When we first conceived the Neo Nusantara garden concept almost twenty years ago, the foremost big question was this: what is it about a lawn with some nice shrubs and garden furniture that draws us to them?
We were intrigued about the appeal that gardens have over people. In The Secret Garden, the famous novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, she wrote, "if you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden".
Like the fairy tale garden found in the novel, It has long been our passion to explore the link between sensuous gardens and its charm over people. The connection and interaction between nature's landscape and us is undeniable. And so, Neo Nusantara concept derives from and aims for stimulating the five senses in every design.
For us, a garden exists to bring beauty and pleasure, to harness what nature has to offer into our homes, allowing us to be a part of its magic. What use is a garden just to look at? What if we want to touch and smell and be immersed in it with our senses?
History has shown that we are not the only one who believes in the mystery and magic of a garden for the senses.
In the China of yesteryear, the great emperor Qian Long took the pleasure of a garden to most extravagant heights. His forbidden garden built in the 1770’s, was a secluded compound of pavilions and gardens with exquisite designs and some of the most extravagant interiors found in the imperial palace.
Tales abound describing the surreal beauty of this exclusive garden filled with some of the finest decorative that reflected his fascination with the arts. What went on there is left to the imagination!
Then there were the legends of Indian exotic gardens, especially those incorporating elements of the Karma Sutra, inspired by the famed poet Omar Kayam.
Even the Europeans have their perfume gardens, with herbs that are extracted for its scent. A stroll in such a garden is akin to a stress-relieving session of aromatherapy.
Creating Your Own Exotic Garden
We have had the pleasure to create exotic gardens for some of my clients. Once, one of our clients came to us requesting the usual components and features of a pond, water feature, seating area, etc., for her sprawling bungalow lot.
Nice, but lacking in soul. When we introduced the concept of the five senses garden, she was enthusiastic to explore it and so we began.
The whole idea of a secret garden, so to speak, is that it must be personal. It is about the details of what you desire and what suits your personality. So we had to find out – what kind of lifestyle she and her family led, how old were the kids, how much time they were willing to spend outdoors, and so on.
The next step was the actual physical design. We had to consider the garden relating to each one of the senses at a time.
Additionally, privacy is a tricky issue. We had to create the right balance, cozy enough but not too clammed up. Proper screening and lighting, the placement of plants and trees are crucial; so is blending silhouettes and soft glows in the right places.
The aural quality of the garden can also be complicated. People have individual tastes about what is too loud and what is pleasing. The water feature must have a perfect trickling sound but it cannot be in a position that has its sound diffused by other obstacles.
Ultimately, everything has to be just right, the perfect balance of harmony between the materials, the layout and the design.
Picture yourself cuddling with your loved ones out in the garden under a canopy of stars, snuggled up on a cool timber deck lined with pillows and a bottle of wine chilling in a cooler within reach. A light breeze carries the scent of aromatic candles, while sounds of gushing water gently muted by plants relaxes you in your little nest, hidden from prying eyes.
The pleasures of a garden for the senses is no longer a mere gimmick but is as real as your sense can perceive. You can create that dream enclosure of nature’s magic even in the most common of house gardens. The rest, is left to your imagination!