A Garden Treatment Room
(239) 687-9337 Written for Marco Island “Etc” by Brendan Moran, first published July 31/09
Well, you may be curious as to what exactly is a Garden Treatment Room, and what benefits it may hold. Allow me to enlighten you. A Garden Treatment Room, is a private outdoor sanctuary in which one can give and receive various massage treatments, exercise, practice yoga, or meditate. We prefer Garden Treatment Rooms to satisfy some minimum requirements. In line with our design philosophies, a Garden Treatment Room will, first and foremost be just that. A garden. Secondly, it needs to be private, easily accessible yet secluded. Continuing along with our design philosophies, we like all gardens to be designed with the environment in mind. When one designs a Garden Treatment Room, the fact that the garden is outdoors, introduces the possibility of having a garden area filled with Nature’s elements which evoke all of our naturally given senses. Last but not least, a Garden Treatment Room needs to embrace holistic qualities and benefits. And that’s it. It’s just that simple.
Let’s start with the fact that a room like this needs to be first and foremost a garden, and why this is important. A garden will have many of Nature’s elements present including Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Wood etc. Earth is represented by natural rocks and boulders, stone, pebbles, gravel and soil, for example. Whereas, water is represented by a waterfall, stream and pond. Fire can be represented by candles, tiki torches, a fire pit or outdoor lighting. Air is represented as movement of a breeze and how we can capture this movement by including plants with light and delicate foliage, such as ornamental grasses, bamboo, birch trees or fox tail palms, to mention a few examples. Plants such as these, and many more, flutter gracefully even in the slightest of breezes. Finally, wood is represented as trees and shrubs, or in garden furniture.
However, it is not only necessary to have Nature’s elements present, but their relationship with each other, their associations, scale, balance and proportions are also important. Designing a Garden Treatment Room need not be difficult, and in fact, is relatively easy, just be sure to have Nature’s elements represented in commonsense proportions, and you’ll find it to be straight forward.
Make an effort to use all natural materials, such as natural rock and stone, along with natural materials for paved areas. Consider using recycled products and sustainable materials, which are better choices for the environment. Bamboo is a great material which is also a sustainable product, available for many different applications. It is strong and durable. In Asia, bamboo is used extensively as building material and even scaffolding, rising many stories into the air, supporting impressive loads, as it is so incredibly strong and durable. We now have many recycled garden building materials available to us for decking, fencing and even mulches and composts, some of which are available across the country from the town’s recycling efforts. There are many types of reclaimed brick available, which further add character and old world appeal to any project. Some bricks which are salvaged from old dock yards, buildings, wharfs and the like make for interesting alternatives to concrete paved products. The manufacturing of concrete produces large amounts of CO2, so if we can use alternative choices for paving products, we’ll be doing the environment a great favor. Another type of recycled material for walking surfaces is crushed shells, a bi-product of the fisheries industries, which make for an enchanting walk or drive.
A Garden Treatment room such as this affords limitless possibilities for a lucky user, than would a conventional, indoor treatment room. This is because all the senses are brought into play. The natural, warm breeze which passes over one’s skin is refreshing, whilst the fragrance of the soil, herbs and sweet smelling blooms offers sensory depth and dimension. The panoramic views, and up-close sight of the plants growing in the garden add visually to the sensory experience. Uncommon in indoor treatment rooms are the sounds of the garden, such as; birds chirping, and singing their chorus, the breeze rustling through the wispy leaves of bamboo plants, and water cascading and tumbling. All gardens are constantly evolving, as they are living, growing spaces, which means these types of garden beckon us to come and interact with Nature, by doing some pruning, planting or just watching.
Pay attention to the choice of materials. Keep it simple! This project uses sustainable bamboo for a walkway and privacy fencing. Walking along barefoot, one enjoys a stimulating foot massage, helpful for maintaining good blood circulation. Real tumbled limestone flanks the walkway, whilst reclaimed granite slabs serve as functional steps, adding a little history and charm to the garden. Recycled mulches and composts, good alternative choices for the environmentally conscious amongst us, keep the plants vital and protected. A simple hand carved stone bowl, made in Ireland from ancient beds of limestone, makes for a unique and rare piece of art.