Inspired by Nature? Imagine...
Home Ideas Magazine - April 2018
“There is always music amongst the trees in a garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.” Minnie Aumonier
I’m sitting here looking out over a snow-covered garden, trying to think of what inspires me as a garden designer, and how I’d describe that to someone who doesn’t get it. There just isn’t anything in the digital world that captures the experience you get when you are lost in a garden. Plant photos, pictures of garden scenes, digital sounds of nature… they’re all nice, but none of them compare to the romanticism of walking in fresh snow, taking in a fresh breath of air on a sunny day in February and listening to the breeze of the trees and the birds foraging for their next snack. Then reality struck: we’re in South Dakota so the breeze was an understatement. It was so windy that my eyes were watering, and I think my breath actually froze.
That being said, spring is just around the corner and I am always looking for quotes that inspire me as a garden designer. While reading a new book on planting design I stumbled upon a quote by Piet Oudolf. “You don’t want to look down at plants; you want to be surrounded by plants. When you are enveloped by a garden, it’s a much deeper experience. You become more a part of the world around you.” Piet is a garden designer who travels the world sharing his passion for plants with people and communities. He designs gardens for private residences, gardens on rooftops and masterful arrangements for public entities. He is a master at arranging native plants schemes that look like Mother Nature herself had a hand in the design.
Having the opportunity to read Piet Oudolfs’ thoughts on native plant materials, plant material in general and the important role they play in garden design can definitely get some creative juices flowing. Piet has devoted his career to understanding relationships between plants and how they work together in each space. (And you thought people working together was tough!) His love of plants is evident in the gardens he designs. Anyone who questions the beauty that plants offer should read up on Piet.
Included in the most recent winter issue of Garden Design magazine, there was an article written on giving back with your garden. (By the way, if you have any interest in plant material and designing natural spaces for people, I would highly recommend this publication.) In the article Give Back With Your Garden, a couple of very interesting points were made: “Plants: without them, there would be no animals, and earth would not be the planet we know and love. Plants ‘invented’ photosynthesis, a chemical reaction that created the oxygen-rich atmosphere we all require. They also change carbon dioxide and water into the carbohydrates we call food.”
It also shared an interesting fact about the amount of carbon that native grasses pull from the atmosphere and put back into our soils. “On a per acre basis, deep-rooted, densely planted perennials can sequester almost as much carbon as a forest and up to nine times more carbon than lawns.” In our current state of sustainable living, is there anything more sustainable? I think a new trend on the horizon should include replacing more of our manicured lawns with perennial habitats. Not only can we create a sanctuary for our own sanity, but we can save the world one perennial at a time. It seems that the trees aren’t the only big brother of our ecological systems. Planting more perennial gardens and fewer manicured lawns is one way the average person can help reduce their carbon foot print. In just a few simple steps we start to close the loop in our ecosystem. Instead of being just a ‘taker’ from the system, we can give back by providing perennial gardens that not only sequester carbon, but can provide habitat for pollinators and even help save our watersheds. What happens if we start supporting big industry that shares some of these same values?
Maybe, just maybe, big industry could start thinking in a new direction. What if corporate campuses were turned into large flowing meadows instead of acres of weekly manicured turf? What if we educated some of our big industry friends on the cost-saving benefits that Mr. Oudolfs’ style of gardens could provide? We could even twist the arms of politicians and figure out how many carbon points an acre of native perennials is worth. We all know as soon as there is a monetary gain to be had with planting meadows it won’t take long before they are sprouting up in cities across America. As our own living world keeps growing, the native living world keeps shrinking. I am all for progress, but what could we, as a community, do with the green space we leave behind after development? I would challenge you to think of a way to justify making the initial investment of native plantings that will literally give back to the soil and provide a habitat for our native pollinators that just happen to give back just doing what they do. I would encourage you to seek out what plants have to offer in your own garden and how they could fit into your life. It doesn’t need to be on a grand scale. I think starting small is a great place to just start. I will leave you with one last quote that I found very interesting, from Susan McCoy. “Plants are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for our lives. Plants can live without us, but we can’t live without plants.”
Inspired By Nature? Every Day.
We specialize in outdoor living environments and have been landscaping in Sioux Falls and surrounding areas for over thirty years.