Achieving the perfect balance in your garden
Stonebalancing artist Adrian Gray creates his distinctive sculptures by achieving perfect and impossible balance. He creates balanced sculptures as commissions for private homes and gardens, and for public and commercial spaces. For every commission, Adrian films the piece as evidence of the balancing process, and then fixes the sculpture precisely in its balanced position before installing it as a permanent (and safe!) artwork. Here he discusses some ideas to incorporate balance into your garden.
Mix planting textures and use repetition
Gardens that mix planting textures are particularly visually interesting and a powerful way to create balance, and giving the illusion of extra size. Repeating plant shapes or colours gives a feeling of calm and serenity, but unless this includes contrast in both texture, colour and form, your garden can look sterile. A nice balance can be achieved by blending about one third of plants which have a fine, soft texture with two thirds which are coarse and bold. You can achieve a pleasing balance of textures through repetition – or planting in groups of 3, 5 or 7 – gardeners call this planting in ‘drifts.’ This will help to bring the look together.
Sculptures work so well in outdoor spaces providing a natural and beautiful foil to plants – helping to both set them off and separate a garden into different and distinct zones. When incorporating a sculpture into your garden, think about your wider garden design and place the piece in an area that generates ‘flow.’ Choosing the best place for your sculpture will help promote particular emotions and draw your eye into specific areas. They can refresh your garden by providing a balancing contrast and help to rekindle your appreciation for existing plants.
To achieve a balance between the garden and your indoor space, consider placing a sculpture on a long axis visible from a prominent window or directly in front of a window or door. If your garden can be viewed from different vantage points, you could consider placing pieces into different areas to help provide definition.
Balance your senses
Having a garden that works aesthetically is wonderful, but I always feel that gardens which balance your senses, by including aromatic plants, come alive on a 3‑dimensional level. There is something powerful about brushing past fragrant plants and scented flowers and they can often bring up pleasant memories – as well as attracting more bees and butterflies. Lovely fragrant additions to your garden include lilac, rose, dianthus, gardenia, jasmine, citrus, honeysuckle, hosta, alyssum, stock, bee balm, nicotiana, moonflower, citrus, ginger lily, and michellia. But, avoid putting too many different types of fragrant plants into your landscape, otherwise, it can actually become overpowering and unpleasant. The creation of scent in a garden is certainly a balancing act.
Think about where to place scents. Clever ideas include pathways, entrances or smaller spaces where delicious smell can linger or hit the air as you walk. You also might want to consider plants that release their smell at night rather than in the day. Brugmansia releases its scent at night-time but has no odor in the day, this can make summer evenings in your garden even more magical.
Achieve balance through careful planning
To create a balanced aesthetic, follow the gardener’s rule of thirds – plant in threes — odd numbers are useful for achieving a sophisticated look which is also pleasing and calming to the eye. While the number of plants you can use is directly related to the amount of space you are working with, you can create a sense of rhythm by repeating elements, paying attention to frequency. You can repeat a colour, a shape, or a specific plant. A straight line is the obvious choice, but you can also allow plants to mingle and intertwine. Their repetition will provide balance even when they are freer in their formation, and it will give a more natural look.
To commission a piece of sculpture, contact Adrian at firstname.lastname@example.org / 07305898546.