Thursday, January 19, 2012

The 'New American Garden', part 2


Now you're thinking, 'what about my garden, my rock garden, my pool garden, my Fall Border....'?
'The designed landscape should fit into the natural landscape.' Does this mean I can't have a rock garden if I live in an area the scientists call the 'Eastern Transitional Mixed Forest Region'?

No, I don't think it means that. I do think, though, that you should carefully consider whether your design might not be more successful, as a design, if you make it fit into the type of landscape natural for your area.

For example, my garden is in the woods, on a rocky ridge. It is situated on the Canadian Shield and is considered to be in the Eastern Transitional etc. etc. I could, if I had enough loose money, bring in a large bulldozer and have it flatten me a nice space, say 200 feet square. I could have topsoil brought in and spread, and I could have hedges planted all around it. Then I could make borders and beds inside the hedged area and make, if I had enough money, a mini-Sissinghurst. Just imagine that for a minute. If you were to come and visit, you'd drive through the Eastern Ontario mixed farming belt, then drive through a mixed forest, then stop at a tall green hedge. You'd go inside and find.... an English garden. But wouldn't this be silly? It might be a fun novelty, but in the end, wouldn't you step back and think, this is silly?

It makes more sense for me to try to incorporate the garden elements I want, such as a rock garden or Fall border, into the existing landscape. No hedges making 'garden rooms', which I have always thought only make sense in totally urban gardens, no straight borders with precise edges ditto, no ornate Italian garden seats. Instead, my rock garden, really more a rockery, sprawls over the natural granite and limestone outcroppings and blends into the woods. My so-called border, really a hillside, climbs in crooked terraces up into the surrounding trees. The only fairly formal area is the little herb garden between the house and the Studio and you know how formal herbs are....

I'm not saying my garden is a great success along these lines, but I think I know what I'm aiming for, and more or less how to proceed.

Actually, maybe I am having some success already. I think I've told this story before, but it's a favourite: one summer a customer and her husband came to the Studio to pick up some pottery. As they were leaving, walking down the path through the herb garden, they stopped and she told me about the husband's garden. I made suitable impressed sounds. Then she glanced around and said to me, 'Do you have a garden, dear?' Now that I think about it, that's a pretty good compliment!

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