Garden Shelters

GARDEN SHELTERS – In its broadest sense this includes every kind of retreat in the garden which is protected overhead. But as it is generally understood to imply shelter from storm as well as from the sun, it is applied particularly to roofed structures. These are given different names by landscape architects and garden designers to denote differences in type and character, such as casino, belvedere, gazebo, loggia and bower.

The first and last of these – casino and bower – are applied to just a simple summer pleasure house; such a structure as any garden may have. A belvedere is an open structure standing on an eminence from which it may command a fine widespreading view, the name also implies definite architectural treatment and the use of permanent materials, such as brick or stone. A gazebo is also elevated, but not necessarily to command a view. It is a development from the watch tower on a mediaeval wall and consequently today is part of a garden wall over which it enables a watcher to look out. Examples are seen along the brick walls of the gardens at Mount Vernon.

The loggia is more pretentious and majestic, virtually an outdoor sitting room, usually enclosed on one side and having a row of columns on the other to support the roof. Architecturally it is presumed to conform to the house, of which it may be a part; or it may be built any distance away from it. Sometimes it furnishes a portion of garden boundary. It is a monumental concept and requires a generous amount of land on all sides to furnish an appropriate setting. Hence it is suitable only for large estates and gardens of ambitious proportion, design and execution.

Because a garden shelter is designed to be an outdoor sitting room secluded and as far apart from the dwelling as possible (in order to afford complete change of environment), it is the circumstances of each particular given garden that must determine whether it is a reasonable project there. In most gardens spots can be found that fit the requirements, or that may be made to fit them; but in some gardens, small ones especially, this may not be true. If a garden shelter looks, or is, crowded into the composition, it may be set down as a failure. There must be open space enough to avoid any appearance of crowding; also it must be sufficiently separated and secluded by well-executed and abundant planting as to produce an effect of pleasant surprise.

The best spot for a garden shelter can be determined only by a study of the ground itself while a tentative ground plan is being worked out. Regardless of its character and whether it is elaborate or primitive, it should stand where all the circumstances of the garden require it to be in order that it shall fulfill its purpose. This means that it must occupy that spot which most persuasively invites one to loiter – a spot easily discovered usually by the simple expedient of wandering around in the garden and deciding where it would be most agreeable to rest on a hot day. This will mean a breezy spot as well as one away from the workaday things; yet one not so remote that when weariness overtakes the gardener he must go too far in order to rest there.

The simplest form and materials are most desirable for the average garden shelter. The aim is a finished structure which sinks into the garden picture rather than stands out of or against it. Details of height and pitch of roof repay careful study as these are dominant when the whole is viewed from a distance.

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