The whole idea of garden design unnerves many folk who assume its some metaphysical skill reserved for experts.

 
 
Mostly, we garden design types are just passionately opinionated.
 
Truth of the matter is, all of us are designers.
Because garden design is simply about making choices: about land and about our connection to that piece of land.
 
First and foremost, our decisions have to do with the care (as in we are caretakers) of the land - and its natural resources, water, soil and even vegetation.
 
Second, we make our choices about the shape of the land, and the story we want to tell there.
 
Winter is the perfect time for making design decisions.
For if you really want to see your garden, now is the time.
Winter gardens are stripped down to the bones, no gallivanting clematis or lonicera.
And a garden, you see, is only as good as its bones.
 
Bones are those elements of our garden (or property), which are non-negotiable and essentially non-movable.
They provide the frame, the context, the skeleton for the space we wish to create.
Bones are what you see when all the herbaceous plants have died back, not including the old BBQ by the side of the house, and those plastic golf balls that the dog stashed.
With bones, you create lines.
And with lines, you begin to tell a story. It all depends on what story are you trying to tell.
 
Do you want your garden space to be private and serene, or open with unconstrained vistas?
Brimming and abundant, or unassuming and relaxed?
Natural or exotic?
Utilitarian or quixotic?
 
 
Lines also give our eyes a picture of symmetry.
There is equilibrium.
A place from which to begin.
A place from which to move.
 
Bones and lines also give our garden "rooms," or implied rooms.
Places to explore.
Niches.
Corners.
 
It means that gardens are meant for wandering.
This includes the use of entrances and gates for welcoming.
Pathways to take you on a journey, even if its to the front door.
Im not a big fan of straight paths to the front door, as you might as well put the living room in the garage.
Paths that say, "Come this way, I want to show you something."
 
And it all begins with bones.