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Making Waves

Geometry comes in really handy if you’re a gardener. All those neat shapes-circles, squares, rectangles and onwards-make great design motifs in a garden. I’ve got a number of circular areas, and another spot (in front of my shed) where I made a four-square garden (except it’s four rectangles). In any case, the repeated elements bring cohesion to a garden by tying its sometimes disparate bits and pieces together. We’ve all heard about how repetition works well with plants; it’s even more effective with shapes. I saw a New York Times story and video this past weekend that really put my imagination into overdrive on the topic. It profiled the current art/landscape design work of Maya Lin, prodigy designer of the distinctive black, chevron-shaped Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. She’s now working with wave forms as sculptural elements in the landscape. Above is her latest effort, at the Storm King Art Center in New York (photo by Colleen Chartier for the NYT). Gee. I wondered, is this something that might work as an effective geometric element in garden? Turns out it does.

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More Great Big Leaves

I wrote last month about my affinity for big leaves. I love the really massive ones, like the butterburr above. Those that create instant focal points, that raise the bar for potentially dramtic foliage groupings and that add the tropical pizzaz I’m after to transform my gardens into the landscape of my imagination. Last time out, I mentioned a few of my foliage favorites, but they were all annuals, tropicals, or tender perennials. That was not to suggest there are no worthy hardy plants. There are. Here’s a handful: Continue Reading →

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Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

I loved Fran’s post about seasonal rituals. I celebrate many, one of my favorites being my wife’s family’s tradition of an outdoor Thanksgiving.  We-about 50 friends and relatives attend each year–have feasted on turkey and all the fixins’ on warm sunny days, in pouring rain, and with a foot of snow on the ground. Late November can bring just about any kind of weather to New England. Out there under the sky, gathered round the roaring bonfire, surrounded by loved ones, well, it’s pretty special. But more about that some other time. Today I want to write about another seasonal ritual. For about 10 years, in mid September, I’ve been hosting an open garden day for the Garden Conservancy. For me, it’s a chance to see my garden through someone else’s eyes, thus it becomes a kind of Horticultural Day of Reckoning. Continue Reading →

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Great Big Leaves

Great big leaves! I love big leaves! Maybe I’m just a chlorophyll-o-phile, but as a foliage-fiend building a garden leaf by leaf, I’m forever tinkering with plant combinations based upon foliage associations. I work with contrasts and harmonies in sizes, shapes, textures–even colors. And the bigger the leaf, the more I can do with it. After all, a big leaf contrasts well with smaller ones, and the bigger the leaf, the greater the kinds of contrasts to be made. Big leaves are sometimes brazen enough to create their very own garden statement, by serving as an eye-grabbing focal point.  So, I’m always on the lookout for big, bold leaves, leaves like Gulliver might have seen in his travels to Brobdingnag. All of which sort of begs the question: How big is big? Continue Reading →

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Out With The Bold, In With The New

The danger of frost past, full energies devoted to the changeover from spring’s frost tolerant displays to summer’s heat loving luxuriant textures and colors. Don’t forget your vegetables! Was never directed at me at the family dining table. My siblings, yes, my father, likely, but not me. Besides being a nearly flawless child, I loved my vegetables: couldn’t get enough of them, still can’t. However, I am not a vegetable gardener: that is too much work. Just as I fancy myself a cook, not a baker: that’s chemistry. 

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