When I thought about the idea of exploring focal points, I thought in the plural and I also thought about my own design process. Among the first things I consider after I’ve figured out most of the more functional needs of a garden’s design is how I want people to move through a space and how I can visually manage their interaction with it. What will make them slow down and look to the distance? What will make them speed up to discover what something really is? What is going to draw the eye, pique the imagination, stop a viewer in their tracks with either beauty or delight? Many times these visual clues are focal points.
In the garden plan below, a project finished just a few days ago, there is a series of three focal points – individual and unique in their function, all have a distinct role to play in the human experience of the garden. Each one is deliberate it its attempt to evoke a response – either to draw participants into the space or to give them a visual resting place.
From left to right-the focal points: an urn in the center of the orchard, an arbor at the entrance to the orchard, and a pole for sugar snap peas to climb in the center of the garden. They are designed to work in a sort of tag team sequence so that from almost any angle of the garden the eye is drawn from one to the next to the next. The idea is to allow people to visually travel the space without actually moving through it.
When experienced in a straight line each point has it’s own identity and helps to create a marker for travel through the garden visually telling them that there is something else beyond. Below is a photo from the side of the garden and each focal point is still doing its job.
The urn in the orchard was specifically planted with bright red geraniums to be a beacon in the distance–the garden is over 100 feet long. It doesn’t really matter if no one goes back there or not–it defines the space as separate and unique from a distance.
Focal points are more than just a place to look in a garden-they can direct, intrigue and inform the people who spend time there.
Now you can focus on what the other members of the roundtable have to say…follow the links here…
Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA »
Carolyn Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL »
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT »
Laura Livengood Schaub : Interleafings : San Jose, CA »
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK »
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX »
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA »
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ »
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA »
Susan Schlenger : Landscape Design Advice : Hampton, NJ »
Tara Dillard : TaraDillard.com : Atlanta, GA »