garden courts

August 29, 2011

Garden court can describe a particular exterior area well. Maybe courts are grander than courtyards and often part or parts of large country gardens or estates. Sometimes, as in these examples, these areas were domestic or private garden spaces initially but, now, open to large numbers of visitors. The exotic garden at Dixter has changed not only in the amount of traffic it copes with but the way the change in planting  – from lowish roses to large-leaved architectural exotic plantings – has changed the scale. The drama and personality of this relatively small court is heightened even more by the lack of views out – there’s so much to look at close quarters. Real ‘in yer face planting’!

The entrance court is more open with two areas of grass – not symmetrical – and edged with diverse types of planting. The focus, of course, is the rather stupendous collection of plants in containers. So a carpet of colour at low level frames the porch. It’s very decorative and very personal and very domestic. This feature just makes the space and gives it the character of a court.

Just a nodding reference  to the Actinidia kolomikta that drapes itself elegantly over the clay roof tiles nearby. Very effective visually with the lichen.

At Sissinghurst, the curving arcs of the yew hedging frame the simplest of courts – a very bold statement  – maybe not a place to sit or, maybe it is? In the White Garden, one is encouraged to sit at one end – under some shade. The planting is  simply white and green – very cool but also fairly flowery –  within the evergreen geometric structure. Designed for a family but now inhabited by hundreds.

At Glyndebourne, once a private house and now an opera venue, it’s useful to view the connecting garden spaces from the balcony. There’s a good deal of coming and going along main routes but there are small personal areas to linger in.

The rear garden court spreads out from the original main rear access. A succesful space whether used years ago or this week – the area has a charm and connects to the main lawn.

A piece of sculpture has been posiotioned bang in the centre of the busiest area – useful plinth for a glass – rather obvious but at least the piece is BIG!

Another contemporary court contains more sculpture with a Henry Moore ‘Draped Reclining Figure’ at the far end. There’s a touch of Dan Kiley here but doesn’t quite hit the spot!

The garden courts are connected by the changes in level – steps and curving ramps – that serve the visitors and staff well, offering plenty of options within the circulation.

Fabulous perfume from Clerodendron trichotomum placed so that branches overhang one of the spatial areas with shade loving  lush planting around the base

Classical yew hedging forming the structure and the invitation to explore the court that encloses the large pond.

The poem – well, yes I realise it’s about the need for affection or simply the need for sex – some people analyse it as such!Music, sex, discreet garden courts, private spaces  . . . . all these cross reference. You can simply choose which suits!

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.   Elizabeth Bishop  I Am in Need of Music

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