Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Childhood Garden: The Woods

Yes, my parents left our yard empty, but we did indeed have a lot of fun playing organized games across that open lawn. Openness isn't a bad thing. It does provide a venue for lots of running...and a lot of opportunity to grow tomatoes.

blank house
Photo courtesy of Jessica Hill Photography

But something children we still sought out that special place filled with trees, water, wildlife and the opportunity for manipulation. What we (the neighborhood kids) all discovered was a woodland. A place where suburban houses had yet to grow. It was a block long and about two blocks deep.

the woods
Photo courtesy of Jude McConkey

"The woods" as we called it, provided that sense of adventure, discovery and connection to living things. When we were not playing baseball in our backyard, we were in the woods creating forts, blazing trails, and swinging across creeks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Childhood Garden: Tomato Plants

I've been thinking about this a lot lately...why am I drawn to beautiful gardens, wispy woodlands, and pristine farmsteads?

You may wonder too when I reveal my childhood landscape...basically, one devoid of anything but lawn, tomato plants and the mulberry tree out front.

white house
Photo courtesy of Stig Rossby Photographs

I love my parents, but they were not gardeners. My mom had a slightly green thumb when she grew her favorite food...the tomato (but do you really need any gardening knowledge for that?). She plopped them in the only exposed soil between the concrete walk and house foundation.

Photo courtesy of Krystle Reeves Photography

To make matters worse, I didn't even like tomatoes (I'll eat some now). Basically, our yard was empty...perfect for baseball, kick the bucket and mulberry collecting (all very good childhood memories).

Does not having a glamorous landscape make a child yearn for one?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beautiful Botanicals

It's no surprise that I enjoy natural object collections. I am especially thrilled when I come across a lovely collection of historical botanical drawings...then what tops that? A stunning collection of botanical the ones below.

This incredible group of work is from Ice Age Prints. These plant materials are lovingly collected from the backyard of the artist's Chicago home. Please enjoy and don't forget to pop over to the shop of Ice Age Prints to explore more magic.



seed heads

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Sky Plane

Once you've established the ground and vertical garden planes, think about how you can add sparkle to the ceiling.

garden room
Photo via Garden Rooms

In most cases your garden room will simply open to the sky. Though, if you'd like more enclosure to provide shade, shelter or added comfort think about how a third plane above can provide that special touch.

birch allee
Photo courtesy of SKnights Art Photography

Some typical sky planes include tree canopies, arbors, pergolas, tents, and umbrellas.

Photo courtesy of 3Lambs Design

How can you add extra touches to these ceilings? Think about dangling lights, weaving fabric through wood structures, and criss-crossing brightly colored banners.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Vertical Plane

What is happening on the walls of your garden? The vertical plane is a powerful thing, since it has the authority of creating lovely, unique, comfortable space.

fountain on wall
Photo courtesy of MS Photography

Traditional walls would include a fence, hedge, trellis, brick wall or even the side of your house or garage.

picket fence
Photo courtesy of MJLeonard Photography

What other elements could be used as a vertical plane in the garden?

Photo courtesy of M. Fayre Fine Art Photography

Perhaps an old window, glass blocks, tree trunks, free standing vine structures and the list is as endless as our imagination.

small courtyard
Photo courtesy of Celtic Travelers

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Ground Plane

When designing your garden think about what you'd like to be standing on.

Photo courtesy of gabrielle kai photography

Is it lawn, brick, gravel, stone, wood, or moss?

What activities will take place on this surface? Eating, playing, resting, or are you just passing through?

wood deck
Photo courtesy of Jackie Rueda Photography

Try to brainstorm a list of possible materials, textures, and colors that could be used on your garden floor.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Garden Planes

These are not for flying through your landscape, but a way to organize it.

When you walk through a fabulous garden, do you ever wonder why you're so intrigued with it? It's often because that garden was successfully organized into lovely rooms. These rooms are composed of vertical, ground and sky planes (or more simply walls, floor and ceiling).

in allee
Photo courtesy of Jonas Peterson

My next three posts will highlight each of these dimensions and hopefully provide ideas for your own landscape.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Restorative Landscape

I don't think it's a surprise that the landscape is a restorative place. When we're angry or stressed a walk in the garden or woods is just the right medicine. By hiding away in a special place we're able to think more clearly and release the negative emotions.

tree grove
Photo courtesy of Robb Siverson Photography

Interestingly, I have also found this about teaching. No matter what is happening in my life, when I step into the classroom or give a presentation all bad vibes disappear. It's a wonderful restorative process...and ironically, my teaching is about the landscape, so it all comes full circle.