After the heat and the scalding sun of the summer forced us indoors, to air conditioned spaces, the fresh air and soft light of autumn invite us back outside, to enjoy the garden or porch, to plant and seed before the coming rains.
The holiday season is the perfect time to fill ourselves with motivation, go outside and “refresh” the garden.
The start, as always, is with a thorough cleaning. Weeding out the dried up plants and organizing objects left in random corners. Often, the yard turns into an unorganized storage area, filled with object we like to keep out of the house.
If you do not really utilize the garden or porch, the autumn is a great opportunity to redesign and renovate it for easier, more welcoming, use.
The outdoors kitchen and garden of My Outdoors.
Organizing the Space
The dinner table should be located as close as possible to the indoors kitchen, to ease the process of setting the table and bringing the food out. At the same time, it should be near enough to the outdoors kitchen, but not too close, due to the smoke and heat. Placing the outdoors kitchen next to the outer fence can save space.
Multi-purpose use of outside areas enables flexibility and dynamism, which can maximize the enjoyment we get from the space, especially with small spaces. For example, using stacking chairs and light furniture that is easy to move. If there is not enough space for a large fixed dinner table, a narrow bar counter could be used to serve food or drinks instead.
Do not be afraid to mix eating with sprawling, it is possible and even welcome to be less formal outside. A low table beside a sitting spot can also be used to serve food.
A basic requirement for outdoors enjoyment in a place as hot as ours. A shade could be made using a fixed element, such as a pergola, or a movable one such as a parasol. Tall and dense trees create the best shading. Our orange tree gives us a five-degree relief even in the height of summer when we sit under it. A vine spread overhead and filled with leaves is also great in the summer, and when it loses its leaves in the winter allows us to enjoy the soft rays of the sun.
The garden requires a changing lighting, for multiple purposes. Working areas, such as an outdoors kitchen or walkways requires a strong bright lighting, while a sitting area requires a softer ambiance lighting.
It is also important to keep the vegetation well lit so that it will be visible even at night.
I always prefer natural materials, such as wood, stone, iron and concrete, which will mix to create a flowing organic and natural feeling. The effect of the elements on those materials will give them a unique character and beauty as time passes. At the same time, wooden furniture and cloth paddings should be placed in areas with more shade and covered when the weather is too extreme, to prolong their lifespan.
Everybody can do it! The most important tip for success is to build an efficient automatic watering system, and not to rely on your memory.
Mediterranean gardens are the most economical, natural and beautiful in our area. It is important to consider the available space in the garden, as well as the way the various elements affect each other in it. Creating a depth in the garden, as well as creating an hierarchy of the various depths and heights of the plants in the garden, and combining big trees and smaller bushes with blooming flowers, all create a rich garden.
When you watch the changing seasons in the garden, you remember that the essence of life is change. This is the essence of both nature and man.
Monochromatic monotony creates a sterile environment, which dulls the senses and the heart. There is nothing better than a garden to fascinate us with the changing seasons.
I wish all of us a sweet and happy new year, filled with opportunities to enjoy the outdoors together, in good company.
# From the Autumn chapter of my book ‘Mediterranean Living’.
Photos by the talented Ifat Golan.