Sunday, July 10, 2011

Finding Eden

Serene, naturalistic and bountiful.
Photo courtesy of One Thousand Words Photography

I’m a rebel. Can’t help it. Tell me I can’t do something and stand well back!

Maybe this is why I have mixed feelings when I read books and articles on the latest ‘gardening trends’. Depending upon your belief system, a garden was created for man(kind). It was there, ready, waiting and perfect. It had been created without reference to design gurus or horticultural textbooks. And it was “good” (well OK apart from one nasty snake).

Then man got in on the act and the rest as they say is history.

Think back even fifty years (yes I was around then – just) and consider how many garden trends have come in and out of fashion. I have seen Victorian ‘bedding out’ schemes come and go (those rigid rows of red geraniums, blue lobelia and white alyssum that stood to attention like armies of toy soldiers), the romantic and overly abundant English perennial border be considered an essential part of any ‘real’ garden – and then scoffed at, stark ultra contemporary landscapes be considered chic and also boring and Piet Oudolf’s naturalistic style landscapes with extensive drifts of rustling grasses and perennials now heralded as the way to go.
Elegant, traditional and simple. Is this what you are 
drawn to?
Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Now think about it; if we obsessed with changing our style every time an element became unfashionable we’d spend more time creating compost than a garden. Here is where I have an issue (and I know I’ll get backlash from quite a few avid designers) – I don’t care what style is ‘in’ as long as my garden is a reflection of me

When considering if my design ‘works’ I listen to my heart. Do I pause to inhale deeply, searching for the source of that elusive perfume or simply to appreciate the scent of the warm earth on a summers evening? Do I stop to stroke the velvety leaves of lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina) or run my fingers casually through a stand of tall grasses?  Do I peer into the depths of an Oriental poppy to gaze in wonder at the purple threads waving like the tentacles of a sea anemone? Do I stand beneath a tree, gazing skywards through the dappled canopy to better understand the magic of translucent light? Do I marvel at the many shades of green and how they can play in harmony or provide contrast to divine a subtle tapestry?

To some roses are a 'must have', to
others they are considered too much work
My photo

These to me are the hallmarks of success.

When creating a garden for ourselves we can get so caught up in doing it ‘right’, referring first to one book then another. We can learn about grasslands, woodland forests and drought tolerant design. We can research a wildly romantic English garden, a formal knot garden, an ultra contemporary concrete and grass design or a tropical paradise. But you eventually need to put your reading glasses down and pick your spade up. Looking to others for inspiration and fresh ideas is enlightening and might help you narrow down what you are really drawn to. However, this is your garden. It will change and it will evolve – gardens are meant to do that. Those changes should come about according to your timetable not that of the garden fashion industry, however.

Find your own Eden.

“………….and it was good”.

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