Friday, October 17, 2014

The Neglected Garden

Photo courtesy Flickr

A friend mentioned that her yard has gotten away from her. She does not feel good about it. Rehabilitating a garden that has struck out on its own is a wonderful design opportunity. Sharpen the pruners and the spade, buy a new pair of sticky-palm work gloves, fill the mower, and arrange for a loved one to show up with burgers in the afternoon. When the garden’s had a long recess, the plants have been developing original forms. Restoring workable order to a tangled series of plantings will reveal the plants’ history during the months or years they fended for themselves.

When I was working on the long-dormant garden of my first house, a senior neighbor walked by and complimented the “symmetry” I was achieving in the two overgrown laurels that sat at either side of the entry. I was blown away by the the comment, because neither shrub resembled the other. I was simply trying to remove overgrowth and attain some visual balance in the varying patterns of the laurel’s branches. The fellow who had offered the critique was a local jazz pianist. In one word he focussed a lifetime’s study of layout and bridged the formal symmetry of Western art and the relaxed expression of the East.


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