred space as an oasis for soothing your soul in today's busy world, enticing your senses and and fostering your own personal growth

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Creating an Unusual Patio or Balcony Garden

Even when designing a small garden space on a limited budget, you can think big and use your imagination to inspire a noteworthy niche for contemplation and relaxation. Be bold, take chances and follow the ideas that "pop-into" your mind during the planning stages, these are the fuel for an interesting refuge. Trust your soul to give you cues as to what it is needing for atmosphere. Once you let the subconscious mind begin to create, you are on the right track to a great experiential garden. A great garden has attention in the details, so look closely at each area for the chance to add your personal unusual flair.
Every element should contribute to the peaceful restorative ambiance you are trying to create. Think of three levels of height, AND depth to your garden design; leading the eye onward and upward, creating depth using light colored leaves in front of darker colored leaves such as black, purple or red. Look for bluish colored leaves, as in an 'Elegans' Hosta, for a soothing effect. Yellow colored leaves bring the eye forward. Also look at the color, texture and shape of each element. Soft plants against hard surfaces, like a wispy trailing plant, placed at the bottom below a ceramic pot, which is holding a larger plant or water feature, will enhance the look of the setting. The cleaver use of trellises and  unique objects-including pots and urns, shells, sculptural objects, chunks of glass or gazing balls, rocks, crystals,water, candlelight all help to set the stage when you are designing your own distinctive personal haven.
For example: Start by placing a mirror on a wall, (or a metallic reflective element like that), behind a tall fern, or other unique plant in a corner of a balcony. Add one or two purple, red, or darker green plants. Possibly one that flowers! Always remember to plant in odd numbers of one, three or five. Alternate leaf styles-fern like, spiky and/or  rounded leaves. Next, you could use a medium sized ceramic basin filled with water and a solar bamboo trickling fountain - a unique garden feature for a small space. The water garden could be raised up in its pot by setting it on another planter pot, placed upside down for the mid level planting. Place a water lily in a smaller pot, submerged in your fountain. Add a few small potted yellow or variegated grasses, or multicolored coleus for color around the base below. Add an item or two of interest like shells, unique rocks, beach rocks, clear glass balls, anything you collect for whimsy and fun. This can all be placed fairly compact together in a corner. Use this idea as just a starting point- to get your mind thinking. Make it your own personal haven. Have fun. Think of decorating the space as if it were a room in your house.
You will be surprised to see how the sound of water attracts people's attention and draws them out onto the balcony into your serene garden sanctuary.

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