Garden Of Benign Neglect and Lantern at dusk
I don't visualize a garden plan or make a scale drawing.
That's not me. I feel my way there.
I dig and plant then step back. Sometimes, it just feels right! Inching, working, digging my way to a vignette, then another vignette and then a whole bed emerges!
But seeing the whole picture...No, not so much! I get a sense of what it needs, what I want it to be and then work my way there. I almost always know the plants that make sense, even if I put them in and take them out and move them around the garden. That's the only way that feels right. Give me a diagram and I can follow it, but ask me to design a plan...I can't do it! I don't see it.
I garden kinesthetically.
It's that way with the wayback backyard!
Wayback backyard with honeysuckle
Very nearly the same spot without honeysuckle
The organizing principles of Clay and Limestone always serve as a guide: This is a Central Basin garden with nearly neutral soil, which shares many characteristic with cedar glades and adjacent Oak-Red Cedar Forests. Plants need to be able to tolerate shallow soil that is wet in winter and very dry in summer. Cedar glade plants make sense...they were already here and they thrive. Plants must be able to survive under a canopy of oaks, shagbark hickories, red cedars and hackberries. Years of leaf litter has improved the soil back there, but there is still limestone beneath and a thick canopy above!
Having said that...there is a need for a fresh perspective; a vision; someone to keep me from detouring all over the place or circling around the same old same old. Fortunately, I have a garden coach/designer who is visual and generous friends to help me. Could a garden get any luckier? The gardener likes to dig and can follow directions well!
Do you feel your way or see your way to a garden? I really want to know!
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
Feeling your way through -- allowing the land and environment to speak to you -- sounds like the way to garden.
I'm a doodler and list maker. This didn't happen in my previous homes/gardens where the challenges were few. It was when I was confronted with the huge challenge of -- new construction, big space, deer, full sun, home owners association that requires drawn plans. I had to do so much research and re-learn gardening for these challenges.
Cameron...you've said it so well...letting the land and environment speak! It's obvious that your research has paid off and that you have listened to your land and environment...your garden is spectacular!
Good morning! I so much enjoyed this post. What a great way to start the day thinking about gardens and their creation!
The other day I visited with the creator of a new public garden here in SF. They will grow food as part of the city's food policy. Right now the beds are just laid. I commented to him that I admired how he adjusted the plan I saw online to adjust to the site.I thought it would not have been as successful if the plan was rigorously imposed. He said yes, the plan was just a jumping off point.
I like the way you approach gardens: to feel, to look and to listen.
I think the environment is so interesting: a cental basin cedar glade garden. The constraints of soil, climate and situation provide a framework, and a "jumping off point".
All so much fun to think about. Thank you for sharing it.Your garden is magical.
Very nice post and it is good to see a long view from the way back garden. I both feel and see my way to a garden. I first figure out uses and traffic patterns (just like you mentioned), if I have time I draw out a plan, then I set the plants out, usually dug from other parts in the garden. Setting out is NEVER the same as the plan as it never looks quite right in person as it does on the plan, hence the seeing part. It is all fun and the planting is best. Then the next year I dig it all up and rearrange:)ReplyDelete
The sun is peaking out here. We haven't seen it in awhile but it is coming. Weird weather we are having. I still have over 100 bulbs to plant. It might be a good day.
You are wonderful! Thank you for your always kind words and support! Creating something that makes sense for here and is still visually attractive is my goal!
But I do need help with designing something this big!
I agree that designs are jumping off points...mere suggestions in some cases;-)
Right now the doors are open, the breeze is wonderful...but the boys are back and grinding the honeysuckle... too noisy to be a peaceful retreat!
Have a god day Phillip!
Most of my previous gardens were planned and mapped out. These gardens didn't evolve much, they were maintained to look the same year after year. My current garden has evolved from a rose garden with perennial accents to a dryland garden. Big switch. Environmental reasons prompted me to stop fighting the climate and choose plants that thrive in our harsh dry conditions.ReplyDelete
I do admire the ability to see a plan and then draw it...even if you change the whole thing around once you've set the plants out! The digging and planting and moving is the fun part! Using plants from other parts of the garden is the best! It's economical and keeps the cohesiveness and continuity in new gardens!
The weather is too weird even for TN! have fun planting your bulbs! The ground should b nice and soft! The guys are here removing even more invasives! It is a bit noisy and I would love to be out there working...
Interesting ideas to think about. I usually feel my way. I buy whatever plants I like (every time I go out!) and just find a place for them. Even if I have to squish them in! If I need more space, I notice it at the time and dig it out (well, someone helps sometimes due to my back & neck problems;)) but I don't usually 'plan'. There have been occasions where there was prior thought and a fairly solid idea for certain areas, and I've gone out specifically to get plants/bushes that I want to put in a specific area; likewise, I gave a lot of thought to designing a pond w/garden area several years ago. Unfortunately that's gone now. Overall, I've been operating much of my life on a 'spur of the moment, spontaneous' basis, so it's not that much different in the garden. Sometimes I feel totally disorganized...but, to look at me or my garden, people wouldn't think so. Have I answered the question? Now I'm going to be pondering that for a while! I'll see how I do come spring when I get out there more! JanReplyDelete
It took me a while to figure that out and embrace this difficult place! But it is easier to go with the river flow then try to change its course! Not always easy but in most cases necessary.
Yes you've answered it very well! I am looking forward to getting to know your garden. I fly by the seat of my pants, too! The biggest frustration at this time of my life is figuring out what works and makes sense but not having the physical ability to implement it anymore! Years of lifting and removing rock has taken its toll! Sighing just a little!
Hello my friend, your way back is looking so good! In the past, I have drawn out gardens, especially when moving to a new house, with paths and hardscape considered first. I had a dream for the big slope here and had drawn a plan years before moving here myself, that was never in the original plan for us to live here. Now it is more of the vision in my head and what it takes to get there step by step. That sounds like a good way for your back yard too. Imagine how you would like it to be, then make the plantings and paths keeping that vision in mind. Feeling it is a good way to go, but don't forget the big picture! (How was that?) :-)ReplyDelete
I "see" little areas and make general outlines, but gardening as a whole is just by "feel" and great amounts of good fortune. ;-)ReplyDelete
I think there are people who can see a garden plan and translate it to the garden and those who can't. But there's nothing wrong with not being able to see it. It's one of the challenges that professional landscape designers have though - how to establish the vision for the client who can't see it.
I personally can see them BUT I always, always work to adjust the plan to what works for the environment. That doesn't mean that I have any written plans for my garden of course! They're in my head for the most part. Your garden is so lovely, you should continue your approach of feeling your way through it.
Gail....we garden in the same way.....I always have a vision in my mind.....but I follow the land, which invariably speaks to me. I seem to just know what to plant.....don't ask me how.....but I just do. Like you if I plant and it doesn't suit....dig it up and move it.....ReplyDelete
Look forward to following your journey......I find other people's dreams lovely to see........I wait with anticipation.......
I think people that feel their way are the most talented gardeners. To me they are the true artist. Me, well, I'm not sure what category I fall into, because the majority of my gardening decisions are influenced by what ever I can find marked way down in price. I think I plan the shape of the beds, but not what goes into them. I’m also heavily influenced by brilliant ideas I see in other’s gardens too.ReplyDelete
Perfect! I still expect you to visit and have fun with me back there! Goodness it is clearing nicely...yes I am keeping a vision in my head of what it could be! The paths were there but need to be moved! I have a lot of work ahead of me! Gail
I'm done basic sketches for some of my garden beds Gail, but it is normally just a general idea that gets expanded upon in my head. Does that make sense? ;)ReplyDelete
Hi Gail, my garden is very informal. I planned the bones of the garden but from there I let myself be surprised. My garden has changed in the 20 Years I have gardened here. First it was hot and sunny, a bare hilly plot with a flat top of about 1 1/4 acres. Now it has still sunny corners but also gentle shade and deep shade. Somehow it has fallen into place with natures helpReplyDelete
Gail thank you for your visit. Have a lovely Christmas.
I like the idea of feeling your way to a garden. I think that is more my style - I have very strongly shaped flower beds but I am now thinking about going for a more free flowing styleReplyDelete
I feel my way there too, and it's always a work in progress.ReplyDelete
I definitely garden kinesthetically. That's the same way I do pretty much everything, since I'm very solidly kinesthetic in nature.
It's great to get the perspective of someone with a more visual nature, and yep, you are quite lucky!
Your garden was awesome before Gail, and it sounds like it's about to get even awesomer!
I have been feeling my way to a garden for most of my life. I plant what catches my fancy and don't have an organized plan or charts to show what would do best. I have been tempted to lay out complex designs and even have a gardening program for my computer. Needless to say the graph paper pad is blank and the progran was opened once. I'm sure my space could be used more efficiently but that isn't how I work.ReplyDelete
Well, judging from the photos, it looks like your method is very successful!ReplyDelete
I guess planning would not suit me either, but I'll not know that until I start garden on Mother earth's womb. With the pots there's no plan I guess. You sow and arrange the pots around, but I always have great plans and designs for my future garden on earth. I'd be glad to share them with you and it'd be exciting to see them in live sooner if you're interested.ReplyDelete
I do a little of both. Ideas pop in my head for different things, some of which I've seen before some I haven't. Designs are just templates to give you a place to start. The only thing constant about gardening is that it changes!ReplyDelete
Kinesthetically -- I like that! In fact, it's perfect!!ReplyDelete
I rarely draw a diagram. Sometimes I draw a picture of what I want it to look like. Then plants are sought but rarely are they available so I improvise. I think a plan is much like a recipe, a good suggestion. Besides by the time I try to implement a plan I have dreamed up my mood might have changed. ha...ReplyDelete
Everything else in my life is structured, manicured, obedient and scheduled, not my garedens. I plant my plants where I think they will be happy and then I move them around until they are, I like to see what natural does with them too. I like that comfortable look for my plants, not a demand for a show, but that want to look. Does this make any sense at all. Kind of like planning a garden.ReplyDelete
Gail, I'm an experienced caretaker of plants, but I suppose as a gardener I'm just getting adjusted to my legs. I had a designer make a plan for our half acre, but I find I'm deviating where it suits. I mostly needed help with the structure. Then, I was lucky enough to be able to have Susan Harris (of Garden Rant) come coach me a bit, and I got different ideas for hardscape and some of the beds.ReplyDelete
I say I'm on the 20-year plan with my garden, because it will take that long to get it to a mature place, I think. That said, even while I'm installing, it's evolving. I don't know what that makes me and my style. All I know, is I'm learning as I go and this is a wonderful journey.
I guess I do a little of both. I can't draw anything to scale though so the pictures I draw always seem to end up revised to what feels and looks right in person. I guess I'm a bit of a schizo!ReplyDelete
I over did working with the boys in the wayback...so it will take me a bit to comment back! But it is looking so good!
Thank you all!
Gail, I always read with much interest your sharing. I am further down the road of life then you and most of those who comment.ReplyDelete
I have had natural gardens at probably 8 homes over 50 years.
I always see them in my mind, feel my way and just plant. If something does not do well I move it. Looking forward to planning another garden on my country property this Spring.
Its fun to think of having a place to garden again when we move back to the US in March. If we stay in Austin we are going to get some help in figuring out what to do with that yard. Its so shady from the live oaks, and damp, and there is a mosquito problem - it needs help!ReplyDelete
Gail, you approach gardening like you approach life - I love that about you!
I think I tend to be the same as you, Gail, especially when it comes to the standing back bit. My husband used to tease me about my habit of standing in the middle of the garden, apparently staring at nothing in particular.ReplyDelete
I like the 'vignette' technique, too. You can try out a little group of things, and if that works, you can repeat the grouping, or try variations on the same theme, to create a bigger area.
Gail, I also feel my way through. I've drawn plans for other people, but hate to do so for my own space. I listen to the garden instead.~~DeeReplyDelete
I have always been a feeler but for some reason I drew out my plans for this garden and... I wouldn't go back.
Truthfully, sometimes I stick something new and unexpected in the ground and THEN put it on the plan (there are empty spaces for that) but... I have changed my ways! Plans for now on!
This may also have something to do with the fact that I do this for a living though??
I just as shocked as anybody....
I love this story and admire your ability to see what you want and put it on paper! I love that nothing is static and there are spaces left open!
Hi dear Dee! It is important to be able to listen to the garden. It sounds like you have both wonderful skills and your garden show it!
My husband is an eye roller and a witty re-marker...aka a zinger! So I give him plenty of material standing out there! The vignette technique is delightful...I had to learn to repeat and not just add more and more different plant material! I am so glad you stopped by to comment!
I dear! Yes, I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants! Can't wait to have you and Lee back in the states! I will be in Austin all the time...well, what is reasonable!
When you get back and into gardening, you could contact my friend, Pam Penick, She is a landscape designer and knows Austin and what makes sense in all the different microclimates! She's in my sidebar..Digging!
Love to you.....Happy holidays!
I am so glad you commented! I wish you would more often...you are always welcome! I am very excited to be reading about your new project! You are the grandmother of natural gardens! I hope you don't mind my saying that, but 50 yrs of natural gardening seems to make it so!
Happiest of holidays to you! Let's have coffee/tea after the New Year!
I can't draw anything! Even if I can get a scale drawing of the garden...filling it in with plants doesn't make sense to me...I can't see it that way! You are not schizo...you are perfectly alright and garden like many of us!
We all need help occasionally! To have Susan coach would be marvelous. My coach is Sarah and she is a neighbor who knows what this odd microclimate/environment is all about!
Plans are good places to start and jump off into what makes sense. Deep limestone pockets and tree roots mean everything is subject to change!
Thanks for commenting and I am thoroughly enjoying your wonderful journey over at your blog(s) gail
It makes perfect sense! You are flowing with your garden and enjoying the process! Your garden sounds like a meditation or prayer in action!
One of my favorite cookbooks is The Improvisational Cook...once you have a few basics down it's go from there! It makes sense for gardening, too! How fantastic that you can draw plants or diagrams...a great skill...even if you don't always stick to the plan. Isn't it frustrating that fewer nurseries carry a variety of interesting plants!
I suspected that you gardened that way, too!
Constant change...a concept that is necessary to hang on to in gardening. We are getting ready to be hit with a big change...9 degrees tonight...Not sure what it might kill off...snow would be a nice blanket to have covering everything!
Container planting is a wonderful way to flow and plan, too! Plant them up and move them about! That takes care of the visual and kinesthetic gardener!
What a lovely post. It's made me think about how I tend to garden, but it's hard to classify - a bit of planning, a bit of visualisation and a lot of hope!ReplyDelete
Successful sometimes chaotic at others! I have had to ask for help occasionally from the garden coach!
Beautifully sad! Hope is such an important ingredient in gardening!
Boy do I hear you! We may be in the same choir! Isn't it a beautiful song to gardening we sing...
My front garden did need some help with cohesion! Clown pants is what I called it for awhile!
I love being kinesthetic...just yesterday a special ed teacher and I were talking about how the schools are geared toward visual and auditory learners and many more kids need kinesthetic activities to keep them engaged and help them learn.
Gardening as we do is so rewarding It's a good way to live, there is flow, spontaneity and for me a one with what I do feeling! Is it that way for you?
I love the vignette garden style, too!
That and good fortune are my garden companions! I think your gardens look wonderful...so it is working!
You lucky gardener you! You have embraced them both and that is wonderful! As I said give me a diagram and I can follow it...but I also adjust it for the land, the limestone beneath the soil and what plants I chance upon that make sense for here.
Thanks for stopping here..so sorry it has taken days to comment back!
I am not surprised that we have a similar way in the garden! I garden for love of gardening and with the critters in mind, too! I wish I had another word to describe it...my vision isn't a visual plan and I am guessing neither is yours...it is a mood, a feeling...that may be why the vignette approach is so successful for me!
I am eager to 'see' what happens here, too!
Yes it very much does...and I think a lot of us garden in that very exciting fashion!
Isn't that the truth...many of us start out with one type of garden but as it ages it really changes! MIne has always been shadier with mature trees and now they are dying off and more sun is arriving! What we had 20 yrs ago evolves as we do...I can't garden as I did then either! What about you?
Jamie and Randy,ReplyDelete
I think your gardens are inspiring and beautiful! I suspect y you have vision and the ability to flow with in your plan! A fantastic talent!
Hi Gail - what a fun post! This is the first garden I've planned because it was a completely blank canvas and on a slope and with a very shady section to deal with. However, since then I've reverted to my usual plonking plant ways ;)ReplyDelete
I think strongly shaped beds with good edges are lovely...when they are topped off by free flowing plantings...that is stellar! Go with the flow!
No wonder everything in your garden looks as if it belonged there! I think your garden style is "intuitive."ReplyDelete
I plan my garden and have a visual picture in mind when I start. But somehow things just evolve--especially when I find a plant or plants I want to add somewhere. The end result is never quite the way I imagined it! Maybe a little surprise is not a bad thing:)
I am a very visual person. Sometimes I can see what needs to go in a certain spot, but I can't draw a plant unless I'm right in front of the spot. Well, actually it's not a plan so much as notes to myself with maybe a sketch.ReplyDelete
A good skill indeed! The drawing is just an added bonus but to see what needs to go where and how it will look is pretty neat!
I love intuitive! Intuitively-kinesthetic! Perfect. Speaking of perfect...mine are not! Let me remind you of the GOBN! You have been dazzled by the PPPP! You are looking at my garden with pink tinted glasses...well, maybe Rose tinted glasses...you are so kind!
Btw, I have seen photos of your gardens and I love them! I think they have evolved beautifully...
Have a good day Rose!
Gail: It seems that each of us has a slightly different planning method. I sometimes draw a plan but it is always modified when put in place. The new fish pond garden was a 'head drawing' for many years. A true gardener never really 'finishes' a garden...that would be a landscape. Editing and tweaking is a constant joy for me! Love your first picture.ReplyDelete
You are so right...it would be a landscape or a still life...even shrubs grow and trees change everything!
I thought of you and your visualizing the new planting by the pond when I wrote this post! You asked me during my visit how I thought it would look...not sure if I told you at the time that I can't visualize that way! But it's evolving quite nicely I think!
I do hope you, the EM, Tucker and your son and daughter have a wonderful holiday!
Gail - love the post & the comments. I studied landscape design & often feel a bit guilty for NOT sticking to the process for my yard. I think designs are good for people who want to plant and (mostly) forget about it, but those of us with gardening in our blood will keep tweaking forever. There are always new ideas and plants that I want to include somewhere! The joy HAS to come from the process, since we'll never be DONE!ReplyDelete
Regards - VW
My gardening process has always been slow, no matter where we lived, and none of them have been blank slates. They've been more like your honeysuckle project, where subtraction is necessary before any additions can happen. And I like to use vignettes in the ways you do, Gail, watching them add up into something larger.ReplyDelete
Sometimes gardening is not active - it's reactive. When a major tree dies and a shady area becomes sunny, the plans have to change. For urban gardeners, every time an adjoining house is sold, there may be adjustments to whatever lifestyle the new neighbors bring to the mix.
Your style seems to work well for you, Gail!
Annie at the Transplantable Rose
I'm definitely a visual person but having said that, what I visualize for my garden often takes a dramatic turn when it comes to the actualization of a plan. Little things need adjusting, plants grow differently than thought, etc. It's good to let the garden speak to you and listen. So maybe I'm an auditory person as well?? Btw, your "way back" is looking good.ReplyDelete
Hi, Gail--Traveling has put me farther behind than usual so once again I'm catching up. It's fun following the transformation of your Wayback Backyard. I used to plan on paper, but I don't so much anymore--but I don't know how well I'd do NOW if I hadn't learned on paper THEN. Still, like you, I sort of have to see the plants in the ground to figure out what I want. I know your new gardens will be lovely and I can't wait to see them develop.ReplyDelete
I hope to get back to my computer before Thursday, but I may not, so let me wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas. Best wishes, C.
I know totally what you mean about how you garden; I hadn't heard the word kinesthetically applied to gardening, but I like it. I always referred to myself as an "intuitive" gardener. I've just done things by feel (not just design things, but pruning, plant care and whatnot) that end up being correct, based on what I've read and learned after doing what I always did!ReplyDelete
Sounds kinesthetic to me! I like plonking...more often then not that was/is my style!
I have never had a bank slate...all my yards came with badly landscaped gardens! It must have been a bit of fun to have a canvas to design on!
Welcome to clay and limestone! So glad you stopped by to visit. I agree we will never be done so we must go with what ever our own process is...and make sure we let ourselves have fun! It sounds like o you have a good time gardening! Btw, Wow...those are some tall snow drifts in your yard!
I can see that you are visual...it's all over your blog, beautifully conceived and executed cards, container plantings and composed photos! But there is no rigidity...
It's a delightful way to garden and trying to force one's self to garden differently might be hard and not right for the gardener! It sounds like it gives you great joy! I am intuitive but it always seems an in one's head word! kinesthetic adds the dimensions of movement and activity! While I love a beautiful and pleasing outcome; the process of digging, moving rocks, adding compost and planting all movement activities may be equally important! For me those activities are meditative ~ a one with the activity experience. Gail
Are you someplace beautiful and warm? I hope so! Gardening is such a beautifully personal experience~~some of us put the plants in the ground and see if it works and others see what it looks like in their heads and then put them in the ground! Some folks can do both! I do know that while I like help...having someone else design and plant my garden wouldn't work!
Thank you for popping over for a visit and Happiest of Christmases to you and Salix!
Yes subtractive and reactive two very excellent words to describe what frequently happens within a garden!
It is hard to imagine a blank slate...we are not drawn to new developments and if we build it will be in a wooded area! So subtraction and reaction will always be in play!
Your process works beautifully for you...your garden has an easy, sit down, breath deeply and enjoy the beauty feel to it!
Have a happy Christmas and a joyous New Year!
Here I am Gail .. the last of the rounds, while I'm in my polar bear pajamas (putting laundry in the dryer .. peeked in on the blogs ) ..ReplyDelete
It has taken a lot for me to feel that we are finally staying in one place now .. I have moved all of my life, to so many different places and short periods of time .. I haven't embraced gardening until now .. a place I can finally settle into ..
I know the former owners of this house would never recognize it .. inside or out.
I did have some planning in mind but it was my lust for certain plants that made me find "their" homes, and cut out a design for THEM.
Plants are my driving force .. they "tell" me how to go about finding them a spot/home ? .. I wish I had a more secluded/private place to enjoy my garden .. but hey .. I look at the glass as always being half full .. never half empty. So I am happy : )
And reading about all these different gardens and gardeners .. well it is icing on the cake (even maybe .. "fudge" for gardening ) finding out new ideas .. new plants I hadn't known about .. it is all great to me : ) So there you are ! : ) Dave muffled a "Hello" for you in that non-snow wonderland ? haha
I never thought I would be in one place, this place in Nashville, for as long as we have! There you were moving about the world and I was living in a city in the south. Talk about a shocker!
I think the plants you love, the ones that talk to you, speak very clearly... You have a natural affinity with them and are able to clearly listen too yourself and them! I have long admired your compositions and your fantastic vignettes!
Aren't we fortunate to have stumbled upon blogging and such talented gardeners! I count myself lucky everyday to have found another activity that brings me laughter and a good feeling....with new friends as as you say the icing on the cake (or the whopper cookies that are chock full of deliciousness!)
Merriest of Christmases my friend!
Oooh... how nice to know that there is a word for this! Now I know why I garden the way I do. :)ReplyDelete
Does this give you some idea? LOLOLOLReplyDelete
On the other hand...
Hello, just came by way of blotanical. My gardens (work and home) are not designed, they are emerging over time. Randomness and uncertainty is their future. I have often been tempted to by a book on design, and so it may yet happen. My future is uncertain too.ReplyDelete