If you are ever tooling down I-90 en route to Chicago and need a breather before hitting the windy city, stopping off at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois is definitely worth your while. Make sure you have at least a couple of hours. These gardens are to be experienced, soaked up and taken in. They slow the pulse and open your heart. Go to andersongardens.org for all the info.
In addition to the gentle reminder that gardens can affect one on a physical level, I noted a few garden design tenets to bring back to my own space:
Hostas punctuate the landscape in a lovely way. Personally, I have come to think of hostas as only living in waves in the garden. Hosta glades, so to speak. At the Anderson garden, they erupt here and there, drawing your eye through the space.
No sharp edges or right angles exist in the garden. Lovingly placed hosta, stones and boulders soften edges and break up expansive lines. The meandering lines lull you into a meditative state as you stroll.
Red, in all its varying shades, is a powerful, pizzazzy presence in the garden. On a large or small scale, a swath of red will create a strong focal point and add depth to a garden space. It's bold, but its subtler shades will always work. The bright hues have their place too. This Japanese maple holds court in this space.
Petunias always have their place, in grandma's garden and living among Japanse maples and koi fish. A sweep of a single color is a soothing presence.
Let the garden volunteers grow where they will. Happenstance could create a wonderful garden moment. Nature's art.
Wood deck pathways create a wonderfully elevated sense in the garden. Try them even if you are not travelling over water.
Unexpected, hidden elements, like this Japanese fountain, are treat to happen upon. Create secret moments, hidden vignettes in your garden, even if you are the only one to know it's there.
Gardens attract wildlife. Even if you can't pull in the big guys, like this duck, the butterflies and the bees will love you.
A sense of humor goes hand-in-hand with gardening. Three grand garden fairies greet you as you enter the garden and as you exit you meet their butts. The laugh you get is as relaxing as the garden is as a whole.