Friday, September 28, 2007

Design Challenge

What does your garden say about you? That's what I've been thinking about, after hearing a talk by New Egland's most famous designer, Gordon Hayward. It's much more fun to think about this, instead of bemoaning my lack of design sense. I often notice people walking by my home, looking at the front garden, and I'm trying to imagine what they're seeing. Looking at the garden myself and trying to relate it to the lush design that I've got on paper isn't working especially well for me, so this is my new approach.

There's a wide garden bed I've built along the street; it runs across most of the front of the yard, but a section still needs to be dug out and planted to complete the picture - I'm waiting for the eventual demise of a large Norway Maple, the last of 3 that dotted the front yard when we moved here about 15 years ago. This bed intersects 2 paths that lead to the house - a wide old concrete one that goes to the front door and a smaller brick one that goes to the music studio. Between the bed and the street, there's a brick pathway that delineates a gravel parking area.

In this long bed, there's a young tree, a Liquidambar styraciflua f. rotundiloba, seedless sweetgum, backed by a white-flowered Hydrangea arborescens that I've nicknamed Dolly Parton - a more descriptive moniker than its actual name, Annabelle. This section of the bed, which will be the central section once the garden is complete, has a small boxwood hedge along the street side, about 12 small Green Velvet boxwoods at about 18 inches high. They're backed by a wide-spreading Fairy rose that seems to have bloomed all summer despite the drought we suffered here on the Cape. At the southern end of this section of the bed is a Franklinea altamaha, blooming now in September with camellia-like white flowers with yellow centers.

Other large plants, in the more southerly section of the border include a Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' that flowers in March, and a variegated Elderberrry, Sambucus nigra 'Madonna.'

Every square inch of space between these larger plants is filled with a riot of perennials, temperennials, and annuals: cottage pinks, campanula, perovskia, wild thyme, coral bells, Siberian iris, sedum, thrift, day lilies, and more.

What does this garden say about its gardener? I suspect, above all, that it reveals a high tolerance for chaos. It also shows that the gardener likes a challenge and is willing to try something new - maybe too often.

So, what does your garden say about you?


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