Any gardener will tell you that at one time or another we have struggled with laying out or designing a garden or landscaped area. Just as in writing a good book, we need a good dose of inspiration to really get things going.
Garden Design Inspiration
These days we can search the internet for pictures and tips concerning garden and landscape design. However, nothing really beats seeing a nicely laid out garden or landscaped area in person. The feeling one gets when beholding that beauty, along with enjoying the fresh air and perhaps taking in the beauty with someone we hold near and dear, you just cannot get from an internet search.
I highly recommend seeking out local botanical gardens, a public memorial garden or library garden to visit. One such place is the Huntington Library Rose Garden and other gardens on the grounds in San Marino, California. In 1919, the owners of a large estate, Henry and Arabella Huntington, signed documents that would transfer their property and various art and garden collections to become a nonprofit education trust. That trust created the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, of which the Rose Collections Garden is a wonderful part.
The rose garden was originally created in 1908 for the private enjoyment of Arabella and Henry. To give you an idea of how many flowering plants and roses Arabella and Henry enjoyed on their property, household records indicate that in just one year more than 30,000 flowers were used in massive bouquets – 9,700 of which were roses! The massive bouquets were used as arrangements and enjoyed throughout their home. The three acre gardens have changed over the years just as any garden area does. Due to the mild climate of the area, many visitors can enjoy the gardens months longer.
The Rose Garden entry from the Shakespeare Garden features a winding pathway that leads from a gorgeous hillside vista to a restored 18th century stone chapel housing a statue entitled ‘Love, the Captive of Youth,’ portraying Cupid and his captor, a fair maiden. The small chapel is appropriately circled by a bed of ‘Passionate Kisses’ roses, a medium pink floribunda rose. Each collection of rosebushes is labeled with its name, class and date of introduction, which helps enrich the guests’ visit, especially for Rosarians or rose fanciers.
Mr. Tom Carruth is E.L and Ruth B. Shannon Curator of Rose Collections for the grounds these days, and is well known for his work in hybridizing roses, many or which we enjoy in our own rose beds and landscapes. His work with Weeks Roses is greatly appreciated. Mr. Carruth states that the most common question they get about the roses is concerning their fragrance. There are fragrant roses scattered about throughout the garden, but they also have two beds that contain nothing but heavily perfumed varieties that garden visitors can “smell to their hearts’ delight.”
Some of the other gardens on the Huntington grounds are:
- Australian Garden
- Subtropical Garden
- Desert Garden
- Lily Ponds
- Japanese Garden
- Jungle Garden
- Palm Garden
- Herb Garden
- Shakespeare Garden
- North Vista Camellias
- Chinese Garden
All of these, along with the Rose Garden, are great places to get some inspiration for gardens. While many of us do not have the funds, property or capability to take on such large gardens, we can create something on a smaller scale for our own enjoyment that may mirror a layout found at one of these large garden sites.
How to Design Your Garden
While there are a number of ways to design your own garden, you can find inspiration and ideas from other gardens, like those above, and build upon them, making your own similar space. For instance, I personally love to have at least one garden bench in an area of the garden or yard where one can just sit and take it all in. Let the mind clear of all the stresses of everyday life and “enjoy the moment” so to speak.
Take your camera, a sketch pad and pencil or even just a small notebook along with you on your visit to a large garden. The photos, sketches or notes will come in very handy when laying out and creating your own personal gardens or landscaped areas.
There is no reason why you cannot have your very own “Estate Garden” no matter where you live. Even an apartment or condo usually has a deck or balcony where one can have a large pot or several pots for plants that bring a song to your heart and a lift your soul when needed most. Enjoy those gardens and the wonderful sources of inspiration waiting to be found!