Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Not hip to be square

I recently checked out a satellite shot of my property from Google maps. The last time I looked, it showed the raised beds being constructed in the middle of the backyard. Now those all are done. There are a few things missing, like the newest trees, but all in all, this is a fairly accurate snapshot.

I am very left brained, and my mind favors grids, square corners, symmetry, etc. (The concrete guy who poured the driveway had to talk me into adding the swoop to the front walk.) Yet when I consider the many gardens we saw on the Garden Bloggers Fling, rarely were these design concepts employed. Instead, there were curved beds and meandering paths and visual surprises. Stuff was layered - plants, hardscape, houses. The gardens looked both deliberate and casually constructed.

I also have a tendency to position plants in a patchwork of singles (maybe because of quilting?) In the Fling gardens, I saw instead groupings of odd numbers along side the larger singles. A designer from Toronto (sorry! I am so bad with names!) explained that with singles, there is no place for the eye to rest, whereas groupings and masses draw the eye.

My yard includes almost all these plants, but not arranged like this.

When I saw the sedum below, every which one I have, I immediately wanted to drive home and rearrange the plants by the front walk.

When I did get home and looked at that bed, I made some interesting observations: the Dragon's Blood had migrated to one end of the bed and some of the Purple Emperor looked great while other plants struggled (the bed gets variable amounts of sun), the Autumn Joy and Lemon Ball were positioned willy-nilly, the coreopsis did not "work" with the sedum, etc. I didn't want to risk moving plants in the midsummer heat, but I'm making mental notes for next spring.

I've also been looking at garden design books from the library. These are visually frustrating, as the photos show what one can do with ACRES of rolling countryside. I find it difficult to translate the sweeping vistas to something I can use in my rectangle of a yard. But I am picking up some useful knowledge. We'll see how it manifests on my third of an acre plot.

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