A very chic concept these days is the idea of having different garden rooms.These are different areas within your yard, maybe devoted to eating, swimming and napping, or to a butterfly garden, a zen garden and a rose garden. This idea is not NEW. My grandmother had an herb garden in one area, a rock garden (by which I mean a giant rock with little plants growing out of it) in another, formal perennial borders and areas

designated for napping or having drinks. She never heard the concept of garden rooms; in fact, I never talked about gardening with her at all except once or twice, when I was very little, and she told me which flowers I was and wasn't allowed to pick. But I digress.

The relatively new, chic garden room has all the attributes of a traditional, indoor, room: walls, carpeting, windows and doors, hard furniture and soft furnishings.

feature insideoutside
floorrug, tile, hardwood,
lawn, gravel, ground-cover, mulch, sand, tile, flagstone, other stone
wall wallpaper, paint
trees' trunks, screens, vines, lattice, hedges, woven bamboo, bushes, fence
ceiling crown molding, pressed tin
a canopy of tree branches, vine-covered pergola
window curtains, valance, shutter, drapes, shades view to another area of the yard or garden
doorway doorknob, door, more molding
passageway to another area of the garden or yard, gate
hall interior hall, balcony
path, walkway, road, steps, track
furniture chairs, tables, footstools, sofas
all the same, add benches, visually use shrubs
pictures, lamps,
sculpture, garden art, wind chimes, butterflies and birds, flowers
extras pillows, linens
pillows, cushions, gardening gloves, tools

An important element in any garden's design is that you don't see the whole thing at once. Unless you have the scope of Versailles to work with, it is more enjoyable to discover the size of the garden space bit by bit. That, I believe, is part of the appeal of garden rooms - they help to conceal areas of the yard from other sections, creating a more intimate feeling. Of course, garden rooms may also expand the usable, livable outdoor space.

That being said, another important part of the current garden room trend continues to be marketing. Selling weatherproof furniture, indoor-outdoor rugs, barbecues, and other "necessities" keeps the garden room movement alive. But I, myself, dream of a homemade garden room composed of plant material. We haven't rearranged the furniture inside in years - let's rearrange the outside. We can prune that tree and plant a shrub there and voila! A little hide-away where we can read or have a glass of iced tea!

My main point is that you needn't wait for the poured molded concrete wall I saw in a recent gardening magazine to get the effect of a different space; a flowering hedge (check out this article for suggestions) might do perfectly. I plan to drape the old swing set with flowering vines for a wall between the dining area, closest to house's kitchen, and the new sunbathing area, which still exists only in my imagination. But if you have a barbecue and outdoor kitchen, then that could be one room, and your swimming pool area could be another. GO FOR IT!

photos thanks to gabagoo, Dea and LarryR