Garden Designers Roundtable – Transitions…

Garden Designers Roundtable – Transitions…

How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.

~ Elizabeth Lesser  Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

I find it inspiring how often life quotes mirror those of the garden. The cycle of life is never so apparent as in a garden, and perhaps that is why as humans, we see in the garden, a reflection of our failures and triumphs, our most brilliant blossoms and our deepest roots.

For garden Designers Roundtable this month, we are discussing “Transitions”. Merriam-Webster defines transition as; passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another, or a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another. Once again the metaphor for life that is the garden is clear.

Gardens like life, are rife with transition. The designer has many different elements between which he must draw the visitor. With a keen eye and a little imagination, a simple change of space becomes a journey, and time may pass with elegant grace.

Let’s take a look at some examples of these “Transitions”, in the form of journeys, boundaries and time.

In journey ~

2009 04 02_1085

A woodland path takes its time to lead us around points of interest.

Move between elevations can be done simply, or in grand style.

The depth of this view of the garden seems to tell us there will be interest along the way!

In boundary ~

A fence section both frames and divides this planting, seemingly holding the Miscanthus at bay.

This boundary wall is a wonderfully rural transition between the wild of the wood and the civility of the lawn.

A median is not only boundary between directions of traffic, but a welcoming transition into the world of retail.

In time ~

As the blossom of this Little Lime hydrangea transtions from lime-green to white to pink, we mark the seasons in the garden.

A Hosta leaf also marks the passage of time.

A favorite of mine, the beautiful straw foliage of this Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass will stand all winter until the new growth of next season begins to sprout completing its cycle of transition.


As the morning fog burns off the valley floor, revealing the Heublein Tower, life transitions from it's sleepy start into the vibrant bustle of the day.

How do you mark transition in your garden? I love to hear about it, please leave a comment!

And please stop by and visit with my fellow Rountable bloggers today as they give their impressions of “Transition”.

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM


10 thoughts on “Garden Designers Roundtable – Transitions…

  1. Nice photos and examples of transitions from place to place and from one state of things to another!

    My biggest challenge has been how to transition from my yard (garden beds, trees, lawn) to the open meadow that surrounds us on two sides (tall weeds, goldenrod, Queen Anne’s Lace). Mostly the lawn just stops and then there are big weeds. Or the garden simply backs up to the weeds. But I’m working on it — mowing some hidden winding paths in the meadow made a wonderful transition that draws you in instead of keeping the meadow at bay. Putting a small arched bridge at one point leading into the weeds also works.

    A taller tree out in the meadow rising above the level of the Queen Anne’s Lace ties the look to the formally planted trees in the yard, and that works as a transition too — visual repetition. Boy, am I learning as I go!

    1. Thanks Laurrie! That meadow edge is a challenge isn’t it… Sounds like you have a great plan to start, though. Mowing paths is a favorite of mine, as it allows access to areas w might not otherwise interact with.

      Thanks for the comments, and please feel free to share some photos of you project on our Facebook page, I’d love to see them!

  2. Well-stated in the ways we can move through gardens, life, etc. Funny how the decay comes full-circle back into life…like watching all my weeds and plants growing, before I had time to do my winter clean-up!

    1. Hi David, thanks! Last spring we had an early warm up and summer heat in April. Many of us were in the same predicament as you with the weeds. Gotta love it, the way Mother nature keeps it interesting.

  3. Scott, The Elizabeth Lesser quote is very inspiring and, as you so thoughtfully pointed out, relates perfectly to life in the garden. There are so many transitions in the garden that happen without me even realizing, I hadn’t really focused on the time transition. Great job!

    1. Thanks Debbie! Her book is now on my reading list, and I barely got through half the quote, when I realized what my post would be about. Time, or rather cycles, has always been an inspiration (and sometimes a curse) to me.

  4. Thanks Scott, liked your Transitions best of the group’s postings. It’s given me some different ways of thinking about a workshop I’m developing on siting sculpture in the garden.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Patrick! Honored that you were able to take anything from this post. I stopped by your website, your work is wonderful! Caught myself lost in “the Nature of Water”. Truly moving…

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