Tuesday, April 5, 2011


People, in general, are sensitive to non-verbal signals. A closed door means privacy. Lights on over a marquee means there’s a show going on, a series of open doors invites us to puzzle over the mystery at the last door. Dark doors are ominous, brightly-lit interiors signal activity.

The signals we place in and around our landscape shape our own and any visitors sense of invitation
The first passage anyone passes through sets up an expectation of what our garden or even our home or community is willing to share.

One of the favorite gardens that I have designed fills the entire front yard of a simple Cape Cod house on a perfectly flat lot. There is no lawn.  The fieldstone wall that sinuously encloses the space between the street and the house is filled with trees, shrubs and perennials. 

An interior path crosses through this garden and winds around to the more private back yard. This exuberant garden is what walkers and other passersby see and it reflects the community-involved personality of the owner. It is an invitation.
When we invite people to pass through our garden on their way to our front door, we are delivering an invitation. A stark walkway, whether we intend it or not, delivers a stark invitation; one that we may have to work hard to overcome on the other side of the door.

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