It’s nice to visit a site you’ve designed after a year or two and get to observe and learn from its growth, what has worked and what hasn’t… Plant choices really have a mind of their own when interacting with the soil, sun, wind, and rain on the site. It’s pure alchemy and I never get tired of seeing what from my plan has flourished or floundered. Even if initially its made me wonder what I was thinking, or question my skills…
This bent towards experimentation has forced me to be a bit of a scientist, which requires that repetion be practiced. As a designer, I’ve learned the fewer materials the stronger the design. Co-commitant with that is to leave the plan open enough to allow for additions year after year based on what you learned about the site and what you’re clients have enjoyed most. These have been hard won lessons, after almost tweleve years into my carrier, I’ve been looking forward to subtle additions to the designs I’ve installed, rather than more dramatic revisions and disappointments.
Even with years of training as a master gardener, owning my own business, and helping to run other businesses, the lesson I’ve learned is to keep it simple, and build on what works, which often seems antithetical to knowing a lot. The key is to keep the feeling you have in mind for you’re garden and then select only six or seven plants (three to four ground cover and three to four shrubs) that embody this combination. Keep the spacing wide and under plant with ground cover for weed prevention, but know that the spacing will allow the plants to seed themselves and create their own drifts. This sense of space will translate into a garden that feels strong and unfussy, with a kind of power behind it from having allowed the plants to express themselves upon the landscape.
Step back and make space for things to unfold as they will.
Once you’ve accomplished that then you’re ready to break it down with something surprising or unnatural that is all about you or your client, their sense of humor or morbidity. We get too attached to our gardens sometimes. Craftman houses are no exception since there is so much expectation and history there.
“There is a crack in everything, that’s where the light get’s in.” – Leonard Cohen
Just be judicious about how you apply your own hammer, it can easily over power of what makes sense. On this project we wanted to keep the story of the Craftman house strong so we used local stone for the rockery in front. And in back we integrated sheet metal box steps for raised terraces folding stone into the design, which allowed for a bridge for the old and new things in all our lives. Every new project is an opportunity for creative problem solving!
Dig in, with a few simple rules to follow, and a willingness to get a little dirty, you are bound to have a garden that surprises and delights!