Should I have the audacity to tell you something, seemingly idiosyncratic, from a childhood tale? It's this - your landscape needs a laughing place.
What a silly concept, having a laughing place. At least it was silly until I grew up, until life grew in. The puzzle of everyone's life has happy pieces, but it's the unhappy pieces that find their diminishment in our private laughing places. Landscapes are the perfect canvas for creating as many laughing places as you desire.
Your laughing place might really make other people laugh, but don't you care. Flesh it out fully and no matter what you've done to create your laughing place, it will have an honesty, an integrity that will speak to all that enter. They may not copy what you do but they will get the message - "yes, I need a laughing place, too."
Your laughing place in the landscape might not even be a place to enter but a place to view from your office, bedroom or living room window. Remember, it's yours, you can do what you want. Let it begin from what makes you happy. Let it begin from where you spend a lot of time inside your home.
From those views, place focal points that make you smile. They should draw you in, drawing you out of yourself.
You might already have a laughing place but don't know it. Perhaps there is a grouping of shrubs and a tree that need proper pruning to create the garden-in-a-magazine "look." Looking into a garden with poor maintenance is hardly the idea of a laughing place.
Is there a particular tree that has infatuated you? Maybe a Japanese snowball or a contorted filbert? Laughing places can be that simple, just a tree.
Write "purchase tree for laughing place" on your late fall to-do calendar. Trees like to be planted then. Make it something to look forward to, and it's more likely to get done if it's on your calendar.
A bench or lone chair can make a great laughing place. Simple and direct, they beckon you into the garden with a welcome seat and the unspoken clarity to stay and enjoy awhile. Treat yourself to a lone chair in the garden, one that is interesting and old and a fabulous color. You will create a little niche of a laughing place.
You will also be creating a spot to have an impromptu lunch in the garden, but what I like best about well-placed lone chairs in the landscape is the magic that arrives with the landing of a bird. Who knew that a few bushes, some groundcover and a lone chair, with a bird on it, makes you feel more in tune with nature than any TV show about the flora and fauna of the African Serengeti?
Yes, a laughing place. If it still seems silly to you, there are other words - peace, energy, grace, beauty, joy, love, nurturing - that can be substituted for laughing place.
Be audacious in your landscape, in your life. Create many laughing places.
Stone Mountain resident Tara Dillard designs, installs and writes about landscapes. Her most recent books include "Garden Paths and Stepping Stones" and "Perennials for Georgia." E-mail her at TaraDillard@AgardenView.biz or visit www.TaraDillard.com.