Read Part 1 of "Pink House Chronicles - The Garden" here.
Gardens are made for people to use and enjoy. So the WHO part is real important. When I first meet the people who’ve asked me to design their exterior spaces, I need to get to know them to a certain extent. Who lives in this house? Are there kids - little ones or teenagers? Retired adults? All have totally different requirements in terms of garden making. What about personality? Are they quiet types looking for a place to read outdoors? Or wildlife lovers wishing to feed birds, butterflies and hummers? Or party throwers who need lots of multi-functional space for setting out tables of food, the grill, and a dance floor? Are they reserved in character, preferring only neat and tidy boxwood hedges, or are they looking for a fiesta palette of colors and bold plant foliage? A garden’s design needs to be customized to those who will be enjoying the space.
Do the Who’s have pets – dogs or cats? If there are rambunctious dogs that tear through the yard after every bird or squirrel, the layout and plant selection must accommodate this mayhem. Do we need to separate the animals from the garden, or are they specifically invited in? I recently designed a yard for a lady who so loved her felines, that I only used plants from a list of those known to have no toxic effects if chewed by cats. I even included lemongrass, a favorite grazing food for cats.
While I had the advantage of knowing Doni from her previous Igo project, we’ve needed to talk about who she is imagining herself to be in the Pink House. She’s starting over, and with that adventure also comes the excitement of figuring out who you want to be in your new space.
When working on your own garden, remember who YOU are, and all the things YOU like. That way, the garden has a personality (yours!) and isn’t just a collection of generic ideas. For instance, if you like to fish, you can create a yard reminiscent of your favorite fishing places, with waterfalls, ponds, grassy foliage, water-worn stone walls, and fish sculptures. People with well-developed artistic sensibilities will delight in the creative possibilities that different colors or materials can bring to their garden. Doni’s artistic side loves wrought metal, and she plans to create her own garden gate at one of Elin Klaseen’s welding classes out at Shasta College.
Look for our next question, the "what" of garden planning, in an up-coming installment of Pink House Chronicles – The Garden.
Karen McGrath is a professional garden designer working out of Redding in the foothills of north central California. Her mission is to bring people outside, which she accomplishes by designing custom-fitted, outdoor spaces for their homes. She also volunteers her time and expertise at the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Redding CA. Reach Karen via email at [email protected], or at (530) 222-4277. Check out her website at karenmcgrathdesign.com.
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