LANDSCAPE DESIGN involves listening and observing the world and imagining new ways to sculpt the earth in subtle ways to engage curiosity, and connection. It also requires exploring different ideas on paper, and not just falling back on the most familiar square or rectangle for planting a kitchen garden.
Too often I see kitchen gardens that are square boxy shapes, which I like, yet don’t always fit into the landscape as nicely as something that has a more organic flow. For my garden design clients, I draw on a range of sources for ideas, and then start doodling to come up with several designs to find one that works. So where do ideas come from?
Shortly after I planted the garlic, and closed the door to my garden shed, I signed up for garden lectures, and classes to expand my knowledge about landscape design. My education started with a lecture at the Berkshire Botanic Garden with Dutch garden designer Jacqueline van der Kloet and the craft of interplanting bulbs. In her one-hour lecture (with 179 slides), her step by step process of blending bulbs and flowers for a naturalized landscape turned my head around about how to plant bulbs.
SOMETIMES, I GET MY BEST IDEAS FROM OTHER GARDENERS
The following weekend, I drove back to the Berkshire Botanic Garden for a day long workshop with landscape architect Walter Cudnohufsky. We toured six residential sites and discussed ways to improve the landscape, with a few examples of Walt’s work to see his creative solutions. Forty years ago, Walter founded the Conway School of Landscape Design to teach ecologically-friendly landscape design in an experiential setting. Today the school is going strong with workshops, events, and a speaker series open to the public.
All this thinking about landscape design coincided with a project I am currently working on, in collaboration with landscape designer, Gordon Hayward and stone artist Dan Snow. The above photo shows the entrance to a 60′ X 80′ foot garden after the first snow. It’s Dan’s design, and when he is done, it will be a five foot high enclosure, using all local stone collected on the property. The shape is a pumpkin seed, not a perfect oval, and has only a single entrance at the front or south facing side.
Gordon asked me to design the kitchen garden and the goal for my design was to fit a practical yet beautiful edible garden inside this unusual shape, leaving the edges clear to show off the gorgeous stone walls. Instead of the garden becoming the focus, it would be axillary to the stone, and create a lovely retreat for the owners. Pondering this design, it became clear that the design would also need to be organic and fit with the pumpkin seed shape.
Two classes with Rachel Fletcher to explore the art of the golden mean, based on perfect proportions to create a space – whether it is a garden or a building – that gives the interior a sense of comfort and ease. Using a leaf design as my inspiration, since it is a natural partner to the pumpkin seed, the following are some of the rough sketches I created to share how ideas get started. There are more, too, and now I’m working on the final design which will be installed in the spring. To be continued…