Rekindling nice memories of childhood can have a joyous, calm and synergistic impact in the present world of upheavals and crises. Those hours of observing Beverly Hillbillies reruns after school with a large bowl of ice cream actually were rewarding, no matter what Mom said at the moment. And did we answer that old question of that was really better: the Brady Bunch or the Partridge Family? If the preceding two paragraphs put a smile on your face, then this ideabook is for you.
With a couple tweaks on your backyard layout, your own space can nurture that seemingly lost inner child. Your garden can become a place where you can dream big, let your imagination run wild and place this feverish thing called adulthood to a brand new and manageable view. Let’s get started.
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
Create a Feeling of journey. Does this photo rekindle memories of packing your Spiderman lunch box and running away from home for the day? You may be saying to yourself that you simply do not have the acreage to pull this off. No worries.
Jay Sifford Garden Design
This photograph shows a suburban side lawn that leads to an Asian-style backyard garden. The 8-foot Chinese doorways include a feeling of mystery and expectation of what is to come. The curved turf pathway is flanked by mass plantings of Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’, a switchgrass that grows to 4 to 5 ft by summer. The shape of the pathway elicits a feeling of discovery and journey. What’s around the next curve and behind the doors?
Daryl Toby – AguaFina Gardens International
Construct a fort. Gilligan’s bamboo hut was exceptionally cool, but many homeowner’s association regulations would prohibit construction this type of construction in our corners of suburbia. Nurture a feeling of “fort” instead by producing a secluded seating area around the bend, hidden from view.
The point is to have a go-to place where you can look out at the world but the world can’t see you. When you’re designing seats for this place, make sure it backs against a wall, screen or hedge. Having something impermeable behind us helps us feel much more protected. What’s the point of having a fort when it isn’t secure?
Use recognizable plants in various ways. Recall playing hide-and-seek behind large base plantings, like these boxwoods?
By using boxwood within an updated landscape, you can enhance their classic beauty when rekindling those interesting memories. These days I’d be most likely to shear them into balls and have them rolling down a hill like giant marbles, or plant them in a grid layout coming up through a substrate of crushed stone.
Sozo Landscape Design
Use updated cultivars of plants. Who does not recall the enormous, gangly junipers from childhood? I’m not suggesting you plant a stand of those monsters in your backyard, but how about planting a number of the newer cultivars of horizontalis, conferta or even procumbens nana?
I will wager that you build a new appreciation for this diverse collection of conifers while nevertheless maintaining a subtle connection to your childhood.
Jay Sifford Garden Design
Use plants with large foliage or structure to modify your perception of scale. This backyard works for our discussion about several levels. To begin with, this stacked-stone wall using a chair is inserted to a hill in a front lawn, effectively creating a fort. It brings the audience closer to eye level with the plants, reducing their own perceived scale or size in relationship to the plants.
Now onto the plants. Who would not feel a feeling of amazement sitting in the middle of those large-foliaged plants? The dinner-plate-size leaves of ‘Spotty Dotty’ Chinese mayapple, the monumental chartreuse leaves of ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta as well as the glossy Acanthus mollis foliage, all woven together with the nearly black heucheras, add a dose of fairy tale wonder which the most logical one among us would feel. Other plants that might work comprise gunnera, Rheum, ostrich fern and Farfugium.
In another part of the garden a spectacular ‘Cascade Falls’ crying bald cypress shrouds a pathway. Its delicate fernlike foliage gives the visitor a feeling of entering into a fanciful world that lies just beyond.
Insert a few wonderfully bizarre plants. Based on where you backyard, you might consider integrating a contorted tree like this Harry Lauder’s walking stick, a monkey puzzle tree, some Jack-in-the-pulpits, a serpentine blue atlas cedar, a prostrate larch or hemlock, or a ghostly Alaskan cedar.
These are all guaranteed to bring out the inner child. One word of warning: Don’t go overboard, lest your backyard look like a carnival freak show.
Incorporate artifacts or art which transport you back to a simpler time. This tiny robot, while definitely not up to gallery criteria for collectible art, made me laugh.
Among my earliest childhood memories was of a classic TV show named Lost in Space. The robot it was very cool. I recall him saying, “Danger, Will Robinson!” Who does not need a minute to remind us to smile and laugh?
More: 10 more inventive garden thoughts