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WHETHER YOU HAVE INHERITED AN already established garden or are beginning from scratch, you will need to spend some time assessing the space and deciding how it can be transformed into your vision of a peaceful paradise a place where you can relax and leave the cares of the world behind you.
Walks in the country, days out at the beach, vacations overseas and at home, and visits to other people's gardens are all good sources of inspiration. Look around you and think about the things in nature that make you feel calm and relaxed, inspired or agitated. Would you prefer a garden that was predominantly green, with lots of trees and foliage plants, or would you feel more at ease surrounded by color? If you feel re-energized when you are near water, then consider introducing this element in the form of a pond or a small fountain into your yard. You might want to devote all or part of your garden to cultivating fruit and vegetables or perhaps you would like to create a sanctuary for wildlife.
Before you set about turning your dreams into reality, their are a few practical considerations to take into account. Decide how much time you can devote to gardening. If you have a high maintenance garden, you might find that weekends do not give you enough time to stay on top of the work; and remember, even container plants need regular watering. Do you plan to stay in your present home for the foreseeable future or do you intend to move after a few years? Do you want an instant garden or are you prepared to wait for trees and shrubs to become established? You might want to set aside an area for children or at a laterdate, add a pond, a swimming pool, or even a greenhouse. Addressing these practicalities now will help you to avoid unnecessary stress and expense in the future and allow you to create a garden that is right for your lifestyle.
There is no one style of garden that is more conducive to peace and relaxation than another; it is simply a matter of personal taste. You might decide that a formal garden, with topiary, clipped hedges, and a parterre, is the epitome of tranquility, or you may prefer the seemingly untamed beauty of a wild garden. Perhaps you would like to create a romantic hideaway full of scented roses and a secluded arbor or you might opt for the serene minimalism of a Japanese garden with a soothing water feature and restrained planting. The choice is yours, but remember that you don't have to import the look wholesale. A patio or terrace with a few pots and perhaps some window-boxes and shutters to decorate a wall might he enough to evoke the essence of a Mediterranean garden. Nor do you have to stick rigidly to one style. A modern sculpture could look stunning in a woodland setting, for instance, while an exotic plant could make a striking feature in a formal garden.
The following pages will give you a glimpse of some of the many styles you can choose and will help to guide you along the path toward creating a tranquil garden that is a unique expression of your tastes and aspirations.
Copyright ) 1999 by Hearst Communications, Inc. and Marshall Editions Developments Ltd