Have you ever been in a garden that is such a delight to walk through because it seems that each path just invites you to follow it, and each curve of a hedge beckons you to see what is around the corner. These gardens have been successfully designed to include an element of mystery. Just like looking at a painting if everything is revealed at the first glance of a garden, this can leave the viewer disappointed or bored. A bored viewer will quickly leave. However, there a number of devices designers use to draw the viewer in and stay longer.
One such device is the art of “conceal and reveal”. This is where certain parts of the garden are hidden until the viewer rounds a corner or perhaps crests a hill. You can add this element of surprise into your healing garden by creating one or two separate garden rooms. In my garden I use trellis panels to act as screens (see below). Tantalizing glimpses of what lies beyond the trellis encourage the visitor to “come hither”.
Another method of adding an element of surprise in your garden is to add an artwork or sculptural piece in a hidden corner. You could add a small fountain within a niche in a border so that you can hear the tinkling of water before you see it. I have added an attractive basin of water in a shady spot in a ferny glade (see below). The visitor sees it as they round a corner in a woodland walk that I have created.
Include paths that bend invitingly around corners. Straight paths just tend to take you from A to B. However, if you add seductive curves that no one can resist then your visitors will want to linger and be led astray…
In the photos above I have shown how adding plants with large leaves which drape into the pathway can add intrigue. Walking through a path where some foliage (not too much to trip you up) swishes against your legs can make it feel like a secret path.