It is amazing that what you think is going to be one simple addition or change to your garden can seem to completely transform it. Then you find yourself wondering why you waited so long to do it in the first place.
Acknowledging that a garden cannot be transformed in just one day or with just one change hit me like a brick this summer, as the project we thought would be completed in one or two months stretched on into six months.
Bring in the muscle
My husband and gardening partner, Tony, and I decided to remove the remainder of the turf grass in our garden last fall, and put in a pea-gravel patio and a fountain right in the middle of our garden. Sounds easy enough. Making that decision was in fact quite easy, but agreeing on and completing everything else wasn’t.
Tony is the main muscle in our garden. He is incredibly strong so he always gets stuck with all the really hard jobs. The first job was to dig a trench from the house to the fountain location so the electric could be run to the spot. Then we decided (okay, I decided) we might as well trench all the way to the garage so we could have all the wires underground.
The second job was to find a fountain base large enough that it wouldn’t get lost in our busy yard. I selected a concrete base that was perfect, but the first one they shipped was cracked solidly in half. A month later the second one arrived, fortunately in one piece. This large and very heavy base required bringing in extra help. I still don’t know how they got it off the truck. I was afraid to ask.
Next was my several weeks’ quest to find the right piece to go on top of the fountain. Some were too big, some too small, some just looked wrong. I am quite sure Tony hauled five or six several-hundred-pound pieces into and back out of our garden as I rejected one after another. I could tell he was nearing the end of his patience with me when finally the last piece he hauled in was perfect.
This fountain has transformed our lush garden into an oasis. Even my teenage daughter’s friends comment about it now, and I’m quite certain that they never even noticed the garden before. So what was it about this fountain that has so moved everyone that visits our garden?
As I pored over the before pictures, it occurred to me that it wasn’t the fountain, the plants, or the furniture, but a combination of all the elements and factors coming together that we used when designing our garden. But the most important factor was time.
Elements of a garden
Usually the love of plants comes first. Over time we start to see our gardens in another light and as having more than one purpose. Then we start to accept other elements into our gardens that are necessary to make a garden complete.
A garden must have a purpose. I always ask gardeners I work with what they want out of their garden. To relax in and enjoy with family and friends, to play in, or to produce vegetables or cut flowers? It is okay to want multiple things.
A garden must have motion. When you look at your garden, do you see the plants moving in the breeze or do you have some element like a fountain that has movement?
A garden must be grounded. Does your garden have some strong solid elements that reflect the strength of nature, like stone or wood?
A garden must be inviting. Do you have paths or areas that encourage you to enter and enjoy a garden space? Do you have views that are intriguing and make you wonder what is beyond that wall, sculpture, or hedge?
A garden must be maintained. Do you like to work in it and have time to work in your garden, or would you prefer to hire someone to do it?
A garden must change with time and the seasons. Does your garden look the same way it did five years ago? Is it beautiful but different in the winter, spring, summer, and fall?
A garden must reflect your love and desire to have a garden, and a garden must take time to grow and show its true nature.
Tony and I have spent the last 10 years making decisions about our garden just like many other parts of our lives. We have changed our minds more times than we would admit. We have moved plants here and there every year. We have removed a few dead plants on occasion. We have added furniture, a fountain, pottery, and a little garden art. We turned mistakes into successes and we took the time necessary to find out what we want from our garden. Then it became the garden that we love and enjoy every day of the year.
Now we are fully recovered from our fountain project and we are already spending time dreaming what will come next. I have my sight set on a sculpture. A small one, of course.