Garden Designers Roundtable: Inspiration!

As I write this, it’s snowing and we’ve got at least eight more weeks of winter before getting back outside and doing what we love best. Yet inspiration is not far off, for these are the months that imagination captivates the mind with thoughts of new plants and new schemes for the garden. They come at us from all angles, born of longing, and the promise of spring’s warmth. But where does one find the seed from which inspiration grows? I find inspiration in landscapes big and small, in nature’s perfect randomness, and in simple vignettes. There is a story and beauty in every scene.

Here are some photos of what has inspired me recently.

Readers of this blog will remember that I love grasses. I am captivated by the look of a meadow, and this view of the grass farm at Sunny Border Nursery always stops me in my tracks. As I look upon this field I dream of the meadow I might be designing soon for that discerning client.

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Stone is another element that gets the blood pumping. This pile of field stone slabs caught my eye at the local supplier and  stayed with me until we used them to create the stairs in the picture below. I can’t imagine a garden without stone.

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Another great use of old stone is this gristmill stone, used in a patio at Hollandia Nurseries in Bethel, CT. The pattern is mesmerizing!

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This vignette is from Hollister House in Washington, CT. It could be a doorway anywhere in the world, which is why I caught myself coming back to it several times. I’m not sure what the stone item is, but its story (which I do not know) still intrigues me. I wonder if I will ever create something so simple and engaging?

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A sense of invitation is nearly irresistible, as set up by these next shots. This Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT. feels like a cave entrance as you move from the sunlight into the cool of the shade garden.

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Weeping Cherries partially obscure the view to the tomb at the top of the hill in a cemetery in Simsbury, CT. The juxtaposition of new life blossoming against the backdrop of life eternal creates an interesting vitality, and opens the imagination to transitions in the garden.

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The endless patterns found in nature are truly inspirational. The stump of this very old yew, also in Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT., was awaiting the backhoe when I came upon it. The spiraling nature of its growth and the energy it projects had me thinking sculpture, fountain, or a contemporary trellis to grow vines on. Intriguing, no?

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One of the great joys in life is to meet local artisans whose talents extend into the garden. These next two inspiring pieces are by local craftsman, and friend Bill Salazar. I pass by this lamp post and arbor many times a week, and never fail to slow down and peek at how they look as the garden changes around them. Beautiful!

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These are just a few of the things that inspire me to create more interest in the garden. What inspires you? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear about it!

Please visit my colleagues also, and see what inspires them. There links are below.

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Jenny Peterson : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin, TX

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

16 thoughts on “Garden Designers Roundtable: Inspiration!

  1. Lovely post Scott. I like the way that of us all that I have read so far you have gone back to the primary landscape elements which we might use in a garden and how they inspire you.
    Hope you have a fantastic year and that all those pipeline projects you have hinted come to wonderful fruition for you.
    best
    R

    • Thanks Robert! It is nice to get back to the basics, and nice that we all place a value on the fundamentals. And thanks re: moving forward! As Tom Petty said, “The waiting is the hardest part…”

  2. That shot of the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar did it for me! What a neat idea to create a doorway out of that curtain of blue. I can’t wait to figure out where I can copy and steal THAT little bit of inspiration! :-)

    • Christina, “Blue Atlas Cedar”!!! Thank you for referencing that (sincerely), I always, always, do that… (say Alaskan), no matter how many times I correct myself. :)

      Anyway, it’s pretty cool isn’t it. And the way that its situated in the perennial garden is perfect! Steal Away!

  3. Scott, What great photos. While it’s hard to beat that grass bed, the weeping Alaskan cedar is so amazing. I really have to get to Elizabeth Park at some point and see it and the rose gardens.

    • Thanks Debbie! You really should come up and see the EP! In fact, it would be a great place for an APLDCT function. We could have lunch at The Pond House (excellent!), and then tour the gardens. Mid June would be perfect for the roses.

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