We might believe backyard rooms are a relatively new feature in garden design, but they actually go back a very long way in garden history to the hortus conclusus — the enclosed garden. The Hortus conclusus started from the ancient gardens of Persia, Egypt and Mesopotamia, then reappeared from the Middle Ages and afterwards as the core of 20th-century Arts and Crafts gardens.
The ideas behind the enclosed garden are as important now as ever: the introduction of a sanctuary, a place of escape in the world and an extension of the home, and also of a protected space to cultivate plantings for practical applications. It is essential that we have spaces we can retreat to, not just to find solitude but also to refresh ourselves, entertain others and possibly get a little closer to nature.
This need for enclosed space can be understood in the atriums of modern home and even small enclosed gardens now. Let’s have a look at some beautiful examples.
The Todd Group
During history, plantings have been a significant characteristic of those enclosed spaces. Ancient paintings of hortus conclusus show us how the plantings attempted to create paradise on earth with raised turf seats and tiny plots of grass sprinkled with small flowers. Herbs and flowers were cultivated to supply both food and medication.
Today we are more inclined to clothe the walls with climbers and wall designs to create not just blossom and foliage interest, but also to soften the hardness of brick or stonework.
Debora carl landscape design
Exotic enclosed gardens were appreciated mainly by the wealthy, who could afford the expense of building and upkeep, but monastic gardens were also enclosed. Monks took seclusion due to their contemplative lives, along with the hortus conclusus gave them the required feeling of safety and seclusion.
In this garden of now, the large walls, simple gravel route, chairs and reduced plantings echo some of the elements of the ancient monastic enclosed garden.
A lot of people today seek the same as those monks did: somewhere to escape from the pressures of the modern world. An enclosed backyard may be the perfect option, but the design of our homes can do this, too.
This serene courtyard is central to the home and gives the very same advantages of the first hortus conclusus.
Boxleaf Design, Inc..
Even the tiniest and most bare of spaces can become a sanctuary with attention to design and simple plantings. Looking into a calm space like this refreshes our souls.
The Labyrinth Garden
By surrounding small outdoor spaces adjacent to our houses, we actually can create outdoor rooms — even without ceilings. These have exactly the same benefit for a sanctuary but also give us a place where we can socialize, unwind and work. Even a small space, like this 7-square-meter lawn (roughly 7 1/2 by 10 ft), can add considerably to the owner’s lifestyle.
If you could not see the surrounding fencing, you might think this was a indoor relaxing zone. It’s an excellent illustration of an enclosed backyard, going back to its historic roots. It is, above all, inward looking, a very intimate space designed for its owner’s joy.
High walls, fences and even hedging protect plants from cold winds, low temperatures and the warmth of the sun, permitting more tender plants to survive from the microclimate created.
Window World S.A.
Perhaps this is not what we’d generally think of as a hortus conclusus, however it is a beautiful example. Though not a backyard for walking through, it does allow those in the sterile building to get nearer to nature.
Fougeron Architecture FAIA
Atriums are designed to bring natural light into buildings, and they may be amazing spaces. This minimalist design comprises a usable “enclosed garden” within the heart of the building.
The situation for Interior Courtyards
Gary Hutton Design
I am not sure whether this may be classified as an enclosed backyard, but it is absolutely an enclosed space that offers the owner all of the advantages of a hortus conclusus. It’s a place to become refreshed, one that is protected from the external world with perfect growing conditions for plants that are tender.
Tell us have you got an oasis of nature at home? We would love to find a photo.