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Garden for the senses

There are plenty of books, articles and information about gardens and gardening, all describing the A to Z of everything related. But what is it about a lawn with some nice shrubs and garden furniture that draws us to them?

At the beginning of Malaysian garden concept, that was the foremost question in mind that came to us, apart from art direction and target market and what-have-you.

We were intrigued about the appeal gardens have over people. In the China of yesteryear, the mysterious Forbidden Garden was the pleasure domain of the emperor and his concubines.

Indians have their version of their exotic gardens, especially those incorporating elements of the Karma Sutra, and inspired by famed poet Omar Kayam.

The Europeans have their perfume gardens, where they grow the herbs from which oils are extracted to make scented products.

Which takes us back to Malaysian Garden and our concept of designing for the five senses. We have been passionate in exploring the link between sensuous gardens and its charm over people. What was once brushed off as mere gimmick is now as real as your senses can perceive.

Normally when clients came to us, they requested usual components of a pond, water feature, seating area and all that. Nice, but lacking a soul. When we introduce them to the concept of the five senses garden, they seem enthusiastic.

Bringing all your five senses together…

When designing a garden, one thing to bear in mind is that the garden has to be personal. It must fulfill the idiosyncrasies, the most intimate details of the owner’s personality, tastes and pet peeves. So we had to find out more – their lifestyle, age, and how much time they spend being outdoors.

Once the theme was established, the next step was the actual physical design. To put it briefly, to have a garden that appeases all five senses, you have to consider it using one of the senses at a time.

Take sight for example. Privacy is a tricky issue as you must strike the right balance of creating coziness and yet don’t wall up your garden. Proper screening and lighting, and placement of plants and trees are crucial, blending soft glow with silhouettes in the right places. Maximise the outdoor elements – open sky, natural breeze, and smell of the lawn – if not, you might as well create that garden indoors.

Aural quality is also a complicated issue, as people have individual tastes about what is too loud or what is pleasing. Not only must the water feature have the perfect trickling sound, but it must be positioned so that its sound is not diffused by other obstacles.

The layout and use of material to create the right mood are some of other numerous details that go into the design.

In the end, it’s all about pleasure. Imagine cuddling up with your loved one out in your garden, under a canopy of stars, snuggled up on a cool timber decking lined with pillows, a bottle of wine chilling in the cooler within reach, the light breeze carrying the scent of aromatic candles, and sounds of gushing water gently muted by plants hiding your little nest from prying eyes.

Such exotic gardens are not for emperors any more. You can create that dream enclosure of nature even in a link house garden.

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