Create a space that's right for you
Elaborate outdoor spaces are alluring, but as Landscape Architect Tony Milne explains, all you really need is a space you can enjoy.
Often it can be easy to stay ensconced indoors. As Hans Christian Anderson once said, “Just living is not enough, one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower”. Spring is just around the corner, and before we know it summer will have snuck up and blown a warm foehn breeze on our face. Imagery can be seductive, but an amazing outdoor living space is not a prerequisite to getting outside.
It was this time last year, I introduced you to ‘The Guru’. You may recall I wrote how we enjoy the seasonality of Hagley Park while we run. ‘The Guru’ and I haven’t been as regular this year as last. More my fault than his. The seasonal taps at the Sprig and Fern sometimes call louder than the locker room at the YMCA.
I am writing this from New York City, and while here I have managed to lace up the running shoes on a few occasions. I have taken great delight in exploring many nooks, crannies and edges. I enjoy doing this as it gives me a feel for the grain of a city, particularly the way its inhabitants use outdoor space – both private and public. In downtown NYC it seems as if every inch of outdoor space is stolen for use. A riot of pots, planters and greenery demarcate space at the street edge. There is an abundance of well-purposed roof gardens and terraces and little balconies that at times precariously cantilever off building facades. These certainly punctuate the fabric of the city at higher levels. When combined, the green filigree softens an intoxicating craziness.
Whether by accident or by design, on the most part they provide a stage for the performance of life – laughter, love, eating, drinking, arguing, relaxing, sleeping, working (I was surprised by how many people with laptops were taking advantage of well-positioned outdoor settings) – or merely the watching of life.
As Susan McCoy, gardening trends and marketing expert wrote, “If it has a verb in it, you can do it outside – exercising, cooking, dining, entertaining and now working in the outdoor office. If we can do it outside, we’re outside”.
Which brings me back to ‘The Guru’. His outdoor space is not resplendent with flowers, nor does it need to be. However, it is his stage for his life. ‘The Guru’ always seems to have a few projects on the go, at times the garden is slightly rambling while the rotary hoe sits in the garage waiting for its new starter cord. A garden of promise, great intentions and a bountiful supply of citrus.
‘Boony’, another mate of ours, on the other hand, with three sons, runs a pretty functional yard. A lawn dominates, mown by one of his boys, quite possibly under coercion. A spa sits close to the indoor living areas of the house and is well used. He dreams of becoming an urban beekeeper, however to his disappointment a hive is not high on the family priority list.
Two quite different backyards, and certainly not trending with butterfly plants, fire pits, festival lights, hurricane lamps, a basket of throws, pillows, outdoor rugs, man screens or she sheds. Nevertheless, spaces for family life – moments and memories.
Create what is right for you and enjoy it.
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