How Garden Design Encourages Daydreaming That's Good for Your Health
Daydreaming in the Landscape
When was the last time you sat down and daydreamed? If you're like most of us, daydreaming in the garden is a lost art. Like puttering, daydreaming has been lost in the rush to busyness. Now’s the time to create a simple, tranquil spot in the garden, where you can allow yourself to relax, settle in, and daydream.
Finding the Ideal Place to Relax and Let Go
When you begin shifting your home landscape to a lovable low-care yard, do include spaces for wandering slowly or sitting dreamily. In Spanish the word for a walk is paseo. To me, the word captures the muse beautifully.
A paseo in the garden is done at a slower pace. You start wandering along the walk, slowly admiring the colors and textures of your landscape, drifting from plant to plant, until you end up with a handful of shrunken and desiccated blooms that you've removed from plants as you strolled along. You stop to place the flowers in the ceramic pot you use to collect weed and trimmings for the compost pile. And since the pot rests next to your favorite secluded bench, you sit and daydream, enjoying the peace and tranquility.
Daydreaming in the garden is beneficial to your brain and memory. It's the perfect way to release the stress of the day while being surrounded by natural beauty. Do you have a special sitting and dreaming spot? Or maybe you have more than one. Here are a couple of examples.
You’re in Texas. This morning you were up at 5:30 to start the soaker hoses in the parts of the garden that need water. The temperature is likely to reach 100 degrees in the summer. Whew!
One great resting spot is the screened porch once the water's on. Even before the day lightens, it’s a perfect location for bird sounds. First, the hummingbirds start to stir. You can hear their chipping talk as they work their way along the hedge of Mexican oregano blossoms down to the nocturnal yucca, which has been opening a few of its upright bells daily for over a month. Then the cardinals sound an alert near the feeder. The neighbor’s cat must have come to visit. You can’t see them yet, but two mockingbirds are swooping and chasing each other in a fake fight over the ripening fruit of the Texas persimmons. Here you sit with eyes closed and let your brain wander, noticing the sounds, connecting them with memories and emotions.
On the weekends, you love being up before the day heats to shimmering, walking on the solid flagstone paths and catching small hints of fragrance from different plants. A tiny bit of breeze comes when cooler air near the water is pushed around by wind from the top of the hill. That topside air catches the sun earlier and starts to move as it warms. Pausing to sit on a big upside-down pot under the arbor, you can smell lavender, autumn sage, creeping rosemary, and oregano. While these fragrances are much stronger once sunlight hits the plants and evaporates their essential oils, it’s such a pleasure to sit here and relax deeply into breathing right now. You let those subtle aromas touch the nerves in your nose, and the brain lights up, thinking fondly of pizza and anticipating the cool of fall.
Creating Tranquility with Garden Design
When thinking about garden design as a place of tranquility and daydreaming, ask yourself how you want to use your garden now and in the future. If you're older and planning to age in place, is it time to adapt your yard for enjoyment with less work? Do words such as rest, tranquility, stability, calm, cool, peacefulness, serenity, quiet, repose, and stillness come to mind? Using horizontal landscape design elements can help you to create the perfect peaceful space and allow daydreaming to be a priority.
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Try standing at the edge of your yard and squinting your eyes to look across your garden. Notice the horizontal lines of paving, fences, the edges of flower beds, even the bumpy horizontal of a row of shrubs. Or you can take pictures and print them out, preferably in black and white. Then use a colored marker or highlighter to capture the broad horizontal lines in the areas of your yard or garden where you spend time. Look to see if your landscape contains horizontal lines. This is the first step to creating a tranquil garden space that's the perfect spot for daydreaming.
Creating Horizontal Lines in Garden Design
In the winter when the days are short and dreary, I daydream about spring sunlight and fields of bluebonnets. Texas is known for bluebonnets, and five varieties grow in the state. Bluebonnets are beloved for many reasons, and one is the calming effect of seeing vast fields of delicate blue spread across the fields as you drive through more rural areas. The Texas Department of Transportation sows over 30,000 lbs of wildflowers each year, including bluebonnets. It's not only a grand celebration of the wildflower, I suspect those horizontal lines of blue encourage tranquility and daydreaming.
There are many ways of creating horizontal lines in your own garden design that can give you that same feeling of tranquility and calm.
• Fencing, Walls, and Hedgerows
A fence is a great way to include a horizontal element in your garden design, and it can be constructed with horizontal rather than vertical planks. If you're stuck with the neighbor's existing fence and the horizontal supports face your yard, consider a conversation to ask about painting those supports a contrasting color to draw the eye horizontally. A color that harmonizes with plants and flowers in your yard can pull the entire yard together. Or what if you install a fence where the planks run horizontally instead of vertically to enhance that calm feeling? Stone walls, low lines of shrubs, even concrete edging and bench seating are all options for adding horizontal lines to your design for a tranquil garden. Aging in place? Horizontals can add just the peacefulness you'd like.
• Outdoor Furniture
Replace the chairs on the porch or patio with modern wicker ones to further extend horizontal lines in the yard. At the moment, the outdoor all-weather wicker trend is for modern geometric shapes in furniture. These tend to run large, so do look for a size and height that's comfortable for you to use and get out of! You don’t have to switch your style to modern, though. Here’s a Polywood chair that would nestle into this garden corner perfectly, too. Switching to horizontal lines in this yard would increase the sense of restfulness and stillness, yet the aims of privacy and enjoyment of the sun would remain.
• Pruning Existing Plants and Trees
Consider carefully pruning tree branches to emphasize the horizontal lines and add even more tranquility in your garden. Or use plants in a contrasting color behind a bench to call attention to the bench's horizontal lines. As an example, if you have a light colored wood or concrete bench, consider using plants with foliage that is purple or a dark evergreen. Trim the tops of the shrubs to carry a gently horizontal top edge. In the right space, the hedge-bench combination creates lines that are amazingly harmonious and restful. No hedges? Try a long bed of flowers in a single color to continue a theme of horizontal lines and punch that up with a long row of container plants, with the flowers or the containers reflecting the flower colors in that long bed.
After looking at horizontal fields of bluebonnets, paintbrush and white prickly poppies, are you thinking horizontal lines might be the direction to head for your landscaping or garden design? With a little work and some planning, you can incorporate horizontal lines into your garden design. They'll create the perfect environment for enjoying those quiet mornings sipping tea and relaxing in tranquility before it’s time to wake out of daydreaming and get the practical business of the day started!