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Playing with Fire: Fire Gardens Get Real

Fire has always been a powerful, yet contradictory element. Both friend and foe of man, fire can be tame and yet remain wild, create a powerful statement or promote a cozy atmosphere. There is no better example of this than a fire garden.
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Playing with Fire: Fire Gardens Get Real

Exterior & Landscaping | Mary Ann Romans

Fire has always been a powerful, yet contradictory element. Both friend and foe of man, fire can be tame and yet remain wild, create a powerful statement or promote a cozy atmosphere. There is no better example of this than a fire garden.

What is a Fire Garden?

A fire garden is one in which the element of fire features prominently, either by reality or representation. To have a fire garden, you must either incorporate elements that feature fire, such as a fire pit, or design inclusions that represent fire, such as vibrantly colored plantings in red, yellow, orange and blue hues. The best designed fire gardens may take advantage of both ideas.

Elements of a Fire Garden

Fire features can serve two purposes, aesthetic and functional. The unique appeal of each purpose should help determine which elements to include in your fire garden. How you want something to look, and how it serves you best, can determine if it is worthy of your garden space. 

Plantings should be considered an element of a fire garden, as offerings in themselves, to cleverly disguise natural or necessary landscaping features that are in disharmony with the garden plan, or to highlight and bring something into focus. 

Fire-lit torches might line a path, giving light and warmth, setting off plantings and other garden features, be pleasing to the eye, create a cozy atmosphere, and lead toward a focal point. 

Fire pits can serve as gatherings, a primal part of human culture that transcends time and creed. Yet, fire pits can be very sophisticated and modern, reflecting both a homeowners preferences and place in the world. Multiple fire pits placed in a fire garden can provide a unique design focus as well as an artistic element. 

An impressive outdoor kitchen can be more than a functional extension of the home. Properly designed and placed, it opens up a juxtaposition, bringing the indoors out and defining a new method of the basic needs of food and shelter. 

Stonework, tile work and outdoor landscaping can be used to set off a fire garden. Paths can be created to lead visitors toward specific elements or in unexpected directions. Masonry can include decorative elements, organic shapes and symbols representing fire. 

Balance and Focus in a Fire Garden

Balance is an important part of any garden, but it is especially necessary the powerful element of fire is featured. A garden may have symmetrical or asymmetrical balance. The former is generally used for tamed and formal gardens, which might be interesting when applied to the naturally organic shapes of a fire garden. Asymmetrical balance is easier to achieve and maintain, and it is well suited for this type of garden. Abstract and freeform balance is created by the repetition and grouping of some elements or using pleasing space between objects.

A hierarchy of focus is needed for balance in the garden. The eye can become quickly overwhelmed if there are too many strong features competing for space and attention at once. Contrast can be interesting: curved lines and a straight path are complimentary. Form and color value can also be used to create balance. Darker elements feel heavier, for example. 

There should also balance between night and day. A fire garden is a wonderful thing to experience after dark, when the opportunity to light up the night can present itself, through the functioning fire elements or with outdoor lighting. Still, most living is done during the day, and the sunlight is a form of fire itself. This is when plantings and landscaping, stonework and path work, structure, moreover, furniture can come in to play. 

Fire gardens are just as powerful as the element they are based upon. Unique and unusual, the acquisition of a fire garden will set any home apart from the others. 

Image Sources: Outdoor Fire Place: OutdoorLiving FX via HGDesignIdeasCopper Fire Pit with Colorful Seating, Sticks on Fire: Longwood Gardens, Zen FirePit: Tristan Savatier via Pyroboy

 

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