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Structural Elements in the Garden

March 7th, 2011

I’m currently reading Smith & Hawken Garden Structures by Linda Joan Smith and really enjoying it. This is the time of year in the north, structural elements are important in the garden. Since most plants have no leaves, there isn’t much left in the garden. If you don’t have shrubs, obelisks, fences or walls, you’re left with a flat expanse of snow.
Structural elements bring beauty and interest to the garden all year long, even when the plants are dormant. They can range from a simple path of native stone to grand fountains and everything in between.

Structural elements need not be hardscaping, they can be benches, obelisks, sculptures and even shrubs or trees. Potted plants can become structural elements in the garden if used properly and arranged in an artful manner. Of course these have to protected in cold northern climates and generally can’t be left in the garden during winter.

This is one area I really need to work on in the gardens at Chiot’s Run, my gardens are in need of more winter interest. I’ve been putting it off for a variety of reasons; time, lack of inspiration, the cost and I’ve been focusing on improving the soil above all other garden tasks. My goal this winter is to finalize a few plans for trellises, arbors, fences, walkways and other structural elements that I can incorporate over the next couple years.

If money was not an issue, I would have a big glass conservatory in my garden. A place to spend cold winter days, growing citrus trees and tropical plants. I may have a small greenhouse in my garden someday, but I’ll never have something as grand as what’s at Stan Hywet or Longwood Gardens. I’d also love to have tall stone walls surrounding a perennial garden with a reflecting pool, like this one at Stan Hywet.

If money weren’t an issue, what kind of structural element would you incorporate into your garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.