Do you have a special tree in your backyard? One that is big enough to sit under? Perhaps big enough to sit under with several of your friends? We have a Chinese elm on our property that we have taken care of over the years. This particular type of tree is notorious for limbs breaking off over the winter and, for city dwellers, is considered a nuisance tree because of the falling branches, seeds and invasive roots. But for those of us that live in the country, the peculiarities of this particular species are easily overlooked. Especially now that we have cleaned up the branches and all the surrounding area and made it into a favorite party spot – not only our favorite but the favorite of our friends and family as well! Depending on where you live, it might be an oak, maple, sycamore or a hundred other varieties. There is nothing quite like a tree to add privacy, value and comfort to your home garden or patio.
After treating our sacred Chinese Elm with the dignity it deserves (the clean-up), each year we string rope lights throughout its canopy. We like to think that the particular way in which we string them up is reminiscent of the Greek ferries that make their way throughout the Greek Isles, that trip being one of our favorites! Our guests are mesmerized by the effect as well. The lighting is just right. Not too bright but just bright enough that everyone can see each other and easily navigate around the site. There is a string of lights over the buffet table, another extending over the bar and strategically placed lights over the tables. Add a campfire to this scene and it’s just about perfect. Plenty of light and warmth plus just enough smoke to keep the mosquitoes away. In this setting, no one is in a hurry to run off because it’s “too dark” or there are “too many bugs.”
Because we live in the country, you might be thinking that the campfire is easy for us to do but that you can’t do that because you live in town or in the suburbs. Not so! A self-contained fire ring or fire pit, either of the wood variety or powered by gas, will allow you to achieve the same effect. One of these units will allow you to safely and easily integrate fire into your backyard patio or garden experience. We have had people of all ages sit around our campfire. It’s amazing how the conversation changes. Old, childhood memories of past camping experiences come flooding back, people wax philosophical about life in general and children are always fascinated by a fire. Sitting by a fire and staring into it just has a way of making us all more reflective and relaxed. It’s kind of like looking back into the origins of the universe… See what I mean?!
Now, to really put the finishing touches on your magical garden or patio experience, add the sound of falling water. Bringing the symphony of water into your space rounds out the experience of being surrounded by Nature. A fountain allows you the sensation of a river or waterfall without leaving your backyard. Sitting next to a fire with the sound of water gently falling in the background soothes the soul and transports one to that feeling of inter-connectedness that we can miss as we work to meet our busy schedules and take care of all the demands of our modern society. A fountain can be a simple, table top affair or it can be a centerpiece of your garden. Combining all of these elements into your backyard garden under your favorite tree(s) makes for a truly “magical” experience!