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Sunday, 08 October 2017 17:10

Mastering the Art of Garden Design: Not What You Think

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At the front end of planning your garden, from personal experience, if there is a problem with the outcome, those problems reside in you, not the garden.
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Assumptions about where to begin, "What plants will I have?", wildly, achingl
y, charmingly, sweetly, misplaced. Going a step further, I did, decades ago, realized my initial assumptions beyond arrogant. Worse, arrogance aimed at Nature. There for me to wield. Ha.
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Before we have language, we see Nature. For most that unspoken language, remains throughout life. Seeing through a glass darkly, thinking as a child type of stuff.
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Getting the horticulture degree, still, did not unlock the door to creating a beautiful garden, understanding Nature's language. Off to Europe for decades studying historic gardens. Designing/installing gardens all the while as vocation. Dots on the Garden Design map emerged, some connected. Map is not territory.
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Having lunch at a client's farm, decades from my starting dot, standing inside her kitchen, looking through to the potager, a dot, outside the realm of Garden Design, appeared, and connected all the dots. The master dot. Epiphanies are a drug of choice. This one simple, seen since birth, yet zero comprehension for decades.
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Providence never separated ornamental horticulture from agriculture. Man's folly, made the separation. Separation dot date? Onset of the Industrial Revolution, late 19th century. Until then we lived with Nature. The dot was clear. Without it, death.
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"The eighteenth century was the culmination of thousands of years of agrarian society. The nineteenth century would bring in the Industrial Revolution to America. Until then, most societies based their economies on the raising and trading of crops, so nature was always in control. People measured the work day by the rising and setting of the sun, and one hailstorm or flood could ruin a year's work. Everyday life was an ongoing struggle against nature.
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Historically when people have been able to raise enough crops and food to sustain a comfortable life, they have challenged nature even further by turning their outdoor environment into a living art form, a pleasure garden. Most societies have even given the garden religious significance.
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A garden is a balance between measured, human control on one hand and wild, mystical nature on the other. It is the place where humans attempt to create their particular vision of an idealized order of nature and culture. A garden is not just the opposition of unpredictable nature and organized society; it is the mediating space between them. Human intellect, intuition, nurture, and spirit meld together in a garden. Since culture shapes both the form and meaning of a garden at a particular place and time....." Barbara Sarudy, Gardens and Gardening in the Chesapeake, 1700-1805.


Pic, above, here.

How little can you have in your Garden Design? When I design a garden, the last question I ask myself, "What can I take away, and it holds together?"
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Inside a garden, above. Outside a garden, below.
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Ironically, at every price point client, I'm told, "I don't want to spend a lot of money. It must be easy to take care of." These gardens, above/below. Get it right. Macro and micro. Master dot. Maximum pollinator habitat exists where hi density meets low density. No, this garden isn't agriculture for man, it is agriculture for Nature. Hence, us.
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Feed the bees. Without them we perish. Basic. Simple. Nature knows, we forgot. More to this Nature 'stuff', Barbara Saludy alluded to it richly, above. Cadence. Will get to that another day.

http://kum.dk/Documents/Publikationer/2009/Bygningsbevaring%20-%20HTML/images/s38.jpg
Pic, above, here.
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One of the most potent Garden Designs you'll see, above. Tara Turf, meadow mowed at differing heights, with a mix of plantings suitable to the zone, attracting myriad insects, attracting myriad mammals, (reptiles too, love my lizards), in turn attracting different genres of insects, mammals to the hedging and wild wood beyond. Nature in full cycle, master dot included, high density mixed with low density. While providing for property value increases, HVAC expense decreases, less maintenance, no chemicals, no irrigation. Easily maintained with unskilled labor. Of course the goal is to maintain as much as you can yourself, placing mind/body/soul into Nature's realm, Nature's cadence. As long as you can.
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Designing gardens, I design simple. As requested. After the concept plan, it's normal to receive requests for more 'stuff'. Here's the negotiation. Put this plan in first, if you want more later, easy. Of course the final plan always includes a few of those extras. If I don't put them in, the client will liberally dose the garden themselves. Better to be like Barney Fife, Nip It.
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With a proper garden design, epiphanies daily. Epiphanies that will change your life. How could Nature not do that for you? Example? It's almost fall, when the trees drop their leaves, baring themselves naked ahead of winter, they are being fed by what they let go of.
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Meditate on that.
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Garden & Be Well, XO T

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