Gardens… Rambling and Inspirations

by Pam Roy, edited by Bruce Gaudette
June 25, 2010

Just back from a fun week of creating a display garden for Sorticulture, the Everett Garden Arts Festival.  If you missed it this year, be sure to put it on your calendar for next June.  This fun and funky event has grown in popularity each year and is a great way to get some new and creative ideas for your garden.

Bruce Gaudette of LAND HOE! and his energetic crew and I put together a show garden in a mere four days complete with building facade, flagstone patio, drystack stone walls, basalt column water feature, cedar arbor, and an abundance of colorful plants.  We featured some exquisitely done metal  sculptures by a local artist Lance Carleton.

For three days we hung out at the show, answering questions.  We watched the delight people took in pausing in front of the garden taking a quiet moment to simply appreciate the beauty it offered.  This motivated me to ask the question:  What are the elements that make a garden rewarding or inspiring?

Water.  The presence of water in a garden is very evocative.  It was described as peaceful by many of the viewers and several folks mentioned they felt like they were on a mini-retreat.  A simple upright basalt column with water bubbling out of the top and streaming down the rock was all it took to offer this brief moment of peace in the garden.  A water feature can be added to a garden of any size and can take on many personalities from peaceful reflection (as in a simple dish rock holding water) to energizing and powerful (as in a waterfall or moving stream).

Color.  Our garden featured an abundance of plants with gorgeous flower color – the bright fluffy blues of ceanothus, some early summer dark purple salvia ‘Cardonna’ and the dainty flowers of columbine.  Foliage color was provided by perennials heuchera ‘Peach Flambe’ and heuchera ‘Pewter Moon.’  Contrasting shrub color was offered by dark burgundy Berberis ‘Helmond Pillar’ and upright columnar barberry and Spirea ‘Magic Carpet’ a low growing deciduous shrub with leaves in hues of golds and coppers.

Focal Points.  Including a plant with unusual or striking features adds focal interest to any garden.  While selecting plants for the show, a plant new to me caught my eye with its soft feathery texture and multiple hues.  The plant?  Sorbaria sorbifolia or common name, false spirea.  The sorbaria reportedly shares some of the same spreading habits as sumac, but its beguiling beauty has earned it a trial spot in my own garden.

Garden art.  This is what Sorticulture is all about.  We were fortunate to display several metal sculptures in our garden that added structure and interest.  The use of a bold, strong element such as metal balanced the softer textures of plants.  A bit of colorful tumbled glass softened the metal.

Balance.  Or is it magic?  The harmonious blend of the above elements created a whole that complemented each of the individual pieces and offered beauty to enjoy.

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