Hide and Reveal - The Mystery of the Unseen (Excerpt from Gardentopia)

I am sharing excerpts from my new garden design book, Gardentopia:
The screen here (a deer fence) acts to 'hide' where the walk is leading. One of my landscapes - Jan Johnsen

If you want a small outdoor space to appear larger or more interesting, you can use an ancient Japanese design technique known as miegakure, or 'hide and reveal'. 
This technique involves partially screening a view or section of a garden with a strategically placed shrub or wall to create the illusion of distance.

This walk at the public garden,Chanticleer, in Pennsylvania leads you on by hiding what is at the end. Photo- Jan Johnsen

By providing a half-hidden vista, you encourage people to go farther into a space. This is effective because people cannot help but want to see what is around a corner or a blocked view. This popular garden design technique is used for making smaller yards appear larger than they are. 
People will invariably walk forward to see what lies ahead, unseen.

The grass steps at the Mount in Lenox, MA lead up the hill and then the walk bends, out of sight.Photo - Jan Johnsen

You can hide parts of your garden by planting a leafy plant by a curve, angling a set of steps, or locating a mound in front of the view. You can even plant a mass of plants to create shadows. The shade they produce “darken” an area, which makes it appear to recede in the distance. That is a clever way to use 'hide and reveal'. 

I planted a holly in front of this marble column to partially hide it, adding a mysterious air to the scene.- Jan Johnsen


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