The Cool Colonnade

| June 28, 2011 | 22 Comments

Garden Design Roundtable: Shade

Back in April

when England sweltered

 in an unlikely heatwave

few places seemed quite so inviting

as we buzzed around town in my hot little car as this ridge of trees in a local  park:

It is one of the ironies of life that one can travel hundreds of miles to Scotland to review a garden but never in 19 years walk in the local park!

So one day we stopped the car and walked.

There was a little straight avenue that climbed the slope and another which descended the other side.

All of them lime trees.

A complete change of temperature, of atmosphere, a vision of light and shade interspersed.

Perhaps the most delightful walk was this slightly weaving lateral path:

And ok its a cliche, but a sense of journey!

And overhead this soaring green world

that you longed to float around in.

Of course we don’t all have that much space. And limes drop honey dew.

So here a shady walk of pollarded hornbeams are more tightly spaced, more darkness than light,  intensifying the focus.

There is mystery and atmosphere here, all built up:

Truly built up, because Madonna and child are backed by a field of flowering spuds!

And here because some times we long for the truly formal, Luciano Giubbilei shows us how it is done in even a small city space:

How inevitable? Because being Italian, the passeggiata or walk in the cool of the evening,  where the locals progress around the main streets, is part of his national heritage…..

… just as lounging around enjoying a picnic under the apple trees in the local cider orchard is if you live in Somerset


…. or strolling through the cool reaches of the famous laburnum arch at Bodnant Gardens in Wales.

So how about it?

For those wonderful British summer days when you need a break from the heat  – find yourselves a shady place in which to escape and progress.

Better still – think about creating your own avenue!

Lesley and Robert

Now, please follow the links below, joining our special guest, Margaret Roach, and members of the Roundtable, as we write about Shade.

Margaret Roach : A Way To Garden : Hudson Valley, NY

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ


Category: Design Bites, Reviews of Gardens and Shows, The Planty Stuff

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  1. What a delightful take on this whole topic. I admire your originality on this SO much. The photos are amazing. Great work!

  2. Robert says:

    Hi, Christina,
    Thanks SO MUCH for your positive comment.
    Looking forward to reading all the other posts tomorrow.
    (Have concept to draw tonight!)
    The great thing about GDRT posts is that everyone’s take is always so different and they are all such an education!

  3. Robert, What fantastic photos. I especially love the one of the laburnum arch. I have one Laburnum in my garden and it’s a bit of a disappointment until it blooms. Then it steals the show for 2 weeks. That arch must be amazing to stand under when the trees are in full bloom.

  4. Robert says:

    Hi Debbie,
    Thanks so much for your comment. yes I suppose it is one hit wonder, but you’ve still got the shade on a hot day.
    Looking forward to reading the other posts!

  5. Robert, thank you SO much about for talking about the various qualities of shade plus movement in the garden. Landscapes/gardens are meant to be lived in, not merely looked at!

  6. Bodnant! What memories that brings back. Thank you for inviting me (a fellow Corylopsis spicata lover) to participate in this event, and for a beautiful post. I feel cool and happy.

  7. That is HEAVEN. Wow, great shots–and great reminder. So often, shade is something gardeners fight against, but here, it’s CREATED. Awesome.

  8. I wish more of my clients would consider an allee. A shaded path or roadway with overhead tree canopies seems to me to be more of a cathedral than a garden…

  9. All these beautiful, soaring trees is making me cross with my tiny, suburban garden today. I think a hike is called for this weekend.

    As much as I love the instant gratification that comes from an over-stuffed perennial border, your photos are a reminder of what can be achieved by gardeners willing to invest in a multi-generational view.

  10. Robert says:

    Hi Jocelyn,
    Good to hear from you.
    We have been so busy here recently that I have been visiting fewer blogs and twittering less and have MISSED specific people. You included!
    Thanks for your comment here. Yes, you emphasize the value of the lived in concept and movement. I don’t we think we do enough aimiable sauntering – passeggiata – in this country! Or plant to enable it. Just 3’s and 5’s by the roadway intersections and in the supermarket car parks!
    Thanks for your comment.
    best wishes

  11. Robert says:

    Hi Fellow CS fan – twas very good this year!
    Important what plants and gardens do to the mind!
    We are very honoured to have you here in this venue – my next action after acknowledging all the comments here is to read some posts over some searingly strong coffee. Can’t wait!

  12. Robert says:

    Hi Jenny,
    Great to hear from you and hope you are having a good summer. Briefly caught a snap of your patio the other night on twitter and LOVED it!
    Thanks so much for your comments here. Yes creating shade!I know you guy have different climates and so we are perhaps behind you on this. But as we have more and more of these intense hot spells, ways to move around coolly are just so important and also somehow divide space in another sort of ‘cool way’!
    Best Wishes

  13. Robert says:

    Hi Susan,
    Yes you have got the soaringness of the thing with the use of the word ‘cathedral’!
    I know its a cliche, but looking up was uplifting!
    Of course it could be done more intimately with different trees.
    Another kind of outdoor room.
    Thanks so much for your comment.

  14. Robert says:

    Hi Susan,
    Yes, I sometimes think to myself that we don’t have to have it all chez nous and experience the thing more intensely by visiting it somewhere else!
    Lovely point to about the future generations. Saw an avenue recently that unpruned had only met across the middle after 150 years! I am not sure that some contemporary plantings will be ok after 5 years!
    Thanks so much for your perceptive comments.
    PS. I love an ‘overstuffed’ perennial border too!

  15. Pam/Digging says:

    Lovely, lovely allees. Several inspiring ones can be found in some local Austin gardens, yes, even small gardens, Susan M. (I’ll have to show her when she visits one day.) Great examples for the Shade theme — and a wonderful mental escape from our hot summer.

  16. Genevieve says:

    Lovely, lovely! It’s raining here, so I’m not only enjoying the mental escape, as Pam puts it, into shade, but also into a heatwave, where a shady colonnade is indeed heaven. Beautiful photos!

  17. Robert says:

    Good point. Of course so much of gardening/garden design/enjoyment of gardens is the way we approach it in our minds. But of course as you say we feel shade with our bodies too. Interesting! Thanks for your comments.
    Best Wishes

  18. David C. says:

    The 3rd from last photo, of the hedges and compact tree arbor…perfection. Well almost, just needs a few big potted agaves. But I can just design that on the right client!!!

    The rest, impressive ways to have shade in wetter climes, though some of that works in the high desert, too. Tucson pulls off such shady areas w/ low desert trees better than anyone. Such pics are the kind of thing I’m trying abstract and adapt here in the desert, on the first parts of a university project.

  19. Robert says:

    Hi David, You need to think outside your desert flora sometimees! No, only joking!
    Glad you found the post interesting and useful.
    Yes, I guess its the principle of the shady walk – how you do it, matters not.
    When its that hot even shade from concrete helps!
    Thanks for your comments which are always interesting.

  20. That last photo – be still my beating heart!! Lovely take on this month’s topic, too! All images convey a leisurely stroll in the shade – the perfect thing to do on a sweltering day!

  21. Robert says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    Thanks so much for your comments.
    Yes an emglish apple orchard takes some beating.
    They make cider in the next village to Lesley, so its practically her back yard.
    Best Wishes from us

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