S M A L L B U I L D I N G S , S M A L L G A R D E N S
Gardeners are always looking for new places for plants; consequently we are also looking for just
the right place for new beds so they will fit in with existing ones so our overall garden feels
unified. In this lecture on my new book SMALL BUILDINGS, SMALL GARDEN
(Gibbs Smith Publishing,
2007), I look closely at how gardeners can use small buildings and built structures such as gazeboes
and arbors, pergolas and bridges, fences and decks to help find just the right place for new
gardens. These structures are hugely helpful in easing the design process by helping you see how to
develop new gardens in relation to existing or new gardens and in relation to existing or new
structures. In doing so, they help you find just the right places for plants. In fact, they anchor
your thinking about where new gardens belong and then provide anchors for those new gardens when
they’re planted. New beds can go along one or both sides of a fence; a small, enclosed herb garden
can go off the side of a garden shed; beds of fragrant plants can surround a gazebo.
Gardens, after all, are for people. Built structures in our gardens are magnets for family,
guests and visitors; people are drawn to these structures and once standing near or in them they
can appreciate the gardens we have planted in relation to them. We sit in gazeboes, linger
in arbors, walk under pergolas or over bridges, wander through gates set in fencing, have lunch in a
summerhouse or work from a garden shed. To plant gardens in relation to these structures is to
enliven the experience. Cozy, manageable gardens snuggle up to small built structures, creating
appealing places for people. Furthermore, when you have a context for new gardens, when you begin
to see that built structures in your garden provide anchors, centers and starting places for good
garden design, you gain confidence as you design your own gardens.
ABOVE: In the Haywards’ garden.