Lisa Brooks' drawing for the Gardening on Slopes chapter of Joe Eck's book, Elements of Garden Design
My garden is terraced on a hill and has three distinct sections, each on a different level. I am working on the design of the lowest third of the garden, a woodland garden under development, which I call the Wild Garden in honor of Irish writer William Robinson's legendary garden Gravetye Manor in West Sussex, England. The two upper levels are designed formally with hedges and axes but this lower garden, I want to feel much more naturalistic. There is a newly installed 5-foot-tall granite post that is as a focal point calling the visitor to the next room, but once entered, I want it to feel very different from the other parts of the garden.
As I am planning my Wild Garden, the garden's intention is at the forefront of my thought process. I first heard of a garden having an intention in Joe Eck's book, Elements of Garden Design. In the first chapter, he calls intention "the clearest idea of what one wishes to create." I think of intention as a sort of mission statement for the garden.
The intention of my Wild Garden is based on a compilation of gardens I have visited and read about over the years. Robinson's classic book, The Wild Garden inspires me as does the more contemporary writings of European designers Dan Pearson, Noel Kingsbury and the late Henk Gerritsen. The American, author, Rick Darke's book The American Woodland Garden is another influence. My garden is also inspired by the hikes I have taken here in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire and the great White Mountains of my home state.
Eck writes that a garden's "success will lie in its concrete realization, in the arrangement of treasured plants within a framework of less transitory elements of trees, shrubs, hedges, pavement, architecture." That success is dependent on restraint. For every decision made about the garden needs to be consistent with the plan. Anything that strays from the plan will weaken the final overall effect and therefore the success of the garden.