Living the free air life
I am a great advocate of Nordic friluftsliv (literally translated as free air life) and many of my clients are just as keen to connect their gardens with nature.
Friluftsliv is all about a sense of wellness from lots of contact with the natural world. It is credited with explaining why the populations of so many Scandinavian countries are among the happiest in the world. In Cumbria, we have the great outdoors closer than most but we still miss opportunities to use all five of our senses and bring nature into our gardens.
Our sense of smell is particularly evocative. Ask any group about their favourite smells and someone will mention freshly mown grass! Add wood smoke, newly dug earth and rain on a hot day and you have plenty of opportunities to connect to nature through scent. For Cumbria, it’s good to consider adding a fire pit or other source of heat into a garden design and using a barbecue or outdoor kitchen can be an amazing source of tantalising aromas.
The taste of freshly picked produce takes some beating. Whether it’s cherry tomatoes from a hanging basket, fresh herbs and summer berries from a raised bed or even salad leaves and edible flowers from your ornamental borders, creating opportunities to forage in your garden always refreshes your sense of taste.
Our sense of touch is often forgotten but we want to be inspired by textures in our gardens. Mixing stone, wood, cobbles and paving with lawn and gravel creates interest and avoids large areas of flat surface while planting ornamental grasses softens hard landscaping. And we want to feel warm in the evenings and cool in any heat so consider both shaded areas and sun traps for your seating.
Sight and sound complete the five senses. Sight is the obvious one for any garden design, building colour and contrast, pattern and the interplay of lines and shapes to give a strong look and a garden that changes with the seasons. For sound, leaves and grasses rustling and a water feature provide a gentle background but think about birds at a feeder too.
Bringing the natural world into your garden makes a huge contribution to friluftsliv and encourages you to use your garden as your real living room too!