Gertrude Jekyll- (rhymes with treacle) liked to think of her gardens as ‘making pictures.’ Trained in the visual arts and part of the arts and craft movement in England, she viewed garden design as a disciplined visual language. When I read this it made me think that there are, perhaps two schools of gardeners. Gardeners who are passionate about plants and make their gardens with as much variety as possible that includes as much of what they love as possible with little thought for the overall design, and gardeners who think about gardening as a language of design using plants as their medium to execute the design-more in line with making pictures. Sometimes, but rarely, both these passions can be found in a gardener. Rosemary Verey was one. She had both a tremendous collection of interesting plants, but design and form always controlled how those plants were seen and experienced.
I am not there yet. My plant knowledge is still lacking. This lack was highlighted when I visited a couple of gardens recently and discovered a vast collection of interesting plants that I did not know. I realized that I have always made my emphasis the ‘design of the garden.’ The plants in my garden are really quite boring when looked at individually. By developing specific rooms and letting those rooms have their season, I have narrowed my choice of plants in order to achieve a cohesive design.
My next move is to get more variety in my garden while still making pictures and I look forward to that very much.
I don’t think there are just ‘two schools of gardeners’ but certainly within that framework, I fall solidly within the plant lover camp. I expand my garden so as to make more room for the plants I love (and probably already purchased), rather than purchase plants primarily to fit in with a design. I’d like to claim that this is “Plant Driven Design” as defined by Lauren and Scott Ogden, but my garden needs some serious editing before I could claim a design is at work.
I agree with you Deborah. I think there are many way to make a garden and whose to say that there is just one way to go about it. The idea of my blog was to open up a dialogue about the process of making a garden. My own perspective has been one based on a cohesive way to move through many garden rooms with each space given over to an idea such a Moon Garden, Big leaf Garden, the Blue border. etc. The ideas are not mine, but an attempt to play with and work out some of these ideas.