Creating a focal point at Hearts + Ivy

The small studio garden of Hearts + Ivy designer Donna Hamilton is like a jewelbox, sparkling with gems. With colour everywhere, everywhere, you feel like a bee, wanting to flit from flower to flower to flower to flower. This got me thinking about focus.

Bloggers, making like bees in the Hearts + Ivy garden
Bloggers, making like bees in the Hearts + Ivy garden in Minneapolis

I don’t usually post people pictures from garden tours, but this one makes a point. Where do you focus your camera when the space is full of people? Trying to capture pretty pictures can make you territorial, zoomed in on one little patch at a time. Kind of like a bee.

But when trying to enjoy a garden (not just madly photograph it), humans are different. Eventually, their eyes need to land somewhere. To rest.

This became clear after I snuck back to the empty garden while the others awaited the bus. Suddenly I could see the big picture, and it gave me a chance to recognize what Hamilton had done to create – and intensify – a focal point in her beautifully busy garden. (Roll your cursor over the images below for the captions, and click on any image for a full-size slideshow.)

In a garden full of paintbox perennials and annuals whose flowers will come and go, the brilliant coleus (Solenostemon) leaves will be a constant. The simple birdbath is lovely, but the colourful foliage ratchets up the impact of this focal point. You can’t help but notice.

Unless you’re a bee with pollen on your mind. But, then, you’d have a focal point in every flower.


    1. I like the simple way she achieved it here. Annuals don’t always get the design respect they could.

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