This garden celebrates nature, and it's as soothing as a day at the spa

No need to rush to the spa to decompress. The solution, and the best salve of all ― nature ― is right outside your backdoor. Portland garden designer Susan LaTourette has only to walk a few feet to a raised deck to feel like she’s found a more tranquil space. Getting there via a raised plank makes her feel she’s walked onto a boat dock, she says ― except that she looks down on a sea of green. When LaTourette needs a more serious break, she can hike deep into the garden to a small structure on stilts surrounded by maples and conifers. Or she can stop at any number of inviting spots in-between.

Design Susan LaTourette, Creativescaping, Portland (503/421-2804)

What works

Multiple hideaways Little nooks within the garden make you feel like you’ve escaped civilization.

Evoking happy memories Your nooks should remind you of joyful moments: playing in a treehouse, sunbathing on a dock, strolling through a park.

Reflecting bowls A trio of bowls filled with water at the entrance encourages you to slow down and take notice. “It’s a very peaceful way to approach your home,” says LaTourette.

Informal furnishings LaTourette chose paper sun umbrellas and lanterns for a light, summery feel. The casual beach chairs reinforce the mood. She’s painted some of them tropical colors to add a little pop to her mostly green garden.

Places to sit A weathered bench along a gravel path reinforces the botanical garden feel of this space. A matte black pot and bamboo add simple, Zen-inspired touches.

Do it this weekend:

  • Float flowers in shallow bowls of water. Orchids last at least a week, and gardenias are nature’s aromatherapy.
  • Cluster lighted candles on a table or deck for serene atmosphere.
  • Design a nook with an outdoor rug, paper lantern, and comfortable cushions.

More:  20 inspiring garden paths

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