Garden Walk season is in full swing, including our local annual Master Gardener Walk which is this coming Saturday. I always enjoy touring other gardens, and I often come home with some new ideas for plants I'd like to try or perhaps a creative way to use a "found" object as garden art. But all too often I come home a little depressed. I look at my own garden more critically when comparing it to others I've just seen--it's so small, it's not as tidy, it doesn't have a cohesive design, plants are crammed in too tightly, and on and on until I'm ready to throw up my hands in despair and start all over.
However, that wasn't the case on my recent trip to Asheville for this year's Garden Bloggers' Fling. I learned many lessons from the gardens we visited there that gave me a new perspective on my own garden.
|"A Hedge Against Extinction" at the North Carolina Arboretum, |
which became this year's Fling icon.
For example, I learned that these weren't fingers reaching up to the sky, but a representation of trees. See the green tips on each branch? According to the artist, these either represent "all that is left or the beginnings of a new greening. The answer is in the hands of those who tend the garden."
I also learned that garden bloggers always have their cameras ready for the next photo op:
|Helen and sister Sarah of Toronto Gardens checking out the poppies in Christopher Mello's garden.|
Touring gardens with fellow gardeners is always a learning experience, because someone in the group can usually identify a plant you might be unfamiliar with and give some helpful advice on growing it.
|Janet not only knows trees but also many other plants of the Southeast|
But the most important lesson I learned in Asheville is that no two gardens are the same and that it's okay to bend the "rules" to reflect your own personal style.
Your garden might have unlimited space:
|View at the North Carolina Arboretum|
Or it might be a tiny corner you have created:
|Display at BB Barns in Asheville, a fantastic nursery and garden center.|
If you like things neat and orderly, you can create a formal garden:
|Quilt garden at NC Arboretum|
Or you can let Nature be your guide, creating a haven for bees and wildlife:
|An impromptu stop on the way home--this garden is not in Asheville. Can you guess where we are?|
|In the garden of Christopher Mello, where he is cultivating a new 'Blue Pearl' poppy.|
If your passion is growing vegetables, then go for it:
|Raised veggie beds at Sunny Point Cafe where patrons know exactly where their food comes from.|
But if you also love flowers . . .
|Iris in front garden at Nan Chase's|
|Nan Chase's front yard|
|A closer look at Nan's house which is sided with bark.|
I also learned that sometimes weeds can be beautiful:
|Swamp milkweed at NC Arboretum|
And that it's good to take a break from the work now and then and just enjoy!
|Anneliese serenading strolling bloggers at Haywood Community College's garden.|
Garden art has always stymied me, too. What will look good in my garden? Where should I place it? The gardens of Asheville taught me a few lessons as well.
You don't have to have a bold bottle tree if you're a little shy. A smaller one can add a colorful touch just as well:
|Smaller blue bottles on a smoke tree at Christopher Mello's garden.|
You can have something specially made that fits your garden and house:
|Bark planters on Nan Chase's porch|
Or you can use materials you already have to create a unique work of art:
|Fountain at Christopher Mello's made from scrap metal.|
|Metal cogs (?) lining the stairway at Wamboldtopia.|
Of course, if you are really talented, you can create something unique and extraordinary, like a fairy mansion:
|The creation of Damaris Pierce at Wamboldtopia.|
If you love pirates and want to hang a skeleton from your rooftop, why not?
|Christopher Mello's "Shovelhenge"|
Or if you want to create a gravel play space in the middle of your garden and call it "Dump Truck Park" or surround it with rusty shovels and call it "Shovelhenge," more power to you!
It is all in how you look at things.
You see, the biggest lesson I learned in Asheville--an epiphany of sorts--was that every garden is unique, just as every gardener is a unique individual. It is a lesson I probably should have learned long ago, having heard this principle many times. But sometimes lessons must be taught and taught again before the student absorbs and understands the information. It took seeing so many different gardens over a course of a few short days, each with their own special style, to realize that I don't have to copy someone else's garden and that my small and often chaotic garden is just fine.
|Red Admiral visiting the coneflowers in my own garden today.|
Whatever brings you joy . . . that is what a garden should be.
I'm linking this post to Plant Postings' garden lessons learned for this season. Thanks, Beth, for hosting this and inspiring us to reflect on the past season. This is also probably the last post specifically on Asheville I'm going to write (other than a very special "prequel" to Asheville one of these days). If you'd like to see more of these gardens, you can check them out here; or, if you've been enticed by all the Fling posts to visit Asheville yourself, here's a handy link to plan your trip and explore Asheville's gardens.