Sunday, July 26, 2009

A feast for the eyes

The formal garden at a home in New York is set up for
a late afternoon wedding ceremony.

In summer, there's no place I'd rather be than at home in the garden. Yes, even with the weeds, the slugs and the deer damage, I still prefer hanging out among the ornamentals and the edibles in my little corner of the planet. Especially if there's a cold beer or an icy mojito nearby. But when travel is on the agenda, it's nice that some garden touring is included. And this summer I couldn't have asked for more. I had the pleasure of seeing two lovely private gardens as well as getting my first look at Battery Park, Central Park and the New York Botanical Garden. I returned home inspired -- and with a severe case of tree envy.

The formal garden where the bride and groom exchanged vows was among the most beautiful I've ever seen. It was sophisticated, yet welcoming. Classy, yet charming. Serene, but with a sense of humor. What I really loved, besides that gorgeous fountain and pond, was the choice of plants. Many were familiar -- lamb's ear, woolly thyme, baptisia, allium -- and they all contributed to the sense of joy so appropriate to the day. Here's some of what inspired me:

1. It bears repeating: the use of familiar plants that are readily available. It's not always about the exotic or the rare (although that's nice, too); sometimes it's about "ordinary plants" used in extraordinary ways. For example, that narrow border of lamb's ears around the pool -- very cool.

2. Hardscape matters. OK, most of us don't have the space or resources to make a garden like this. But attention to paths and the use of stone, gravel or other paving material pays big dividends. The gray tones of the walkways and urns complement the whites, silvers and blues in the plants.

3. Focal points and sight lines. I'll never have a fountain like that egret, but I can pay attention to where I place trellises and decorative items. While details are critical, it's important to remember to see the big picture, too. Where does the eye go? What do I want to emphasize and showcase?

4. Neatness counts. Everything was trimmed, deadheaded and in its place. A testament to well-organized nature.

The fountain is a jaw-dropper. The musicians prepare for the ceremony under one of the rose arbors.

Stone pillars with pineapple finials mark the garden entrance.

Guests gather just inside the garden. Robust plantings soften the garden's geometry.

The garden-maker also has a sense of humor. The gnome, hidden from view until you leave the garden, keeps watch.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures and the Blog Aunt Karen! It gave me a chuckle to see my little cousin with a stick in his mouth at the top of the page!