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Garden Aesthetics

MJ Solaro


Joined: Feb 21, 2008
Posts: 131
Location: Bellevue, WA
This poor forum doesn't really see much action, does it?

As I look enviously at pictures of different gardens online, I am thinking quite a lot lately about garden aesthetics. It seems the most elegant gardens have a blend of utility and beauty. For example, I love the permaculture recommendation that herbs be grown close to the kitchen so it's efficient to use them. But I also love the concept of the French Potager where flowers and vegetables have grown side-by-side. Gorgeous!

How do you find ways to balance function with form in your garden or farm?

In this pic: swiss chard side by side with Dahlias.


Brave New Leaf - Everyman Environmentalism
http://www.bravenewleaf.com
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I think the key to garden beauty is realism. Our ideas of how beautiful a garden is can't be dictated by magazine covers and books. we have to learn to love and appreciate the not so perfect aspects of our gardens. There is some beauty in the spent vegetables and the crooked homemade walkway and rows. Its beautiful to see a volunteer tomato arise out of the squash patch or a perfectly shriveled and dry pod on a vine that  was missed at harvest. there are some very good non-aesthetic reasons to have a "disorganized" garden. Planting compatible plants can help thwart  pests and increase yeilds, attract more diverse wildlife and keep disease from spreading.


[img]http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n52/havlik1/permie%20pics2/permiepotrait3pdd.jpg[/img]

"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
Kelda Miller


Joined: Jun 30, 2007
Posts: 763
Aesthetically, I'm aiming for what I think of as a 'hobbit garden', like in the last scene of the lord of the rings, with sam and his family, and the garden just exploding with boldness and food. but i also think part of the appeal is the hobbit-dedication to keeping the paths and plants functional so it feels more under control than an exploding garden.

Some common themes I think about:

1) Clear paths and defined edges make people feel good and, I think, help people feel relaxed.

2) Garden 'rooms' help create privacy and areas of interest. I think about which plants can help add 'walls' in order to make more rooms. From a permie perspective, those rooms can also be suntraps, windbreaks, and create the dappled shade we so strive for in forest gardens.

3) Benches. too few permie gardens have them. what are we? all work and no play?

4) Enough evergreen screens. So in winter time the garden still feels protective. If not conifers, than bamboo, or thicket-y areas, etc.

5) Many things from the book 'Pattern Language'. curved paths, walk to a good view, levels of intimacy, archways, etc.

Aesthetics is very important in our edge with a 'mainstream' society. If people feel overwhelmed by a confusing garden they may spend less time there. If they feel good in an edible landscape, even if they're new to learning its many functions, then they'll spend more time there. That's what we want.


Divine Earth Gardening Project
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
excellent and well defined guidlines kelda! one criteria I alway keep in mind is that if it looks balanced and pleasing in the "off season" the vegetation that fills in later will enhance it. no amount of plantings can make a bad hardcape and evergreen plan look good for long imo. Things like a bench or a trellis strategically placed can make the area pleasing year round. I like to have things to nibble on placed close to resting spots.
Peony Jay


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
IMO, I'll just add that I like a touch of whimsy and I insist that everything in my garden must be made of this earth. No plastic! No mass produced plastic spinny daisy things in the garden not elves nor "Welcome to the Garden" banners. I think they are tacky, but hey.... no one made me Queen of the Universe.

I like the Japanese aesthetics of 'wabi sabi.' Nothing should be too even, or too perfect. Wabi sabi- the perfection of imperfection.

And I nearly cry when I see gardens that are manicured to 'perfection.' Not a weed in sight. Why do we hate Nature so?

Finally, I really can't stand the army of little perfect annuals in perfect rows. White petunia, red petunia, white petunia, red petunia, white petunia..... So sad to see such an unnatural version of 'Nature.'

My vote for most beautiful, romantic garden!!! Ninfa, Italia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGEjoVlCj6A

My Marxist Feminist Dialectic Brings All The Boys To The Yard!
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
I have a couple of clipped (shaped) shrubs at the entrance to a circle garden bed - and the apple trees in that bed are at the 2,4,6,and 8 o'clock postions; it give the illusion of order and symetry. But once you actually walk into the garden you realize that there are no rows. Corn, beans, berries and herbs all flow in and out of each other. Tomatoes next to a mobile compost-in-place bin and garlic hiding in clover - I call it the happy mess.

As mentioned above I like to have lots of places for seating so I can just sit and observe. I'm finding that with permaculture there is less to do anyway so more time to sit and enjoy it.

I just started a 'natural' area this spring and I simply keep a mowed curved path to encourage walking through the area to observe and enjoy.

There are lots of 'illusions of order' in my gardens; people who see them often say they want to do what I'm doing but I can't, for the LIFE of me get them to understand the part about not weeding and tilling everything up. I show them, give them demonstrations, and yet they still want to haul in topsoil, buy new garden gadgets, pull weeds and plant a monocrop lawn.


1. my projects
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
Thank you so much for posting the link to the gardens at Ninfa. I LOVE Monty Don - one of my favorite books is Gardening Mad by Monty Don.

I needed this reminder, right about now, of the reason I love the garden in the first place. I have been ignoring the aesthetics a bit -- I have three self seeded rudbeckia sitting in a cart outside my kitchen window right now. They need to be re-planted in a spot that shows them off instead of just stuck in a corner somewhere.
Peony Jay


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
@Jeanine.
http://www.artdejardin.co.uk/garden.cfm?pagename=Design
I think you'll like the pictures of interesting garden sculptures/art.

Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
I've always dreamed of such wild and romantic gardens such as one sees in movies and such. I've even seen such gardens in real life that took a lifetime to develop.

Unfortunately, in my life there is only time for utilitarian gardening with only a little touch of things planted just for beauty. I love them and would have such a garden if it were feasible, practical and didn't absorb much of my time to get it there. I love wattle fencing, willows grown to form a tunnel, fruit trees trained into heart shapes, water features that soothe the soul and wild, rambling roses, meadows of wildflowers and secret benches under scented bowers...but it takes more time than I have to make it happen.

For now the veggie garden and a small patch of herbs will have to do. I've taken the time to intersperse the veggies with flowers this year and even reserved two whole rows for assorted flowers as well..but it's all too structured for true beauty.
Peony Jay


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
@ Jay.

I hear you. Years ago a coworker asked me what I'd do if I was just given $50,000. Enough to change your life with but maybe not have a completely different 'lifestyle of the rich and famous.' Well, I said that I'd like a new garden.

I, too, dreamt of those movie set dream gardens. "Stealing Beauty" set in Tuscany. A quaint British, cottage garden like "A Room with a View." A mossy, quiet, contemplative Japanese garden. A funky, urban rooftop garden in Paris. A quiet Greek Isle where I can live on my tomatoes, greek cheese, breads and fresh caught fish.

I hope your dreams come true.
My own dream garden here is a lot messier and harder to achieve than the dream ones. Work and family obligations are getting in the way somewhat. I think those dream gardens do actually take a lifetime to achieve. Gambatte, kudasai!!
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 683
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
In the last few years I've been treating my entire yard as my garden, rather than a few patches or beds here and there.

I have vegetables in with my flowers, flowers in with my vegetables, letting herbs like oregano and mint take over large swatches of grass.
I have been also integrating "tropicalesque" plants like bamboo, banana plants, citrus, palms, figs, kiwi vines, etc. to make it look exotic.

I've converted about 80% of my lawn into wildflowers, tall grass, scrubby random growth with winding paths. Oddly enough, letting my lawn go wild has reduced my yard work so much that I have more time to take care of fruits, vegetables, etc.

Peony Jay


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
@ Cris.

Pics, please. I'd love to see the results.
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 683
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
Peony Jay wrote:@ Cris.

Pics, please. I'd love to see the results.


I have this short video from last fall:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tQW0MJuCjw

It is focused more on the "tropicalesque" and cold hardy exotic type stuff I have, rather than "permaculture".
I really need to re do this as things have changed a bit since last fall.
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
Cris, thanks for posting the names of your bananas. The Musa Basjoo - Japanese fiber banana and Musa Sikkimensis - Himalayan banana. I should be able to grow those here. I just love the energy from banana plants. I have a few but have not given them good spots to grow so they have been just hanging on.
Peony Jay


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
Wow. Nice video, Cris.
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 683
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
Jeanine Gurley wrote:Cris, thanks for posting the names of your bananas. The Musa Basjoo - Japanese fiber banana and Musa Sikkimensis - Himalayan banana. I should be able to grow those here. I just love the energy from banana plants. I have a few but have not given them good spots to grow so they have been just hanging on.


I love em! With the mild winter we had this year, mine are as tall right now in mid Spring as they were last fall in that video.
With this much of a head start they might even fruit this year. Of course Musa Basjoo is not really edible, but still it would be cool.
I've seen a few places where Musa Sikkimensis fruit is described as "edible, if you eat around the big black seeds".

I think you should be able to grow these fine in that zone, last year I didn't even protect some of my basjoos at all, and they came right back from the stumps in the ground.


Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 683
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
Peony Jay wrote:Wow. Nice video, Cris.


Thanks, I really need to put up a video of how it looks right now, it looks all lush and junglely and green.
Peony Jay


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
@ Cris
Yeah, my place looks all nice and green and lush too. By late July it looks way drier and dead here.

I may find a video or pic of my place but this is my general backyard.
I hope you like my home and native land.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vngoSj5BC1Q
Peony Jay


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
See! No igloos or polar bears here.
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 683
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
Peony Jay wrote: @ Cris
Yeah, my place looks all nice and green and lush too. By late July it looks way drier and dead here.

I may find a video or pic of my place but this is my general backyard.
I hope you like my home and native land.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vngoSj5BC1Q


Gorgeous.
Dave Miller


Joined: Jun 08, 2009
Posts: 396
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
    
  10






I am fortunate to live near some spectacular wildflower areas. When I am out hiking I will try to remember to look for natural "gardens" which might provide some inspiration. I'll take some photos and post them to this album:

http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz238/behindthewaterfall/Natures%20Garden%20Aesthetics/?albumview=slideshow

Perhaps others can do the same? I am always looking for inspiration from natural areas which require no work from humans.

Thanks,

Dave
 
 
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