17 September 2007

Garden Themes

Pam Pennick at Digging has an interesting post on garden "memes" and the idea of Not In My Garden (NIMG) attitude. I don't believe meme--which refers to a piece of culture that can be passed down like a gene--is the appropriate word, but the sentiment seems appropriate nonetheless.

It's good to ponder the idea of the garden's identity or theme. It's topical for me, because J and I were just talking about where we might plant a Texas palm (or is it a palmetto - labels can be really bad around here sometimes) in our yard.

What is the theme of our garden? Hill Country Cottage? Modern? Tropical? Prairie? Mediterranean? Texas Japanese Zen?

Right now, I don't know that it has a distinct theme, though many of our plants are native to Texas and the central Texas area. We inherited a garden that already has s certain style, brought on by the circular brick walkways. One of the challenges (and coolest things) about Austin is that three ecosystems converge here. Most of Austin-proper sits on Blackland Prairie, but Post Oak Woods and Edward's Plateau also converge here. And we can get tropicals, like dwarf palmetto, here too (tropical plants, like butterflies, are probably inching ever northward with climate change). So, this can create a mix of interesting plants that can grow in our yards, even if their true niches and habitats might be a mile or two away.

Landscape themes should tie in with your house design, as well. Our house is '50s Texas ranch, with a limestone base in front (a very common look around some neighborhoods in Austin). It's not ultra-mod, so I don't think a stark angular modern garden wouldn't look right. Plus, modern gardens tend to do very little for wildlife. I LOVE modern landscapes, but I don't think I can give up all the flowers, butterflies, and birds for simplicity. But, our house ain't a cottage either...

Would a palm look right in a garden with Gregg's salvia? With kidneywood and agaves?

This theme thing may take some pondering...

3 comments:

Lee said...

A comment from myself: John had a nice perspective last night, which (I think) was that our garden is more of an ecological and learning experience than a "theme." It's a place where we put things in, move them around, try plants out, and fall in and out of favor with things too. We have an overall structure--provided by our house's history and new things we add (back patio)--but the rest is more of a free form habitat space.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I like John's perspective. I'd say that was true with my garden, too. It is really a bunch of mini-ecological systems; it's not laid out by design in the classical sense. Maybe that's the case because I also inherited an old established planting.

Pam/Digging said...

Nice musings on the nature of your garden. I see what you're saying about your garden being less thematic than experimental, but then I think most gardeners' gardens are like that. We're all trying plants out, seeing what works, and moving plants around. That's the fun of gardening, in my view, not the end result.