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Monday March 01 , 2021

Blue Daisy Blog

Blue Daisy blog written by Nicki Jackson & Jules Clark - for news, views, garden design, gardening and plant observations and thoughts.

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Focal Points - Lines and Frames

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focal point - leading lines

Focal points are brilliant tools for bringing your garden ‘into focus’ – focal points add context to a garden.  By giving a viewer something distinct to look at, it somehow manages to bring the setting around it – the wider garden – into focus too.  

Focal points work best when there is a clear line of sight to them; by clearing the way of any other distractions the viewer’s eye is inexorably drawn to the focal point at ‘the end of the line’.  The focal point can be anything – an urn, a bench, a plant, a sculpture, etc but it needs to be distinct enough from its surroundings to hold the attention of the viewer for a while once their gaze reaches it.  It’s that ‘pause’ of attention that then allows the focal point’s surroundings to then be thrown into focus too.

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Garden Design Quick Tip: Focal Points

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focalpointThe purpose of a focal point in the garden is to ‘bring the garden into focus’ - and while it might sound pretentious what it’s really about is leading or directing the garden viewer’s eye to a particular point or points in a garden.

It’s almost like a signpost that tells a viewer where to look and give their attention and in looking at the focal point, the setting around it - the rest of the garden - suddenly seems to come into focus too. 

It’s a typical designer’s trick but we all tend to do it inside our homes without thinking – the fireplace, the coffee table with a striking ornament or flower arrangement, the large screen TV on the wall – all of these things are focal points, but they give balance and context to the rest of the room they’re in. The same principle applies to the outdoor space too.  

The means of creating focal points in the garden are limitless – you can create them with sculptures, plant pots, colour, planting, structures, water, doorways, shapes, collections of things – the list does go on and on. There were some lovely examples at Chelsea Flower Show 2013.

The trick to using focal points though is to limit them; you only want 1 per ‘viewing area’ or section of a garden otherwise they will compete with each other and the viewer’s focus of the garden will be lost.

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Chelsea Flower Show 2013

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In case you’ve missed mention of it The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been on this week and I’ve been gutted that I haven’t had the opportunity to go down and check it out for myself this year.  While it’s for a good reason - I’ve been so busy doing designs for Blue Daisy's own clients - not being able to get there in person hasn't stopped me taking a sneaky peek at the TV occasionally.  From what I’ve managed to see, here are some of my favourite garden designer bits:

Arthritis Research GardenDesigner Chris Beardshaw never seems to disappoint, and this year he continues to inspire with his Arthritis Research Garden.  A personal journey for him - he was diagnosed with arthritis in his teens - his planting is absolutely gorgeous and I just love the scupture that's forming the focal point in this shot. 

This garden is a sum of its parts and is split into 3 sections that represent the journey that arthritis sufferers go through from diagnosis through to managing their condition effectively and with confidence.  The warm, vibrant planting in this image forms the Radiant Garden, representative of that final happier stage.  See Chris Beardshaw talk about his 2013 show garden here.

Chris won a well deserved gold medal for his efforts and the coveted People's Choice award.

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