Landscapes have a personality of their own, and they vary as much as the people who tend them.
For many years, my own landscape was lovingly tended and ever evolving. I would spend hours outdoors, creating little spaces of tranquility and nurturing those spaces religiously. I would search relentlessly in the pursuit of the perfect herb for the garden by the fence, the perfect piece of “art” or perennial for the bed by the mailbox, or the perfect heirloom tomato plant for the vegetable garden out back.
Every season had its projects, and each project had its purpose. Sometimes the purpose was as simple as bringing me joy. If that was all it ever did, that was more than enough. However, those separate ecosystems always served more than one purpose, as is the way of most things.
The pollinator garden, for example, created a habitat where hummingbirds, butterflies and bees gathered each morning for breakfast. When the sun peeked over the horizon and the dew was still fresh, they started their daily harvest that looked more like a dance than their primary work. To walk by and hear the furious buzz of wings always brought me such delight. Creating an environment specifically for them served as an engraved invitation — and they always showed up with enthusiasm. By adding marigolds to the vegetable garden, I reminded the rabbits that there was food for them in the opposite direction. Other companion plants dotted the gardens as well and spoke a language all their own.
Recently, I have been working in other people’s landscapes, and this too has brought me great joy. During the initial interview we become a team; I listen carefully to catch a glimpse of the vision for the space we will create together. I make recommendations — or a design — based on those initial conversations, and together we create a plan that will grow and evolve with time. Frequently we combine various garden styles to create the perfect sanctuary with all the facets a person desires.
What does your landscape communicate about your passions, priorities, preferences? Is it very formal with clean lines? Is it a riot of color? Does it have a wild and natural feel? Do you have a new home with a fresh canvas awaiting your personal touch?
Look at your current landscape and ask what it says about you, and what you would like it to say. Do you want to create an invitation for wildlife? Do you envision an outdoor room for entertaining? Would you prefer to have a quiet place with a seating area and a water feature? What are the colors that you love most? How much time do you want to spend maintaining your landscape? Do you want to grow your own food? What do you see in other landscapes that you absolutely adore? What are the things you know you do not like? These are the questions to ask if you want your landscape to reflect your own unique style.
Our landscapes speak volumes. What does your landscape say about you?
Rae Punzel is a Kenosha writer and horticulturalist. She owns Bennu Organics, a horticulture services and consulting business, which includes garden design, installation and exterior staging. She can be reached at BennuOrganics@gmail.com.