The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Harbinger of Spring

Adonis amurenis at the NYBG Ladies' Border

….now I need some for my garden….

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Formal Balls: Revisiting the Original Concept

The drawing above is from the article in the Telegraph.

I found an article today about the Telegraph Garden for the 2014 Chelsea Flower Show. The designers are Tommaso del Buono and Paul Gazerwitz. They favor more formal gardens and their drawings for Chelsea are no exception. "The 2014 Telegraph garden combines some of the guiding principles of Italy’s great horticultural tradition but reinterpreted for a 21st-century design. Inspiration for the garden has come from revisiting the components traditionally found in celebrated historical Italian gardens, to create a bold and uncompromising modern garden."

This garden reminded me of my original idea about the terraces in my own garden. Charles Platt's work in Cornish, NH and Villa Gamberaia, outside Florence, had inspired me to consider a formal Italianate design approach. Now I am revisiting that idea.

Here is a photograph I took of the Lower Garden last fall with boxwoods drawn in a very simple, symmetrical and elegant way rather than the random arrangement in the last two posts. Ten years ago, this is the feel I was going for. My latest idea is that the Upper Garden has boxwoods artfully arranged and the Hall with Balls has a random placement. Maybe I could leave the Lower Garden more formal but add boxwood balls on the slope of the Woodland Garden below as if they were rolling down the hill there. There would be whimsy in the woodland but a more conservative approach here in the Lower Garden. I have some interesting some choices to consider and plenty of time to think about it before all the snow melts!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Playing More Ball

I have been contemplating the suggestions from my last post and have come up with a drawing of a possible arrangement of boxwoods.

The original design of the Lower Garden had a central panel of lawn flanked with rectangular borders with a very traditional granite bench focal point with a pair of symmetrical stewartias on either side. Two pairs of boxwoods are located at the two entrances to the garden: the Hall with Balls on the left and the Woodland Garden on the right. All very predictable and proper.

Last year, I added a third stewartia behind the bench on the right side. It created a trio of stewartias which is both symmetrical, if you look at the outer trees, but at the same time asymmetrical when a third smaller tree is added. I have been playing with that concept: symmetrical pairs on axis with a third repeated element added to make the symmetry less anal and more spontaneous.

Now back to this rolling balls/pinball wizard idea from the last post. The previous drawing had all the boxwoods in the borders, now the boxwoods are allowed into the central lawn. I think the structure will be appealing in the winter months, especially in the snow. The balls will make fun at all that perfect formality of the original design without disrespecting it. I like that vision.

Now for a reality check from my wife. She is my best, and sometimes most brutally honest, critic. She bristles when things get too "designery". She hates the glossy magazine layouts where everything is too perfect and kind of weird. She thinks they are trying way too hard. Her take on this idea is "I don't why he put a bunch of balls down there!" Maybe I am going a little overboard or maybe the next step is to determine if I like this idea enough to try and sell it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Playing Ball


I have been playing with the idea of moving some of the round boxwoods, which are getting larger (too large, in fact), from the Hall with Balls to other parts of the garden. I have been thinking about how symmetrical and predictable the Lower Garden is and I have been contemplating shaking it up a bit. Because my garden is on a slope, the boxwoods could be thought of as balls rolling from the Upper Garden, down the Hall with Balls, through the Lower Garden (seen here) all the way down the hill to the Woodland Garden. When I saw how the snow and the hardscape the garden were apparent this morning, I thought I could mock up different combinations of rounds that would feel as if they were rolled into the garden from above. My intention is to break up the perfect symmetry of the Lower Garden, add some whimsy, but still keep a continuity of rounds throughout my small garden. Here are 7 different ways to arrange the boxwood balls:


For some reason, all these balls rolling through the garden reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark design, Fallingwater. Maybe my garden could be named 'Rollingballs'. Let me know if you have a favorite combination of boxwood balls.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Small Gardens Are Like Short Films

Quotes from  ‘The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2014: Live Action’

“12 Years a Slave” Director Steve McQueen
"The structure of short film is all about narrative."

"You have to say a lot in a short period of time. You think, 'How do I do that? How do I have the maximum impact within a time restriction?' But it could be actually much more effective than a long film. All this thing about short and long--its all about whether it is good or not. Often a short film can be better than a long film. It has nothing to do with length. It has to do with intelligence."

Luciano Giubbilei Chelsea Flower Show Garden

 Matthew Modine Actor and Shorts Director
"As artists you have to find someplace where you can go and find quiet and hear yourself; to hear your voice, because it is small."

Peter Wooster's Garden, Roxbury, CT

2013 Shorts Winner Shawn Christensen
"You have one idea, one notion, and you can take that idea all the way. If it is a strong idea, you can just explore it and you don't have to worry about being complicated. You can do that one simple idea."

Sakonnet Gardens, Little Compton, RI

Peter Webber Director "Girl with a Pearl Earring"
"There can be a purity about a short film. You can take a very simple pure idea...and make it purely cinematic."

"There is something much purer about working with a smaller budget or working on a smaller canvas."

"Short film is a real skill. It is like writing a Haiku."

"You need to have a really good story to tell and you need to tell it really well."

Rosemary Verey's Potager Garden, Cirencester, England

Jim Field Smith Director "She's Out of My League"
"The constraints of making a short sometimes end up being the strongest points."

Michael Trapp's Garden, West Corwall, CT

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fences and Foliage

I just returned from a week in Key West. There is a lot to learn about small gardens close to the street. The gardens, like the island, celebrate diversity. Almost every front yard had a picket fence, whether the house was a mansion or a modest cottage. Almost always the gardens were a respite from the sun and heat and felt like much-needed shady jungle. There was a wide range of plants used; many were huge specimens of plants that I use as annuals on my patio. If I built a garden there, it would include two ingredients: a picket fence and spectacular foliage.


Related Posts with Thumbnails