Gardens with a come-hither look

Do these stepping stones above the water call to you?

What draws you through a garden? The answers pop up again and again as – in the midst of another January coolth-wave – I look longingly through garden photos. Certain garden features give me what I call “come-hither looks.” Come here, they say, irresistibly. Walk this way. 

Part of this is related to a photographer’s trick: leading lines. The lines that lead your eye through a picture can lure your feet through a garden. (For a tutorial in using leading lines in your photographs, see this from the wonderful Saxon Holt.) Have a look at some other features that work the same way.

Now imagine this lawn without the stepping stones. Don’t they reinforce the directional siren call to the back corner?
The jar attracts your attention. The archway beckons. The curved pathway takes you by the hand and pulls…
The Toronto Botanical Garden obligingly includes pathways through the garden beds. I can’t resist, myself. Could you?
This zigzag of stonework and repetition of classical urns sings, Come closer, closer. Don’t you want a closer look?

These tricks work on your ambulatory instincts, even in a tiny garden like mine. Other people think so, too, because they’ve made the leading picture of my Microgarden in this post my most-pinned picture on Pinterest. What techniques do you use to reel in the fishing line on garden guests?


  1. I know exactly what you mean. And, looking at your Micro Garden post . . . I have a very, very small garden and hope to put a mirror up some time. I'm on the look out in charity shops for a large well framed one. They don't come up that often but, in time . . .

    1. Charity shops are a favourite haunting place, Esther. I'm also good at mining gold on garbage pick-up day and at yard sales (you'd probably say boot sales). Recycling R Us, too.

  2. Hi Helen,

    the paths in pic # 3 and 4 definitely pull a visitor inwards as they are framed nicely. One thinks "what's behind the bend?" and since the mind has to solve a puzzle/mystery, we're compelled to move on.

    1. I have a similar "path to nowhere" in my little garden, Paul. There's a mirror on the fence at the end, tucked under the lilac tree. Looks like a doorway into the neighbour's yard.

  3. Thanks for this reminder of summer on a white Sunday morning when everything here has been frosted with a couple inches of snow! I would love to get back to Toronto for a visit one of these days, especially in early summer; I visited the TBG in late September a few years back and it was gorgeous then! And so thrilled to see you headlining Sonia's column yesterday! 🙂

    1. Daniela, The first picture is a garden in the Rosedale area of Toronto; the second is in Buffalo, NY (from their GardenWalk 2010) and the third picture is from the Dragonfly Farms Nursery on Bainbridge Island, WA back in 2011. We're called "Toronto Gardens" but do a lot of garden travel, bringing ideas back to our local readers — and distant guests. Glad you could join us.

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