The busy, hustle and bustle of city life can take its toll on us, leaving us feeling run down, spent and older than our years. We sometimes feel that we need to escape on some grand, exotic vacation to rest and recharge. However, planning and saving for a luxurious vacation can add stress to our already stretched-too-thin daily lives. If we do get that dream vacation in a tropical paradise, we try to cram in all the sights and activities into our short visit, forgetting to make time for the rest and relaxation that we went there for.
While traveling to new exotic locations can be a great experience, many people have realized that they can find the refuge they need closer to home, in their own cabins. Imagine, just being able to toss a few items in the car and take off to your own woodland solace anytime you please. No reservations needed, just a quaint cabin, your home away from home, waiting for you. This is the vision Riverwood Cabins had in mind when they began developing prefabricated cabins in 2006. Expanding on his family’s shed building business, Riverwood Cabins’ proprietor Kent Lapp designed a line of prefabricated cabins that would be affordable and easily available, with a variety of cabin designs to meet anyone’s needs.
And although Riverwood Cabins can help you select a perfect cabin, only you can give it your own unique flare and make it truly your heart’s home. Whether its main purpose is a hunting and fishing cabin, a ski lodge or just a quiet solace away from the city, adding your own landscape beds and gardens around the cabin allow you to personalize the space and make it your own. Many cabin designs include porches, a perfect place to quietly sit and take in the nature scene all around you. As gardeners, this can be especially satisfying.
Designing gardens for a cabin is really no different than designing any garden, anywhere. First, we must consider the natural landscape around the site. Is there plenty of sunlight or is the site mostly shaded by old trees? Are there any elements in the natural landscape you would like to incorporate or build the garden around? For example, a unique tree, alive or dead, or a beautiful shrub already growing on the lot could become a specimen plant or focal point of a flower bed. Then again, shaggy lumps of soft, feathery evergreens with green, blue or silver tones could make an excellent background for garden plants with brightly colored flowers and foliage.
Taking a closer look at what is naturally growing in a site also helps you understand the soil and other environmental factors that will affect the garden. Woody plants and weeds can tell us a lot about the conditions in a certain site. Hemlocks (Tsuga sp.) are common native plants throughout the woodlands of the United States where you might expect to see a quaint log cabin; they naturalize as understory plants in areas with acidic and moist, yet well-draining soil.
Like hemlock, certain types of ferns can indicate acidic, moist soil and are usually found where there is partial shade or filtered light. Wild irises, wood violets, and dogwoods can indicate a shady, wet site where water may pool or puddle during certain times of the year and soil that is rich with organic matter. On the other hand, thistles, dandelions, burdock and chicory can indicate a sunny but dry, infertile site. When we pay attention to these indicator plants, we can plan accordingly or build the garden up to meet our needs.
As you plan out a cabin garden, look to the native landscape for design inspiration. Many cabins are placed in wooded areas surrounded by native trees and dense understory plants. Formal, well-manicured garden beds will look out of place in these natural landscapes. Cottage style gardens, however, complement the quaint natural look of a log cabin in the woods. Native prairie beds can be planted in swaths of sunlight that filter through the trees on the edge of woodlands. The plants you choose will depend upon the cabin’s environment, hardiness zone, sun and wind exposure. Researching the region’s native plant species can help you select reliable plants for your cabin’s garden.
Plants are not the only important elements in landscape beds. Add rustic bird houses or vintage gardening tools as garden decor to play up the picturesque scene. Also, consider using natural looking borders or edging such as boulders, logs or landscape timbers around cabin garden beds, as perfectly shaped bricks or plastic edging will be noticeably out of place. Take time to consider whether rock, natural wood or organic mulches will be used in your cabin garden beds.
Though your cabin gardens may be smaller than the gardens you have at home, you can still utilize the space wisely to grow anything you like. Cottage gardens are generally thought of as beds filled with a wide variety of woody and herbaceous flowering plants, planted closely together for aesthetic appeal. However, the original cottage gardens in England hundreds of years ago were small spaces filled to the brim with plants, and many of these were useful fruits, vegetables, and herbs that were grown for function more than beauty.
A well-planned cabin garden can perform many functions. Perfectly placed plants or pots can provide healthy vegetables and herbs that you can enjoy on your visits, as well as transform a simple prefabricated cabin into a postcard perfect retreat.