A philosophy of gardening

Both garden design and floral design are about creating a dramatic big picture while simultaneously focusing on the intricate details. Just as we feel our senses to be alive in a garden, we often enter floral shops with our eyes, noses, and fingers aquiver with the possibilities therein. Alas, in the floral shop the objects of our attention may be shut away in coolers, prolonging their life but removing us from their beauty and perhaps even deceiving us about the freshness of what we want to buy. In your own cutting garden, you can create—or improve upon—floral and foliage combinations that have intrigued you in others’ gardens or vases. The garden and the vase walk hand in hand. As I add plants and various inanimate objects of admittedly dubious artistic value to my own garden, and as I amend and evolve my overall design, I keep four criteria in mind:

1. The new plant must be something I either collect or can use for cutting. (These two clauses used to be reversed in preference, but somewhere along the line I became a plant nerd.)

2. The plant or garden art in question should express a sentiment reflecting my personality, personal history, or a sympathetic creative impulse.

3. If the plant can benefit the birds I encourage to assist me in organic gardening, so much the better.

4. The plant in question should not be too vigorous or invasive even with consistent harvesting for floral design purposes. If I had a larger garden, there are plants I would grow that are too rambunctious for a small city garden. But if you truly love a plant that gets big or spreads, grow it and be happy.

Try writing

a priorities list like this one for yourself. Think about how you want your garden to function, which seasons you will be most active in it, who else besides yourself will want to use it, and how it will be used. Do you want to cut flowers from your garden for your house, and how often?

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