Maryline Damour is founder of design-build firm Damour Drake as well as the Kingston Design Connection. She’s also an avid gardener and chef. In this series, she connects the dots between gardening and interior design.
When you think gardens, most people think springtime, when flowers begin to bloom. But, if we’re going to think of our gardens as part of our homes, why not make them work year-round? As the weather has begun to dip into the 50s in the Hudson Valley where I live, I’m doing some garden maintenance and prepping for winter. But, because I’m an interior designer, I’m also focused on making sure I have a visually pleasing garden year-round. Here’s my checklist for ensuring my garden stays welcoming through all seasons.
Make design do double-duty
Like many elements in my garden, I designed the fence structure around it to be both decorative and functional. I plant climbing vegetables and flowers close to the fence so it can be used to support them during the growing season. In winter, the chinoiserie-inspired design provides visual interest when all you can see is snow!
Engage multiple senses
Sure, a garden is beautiful to look at when its in bloom, but the best gardens engage multiple senses. While you’ve probably got smell checked off in spring and summer, think about sound in the colder months: Pea gravel is a great design element that engages many senses in the garden. It changes color when it rains; has a lovely crunch when you walk on it; and feels good while barefoot gardening (totally a thing…or should be!). Every few years, we add fresh bluestone pea gravel to keep it looking good.
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Consider it a pantry
Think of “stocking” your garden the same way you would your pantry: If you plant staples, you can have a garden that is a key aspect of your cooking year-round. In the summer, this can include tomatoes, herbs and peppers; in the winter, it’s more about root vegetables.
Thinking of your vegetable garden as an outdoor pantry can also help when siting it on your property. In order to ensure you use the garden as much as possible, situate it near your outdoor cooking area or your indoor kitchen. This allows for the most ease in cooking and entertaining. From my kitchen door, I walk out unto a flagstone patio where we barbecue and up a few flight of steps to the vegetable garden. It’s my outdoor version of the famous kitchen triangle.
If you’re going to use your garden like an extension of your home, think about ways you can decorate it like you do your interiors. First up: Lighting. Just as I layer lighting indoors, I have a combination of solar-powered lanterns and electricity in the garden. This allows me to spend quality time in the garden as the days get shorter.
I also have designated garden “rooms.” When I designed my garden, I planned for a dining area. In addition to outdoor dinner parties during all seasons, it also makes for a peaceful summer office and a potting bench when needed. If you have raised beds, this is another opportunity to decorate the garden. We used wood for our boxes and made metal corner brackets (purely decorative) that I left out in the rain to rust for a rough finish. Nature’s texturizing!
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