A small garden can be as tranquil as a larger garden with all the above ideas. I have seen small areas being converted to an oasis. Brightly coloured pot-plants with justifying plants displaying them. The right balance of foliage compared to flowers is essential to any garden. To me, the rose flower is very attractive, but the foliage of it (especially as a Gardener, as touched on before) can be very prickly and ugly. If there are roses in your garden, I would make sure you have other foliage and colour nearby to detract from the ugliness of the rose. Or what ever plant you enjoy in its flowering months but is uneasy on the eye through the rest of the year. Many of you may have realised I am a Native lover, however there is an example of a native plant that is gorgeous when it is in bloom; however when there is no flowers, it is ugly and I believe it looks like a weed. The plant in which I talk about is - Leschinaultia biloba. Of course, its quite subjective. One of my favourite plants are phebaliums - Geebungs, however I know many people are disappointed when they see them. I also love Camellias, which is quite ironic for a Gardener as they are extremely messy.
Aromas are another positive for a garden. Unless, of course, you are allergic to some of the wondrous smells our plants have. There are foliage smells - Boronias, or flowering smells - roses. There are strong smells - Jasmine, and mild smells - Eucalyptus. I think it depends on what you are trying to accomplish for your garden. Personally, I believe in only having mild smells and one or two strong smelling plants. Having said that, smell is an interesting sense. What someone may find overwhelming, another may not be able to even smell it. Boronias are a good example of this. I used to work in a nursery and when we had to do boronia cuttings, I would have to be closest to the door and it had to be open. Some species I couldn't do at all as I would get a huge head-ache or a migraine. My mother, on the other hand could not smell boronias at all! Even Boronia mollis which to me and many of my work mates, smelt like vomit.
Another such example is Phebalium ambiens. To me, it smelt like soap; to another work-mate, it smelt like possum pee and to another work-mate, it smelt like cinnamon. Some clients houses I go into and I feel sick and they can't smell anything!
I guess its all subjective, like anything.
My ideal garden, would be colours, soft aromas and contrasting foliage. A pond or water feature (using recycled water) would be ideal. And an area I could sit and take it all in. I do like lawn. I understand is needs water, however most of the native blends have attributed to this.