1. Sometimes it is the setting, not the seating which is the important feature. A simple bench is all that is needed to draw attention to the beautiful long vista, inviting you to take the time to sit and look. You need tanalised timber of course and farm posts are the most practical option. Make the bench long enough to hold two people and their coffee mugs without having to be too close, but not so long that it sags if somebody sits in the middle. This lovely scene is at Puketarata Garden near Hawera.
2. How could I not include this example from Wairere Garden in Gordonton? Obviously there are a few practical issues when it comes to sitting on this hand crafted bench which looks as if it has been made from old fence battens. With that length it would only be suitable for a single person or two young lovers. I really liked the sense of enclosure with it being placed inside a curved hedge and the contrast between the lichen-encrusted, rough simplicity and the clipped formality behind.
3. This is one of our own favoured seating areas, especially in summer when there is dappled light through the trees above. It is comfortable enough even without the tapestry cushions made by my late mother. The curved bench seat is stone, the table concrete on a brick plinth. I am guessing it was Mark’s mother who inset the vintage tiles around the edge of the table to add detail although few remain now. It does not always come equipped with the bottle of wine.
4. From home to away – the garden out the back of Restaurant Baudy in Giverny (where Monet himself used to dine with friends and you can repeat the experience to this day) applied casual French deshabille style to the outdoors. You would not want to be of large stature and trust to this outdoor setting, but the hollyhocks and gently rusting iron are the epitome of what is sometimes styled shabby chic in modern parlance.
5. Let’s be honest, you would not be wanting to sit on these chairs when the grass is wet, but then if it has been raining, outdoor seating will be wet too. The absence of worn track marks to the chairs suggested that they were not in great use when we visited this garden near Stratford on Avon. But that long grass, meadow look is very charming. And at least if the seats are sited in the long grass, the legs will not be making holes in the lawn and you don’t have to move the furniture to mow.
6. This is in a private Yorkshire garden and is, believe it or not, the children’s pavilion though I doubt that the comfortable cane chairs are there for the children to sit upon – far more likely for adults. Traditional cane needs to be under cover. It is only the all weather modern synthetics that can be left out in all weathers but modern or old, I have yet to meet outdoor seating that is more comfortable than cane. Personally I covet a little semi-enclosed pavilion like this one – with or without the Beatrix Potter wall paintings. In a climate which is never quite as warm as I would like, this type of outdoor room seems eminently practical.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.