North Hill, Readsboro, VT
I made this drawing on September 22, 2004 while visiting North Hill, the garden of Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd. When I look at it, I am immediately brought back to that day. I remember the light, the temperature and the experience of being in the garden.
I believe that visiting well-made gardens is the best way to become a better gardener. Early in my gardening life, I began to keep a gardening journal. I now have five large books full of plant lists, observations, recommendations and, most importantly, drawings. Whenever I visit a garden, I try to take a moment to make a drawing. In this drawing, I wanted to remind myself of the effectiveness of hedges in creating garden rooms. I was struck by the horizontal line of the yew hedges and the opposing vertical lines of the clipped evergreens in the foreground and the natural arborvitae hedge forming another wall in the next garden room. I also wanted to make note of the negative space that is so effectively marked by the shrub and perennial silhouettes in front of the yew hedge.
The her book The Making of a Garden, Rosemary Verey talks about the importance of drawing gardens. She instructs any student interested in a career in garden design to "draw-even roughly-the shapes of trees and shrubs." It is very easy, when visiting a garden, to move too quickly without taking the garden in. Drawing forces us to to sit, observe and take in every aspect of the garden. Drawing a perennial or tree that is new to us is the perfect introduction to that plant. Usually it is my drawing, not my description of a plant, that enables me to identify a plant in a garden I have just visited.
The next time you visit a garden take a seat on a garden bench and give yourself ten minutes to make a drawing of the garden. You can focus on a plant, garden ornament our an interesting view of the garden. Don't be afraid if you don't believe you have any skill at drawing. Take that moment to be in that garden and truly experience it.