Blog: Jardins

Thoughts on Atmosphere

Whilst pondering throughout gardens later in the season the sensibility of the space itself becomes more evident as the abundant summer colour fades from the herbaceous borders and slowly turns into a glimpse of autumn.

It is a time in which the true essence of a garden may reveal itself through a quiet moment when the bare bones of the garden become noticed and therefore appreciated:

Atmosphere originating from the greek atmós =vapour, stream, odor + sphaíra = ball, globe, terrestrial sphere
is often used to describe the sensibility of space. Not scientifically but philosophically.
According to german phenomenologist Gernot Böhme atmosphere can also be related to the energetic resonance of an individual interacting with the space (Gandy, 2017). This may be what evokes a physical and emotional reaction to a space. The author further shows the original translation of the ancient sanskrit word atman meaning “breath”, “life” or even “soul”.

This soul of a space has been described in terms of garden design as the “Genius Loci”
referring not only tho the atmosphere alone but also to the aesthetic of that atmosphere.
Layers of physical and cognitive experience within a created space that are well thought through but don´t defer from the innate quality of the space that is designed.

It becomes a dialogue between design and nature. Between the individual and the place itself.
Not translated as a carbon copy of nature but the strongly captured sense of place, sense belonging and even the sense being.

Capturing the essence of nature within a garden can therefore mean to capture the spirit of the place and to bring forth a vital understanding through visually communicating this atmosphere and to therefore make it acceptable, tangible and real.

Within a space this atmosphere is revealed in the late summertime slowly emerging out of the faded blooms and with this time of change into a new seasons the throughs about the space itself may chance.

The essence becomes more visible allowing us to imagine what may develop next.
Allowing us to take in the space and to create something new. To change with the season and as we change with it so does our intention that flows into the garden. It is that moment when our mindfulness will resonate within the garden bringing forth its atmosphere. It will resonate differently as the space itself matures and as we may mature with it.

Attention is what we are capable of giving most at this time of year before autumn make its true appearance.
Then with it come the autumn pleasures and actions that take the garden to its wintery slumber.
But until then lets appreciate the atmosphere and the spirit of the space for a little longer and let it guide our inspiration for the new season to come.

Weather capturing the essence of a space will automatically lead to a great garden may be questionable but it sure will take one step closer to translating the ever-evolving sense of place.

Images taken at “Le Manoir aux Quat´Saison” based in Oxfordshire

Further Reading:

Gandy, M (2017) Urban Atmospheres. Available from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1474474017712995