Is there mystery in your yard?

>> Friday, December 31, 2010

I love gardening. Over the past six years since moving into this home, my little kingdom has experienced an expansion each year by at least one plot, sometimes two. With each bit of territory successfully taken for garden use, my unforgiving lawn struggles to reclaim it. Each victory not only affords me an increase in the number of plants that can be grown, but also variety. This increase greatly adds to the level of enjoyment I derive from gardening. However, my joy has always been tempered somewhat by the inability to expand the plot away from the border of the yard into its center.

I am unable because I don’t have enough plants to put in those new plots. Once I get the ‘art’ of propagation figured out I’ll be able to fill those otherwise barren plots thereby making it worthwhile digging them up.

I suppose this is the inescapable nature of a budgeted garden, but, since I am unable to afford to put my ‘grand plan’ into motion all at once, each newly added plot is but another link in the ‘necklace’ of small plots that make up the perimeter of my yard. Each year they slowly expand until they will one day connect and replace the fence as the boundary framing the entire yard.

In the meantime, while my garden may be performing a slower creep than I would like there is no reason why I cannot take advantage of at least one principle of garden design, that being the focal point. Currently I have three focal points: two birdbaths, a one tree stump. I’m not going to include the fruit trees which seem oddly out of place, but I suppose if I could expand my growing space to surround those they could be focal points as well. I have plans of adding a couple signs and during the growing season there are several trellises reaching up out of the vegetable beds to serve as focal pins as well.

But the grandest achievement for me would be to have an island or two out away from the border. This would allow me to incorporate yet another principle of garden design I like to call mystery. If I had some mystery to my garde, my guests would perhaps ask “What is hiding behind that tall spruce in the middle of that island?” or maybe “What is lurking just around the bend in the path?” Maybe they won’t be quite so dramatic about it and just go along down the path without much thought to mystery. I’ll be asking though.

Its rather difficult to hide anything when everything grows in a straight line along the fence and you can see everything the garden has to offer from everywhere in the yard.

Sure the fence is hidden if you have plants tall enough to hide it, but that’s not quite the same thing. With an island, something you can walk 36o degrees around, there are plenty of opportunities to place a statue or the odd exotic plant that you cannot see from the other side of the yard.

Mystery of this nature adds another dimension to the yard that is difficult to match. Turning your yard into a full duty vegetable patch with raised beds lined up in neat little rows is one thing, but a yard with one or more islands each of a different size and shape mounded high with large shrubs and or trees, would provide endless possibilities for mystery.

I don’t know when but sometime in the future I will have my islands. Who knows, maybe they will be covered with vegetables and herbs, just so long as there is something tall enough to hide something behind it.


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