The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pairs, Spares and Bears

Before plants leaf out is the perfect time to examine the placement of hardscape elements and evergreens in the garden. It is the logical place that I like to begin when I design a garden: make it look good in the the winter and you are off to a good start. New Hampshire granite and round boxwoods are the unifying elements in my garden. I contemplate box placement this time of year; perhaps too much. My garden has many classical symmetrical design elements. There are multiple focal points in the garden that call for some symmetry. In the Upper Garden, I placed a pair of boxwoods to frame the focal point, a Cornus officinalis tree. The symmetry was too 'perfect' and several years later, I added another single boxwood creating symmetry and asymmetry simultaneously. I call it 'a pair and a spare'. In other parts of the gardens I have designed, I have placed boxwoods in 'one', 'twos' and 'threes'. When I do that, it reminds me of the three bears; Papa bear, Mama bear, and Baby bear. In the Upper Garden the far end has 'a pair and a spare'. To the right there is a 'two' or a Mama bear/Baby bear combo and a single 'one' by itself to the far right.

The pair of stewartias on either side of the granite bench focal, a central focal point, were supposed to be symmetrical. However, I planted them from seed collected at the Arnold Arboretum and they were siblings with the same mother but different fathers. Clones would have been symmetrical, if I had thought of that, I may have done that. For many years there different size and bark attributes of each plant bothered me. A couple years ago, I added a third very small stewartia to the right of the midline. The third stewartia created a simultaneous symmetrical and asymmetric dynamic again.

The Upper Garden from the bedroom window. The tumble of boxwoods appear to be 'rolling" down the hill in the Hall with Balls

A pair and a spare configuration looking into the Hall with Balls from the Upper Garden

A Mama bear/Bady bear combination in the Upper Garden

Balls "rolling" down the hill

Another view looking down the steps in the Hall with Balls

The third stewartia is barely visible from above. I like the idea that the original pair are placed symmetrically and the third smaller tree will create a Papa bear/Mama bear/Baby bear grove one day.

At the steps leading from the Blue Bench Terrace, I planted a pair of cherry trees, Prunus x 'Hally Jolivette’, that will create an archway over time. I added a third on the left, and slightly down hill to create a grove, while the top two trees remain symmetrical. There was just a pair of boxwoods flanking the stairs when I first planted this garden. In some ways it felt too perfect and it didn't stop the eye from proceeding to the next garden. I added a single on the right and a pair, one larger, the other smaller, on the left. I this way, I kept the symmetry and created a grouping at the same time.

This year I began to add a handfull of boxwoods in the lowest garden, the Woodland Garden. I don't want it to appear too formal but I was interested in creating the impression that several balls escaped their formal confines in the two upper gardens and rolled into the wild garden. Time will tell if this was a good idea.

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