Today we turn our thoughts to those who have served so bravely in defense of this country and its people. I am not a proponent of war, but I am not naive to the fact that a strong military is a necessity to ensure our freedoms and to help those less fortunate around the world. Our politicians send our young men and women out into the world and put them in harm’s way sometimes for a good cause, sometimes not. Today let’s spend a few minutes thinking about the soldiers. The brave, and sometimes not so brave, who do their jobs despite the horrors and discomforts they will face.
Today I say a heartfelt thanks to those who are serving and to those who have served in the past. I appreciate the work you do and the sacrifices you and your families are making on a daily basis.
If you’ve ever walked through a landscape and not been able to tell what part of the country you were in, or have traveled somewhere only to find the same plants, paving materials, and stores as the mall back home, then you have experienced the homogenization of today’s society. Uniqueness is giving way to mass production in our world. If everywhere we go, looks the same as where we’ve been, is there really any reason to have gone there in the first place? This post, and the posts of 12 of my friends and fellow Landscape Designers today, is dedicated to celebrating regional diversity in the garden. Lauding the uniqueness of each corner of this small planet. Please take some time to visit the other participants blogs, and experience the visions of each of these talented designers, as they delve into regional diversity in Garden Design. You’ll find their names and links to their blogs at the end of this post.
I live and design landscapes in southern New England. New England is a wonderfully diverse region of the country. The Connecticut River Valley, rich and fertile, has been home to thriving agriculture for some 400 years. Dairy farms once dominated the rolling hills of Vermont. There are granite quarries in New Hampshire, brownstone quarries in Connecticut, rocky lobster beds in Maine, and the world’s premier oyster fisheries in Long Island Sound. Mill towns throughout the region stand as reminders of a strong manufacturing base, long since weakened by present day global economies. Ecosystems vary from huge sand dunes on Cape Cod, alpine meadows in New Hampshire, deep spruce forests in Maine, and over 6000 miles of rocky and sandy coastline. In a days drive, one can experience all that New England has to offer, passing through cattle pastures, tobacco fields, mountain passes, large cities and industrial hubs.
The architecture in New England is predominantly colonial in nature. It echoes the feel of northern Europe, for it is those Europeans that originally settled here. They brought with them their colonial style houses, cottage gardens, and an innate ability to construct miles and miles of field stone walls, perhaps the defining image of New England. Stone walls line both farmland and Main Street in most New England towns, and that same stone can be found in the construction of many of the older factories, churches and municipal buildings.
Sadly though, New England’s natural beauty is slowly disappearing, succumbing to strip malls and boring landscapes of mass produced plant cultivars. The brick paths, field stone walls and cottage gardens, that provided this region with its traditional character and charm, are also giving way to more modern concrete pavers, block walls and uninteresting plantings. To turn around this trend, one need only to look again to New England’s history and natural beauty when designing a garden. Its early European influences, natural geography and native ecosystems, still present today, can easily be drawn upon to marry each design to the regions character. And when that design is true to its surroundings, and successfully implemented, the effort put forth to enhance that natural beauty, disappears beneath a conjoined sense of place. To put it simply, a well designed landscape seems not to have been designed at all, yet gives the visitor a sense of location, and of the character within. Herein lays the value of celebrating a location’s natural diversity, and turning away from homogeneous design. By focusing on regionally specific plant groups, hardscape materials, and design concepts, we promote uniqueness rather than assimilation into the global fold.
Examples that might celebrate regional diversity could be as follows: A shade garden of locally native plants beneath a beautiful hardwood canopy, so common in New England, instead of cutting down as many trees as possible to grow a lawn. A meadow or rain garden in a low lying damp area, filtering toxins from runoff before it reenters the ecosystem. A habitat garden comprised of native plant species providing a place of food and sanctuary for the native fauna. Moving in closer to the house, examples might include; Native stone and brick to construct walkways and patios, calling back to the days when such materials were quarried in a nearby location. Regionally available wood species, felled and milled locally to build garden structures. And, when possible, situating the home itself so as to accentuate the property, shunning cut and fill grading practices and taking advantage of the land’s unique characteristics.
Drawing upon the history, native plants and hardscape materials of a region when designing a project, provides the designer a culturally specific path to creating that garden. A garden that celebrates its location and informs its visitors. As our world continues to shrink, it is imperative to preserve local character and regional identity. Doing so, will give your garden its unique sense of place.
I hope you find yourself a new sense of place in your own garden. And please, if you any thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear them, leave a comment below!
I would invite you now to visit my friends and fellow Landscape designers as they blog from their unique and diverse regions, and who knows, maybe you’ll find an interesting place to visit the next time you venture across this wonderfully diverse country of ours. Click on each of the Designers names to visit their blogs. (And while your there, explore some of their older posts also. You’ll find a wealth of information!)
Headquarters has made contact, and has ordered the previous post be redacted, and replaced with the following. Please disregard any information previously divulged, Thank You! And for those of you that noticed that there were only 7 things listed about me and not 10, all I can say is, Headquarters will only put up with so much.
And now on a more serious note, and with heartfelt sincerity, here is my answer to the Honest Scrap Award.
My good Twitter friend and fellow garden Blogger Christina Salwitz the Professional Garden Coach, has nominated me for The Honest Scrap Award. As part of the duties associated with this honor, I must do the following; Inform you my readers of my nominator, Tell you 10 honest things about me that you would not necessarily know, and nominate 7 other worthy bloggers to continue on with this tradition.
10 honest things about me:
1 I love animals, and can’t imagine not having a dog around the house. We were lucky to find boomer, he is a great dog.
2 Everything positive I have achieved in life is because of my wife Kathy. She has supported me no matter what my endeavor.
3 I am extremely proud of our kids. In this day and age, when there are so many problems with drugs and alcohol, and so many remain distant and non-engaging with other adults, they prove to be an exception. Well, most of the time.
4 Someday, I hope Kathy and I will go to Europe for the summer.
5 I love coaching High School Lacrosse, even though it is during our busy season. Working with High School aged boys has its challenges, but it’s always a rewarding experience and well worth the time spent creatively scheduling work to make it happen.
6 Gardening, plants, and design are my passions, but I am terrible at tending the gardens at home.
7 I am a pretty good carpenter, and have installed several beautiful kitchens.
8 I have a temper, and can be cantankerous, but I am inspired by those that constantly work for peace and a sense of cooperation.
9 I wish I could find more time to go fishing.
10 I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am!
So there you have it, the essence of me. Well, for the most part. Let’s face it there are some things I don’t even understand about me, but that’s a discussion for another time, right Kathy?
And now, my nominees for the Honest Scrap Award Are:
All the world’s a garden, and all the men and women merely gardeners. With apologies to the Bard of Avon, that is how I prefer to think of the existence we have carved out here on this planet. As I was on my way to Costco this morning, it struck me, that although my little portion of the garden had suffered quite a few setbacks of late I had much to be thankful for. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a holiday that increasingly and annoyingly, has become simply a preamble to Christmas, I would like to share with you, some of what I am thankful for this year.
I am continuously thankful for all that nature has to offer. I am always amazed at the wonder to be found both far and near to home. Thank you Mother Nature.
I am thankful that my business has survived this economy. Reading daily of the many businesses that close, reminds me that I am lucky to have the customers I do, and that they are a patient and appreciative. Thank you, dear clients.
I am thankful for the many new contacts and friends I have made this year through social media. Upon sticking my toe into the social media pool last year, I thought it much too cold to enjoy, but I was wrong. I have interacted and met with many new interesting, warm and funny people from all corners of the earth, and from many different professions. Thank you Twitter and Facebook friends.
Mostly, as you might have guessed, I am thankful for my family. I am blessed with a successful and compassionate wife, two healthy children, and very supportive parents. I would not be the person I am today, without the influence of each member of my family. Thank you family members, you are my strength.
So in spite of the doom and gloom spread across the airways these days, I will be thankful for what I have, a Garden that produces in any soil, no matter how much rain it receives, and no matter how infrequently it is tended.
I am also thankful that you dear reader have found your way to this post. Please consider leaving a comment before you go, and share with us that which you are thankful for.