A Gardener’s Perspective: Essential Elements In Garden Design
Guest Post by Robin Doyle from Ottawa, Ontario
What’s in a garden? Plants? Benches? Paths? All of the above? Wrong! Allow me to explain myself.
I was thinking about this the other day when Jayme and I were discussing our favorite gardening magazines. I pointed out that my favorites were Canadian publications because, being Canadian, the information they contain is more applicable to my area. However, I told Jayme, I will read virtually ANYTHING that includes garden photos and that includes any American or British magazines.
I have one magazine I dislike though, Garden Design. Why? Until recently, I thought it was due to a decided lack of anything resembling a garden. Large expanses of gravel, not even raked! A paucity of plants. And cacti? No thanks, not for me. I flip through this magazine with disdain. Nice potted elements, I think. But where are the gardens? Isn’t ‘Garden Design’ a misnomer? Jayme tells me she loves this magazine; she loves natural gardens. When I think natural, I think meadows. And then I think: forty percent forbs? You mean weeds? Not in my garden.
But I decided to revisit the magazine and bought the December issue. I’m at page 34 and admiring winter berries. On page 40 I’m in awe of a funky red chair. And then I’m on page 56. And cringing. Page 60? More cringing. Page 86 and I’m thinking: Why would the editor not crop this photo to eliminate that weedy section in front of the fence? But I read the article and realize the gardener has chosen these weedy-looking plants with care. The area has, in effect, been weeded!
And that’s when it strikes me. It’s not the plants that make the garden. It’s not the ornamental elements – the chairs, the sun dials, the birdbaths. It’s not the paths and gates and arbours. What’s unseen in these photos is what makes the garden – the hand that nurtures it. The only essential element to a garden is a gardener.