Fire in the round

A gravel patio, framed in brick, surrounds a portable firepit

Twilight calls for the woodsy comforts of drinks and a chat around a toasty fire. Who needs the North Cascades or the slopes of Mt. Hood? Carolyn Temple transplanted this cozy scene right out of the mountains and into her garden in Seattle's Madison Park.

The secret to re-creating the intimate campfire ambience: layers of plantings that fringe the property line and step down toward the garden's interior, making a thick and richly textured screen. Pots scattered around the garden are filled with foliage and seasonal flowers, lending a secluded air.

At the center of the garden is a circle of gravel, framed in brick. It surrounds a brick platform that raises and supports a portable metal fire bowl. What's more, the design is stylish and safe. If a piece of crackling firewood throws any sparks, they fall on the gravel and expire. The understated but sophisticated focal point anchors the wild assortment of plants.

From the outer edge of the circle, the patio measures about 16½ feet in diameter. The brick pad in the center is 40 inches across. A thick layer of charcoal-colored crushed rock fills the ring. Temple purchased the fire bowl at a garden store for less than $350.

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