Patios come in all sizes and shape, but if seating is to be incorporated, the space must be large enough to accommodate the furnishings and the guests. This terrace has numerous bistro tables set up for parties when required. But here, it is so nice to have the privacy for one family.
These properties are all quite large, but have places where the seating is designed to be quite intimate.
Outdoor gathering areas expand your living space to include the great outdoors. They are a perfect spot to view your hard work of nurturing and creating. It is a space where you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor in a beautiful garden setting. And creatively designed, it is a wonderful place to view borrowed landscapes like the image above. This particular view, on a clear day, one can actually see Toronto, Canada, from right here in the USA.
Outdoor space can make one feel as though the garden space they just stepped into is a continuation of the interior living space. Just like at left, where the interior space blends seamlessly with the exterior in color, casual style, and intimacy of space. But this space does not stop here my friends. Sandstone steps were designed to mimic those found on the front of this patio, to lead down into a large and expansive space suited for grand entertaining.
This space then connects to a ballroom inside the beautiful home. Originally this terrace was grass but then it was re-designed for outdoor dancing with the cut stone paving to compliment the interior ballroom. Adjacent interior rooms have parquet and limestone floors in this rectilinear patterning and tones.
The outdoor space has a central fountain that is beautiful at night, viewed from the expansive and numerous French doors surrounding the ballroom. I will show that in a later post on entertaining space. The sense of privacy and opulence change as one moves from one space to the other, from small to large, enclosed to open, depending on the direction of movement through and about the space.
Seating is wonderful found along a path as a discovered spot deep in the woods, a special destination in the garden or just a jog in a wall. This spot at left, currently has apple blossom carpet roses cascading over and softening the full length of the wall and sandstone coping. Absolutely stunning. The mow strip in front of the wall makes it easy to maintain.
Benches can be incorporated under the branches of a recently trimmed maple or the cooling shade of a cherry, or nestled in the wind protecting arborvitae.
In fact, many people feel that an outdoor living space is incomplete without the addition of benches. These spaces are often private areas where one can read and reflect. In these two examples, the paving/wall area was created specifically to accommodate the bench. Large stone planters also occupy these spaces and are planted with tasteful plantings. These early spring photos do not show the added color, but does this not look like a great place to have your morning coffee in the image below? The walls surrounding the cut stone paving act as seating walls. The wall is only slightly higher than the bench seat.
All these places considered and strategically selected a spot for what the viewer was expected to view. The image above is being photographed from a stone path bordering the grass terrace, seen in the image below. The rose garden was designed as a destination point in the landscape. A long, curving stone path follows grade from the patio above the garden and the grass terrace edge , seen below. There is sequential bloom with catmint and Russian sage in the beds. And of course, stone benches surround the space on the curving irregular cut stone path. You can see my post on Pretty Paths here. These are paths that I walked during the Garden Walk Buffalo, not those that I designed.
The image above, has the bench sited in a rock garden. Stone is laid so that steppable plantings form a soft rug. The rock garden climbs behind and around the seating area as shown above. Color is all around.
You can see how this is a terraced outdoor space like the first property I presented. The formal space is above and it transitions with stone steps leading to a more casual seating area, again keeping garden vignettes and views in mind.
The tree, at right, was trimmed and the location sited for morning shade. The upright rock came in our palettes, but was so interesting, that I decided to ‘plant’ it vertically at the step down of the dry laid stone wall. Pots will add color with annuals later in the season and thyme is planted with alyssum seeded inbetween the stone. They are just starting to make an appearance. When siting a seating area, consider all the space around it, from the flooring material with planting, to the wall materials, whether hardscape or soft, to the cascading plants draping the wall, to the ceiling of tree canopy or built structure above. I try to extend the season with flowering shrubs like the rhododendron above. It flowers in pink like the thyme, which is my client’s favorite color.
One of my favorite siting of a bench, was at the property below. It is a simple design in a wooded area opening to a million dollar view to Canada, just like the first example. And this is a perfect spot to sit and reflect. I do not have a photo with this area completed, but it was heavenly when finished.
These are all projects that I designed. I have been working with these clients, who are now friends, for many years. The properties are very large and all have caretakers to maintain them. I work on properties of all size, like the property I showed here.
Part Two of my Furnishing The Garden will show seating examples of properties I found while on garden walks. All are urban gardens and very compact in nature, but beautiful and well executed none the less. Many are colorful and creative. See you on my next tour.