Fragment 2. As much as I love to garden, I rarely seek out public or designed garden spaces. I’ve visited Forest Lawn Cemetery in downtown Buffalo, NY, The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, and the Norfolk Virginia Botanical Garden when my son attended Old Dominion University. My interests lie in natural landscapes, the way nature designed them.
The closest I came to studying the physical qualities of garden form happened after I joined the Garden Writer’s Association as a garden blogger and participated in their Garden Blogger Fling in 2010, held in Buffalo, NY. For two days, we toured the Buffalo Garden Walk ahead of the crowds. This tour included the charming Buffalo Cottage District, The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, The Erie Basin Marina Trial Gardens, the West Side Growing Green Project, Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park and its Japanese Gardens, and a private tour of garden author Michael Shaddrock’s Hosta and Lily Garden. Shaddrock transformed and transplanted a large section of his forest surrounded home from indigenous New York natives into a landscape more British. I think I was the only one upset by that. His gardens were lovely, artfully designed, and I took many pictures of stunning exotic lilies, but my eyes kept going deeper into the woods, wondering what was left.
While I love the concept of landscape garden design with its emphasis on exotic horticulture and the subsequent placement of color-wheel contrasting blooms, the textural shapes of leaves, the structural form of trees and shrubs, and can appreciate the artistic interpretation of a living canvas both public and private, I prefer natural, unplanned places—fields, woods, anywhere I can hear and see wildlife. Once I realized I could plant specific trees and shrubs to attract specific birds, I went native and haven’t looked back.
I want to sit on my patio as the sun breaks the horizon and listen to the songbirds happy morning chatter in the gloaming. I want to sit in reverie with my tea, cup suspended because a deer appeared like a phantom on the edge of my property.
And because I can appreciate design, I want to commission the Scottish sculpture, Rob Mulholland and twist his Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. Instead of creating the mirror human form reflecting nature, I’d place the reflective glass silhouettes of a white tail doe with two fawns and a fox in my vacant lot. (link: http://www.robmulholland.co.uk/#/vestiges-park-gi-festival-2010/4540593639).
I’m enthralled by his creation, but I want what nature provides naturally. It’s where I’m soothed, where I’m happiest. It deserves remembering.