Work some garden magic

Inspirational guru Jonathan Lockwood Huie once wrote, “Magic is natural to wizards, and only a little harder for the rest of us.” Gardeners agree.

Besides working their own kind of magic to transform bare ground into showy landscapes, gardeners conjure tricks using paint, mirrors, doors, and even Mother Nature. The illusions they create expand space, multiply images, increase depth, and add intrigue.

Mirror image. A large mirror creates the illusion of a second garden on the other side of the fence. Images by Diane Morey Sitton.

Start by using mirrors to tease reality. Simply hang a mirror on a fence or wall in a courtyard, narrow side yard, or other small garden boxed in by vertical walls. Instantly, the mind’s eye looks through the new window into what it perceives to be the neighbor’s garden. Create additional illusions by situating small mirrors among plants. Like scattered pixie dust, the mirrors reflect light and images. Even flower pots mesmerize onlookers when mirrors are placed behind them, creating cloned copies.

When what you see isn’t what you get. As if the mirror in the center of this door wasn’t trickery enough, the panels are designed to add a sense of depth to the door’s flat surface.

Large landscapes, too, invite the drama and surprise that comes with reflections. Invoke the perfect mirror-image by putting a mirror behind a statue, or greet visitors with their own likeness by installing a mirror at the end of a walkway.

Tree time. Is your patio too small for an actual tree? Save space by training a vine to grow into a tree silhouette.

Like mirrors, murals painted on garden walls create new dimensions. Heighten the illusion of infinite greenery by positioning potted ferns and flowering plants in front of botanical scenes.

Special effect. The central focal point of this flat fretwork appears three-dimensional.

Some artisans use the drawing technique trompe l-oeil (“fool the eye”) to create mirages of gardens beyond. Objects painted with this perspective-altering method appear to have depth even though they are one-dimensional. Hence, an arbor painted on a wall seems to invite visitors to walk underneath it into an adjoining garden.

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Doors, too, are illusion builders. A decorative door installed in a wood fence beckons with the suggestion of something beyond…albeit the immobile focal point is nothing more than a door to the imagination.

Reality check. One look at this one-of-a-kind door sets the imagination racing to visualize what lies beyond. In reality, the only thing behind this work of art is the neighbor’s fence!

By reaching into their bag of tricks, gardeners expand space, multiply images, increase depth, and build intrigue. So bring it on! For most of us the delicious deception and inventive intrigue are far more captivating that seeing a rabbit pulled out of a hat.

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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