Monday, April 14, 2008

The Picture or the the garden

Have you ever seen a landscaped home and asked your self questions such as ‘What were they thinking? What was the concept? What was the theme? What were they trying to accomplish? Why did they plant that tree here? Why that grouping of trees is over there? Why did they alternate plants? Or just say to your self ‘Boy that looks busy or those plants don’t seem to go with the home’. So many questions….

I have been asked many times, ‘How do I come to create the designs I do?’ My answer is always the same; I ask a lot of questions. My favorite question to ask any client is ‘What do you see?’ And when they say ‘I don’t know’ I tell them the story about the plant and the frame.

When Frances, Josh and I go down to visit my family on Long Island, we always make a trip into the city. And with the great food (Katz’s, Ray’s), favorite shops (Chinatown), there is always a museum to take in. So off we go looking at art. My favorite art are paintings by Monet. I love scenes of gardens. What do I see? I see a beautiful painting with a frame around it. So when I design, I think of the artist. My pallets of paint are my plants. I use plants to do one of two things. They are either pictures or frames. So for example, the large twenty four year old maroon leaf Copper Beech in my front yard is a picture to behold. The green Lady’s Mantle planted as a ground cover underneath the tree is the frame that shows off the picture. On a larger scale, the picture in every front yard is the home. The frame is the plants that show off the picture of the home. I use the analogy a picture on the wall of your house or at a museum to help one understand my train of thought. So imagine a picture frame having four legs; top, bottom, right and left. What would happen if each one of those legs of the frame were different? What would you see; the picture or the frame? You would probably say I’m confused. The four frame legs are too busy and distracts from the picture. This is what happens to too many landscapes in front of too many homes. The gardens which should be the frame distract from the architectural details of the home. I like to think in today’s world the phrase ‘More is Less’ applies to most of us and the hectic lives we live. This also applies to many gardens. Too much stuff, too busy, too many things going on makes our lives less fulfilled and our gardens too overwhelming.

So when I design, I think the opposite; ‘Less is more’. I choose fewer varieties of plants and more quantity of fewer varieties. I frame the sides of the home with trees to create the left and right side of a picture frame that separates your home from the others in the subdivision. I frame the windows and make sure I use the same plant so they show off the type of window architecture you picked out and not distract from it. I frame the entrance so when your friends and family turn off the street and drive up the driveway they know where to go; to the front door. And lastly I create just the right number of pictures with in the garden and frame them simply with one type of plant to make the stroll up to the front door interesting, comfortable and not overwhelming. And who picks out the art? You do. This becomes your signature, your style, your personal touch.

Without you realizing it, you picked out the original picture and that is the home you live in. I ask what colors you like and what plants appeal to you just by sight. You pick out colors, textures and variations of plants that are pleasing to your eye. And what do I do? I paint with them to show off the architecture. Some I use other I decide not too all to be certain to make sure the plants complement each other and the home. And without you knowing it, I am the steward of the plants. I make sure they can grow well where ever I plant them. And oh by the way they are aesthetically pleasing because you helped pick them out along with being complementing the architecture.

So in the end the best designs make me say, ‘Wow, what a beautiful home. Look how the plants complement and show off the architecture’. Calming, pleasing, easy to look at. Success in the design means success in the garden. So, ‘What do you see in your garden, pictures or frames?’

I invite you to come see mine…

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