Rudella Geiger. Garden Design. April 20th , 2018.
While there is much to be said for the cottage garden, with a rich array of varied planting (indeed, it is the real master gardener who can pull this off), there is a power to seeing a quantity of one plant that is genuinely affecting. Russell Page, one of the great twentieth century landscape designers said it well: the most striking and satisfying visual pleasure comes from the repetition or the massing of one simple element.
I remember as a beginning garden designer in California being taken aside by my mentor, a transplanted Englishwoman who owned the nursery, walking through a vast block of salvia, and being told that I could, if I liked, use 30 of them, not the three or five I had typically been planting. It was a liberating moment.
Think big. Ample pathways and gathering spaces are inviting, and large features are engaging in any size space. You can maximize the livability of a small yard by taking advantage of changes in terrain to segment the space into different living areas.
That means that if the riser is 5 inches, the tread (what you walk on) should be 16 inches. All I can say is that the rule is true, and I have used it from steep canyon faces to gentle changes of patio levels. A useful corollary states that 5 feet is the minimum width for two people climbing steps side by side.
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