Garden plaques can add interest and create a personality for any garden space. They can be used as an alternative to a welcome mat for visitors and as an accessory for a planter or garden bed. A more unique use for garden plaques is in the creation of an inspirational path or cove.
This type of garden design allows the gardener to reflect on the day as they stroll down through the garden space. Certain points of interest are created in the garden space where the plaques are placed for reflection. These points of interest utilize the natural beauty of the garden.
When deciding on these stops or points of interest, do not limit oneself to plant material. Points of interests incorporate all the senses. To aid in this selection, you must take time to know your garden as a stranger. Sometimes this is very hard to do and the beauty of our surroundings becomes commonplace. We have a hard time appreciating what is in front of us and in doing so we have to see it in a different light and/or angle. To do this, plan a visit to your garden during a time you normally do not see it. When you do this, bring along with you a comfy chair, a cup of coffee, and a book or journal. Take the path the way you normally travel and observe the environment not only from a standing viewpoint but also from a sitting position. Consider the sounds that surround you in the garden space along with the smells.
Once you travel the path most taken, try it in the opposite direction or with the assistance of a friend try it blindfolded. These approaches will help you to develop a new sense of your environment.
Utilize both of these approaches during different times of the day and season. Note in your garden journal, the most unique places in your garden space. These spaces will become the stopping points along your inspirational path.
If you get stuck and still cannot see the forest for the trees, ask a friend to visit the garden space. A new set of eyes can expose you to the possibilities of your garden space.
Some ideas for stopping points include but are not limited to areas where sunsets or sunrises can be viewed. Areas that wildlife is attracted to are also good stopping points. These include birdbaths, feeders and plant material.
Do not limit your stopping points to only daytime hours or to certain seasons. Plan stopping points that showcase nighttime views of the moon and the stars. Also consider stopping points that are only viewed during certain parts of the season. In the springtime this can be a patch of beautiful spring flowering bulbs or a maple tree in the fall.
Once the stopping points have been selected, it is time to determine the personality of the space and what you want your visitor to reflect upon. Some individuals like words to aid them in reflection and this is where garden plaques come into play. A number of garden plaques are decorated with poems from famous authors such as Robert Browning. These simple words should help your visitor invoke some type of emotion that ties into the selected environment.
An example of this works start off with a visit down to a delightful stopping point. This point in the garden space sets up on an incline with a wonderful view of the sunrise. In the early spring and summer the birds also visit this spot to feast on butterflies resting on the sand drying their wings. This vantage point beacons a poem such as “The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer Gods heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.”
Once you have decorated your stopping points with inspirational garden plaques, it is time to create a comfortable space. If the garden spot is designed for long contemplation consider placing a garden bench and table in the space. This will provide a surface for writing and holding that cup of coffee.
Another consideration when designing an inspirational path is what the path is covered in. Stepping-stones make a great addition to this path. It provides safety and adds another texture that can be felt underneath ones feet. This simple change can invoke memories and reflection.
One additional accessory that one may consider using is landscape lighting. This lighting can add security to the path but can also interfere with the feeling of the space. Before adding lighting to the stopping points, check to see how that lighting changes the space. Even a simple light shining from the path can change the mood of the environment.
Garden plaques not only add personality to a garden space but it also tells volumes about the gardener. Do not limit yourself to only using them in a traditional garden bed but incorporate them into planters to tell a story. This story is added to every time a visitor stops and reflects on words carefully placed along life’s garden path.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.