The strong winds of the past few weeks have made my nights restless. Even during the days, there is no escaping the sound of the strong gusts barreling through the trees.
The howling winds show nature’s force and remind us the gardens and landscaping we so carefully tend are subject to Mother Nature’s mood.
But there are other sounds of the garden, more pleasant sounds that we can create and nurture to calm our nerves and please our senses.
Those same trees that can cause sleepless nights can be soothing when a gentle breeze blows through the leaves. The soft swish of wind whistling through the trees is a welcomed sound on warm summer nights.
Those same trees create a crunch under our feet when they drop their leaves in the late fall and winter. Little kids, big kids, and even the pup enjoy scuffing through a path covered in autumn leaves. The sound is part of the fun.
Other sounds of footsteps include my pup bounding up the back wooden stairs. It is a sound I know and can hear from anywhere in the house. The pea gravel paths create the sound of the stones shifting under the weight of visitors. It is quite lovely. No wonder a loose stone driveway is always in the movies. To hear a car approaching on the stone is hopeful and full of anticipation. Arriving along a cement drive may be easier but not nearly as romantic.
As the weather warms, the birds begin to sing. Early morning chirps are the norm, and if I’m still, I can catch them sifting through the leaves and new grasses, looking for food. Leaving the grasses and dried stems of last year’s garden through the winter has created places for the birds and garden critters to find food and shelter. Soon, new growth will replace the old, and the cycle will continue.
If the sounds of birds bring your garden to life, plan to plant shrubs that give them a spot to perch near your windows. The old holly tree, planted dangerously close to my back windows, draws the birds to its branches throughout the year. This spring, the feathered visitors seem pretty vocal. So much so that friends and family have commented, and the pup is often found on the back of the couch, mesmerized by the show in the holly tree.
For now, the only water feature in my garden is the pup’s water bowl. Her lapping up cool water on a hot summer day is a sound I will always enjoy, but I don’t think this really counts as a water feature.
Fountains and water ponds each create a soothing sound. It could be a trickle from the fountain or the babble of the water ponds pump, but each can add to the sounds of the garden. A few tips for creating the water sounds you enjoy include: the more levels the water falls through, the bigger the sounds; the more places the water touches, the more sound produced; and water falling onto metal makes more sound than water falling onto wood, concrete, or ceramic materials.
One of the easiest and one of my favorite ways to add sound to the garden is placing chimes near seating areas or in the trees of the garden beds. Wind chimes come in many different price points, designs, and even sounds.
I have chimes near all my outside doors as a way to great company and for me to hear as I work around the entrances. I have them in the back trees of my shade garden to add soft sounds to the quiet space.
I also like to give chimes as a gift, even a housewarming gift letting the owner claim their new space with pleasant sounds. I have sometimes seen chimes hung indoors, near a high-traffic area in a retail space, in hallways to signal that someone is there, and even near doorways to create sound as they open and close. All of these ideas could be incorporated into the garden.
As the outdoor temperatures begin to warm and we spend more time outdoors, take the time to listen to your space. You may hear leaves rustling, grasses blowing, or chimes tinkling – all working together to gently create a symphony of sounds in your garden.