Tag Archives: Wisley

A Bench with a View

September 29th, 2019 | 10 Comments »

Last week’s blog prompted so many responses that I’m writing about benches again. Kathy Purdy, a friend, regular reader and blogger extraordinaire (you can read her blog here) made the excellent comment that the view from a bench is as important as — more important than? — the design itself. I also have photos of many interesting bench designs that I didn’t include last week. So location as well as design is the focus for this post.

I’ve positioned benches at Glen Villa with the view very much in mind.  A Victorian-style metal frame bench offers a place to look out onto the circular stone wall that stood in front of the early 19th century Glen Villa Inn.

 

No image of the bench, instead an image of what you see sitting on it.
The Yin/Yang at Glen Villa uses contrasting colours, textures, heights and materials to suggest how opposites create a balance in nature, an idea that comes from Chinese philosophy.

 

This very simple bench sitting on the bank above Lake Massawippi draws no attention to itself, leaving that to the view onto the lake.

My husband and his old friend David share a bench on the bank overlooking Lake Massawippi.
The bench almost disappears, allowing the view its full force.

 

Anyone sitting on the bench at the Sundial Clearing looks straight at the tall dead pine tree whose shadow acts as the gnomon, or pointer, to indicate the hour and to suggest the relentless passage of time.

 

I came across this dead pine tree when marking out a new trail through the woods. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would become an important feature.
I came across this dead pine tree when marking out a new trail through the woods. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would become an important feature.

 

The view from the bench above the Skating Pond shows the pond and the surrounding fields and hills.

 

The bench is barely visible in the foreground, taking nothing away from the pond and its surroundings.
The bench is barely visible in the foreground, taking nothing away from the pond and its surroundings.

 

Which is more important in a public garden — the view or the spacing between one place to sit and another? They aren’t mutually exclusive, of course, but sometimes people need to sit and rest. A bench at the botanical garden in Edinburgh looked out on a view that held only moderate interest, but it appeared just when I was ready to take a break, making it perfectly located.

A simple and very stylish bench made from ordinary 2x4s.
This fabulous bench shows how ordinary 2x4s can create elegant and stylish seating. Its design enables people both to see the view and to see each other, thereby encouraging conversation and the sharing of views. The paving underneath adds to the impact.

 

The bench also demonstrates how inventiveness can turn a simple construction into a work of art, using nothing more than 2×4 boards.

 

The same 2x4s, this time without a back.
I saw this fine backless bench at RHS Wisley.

More 2x4s create another very simple bench at Hannah Peschar’s Sculpture Garden. Yet see how effective it is!

Boards laid on end and set on clunky legs make another stylish statement.
Boards laid on end and set on clunky legs make another stylish statement.

Wooden planks that rise up to a climax creative an impressive bench that is a work of art at Pensthorpe Natural Reserve in Norfolk.

The angled back gives this bench its flair.
The angled back and curved seat give this bench its flair.

Wood left in its original form can also create original and effective benches.

 

A bench at Olana, the New York state home of the artist Thomas Church, uses curved branches to create an appealing bench.
A bench at Olana, the New York state home of the artist Thomas Church, uses curved branches to create an appealing bench. I didn’t sit on it so I don’t know how comfortable it is.

 

 

With thought and a desire to construct something special, wood left in its natural form can create wonderful benches. That’s why one of my autumn projects is to convert this tree trunk into a bench.

 

The old maple tree trunk is the right height for a bench and its natural shape is interesting.
The old maple tree trunk is the right height for a bench and its natural shape is interesting.

 

The height is right for a bench and the natural shape of the maple tree trunk is interesting.

 

Another view of the maple tree trunk.
A view of the maple tree trunk from a different angle.

 

But best of all, the view is great.

 

Bridge Ascending, 2011, by Doucet-Saito
Bridge Ascending, 2011, by Doucet-Saito

 

That’s what I call a win/win.

 

 

Garden Paths

July 29th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
The tightly laid stone path at Cottesbrooke, a Queen Anne house in Northamptonshire.
Working on Timelines, the 3 km trail at Glen Villa that opened last weekend, started me thinking about trails and paths more generally, and particularly about the way the size, shape and the material a path is made of affect how we respond. What a difference there is, for instance, between the effect of a winding path made of wood chips ...   [caption id="attachment_7795" align="alignleft" width="4272"] This photo shows a wood chip path at Holbrooke Garden, a naturalistic garden in Devon.[/caption]   ... and a straight path that leads to

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