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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Inspiration 1.

When asked what inspires me when designing and installing gardens, or designing and building stonework, my answer is invariably along the lines of, “…my surroundings and life experiences”. I have never really considered how unhelpful my stock answer might seem. It occurs to me that, without further explanation, my response must seem  glib and superficial.  To try and rectify that, I’ve put together a couple of posts focusing on my own particular creative process when creating gardens and stonework.  The following is an example from a recent project here in Connecticut.

The project involved the complete redesign of an Essex property which included several different garden areas. As always, we had taken an inventory of the existing plants throughout the garden areas that we were to redesign and recorded a quantity of Lysimachia clethroides (Gooseneck Loosestrife). This is a handsome plant with a vigorously colonizing habit, and though it didn’t fit into the perennial gardens schemes we were designing, I didn’t reject it completely.

One component of the project was to create a pedestrian access leading from a large lawn area down a steep, lightly wooded bank to a river.  To create safe access to the water I built a series of stone steps, bridged by curved and switchbacked, mulched paths and ending with stone steps at the river’s edge. Fifty feet downstream from where the steps meet the river is a dam of some six feet in height.  The moving current  and the rushing sound of falling water attest to the existance of a waterfall, and though the fall cannot be seen, its presence is such an audible feature of the place that I wanted to find a subtle way to reference this in the dry landscape.

In the transitional woodland area, I planted hydrangeas and rhododendrons, limiting the color to a predominantly blue and white scheme. Vinca and pachysandra, salvaged from other garden areas, provided ground cover and erosion control, and, along the edges of the paths I decided to create a series of “ waterfalls” by planting the Lysimachia on the inside curve of each series of steps. The nodding, bending spires of white flowerheads, when seen in colonies, evoke whitecaps or, waterfalls and anyone familiar with this plant knows that  it won’t be long before drifts of blossoms cascade down the bank towards the rushing current.