Garden Designers Roundtable – Enclosure vs. Exposure

I’ve lived in 2 countries, visited many more, and I’ve been in all but a hand full of US states – by 18. Many more now, with my observations heightened over my aging memory. All that in more different ecoregions than I can recall off hand. Each has their own quality, right down to personality.

I could never put my finger on why some places that people built all over, either lured me into them to linger, or had me say “next” and run fast from them.

It was how the successful spaces worked – knowing when to let a view hang out, or hold that view back. It’s skill and scale, dont’cha know?

(my apologies for this late posting for the GDRT…it’s a long story) :-)

1) Our Land

In the “gentler” Mediterranean climates of the world, the dry golden hills let all hang out, even Mt Diablo (such a gentle name…Mount Devil!), but gentle folds where water concentrates in the winter wet season, helping nourish live oaks. I.E. “the Golden State”…chipping at those SF Bloggers Fling pics, 1 by 1!

And the rugged good looks of my new home facing the hot sun…almost 22 years living in the desert

2) Our Cities and Towns

A heavily built-up city – San Francisco skyline from my small but well-appointed hotel room…so many differences in all those buildings. Are softening or need for open views in order here?
My new town of El Paso is more low-slung and spread out (a popular coffee chain concealed by my iced coffee, from a local place with equally great coffee) Is some enclosure and scale perhaps in need here, yet preserving those stunning desert mountains?

3) Enclosure – Solitude, Privacy

Filoli – enclosing where you are, but teasing you with what’s beyond…this would be a far weaker experience in how many plan their sites, architecture and plantings around here, leaving it all open (a dreaded convergence of cheapness, lack of vision or design, and little land ethos)
A reason for enclosure on that gorgeously toasty summer’s day, the canopy provides ambiance but allows that view (now, imagine that without the trees overhead and other shrubs…)

4) Exposure – Fiesta!

Beyond the enclosing plantings, the woodlands and even redwood forest loom beyond (this is now more special, than if all was revealed from further back)
I don’t think much could be changed to make it any better (note – no flowers, or *that other place’s* author and their tapestries of eco-___) :-)

What say you?

You can read other takes on Enclosure and Exposurehere! Or here –

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN


8 Replies to “Garden Designers Roundtable – Enclosure vs. Exposure”

  1. Interesting post. I love the vistas around Austin – rolling green hills and big blue skies. Although my garden doesn’t offer these views so I’m learning to appreciate the closed in spaces of my garden rooms as best I can :)

    Thanks, I remember some of those views you describe. I like the patio at the Freebirds S of Lady Bird Lake for that very reason!


  2. This is one topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I design a new area in my garden. I want both – and it’s hard to achieve. (I don’t think I’m succeeding, either.) The photo of both at Filoli is inspiring. Skill and scale. You’re absolutely right!

    Yes, it’s a challenge. Maybe treat the change from one space to another as one side to an enclosure, then see how it plays out. Even w/ a nice arbor for climbers or vines? Filoli was outstanding, and their buildings helped!


  3. I totally “get” this post, David! It really really hit home- thanks for such great explanations and illustrations. I am enclosing my beer garden….and the yard with trees….I am trying not to see everything all at once in my yard. IT IS NOT EASY! Slow goin….. I can’t wait for you to see the changes I have made! Berms….have not got to those yet though…HA!

    You bet, can’t wait to see the Acadian Biergarten enclosed…really, you have rooms, not one big open room. Just do what you can…


  4. Lovely to meander your thoughts in pics.

    Mosquitos come to mind. They’ve changed the equation here. Activities, clothes worn, times of day outside, where to enjoy outside…..

    XO T

    Thanks, Tara! Those are equation changers, even here lately.


  5. I have struggled with this concept at our house. It is cantilevered on the lot, sits diagonally on a small lot. This creates 4 distinct pockets of space. Should the flow seamlessly, or be a surprise? I have accidentally opted for the surprise and I don’t love it. Others do.

    You’re giving me food for thought! I wonder if the trick is making all spaces coherent, but having some surprise?


  6. Ah…prospect and refuge (Appleton 1975). You are giving me flashbacks to my school days. I wonder what is being taught in theory class these days? That balance of prospect and refuge is what attracted me to my house and garden. Alas that I can take no responsibility for its design. I think that I am more predator than prey.

    Interesting! To me, it’s what the clientele are stuck in or open to, and what you say on prospect and refuge seems a key. I need to think more on your predator-prey comment…


  7. Thanks Dave, great post to read with my brek . Lovely pics and agree with your assessments. Enclosure and expose is a game for us to play and control professionally! Best R

    You’re welcome! Quite the game, not to mention the last part with our clientele:-)


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