Garden Getaways

Creating a secret retreat within a garden is something anyone can do in any garden. It's a matter of knowing what you want and how to create it.
Creating a Room
Shady arbor leads to a private garden. A bench in a secluded corner of
the garden may be all it takes to
create an intimate retreat.

For some, the entire garden is a respite. From border to border, the garden serves as a haven from the hectic activities dealt with on a daily basis. On the other hand, many gardens have to fill a wide range of uses, from vegetable gardening to a play area for children to a gathering and entertaining area. Even so, you can still carve out a portion of the garden for the specific purpose of having a place to get away from it all.

One way to make a garden getaway inviting is to make it feel like a room. To start, provide an overhead canopy to help contain the area and bring it down to a human scale. A canopy needn't be a solid roof.

An open structure -- such as the gazebo and the vine-covered hideaway shown on this page -- allows plenty of light and air to move through the area while still providing shelter. Next, choose the seating for the number of people you intend to have in the space. Most successful secluded spots have seating for at least two.

A Place to Go

Wood deck path leads to garden retreat. A meandering approach to your
garden getaway helps create a
sense of solitude.

Whether the getaway mimics a room or is simply a pair of chairs in a secluded part of the lawn, it should create a feeling that it is a place you actually go to. You may not be able to see it in its entirety from the house or major areas of the garden, and you may not be able to hide it completely, but you want to provide some sense of destination.

Locate the secret garden in a remote-feeling part of the property. This doesn't have to be far from the house. If the ideal space is tucked beside your garage, instead of taking the quickest and closest route to get there, have a path that leads around the garage instead. Each step helps you shed the echoes of the outside world and allows time to anticipate the respite. If this sounds unlikely, try it; you might be surprised at how well it works.

Try planning a winding path that never gives a full view of the secluded area until you reach it. If space is tight, plant large ornamental grasses on either side of the path to create a sense of mystery. Hide the entrance, so you have to brush the grass out of the way to enter.

Continued on page 2:  A Sense of Enclosure