By Your Call Publishing | ,

Blue Daisy Garden Diary - February/March 23

Creating An Indoor/Outdoor Cohesive Space by Nicki Jackson

One of the jobs of a garden designer is to try to make the garden feel part of a cohesive whole with a client’s house so that they feel they belong together. It’s rarely an explicit request but when we’re designing a garden, a good starting point when trying to decide where things should go is to do it with the sight lines from the house very firmly in mind. Regardless of the size of garden if you can create something beautiful and interesting to look out at then it brings the garden ‘closer’ to the viewer because they feel more engaged with it.

We’ve talked before about creating views of the garden so that from inside the house, the frames of windows and doorways when looking out are ‘framing’ the view beyond.  In putting that ‘view’ together it’s a good tip to try to think as a painter or photographer would, in terms of thinking about fore, middle and backgrounds; about balance, subjects and ways of leading the eye through the view.

The décor, along with the use and choice of materials indoors, can give huge cues for outdoor decisions in terms of linking a garden and home – and more on that in a future article – but one obvious way to link indoor and outdoor spaces is through the use of greenery. Indoor gardening is more popular than ever and as we’re becoming more and more aware, just as looking out at a view of nature is good for us, surrounding ourselves with house plants is too.

Studies show that there are both psychological and physical health benefits of indoor plants; psychologically they improve our mood, reduce our stress levels and help make us more productive.  Physically they reduce our blood pressure, headaches and fatigue. Indoor plants – just as outdoor plants do – also bring with them a massive and versatile potential for aesthetic styling, and just as we work with such things like form, habit, colour and texture externally, so too can we do so indoors.

There’s a huge potential then for creating cohesion of indoor and outdoor spaces through planting. For instance, if you can bring your outdoor planting right up to your house – perhaps through window boxes or raised beds leading up to your patio doors/bifolds, etc - and your indoor planting right up to the outdoor threshold so only the glass of a window or doors separates them; it can be a very effective way of blending the boundary between indoor and outdoor.

Similarly repeating the forms, textures or leaf shapes of indoor plants with outdoor planting reinforces the links between the separate areas. Picking repeating/similar flower or leaf colours across thresholds has the same effect as does choosing similar styles of pots that continue across the divide.

For many of us space can be an issue both inside and out, so as usual, when floor space is limited, we’d recommend thinking vertically. While hedges aren’t quite an option indoors, indoor wall space can be just as effective as garden fences and walls outside when it comes to accommodating plants. You don’t need a full-size living wall either (as beautiful as they are!). Climbers can be used indoors or as in our images small ‘living pictures’ can be used to harmonise the indoor/outdoor areas just as effectively as floor or shelf standing planters. (We were so delighted with these living pictures in terms of looks, versatility and practicality - they have their own reservoir, so watering is pretty much taken care of – we are now accredited suppliers of them so do get in touch if you are as equally delighted with them!)

Of course, choosing plants for indoors needs the same consideration as choosing for outdoors so light levels, room temperature and fluctuations, plant care needs and toxicity are some of the things to be considered along with their looks, size, form, colour, texture, etc. If you have the right plant in the right place doing the right job for you both indoors and out, then the chances are good that you’ll also have a cohesive indoor/outdoor space.

© Nicki Jackson, Blue Daisy Gardens 2023