From about April until the first lifestyle guru plants black pansies into a sugar pie pumpkin, shelter magazines, your local paper, and gardening publications of all kinds will bludgeon you with How to Create an Outdoor Room, and How to Blur the Boundaries Between Indoors and Out. I don’t know about your boundaries, but I keep mine (commonly referred to as ‘windows’) blurry by having lots of sticky hand and faceprints at seven-year-old height. While I have no real insight into the design secrets of the style
mavens (or their assignment editors) who craft these evergreen pieces, I DO have garden secrets. The worst-kept
secret of these is my clearing. After all, despite property restrictions and the possibility (at least to the minds of some) that I might be breaking the rules, I write about the clearing pretty regularly here, where it will become a kind of electronic petroglyph that will live forever on the internets, along with the sexscapades of various pseudo-celebrities and that one picture of you from college that you keep telling your friends not to post but somehow keeps coming back. My best kept garden secret is my deck.
My house is tall. Imposingly tall. It is not abnormally large in terms of square footage, but volumetrically…it suits my wife and I, as we are both well over six feet tall. We can easily go like this (windmills arms around, does jumping jacks, runs in circle like hyper dog) without bumping into each other or breaking anything. It’s nice. There is a level-entry main floor with a nice high ceiling; above that is where our bedrooms are, with extra-high ceilings also. Above that there is a ‘half -floor,’ which we call the loft and which functions as TV room, craft and play area, and
the worldwide headquarters of my wife’s Facebook page an
office. Essentially, it’s a basement, but it’s waaay up there. And off the office there is a deck.
Our home is contemporary with a heaping helping of rustic, and the outdoors is just to the civilized side of deep forest. But the loft deck…equal parts treehouse and fire escape, it is where I decided we needed to be a little sleeker. I got the overscaled chaise lounges at season’s end closeout from West Elm right as we moved in, and stored them in their shipping packaging until last summer. They are perfect because we are overscaled, too, and we have a matching bistro table and chairs. I got two outdoor rugs from someplace like ‘Outdoor Rugs and More Outdor Rugs Ect.’ whose asianglish internet syntax made me slightly concerned about the transaction, but they were cheap and synthetic, and haven’t molded or anything. I take them into the garage in fall, dry them a couple days, and then vacuum and shrinkwrap them for storage. The side tables, from CB2, are
inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to store out of season. Cafe lights, colorful pillows, citronella candles, a wall sculpture and a ‘beach craft’ my daughter and I made complete the picture.
This is the only part of our property where we receive all-day sun. We grow four kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of blueberries, and have a pair of columnar apple trees, all out of reach of marauding nature.* Up here at about forty-five or fifty feet off the ground, we are at eye-level with our midsize trees and have the perfect little patch of
privacy in the sky. I could take a nap and get all lobstery, for instance; my wife likes to get a little sun on her baunch, that important tanning region where butt and haunch meet, free of the prying eyes of creepy neighbors and horny Sasquatches. If only I could get the apples to fruit, I might have a going concern up here.
I can’t tell you How to Create an Outdoor Room, as I don’t have a staff or an estate, nor am I a ‘designer;’ I can only show you where I have an Outdoor Room, and suggest that you could have one also, should you choose to put some type of outdoor furnishings outdoors somewhere. I plan my next discussion on seasonally reliable design-related topics sometime after Holiday Season 2012, wherein I will teach you How to Bring the Outdoors In, which is what I call tracking mud into my foyer.
I may have to apologize to my friend Mary at Black Walnut Dispatch , whom I find shares my disdain for the hoary cliches of garden design. After some thought on the subject, I decided that we can both jab the same cliches. Plus, I wanted to use my photos and I had already written this. Thanks to Corene and Candace, for defining “baunch.”
*Crop Update: the tomato plants are bearing fruit, and we have been able to harvest and consume a number of cherry-type tomatoes and one full-size heirloom so far. One blueberry bush was heavy-bearing of delicious fruits; Success! The other bore none whatsoever and needs to say goodbye to you now.