Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Place to Unwind

We are heading into the hottest part of the summer and if ever there was a time to take a break, relax, and enjoy the garden, this would be it!

A comfortable seating area where you can entertain friends or just unwind is just what you need on hot afternoon or a sultry summer evening.

Today I have two rustic styled seating areas to inspire you to create your own perfect place to relax.

In this first space in Brampton, ON the path leads you to a little foot bridge that crosses a dry stream bed.

Here is a closer look at the dry stream bed.

Adirondack chairs are grouped around a small outdoor fireplace (it is a good idea to check local by-laws before purchasing an outdoor fireplace).

The next garden in Toronto, ON is small. 

Now, I know I have gotten in hot water over my definition of "small" in the past, but I think I am on solid ground here when I say that this backyard is "small". I am sure that the long, rectangular space would not measure much more than 12 or 15 feet across.

As you walk down the narrow flagstone walkway at the side of the house you catch sight of a distressed blue chair at the end of the path.

See, what did I tell you. Tiny! A rustic arbor marks the entrance to the space.

Here is the view looking back to the blue chair. 

Before we go on, I want to stop to admire the pretty white Snowball Viburnum, Viburnum macrocephalum which you can see peaking into the shot on the right.

I don't have a Snowball Viburnum in my garden, but I understand that they have a rounded shape and can reach as much as 20 feet high by 15 ft wide in the southern states. 

Snowball Viburnum perform best in moist soil and a shady setting. In more northern climates like Canada, shelter from cold, dry winds is recommended.

Other plantings like this Japanese Maple play off the colors of the brick house.

What makes both these spaces rustic and inviting? Surrounded by walls and greenery, they feel private and secluded. 

The chairs in both gardens have been left unpainted. They don't stand out from the landscape, they blend in. The goal here is to connect with nature, rather than to stand apart from it. 

Emphasis has been placed on rough materials like stone, brick and wood. Together the mix of contrasting textures and plant materials demands your attention and focuses your thoughts away from everyday concerns.

For me, one of the most charming details in this space was the "rock garden" in between the two adirondack chairs.

The planting is kept minimal with much of the sensual appeal going to the smooth, rounded pebbles. I love the contrast of these grey pebbles and the bright chartreuse of the fern fronds and Creeping Jenny.

I hope you are find a few spare moments to sit and enjoy your own garden this month.


  1. Hmm, that bird bath with the stones and ferns looks really nice. Always some excellent ideas on your blog Jennifer. Glad to hear you are enjoying your garden this year, when not visiting someone else's.

  2. Great places to relax and find some shade. I hope the temperatures will go down a little bit at your place.
    Have a wonderful day Jennifer

  3. Great places to relax and enjoy your garden. Happy and sunny holidays, Jennifer! Hugs for the dogs!

  4. Lovely green and shady places to relax on hot days, but I just saw your former post on your own garden of last week. Your garden looks really gorgeous, and than one of the dogs under the arbour, that's a great picture.

  5. I love your second photo, Jennifer!
    The Viburnum ("kalinka" ) looks pretty with the purple maple.
    I hope you have a lot of time to sit and relax in hot hours.
    Have a nice week!

  6. Beautiful. I'm reading this on my lunch hour and I can feel my blood pressure lower already! Thanks for sharing.

  7. I love the birdbath planter. Why didn't I think of that ;-)

    The viburnum is very special indeed! as are the two gardens.

  8. Some very beautiful, cool, green spaces to relax and unwind on hot days. Delightful gardens and little nooks.

  9. Beautiful photos of the gardens, flowers and plants up close. Isn't it amazing how people can create such inviting secret gardens in such small spaces. Love the darkness of each garden ... gives it a very cool feel. The birdbath rock garden is great ... and to have it at eye level when you're sitting in the chair is so clever. Thanks for sharing these spaces! Wendy

  10. I love these gardens, so rustic and peaceful. I'm particularly fond of that bird house.

  11. Both backyard seating areas are very inviting. I remember reading one of the garden blogs that reminded us to take time to enjoy what we have created. True true - first the hard work and then a bit of kick-back and appreciation.
    Your shots of the plants are crystal clear and gorgeous.

  12. love this space..charming and I ADORE the repurposed bird bath!

  13. So pretty and wecoming! Just blissful! :)

  14. I think the key to keeping a relaxing feel is to keep the plantings simple as they've done. The stone and fern feature reminds me of fir trees and stone landscapes that you'd see up north. Just great to see what others have done in their garden. Got off to Milton this w/e with Kevin. All gardens done by owner that we saw. Just going over photos now, some very sweet gardens. B.

  15. They are all lovely places to relax and unwind. I love the coolness all the foliage creates that surround these seating areas. That rustic arbor is fantastic!

  16. All we need is for the rain to stop and things to dry up so that we can enjoy our quiet spots. I have a new platform that we built at the back of the yard under maple trees that is my quiet spot. Love it.

  17. Both of these are really beautiful, Jennifer, and I especially love that little arbor.
    It adds so much, and makes it look so inviting.
    You always share such beauty here.
    Thank you for that.
    Happy Day to you!

  18. I really have to learn to make my own concrete birdbaths. Their shapes can be used in so many different ways (feeling inspired by your photos!)

  19. We often forget to just sit and enjoy are gardens don't we? This post is such a good reminder to do just that.

    I loved the first garden with that gorgeous little fire pit....and enjoyed the other pics too. I feel chilled already....xxxx

  20. These spaces are beyond inspiring Jennifer. And I so like the rock garden in the bird bath!!! Brilliant!! I would love to just sit here and have a glass of wine!

  21. Both gardens have great ideas to relax in the heat of summer. I like the birdbath application. It looks natural and almost zen-like.

  22. Lovely places and spaces. How many of us gardeners just actually sit and relax without seeing something that needs doing. Not many I should think - but the idea is a good one.

  23. How lovely these photos are, makes me wanna sit there and dream for a while! :-)


  24. I really love that rustic arbor and bird bath...a seating area is important indeed...I love our brick patio!

  25. I'm glad you included the small garden: not everyone has the space to create a huge garden, but this one shows that even in a small space you can create a place to sit and enjoy. Love that rock planter!

  26. You find the best gardens to photograph! I love both of these and the fact that they're both small are very endearing since I also garden in a small space. Secluded spots are my favorite too. I am pinning that photo of the blue chair & bird house!!! It's just too wonderful!

  27. My goodness what a sweet rock garden !! I love it and it gives me so many ideas now!
    I have to admit I love the first garden and the fie pit ( and YES! you have to check with all the different safety codes for something like that .. we got around it by buying a small charcoal BBQ ... I love burnt marshmallows!!)
    You can do so many little things and touches to your garden to make them especially yours and so cute and comfortable .. but I have to admit .. I can never sit still in my garden .. I have to putter all the time ! LOL
    Joy : )

  28. Both gardens feel so serene, but I especially admire the little one. I LOVE the rock garden! It's so perfect for that cool, shady spot. How do you find all these amazing gardens? I rarely hear about garden tours here.

    1. It is a shame that they don't have garden tours where you live Tammy. Here just about every horticultural society has a tour. I love them; they are such an inspiration. I also find gardens by word of mouth or sometimes I just happen to drive by.


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