Why this Works

The process of design can be overwhelming: you have a space you want to fill, but so many options and criteria. You might look at something and say, "I  like that" but have no reason or idea of what it is that you are drawn to. What is it I like here, and why? In this section, the idea is to breakdown a garden into components and discuss what it is specifically that makes it functional and beautiful.

Below:My first subject, a garden by Foras Studio which is a design studio founded by landscape designer, Susan Welti.  This is a typical 20' x 36' lot in a sunny backyard in Brooklyn. I have long admired this project because it is such a simple, elegant and low- maintenance design, and it seems as though it did not take a huge budget in order to accomplish. 

I confess that I really don't know anything about this project other than what I have seen and read about on Gardenista. However, just by looking at this images, there are three basic tenants that this projects adheres to:

image Via Foras Studio

1. Simplicity: The garden basically consists of Six 5' x 5' beds of heat tolerant and hearty plants with different textures that go together because they are all neutrals. The hydrangea (top right bed) and the Russian sage both have a dusty blue/purple flower, and the rest are shades of greens. The green reads strongly against the muted backdrop of the crushed stone and bluestone.

image via Foras Studio

2. Proportion: The garden was laid out with this proportion given it's size. But as the designer Susan Welti mentioned in Gardenista,  you can actually lay out the beds to be any proportion to suit your garden. They key is a good comfortable geometry and walking path that feels good to walk on.


Image via Foras Studio

image via Judy Craghead for Flickr


image via Foras Studio

3. Balance/Harmony: Choosing materials that go together is not easy because you need to be judicious, which means you need to be able to edit. Here, the designers  chose wisely: an existing bluestone patio mixes beautifully with a field of crushed bluestone, and a weathered cedar fence that picks up on the grey tones in the stone. The boxwood texture is repeated in various forms, and it's tight dense form highlights the looseness of the Mexican feather grass and the Russian Sage. Solomon's Seal and the Hydrangea are placed toward the back as the taller shrubs, and their leafier texture transitions to the planting at the back almost as a backdrop for the foreground. The beds are articulated with steel edging and each reads in stark contrast to one another.

This red Butterfly Chair and canvas cover is available at Circa50