Seeking sanctuary: Ideas for a new garden space

Maybe it’s because I’ve been home with the kids all summer (only 3 weeks until school starts!), or because I have a giant project for a volunteer commitment for the next three weeks (good timing), or because it is hot outside, but I am seeking a little sanctuary.

In the few moments each day when something or someone is not making harsh demands on my attention, I try to think about what I want this new garden space to look like. The room addition is progressing; the block walls of the foundation are laid and the drainage work is done. Framing should begin this week (hurrah!). What I see forming is a kind of squarish courtyard, framed by the ell of the house and two large oaks at the edge of our deck.

Part of me wants a cloister garden in this space.

By Jjpetite (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Cloister at Fontenay Abbey, Marmagne, France by Jjpetite (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Typically, a cloister garden is formal in style; a quadrangle of calm framed by a sheltered but open walk.

Westminster Abbey cloister, By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Westminster Abbey cloister, By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

This grandeur, clearly, is not part of the renovation plan. However, if we are willing to stretch the definition of cloister to a courtyard that can be viewed in part from all four sides, we may be able to develop this idea further. I can see this spot from the rooms in my house where I spend the most time, so I think I must insist on its being visually calming. The trick, though, is that I know I won’t devote the time to perform the fine maintenance that a formal garden requires to keep it looking top-flight, and I won’t set myself up to look at mess from all sides. That would rather defeat the purpose.

This section of the garden receives good sun from midday on; I am working on a list of plants that I may need to move into this spot.

How do you find sanctuary in the garden? I’d love to hear ideas.

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2 thoughts on “Seeking sanctuary: Ideas for a new garden space

  1. Just being in my garden is sanctuary for me. My neighbors are very close and I have a 4 ft see through fence so there is no privacy. I’ve added several trees as well as tall plants to give me a feeling of seclusion. I’ve also designed my beds to curve away from the fence and towards the center of the yard. By deepening the beds this way, it creates filled space between me and my neighbors and helps me feel separate from them.

  2. Pingback: Garden plans: Sketching | MissingHenryMitchell

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