There will always be work to do in a garden, but why create a bit of heaven on earth if we don’t occasionally sit and feast our eyes on the beauty right in front of us?
We live in a time of doing: counting our steps, our calories, our likes, and our success. Richard Eyre’s book “Don’t Just Do Something – Sit There” caught my attention. Living in a pandemic world provides a long moment to “sit there” and reflect on so much doing. Where better a spot for such a meditation than resting in our gardens?
A garden needs a place to sit in the sun (or shade) with the people we love, something to look upon with gratitude, and colors that make us happy. As much as we gardeners love our plants be sure you’ve added a place to sit to enjoy your garden.
Benches are just the best in my mind; there’s room for you and a friend, or it can double as a table for a coffee and a book. The choice of your bench can make a statement of your style and personality. A well-placed bench can be just the enticement to draw you outside.
In my years of traveling to gardens, I have experienced the need and the joy of finding a resting place to appreciate a garden.
Over the years and under the trees, I have found various benches made from wood. The inventiveness and creativity of using wood in so many ways never fail to surprise me.
A flat and solid log makes a seat. Rough-hewn, seemingly hacked into shape makes a statement. Artfully shaped and highly polished wood reclaimed by a skilled artisan creates sculpture. Recently in the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, I sat on a wooden bench under a stand of California redwoods, enjoying the undergrowth of ferns, soaking up the quiet, and inhaling the scent of the trees. It was perfect.
Even a traditional slatted bench with a minimal architectural cache will significantly impact a scene. French Farm gardens positioned this blue bench among the flowers and in the shade, an arrangement that cries out for a visitor to come and sit. Why would anyone want to rush away from such an inviting spot?
While wood can weather into decay over the years, stone has a lasting impact. In slabs, carved, or stacked, stone will make a signature seat.
In Broadfield Gardens in New Zealand, this beautiful white bench is carved out of Omaru, a native compact limestone.
Set against a wall of green and positioned to look at a garden of pink flowers in full bloom makes an inviting resting place.
Benches come in so many styles. In Coast Haven Garden in New Zealand, a converted clawfoot bathtub painted turquoise and gold became a bench and, to my eye, a work of art. Sitting on this bench, you look out on the front garden and beyond the road to the Tasmin sea.
And for a seriously stable and firm sit, this concrete sofa and chair arranged on a hillside at Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA, provides a grand view of the dry garden cascading down the hill. Benches of stone or heavy logs are impressive yet aren’t easily rearranged by gardeners or by the wind.
While benches are my favorite choice, this set of chairs definitely elicits a smile.. In this private garden overlooking the Mississippi River in St Louis, MO, the chairs made of heavy steel, yet still able to be moved about as the occasion arises. Seating is quite secure for this very windy location.
During the early 19th century, molten iron was poured into molds forming garden furniture with blooms, leaves, and vines. This regal set in El Zagun Garden in Albuquerque, NM, has weathered many a season in the garden. This seating arrangement pulls you forward to this marker of time. Who sat here before?
Our resting places are even more inviting when they are set apart from the rest of the garden. Cleverly tucked under a tree or beyond an arbor, creating a secret garden.
It is always nice to have random seating that can be moved at will taking advantage of seasonal clouds of butterflies or a gorgeous spot of blooms. Who could resist sitting for a while at a colorful bistro table and chairs like these?
Have a seat! Define your garden style with a well-deserved resting place. Though one word of caution. It is always a good idea while wandering in a garden, to look before you sit. Once after sitting down, I discovered a snake under the bench enjoying the shade, and in Rick’s desert garden I found cactus in a bench.
Fall is a perfect time to slow down, sit, and enjoy our gardens. I hope you have just the right place to enjoy your little patch of earth. Add a seat, make a statement, and have some fun resting in your garden.