A Quiet Concert
The walkway passes under a lattice arch and into a dining courtyard. Here is where the levels begin to change, like graduated tempos, in the yard. A granite wall holds back the slope, creating a sunken enclosure.
"I wanted the feeling of an amphitheater, that you are surrounded by plants, with the illusion of privacy and no sense of neighbors," says Sheldon. Morning sun and evening shade allow for wake-up breakfasts and relaxing dinners. A medley of plants—Japanese maples, variegated grasses, and smoke tree—get enough sun from half-day rays but don't have to tolerate the heat of the front yard. On the side of the courtyard, a small water feature under crape myrtles muffles intruding sounds and cools the air.
Stone steps in one corner lead to the upper back yard, a shady enclave. Beyond a curved patch of lawn lies a kidney-shaped pond rimmed with stones the homeowners collected while traveling. In this hotweather retreat, the soothing colors and textures of ferns, carex, coralbells, and hostas sound the quietest notes in the garden.
To establish a sense of rhythm in the garden, you must have movement and repetition of plants, says Sheldon. "You have to garden in layers, to have some vertical elements and contrasting shapes: rounded, conical, spikes, to name a few."
Most of all, a garden must be in tune with the gardener, says Sheldon. "You have to learn your sense of self and place. Your garden is a strong definition of who you are. It has to be appropriate to you and to where you live."
Composing a Landscape
Anne Sheldon's tips for perfect pitch in the garden:
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2010 issue of Organic Gardening magazine.