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A Gardener’s Perspective: Essential Elements In Garden Design

January 23, 2009

Photo KitAy

Photo KitAy

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.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. slcohan permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:37 am

    In a round about way, well said! For now, Garden Design is what we’ve got…

  2. January 25, 2009 10:33 am

    Well I still love Garden Design for inspiration. Thanks for the visit!

  3. September 27, 2009 8:42 am

    mmmm…..thats a very human centric conclusion……really the gardener?

    • October 9, 2009 8:12 am

      Well, I can’t speak for Robin, my guest blogger, but I love to read about other gardeners’ perspective of their relationship to their own outdoor spaces.

      What are your thoughts on the essential elements of garden design?

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