How Breaking The Rules Helped Me Create My Dream Garden
Jan 25th, 2012 | By Fran Sorin | Category: Gardening, Home & Food Blogs
By Fran Sorin –
I’ve worked on the same piece of land for a quarter of a century.
It has been quite a journey. Magical, spiritual, and humbling.
Scattered with failures and successes.
When I began gardening, I read every book and magazine I could get my hands on.
I was convinced there was a right way of doing it.
As I became more confident and developed skills, I realized it wasn’t true.
That following rules make for a boring garden.
And that breaking rules is ‘a must’ …
If you want to create an authentic, soulful garden.
A unique garden that reflects who you are.
Here are some things that I’ve learned.
We all have an imagination. It’s a part of our souls. There for the taking. I love going for solitary nature walks. With no agenda. I allow my mind to relax and explore. Sometimes I come indoors and jot down my thoughts. There’s no one way to access your imagination. It might be listening to music, going for a run, or working on a research project.
THINK OF YOUR FRONT YARD AS AN OPPORTUNITY
Most Americans think front yards should look a certain way. Lined up with a slew of evergreens, shrubs, and trees. How dull.
Years ago when I visited Anne Hathway’s house in Stratford-Upon-Avon, I was grabbed by its intensely planted front yard cottage garden. It had a big impact on me. For the first time, I realized that a suburban front yard could be transformed into a glorious garden.
It has a gently winding pathway that leads to other gardens on either side of the house. It’s filled with native junipers, boxwoods, rows of yews and a series of rose arches.
People are blown away when they visit. For most, it’s a revelation.
EXPERIMENT WITH PLACEMENT OF PLANTS
Some of my greatest plant combinations happen when I feel inspired. Contrary to conventional gardening, a tall plant can make a great exclamation point placed towards the front of the border.
By doing this, the rhythm of the garden is broken up. It jolts the eye and keeps thing fresh. A little repositioning of plants goes a long way.
THINK OF LIMITATIONS AS AN ASSET
This is a tough lesson to learn but ‘a must’ for joyful gardening. And for living a creative and meaningful life.
So many of us have been raised with a passive attitude of ‘wishfulness’. “If only I had” or “When I become”.
Embrace the property where you live.
Don’t wait until you purchase a perfect piece of land. Make beauty now.
For years I gardened on a difficult property….steeply sloping and diamond shaped. I spent a couple of years living in the place of ’when I have my perfect piece of land.’ That was no good.
It was only when I accepted its limitations that I was able to focus, dig in, and do some serious work. And begin to see the land with new eyes.
Guess what? I ended up designing and planting and exuberant, feisty, and tightly packed garden. Practically everyone who visited (including large garden tours) were inspired. They spent a lot of time questioning me, walking around, and taking pictures.
So much for convention.
Some final thoughts:
Be flexible. Live with ambivalence.
Persist. Work hard.
When you’re stuck, walk away. Do something else.
Resist the urge to design a traditional garden.
Carve a jewel.
Surrender. Get out of the way.
And let your creativity whoosh in and make things happen.
***This article was originally written for The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Magazine. I’ve edited a lot of the specific gardening information.
As posted on Awake Create.