Personal Garden Style
Your Garden Room – Personal Garden Style
Lets think about the garden as another room, an extension of ourselves and our home. True- here in Michigan it’s a room that we don’t get to use much for a few months out of the year- but during that time it is still visible to us and sometimes everyone else who passes by. It is a reflection of our personal style, our outlook on life, and how we feel about others too. If you think about it- a garden can tell you an awful lot about the person or persons who live behind it. Frequently it’s the first impression someone gets of us. Our houses are usually more a private extension of our personalities, and our gardens- especially the parts visible to the street- are more public and very readable.
Take a tour of your neighborhood and see if you can guess something about the homeowner behind the garden. What sort of person lives behind the weedy overgrown bushes and uncut semi-brown lawn? Who lives in the house behind the solid green lawn, clipped hedges and alternating red and white impatiens lined up like soldiers against the wrought iron fence? What can we tell about the person who has alternated every plant with every yard ornament available at the discount store? Now how about the people with the lush garden with softly undulating edges where something is always blooming, or developing full of color and texture, even when a fresh snowfall decorates the branches and still standing dried flower heads? Do you think the inside of their houses look pretty much the same? How about their personalities and personal style?
What is your personal garden style? Think about how you like to dress, decorate your home, arrange your desk at work or home, your calendar, your life. Do you prefer things neat, tailored, balanced, scheduled, separated, in their own place, clean and tidy? Then a formal garden style may be for you. Perhaps you like things soft and loose, comfortable and flowing, surround yourself with all your stuff, like things spontaneous and unpredictable. I’ll bet your garden is pretty much the same way- informal.
A formal garden style has a certain balance to it, it’s shape is more geometrical, sporting straight lines and perfect curves with plantings that are usually symmetrical punctuating the space like soldiers. A formal garden frequently is traditional in design, often historic, but can be quite contemporary as well, depending on the hard-scaping and plant materials used in it’s construction. Visualize in your mind clipped hedges and topiaries, wrought iron fences, espaliered trees, rows or blocks of flowers or plants all in one color or texture, patterned brick paving, large sculptures, precise stone work and iron structures.
An Informal garden style has flowing lines, few straight lines at all, and should be balanced visually, but not necessarily symmetrically. Plantings can be separated from each other or piled loosely on each other, but are arranged in a more haphazard manner. An informal garden can also be either contemporary or traditional in design depending on the plant materials and accessories as well as hard-scaping used. Picture in your mind curving pathways of loose stone or bark, plants flowing over the edges in a tapestry of color and texture. Perennials and annuals are intermingled with trees and shrubs that grow to their natural shape. Hard-scaping such as fences, structures and containers are usually made of natural materials such as wood or un-cut stone.
Look back at those neighborhood gardens now. Can you tell who has a more formal style and informal style? How about who has no style? Now take a look at your garden the way it is now. Do you think it is more formal or informal? Are you more formal or informal? There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, they are only to help you if you feel the need to rearrange your garden to more reflect your personality. And maybe your garden already reflects your personal style and you didn’t even know it. It doesn’t matter what plants are in your garden, how much you spend on it, or what size your garden is. It’s a just an interesting place to start and something to think about.
See you in the garden!