Curved benches, anchorage, and your aging in place plan

I’m in love with curved benches!

In an earlier blog, I mentioned visiting Hills and Dales Estate, the historic Fuller E. Callaway home in LaGrange, Georgia. Among the many features of the multi-acre garden are several curved benches.

One is in a direct sight line from the upper terrace at the house, in a very formal layout. The bench faces the pool in the Sunken Garden. (See #13 in the online garden tour). Two more benches form a pair around a sculpture in the walkway called Lover’s Lane.

Curved benches in Lover's Walk, Hills and Dales Estate, Georgia

Curved benches in Lover's Walk, Hills and Dales Estate, Georgia

These benches are a bit unusual because they curve inward. Benches with an outward curve, like those found around a tree trunk, are more easily found at garden centers and in online catalogs of outdoor furniture. I’m confused by the tree trunk bench style, wondering how two people can share this bench and hold a conversation when the bench causes them to turn away from each other. An inward-curving bench seems friendlier.

These curved benches remind me of an idea called landscape archetypes.

In 1995, Julie Moir Messervy, a Vermont landscape designer, wrote a book called The Inward Garden (revised 2007). In this book, she discusses seven types of land forms that influence our feelings toward landscape designs. She says our individual preferences for these patterns come from our childhood experiences of the landscape, our primal feelings toward the earth.

One of these land forms or archetypes she calls The Harbor, an enclosure with a view, which brings to mind a sense of safe anchorage, of resting, of comfort and shelter but with a strong connection to the rest of the world.

Harbor photo, courtesy Steve Robertson, Portland, Vic., Austr.

Harbor photo, courtesy Steve Robertson, Portland, Vic., Austr.

  • The inward curved benches at Hills and Dales Estate remind me of this harbor archetype. Sitting on the bench at the Sunken Garden, you look directly back up the hill to the house. You're surrounded by the tall arms of the bench with a great view! You can feel the connection between privacy in the garden and belonging to a family that’s represented by the house.
  • The benches that face each other in Lover’s Lane show that privacy and intimacy are respected and planned for in the garden, maybe even encouraged. In this case, the view is shorter - just across to the other bench, where a friend or loved one could be sitting.

What’s your reaction to curved benches and the harbor archetype?

This may or may not resonate with you as you think about aging in place and your landscape. An Elderyarding® garden should connect with your deepest experiences of nature. Choose to daydream and remember childhood feelings and explorations. Second Summer™ can help use those memories and your senses to design a very personal meaningful ageless garden. Call us now - 512.917.5758.