Creating Garden Rooms

Creating Garden Rooms

Part of Ep. 1501 Garden Design

Learn how to create garden rooms with Anne Walker. Shelley Ryan and Walker visit a variety of Madison area gardens to see examples of garden rooms, using the sky as the ceiling, the lawn as the floor, and plants as the walls and decorations.

Premiere date: Mar 03, 2007

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Wide open spaces are lovely to look at, but can be a challenge when trying to design a garden.  We’re told to design gardens in a series of rooms, using the trees as our walls and the sky as our ceiling.  But that cannot always work easily.  I’m with Anne Walker of Homeland Garden to get some ideas and some advice on how to make this work for our own backyards.  Anne, this to me seems like a beautiful setting.  They’ve got this lovely room, and it works.  I’m pleased, because you’ve got the wide open spaces, which makes it more difficult to get this sense of intimacy we’ve got right here. 

Anne:
I think first starting out with a project is not to feel intimidated by the amount of space. 
Shelley:
Overwhelmed, yeah. 

Anne:
Then, actually, also to know what it is that you need the space to do, how it is you need it to work in your life.  This is a space that is closer to the house.  You can pop out the door and sit down on the patio. 

Shelley:
So, in this case, their garden room uses a wall of the house as one of the walls.  But they’re also using the trees for their protection and again, to provide the backdrop. 

Anne:
It provides the protection from wind, from sun, and a little bit of privacy from neighbors. 

Shelley:
That intimacy. 

Anne:
Absolutely. 

Shelley:
This seems like a very relaxed area.  I love the colors. 

Anne:
I love the colors.  For me, these are very calm and soothing colors.  I tend to have a personality that runs a little hot and bright, and bright colors tend to magnify that just a little bit more.  So, for me, with a little bit more soothing, calm palate, this is a great place for me to relax. 

Shelley:
And they’ve also got window boxes.  I like window boxes because they bring the plants up higher for me to smell.  But there’s another purpose for them. 

Anne:
It’s a nice way to incorporate both the backdrop in the transition from the patio to the home, but also to bring the garden into your home itself, into your windows, into your living spaces. 

Shelley:
So, from the indoors the window boxes bring the plants up close. 

Anne:
And they can also bring in something like butterflies, if you’re using something like verbena. 

Shelley:
Oh, wow, then you’ve got the butterflies right on the other side of the window.  That’s a great idea.  You’ve got another garden where the function of the room is more for outdoor dining.  Let’s talk about that one. 

Anne:
I think, once again, it’s good to know your style what is it that you need the space to do.  I think it’s really lovely to be able to bring out your dinner and to sit on the patio.  This is a really nice example of that.  It’s also a more traditional perennial garden in the sense of the echinacea and the black-eyed Susans.  It’s also designed for four seasons of interest. 

Shelley:
Essential in Wisconsin. 

Anne:
Absolutely.  And one of the things I also really like about it is it has the ornamental grasses on it that are everlasting, so that it shows you the wind.  And I really like that element. 

Shelley:
Both gardens are using these plants as a wall to provide the intimacy away from the lake.  But they’re using low plants so that they can frame the view of the lake. 

Anne:
It’s really important to know what it is that you need the room to accomplish.  Here, the view is the lake, so you wouldn’t want to block that. 

Shelley:
Let’s take another garden room a challenge with a cyclone fence. 

Anne:
A cyclone fence can feel like a real challenge.  Every yard has some challenge, somebody’s garage somebody’s garbage cans, a cyclone fence.  One of the nice ways to look at a cyclone fence is that it’s a really nice place to grow vines. 

Shelley:
Ah, simple enough. 

Anne:
You can also camouflage it by using taller plant material.  Then, to create a living space, you just change the eye off of the cyclone fence by creating an arbor and a place to tuck yourself in. 

Shelley:
Changing your focal point.  Well, you’ve done something even beyond these garden rooms.  You’ve actually taken rooms and put them in the garden.  You’ve got one that looks like a cabana sitting up here on this deck.  I just love this. 

Anne:
Thanks.  It’s easy.  It’s accessible.  You can go out and buy this.  

Shelley:
These are ready made structures? 

Anne:
Absolutely.  Then, when you’re up so high away from the lake, how do you bring that garden back into this outdoor room? 

Anne:
Using what’s around you.  One of the examples I used was a miscanthus.  They do tend to get rather exuberant in their growth, so I just cut off some of the leaves and put them around a very small vase.  I used napkin rings to hold the grass in place.  Then, I cut a couple blossoms from the garden. 

Shelley:
And the display of green beans is wonderful. 

Anne:
I love the green beans, that was a lot of fun to do.  I also used fennel seed heads, something that lasts and can take some heat some sun, without wilting on down.  Again, the green beans can do that.  I also used ornamental peppers.  The hotter, I find the better in their sense of their ability to not wilt down. 

Shelley:
And to look gorgeous.  And the hens and chicks are a great way-- The garden’s suddenly right there next to you. 

Anne:
I like the hens and chicks.  I found that popcorn was a lot of fun, too. 

Shelley:
Cool.  You’ve got one last one that I just love.  And you say that even I could do this, even though I don’t have a beach to put it on. 

Anne:
This is not difficult.  It was basically just digging down the bamboo and putting in the posts, lashing it together with very easy material of nylon, or also sometimes called parachute cord.  It’s very easy to use. 

Shelley:
What are your curtains? 

Anne:
My curtains-- I’m not the best seamstress in the world, so I like something that’s washable that’s easy to use and readily accessible.  And so, I used shower curtains. 

Shelley:
A wonderful idea.  And then, just the cushions in front of this little structure for comfort? 

Anne:
Cushions, again, easily accessible.  I just went to a discount store and got myself some cushions.  Then, basically, staying in a theme of a certain amount of colors.  It’s a very lush coral color, but it’s set against a backdrop of greens.  I find that really pops for me.  I find it to be very soothing, as well.  I like that it’s easily accessible.  This doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. 

Shelley:
Or be difficult to find. 

Anne:
Right, you can use branches from the garden to substitute for the bamboo. 

Shelley:
Whatever you use, you can create intimacy and have a room right in your garden.  I like it.  Thanks, Anne. 

Anne:
Thanks. 

Shelley:
I think I want a hammock for my garden room.  For more information on all topics discussed today check out our Web site at: www.wpt.org/garden.  I’m Shelley Ryan.  Thanks for watching the Wisconsin Gardener.

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