Saturday, March 06, 2010

Midwest Gardening Symposium

A whole day of just talking Gardening and Gardens what could be better?  I attended the Midwest Gardening Symposium on Friday at the Morton Arboretum.  It was a great day filled with wonderful garden books, authors as speakers and so much up-to-date gardening information:

  • Slow down on the garden curves, no amoeba shaped lawns
  • Go upstairs, if you can, and look out at your lawn shape
  • Use more straight paths with multiple centers in the garden
  • If you have a curving path keep it soft just enough to create mystery
  • Your multiple centers should have a destination focus, i.e., fountain, statuary, pergola, arbor, obelisk, etc.
  • Make sure there is something distinct to look at as you gaze through a window, i.e., statuary, structure, container, etc.
  • Release the inside into your outside, garden should be an extension of your inside home, color, style, etc.
  • Use art in your garden palette, i.e., Vincent Van Gogh colors for your patio containers, check out an art print book and use the colors of a favorite artist for your theme
  • Think of telling a story with your garden, antiques with a newer home, collectibles, painted vintage chairs, some eclectic modern surprises with a vintage home
  • Make vignettes such as sword (grasses), frilly (ferns) broad (hosta) all together
  • Plan or redesign your garden in the winter thinking  pathways, structures, raised beds, evergreens, trees for shape and deciduous shrubs and grasses
  • Use flower plantings in your vegetable garden and vegetables in your flower borders (many of us have been doing this for years)
  • Use light plants against dark
  • Borrow a pleasing view from a neighbor's yard, arrange your plantings so that their yard shows through
  • The new outside decorating color for furniture and pottery is aqua or turquoise
Our speakers were wonderful, Gordon Hayward author of Art and the Gardener, and several other books, Pam Duthie author of Continuous Bloom and Continuous Color.  Pam Duthie is part of a new group called Perennials in Focus who are in the process of evaluating plants over a three year period in real gardens.  They have a new website  We had other expert speakers talking about using vegetables in containers and garden plantings and garden maintenance. 

I spent too much on books!!!!


Larry said...

'What goes around comes around' as they say... I'm afraid there is very little chance for me to return to straight lines because my mixed borders have so many permanent plantings within them. To be honest, I really do like the gentle curves and they are pretty simple to maintain with a power edger. Additionally, my gardens are all designed so that I can use a 48" mower deck on the tractor, and not have to do any trimming... all the lawns can be mowed in under 1 1/2 hours. Isn't Gordon Hayward out of Vermont, or do I have him confused with someone else?

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Gordon Hayward lives in a 250 year old house on almost two acres in Vermont.

I too have many curves in my beds. I don't think he meant to get rid of curves, but to also have some straight lines in the garden. He aligned all of his ideas to art showing many straight paths and showing how they make the visitor feel comfortable knowing what's ahead. He advocates always having something to catch your eye, not just plants.

His book goes into this in a more extensive manner. Check it out of the library if you can. It's expensive!


Anonymous said...

Dear Eileen, I should have been completely in my element at your day conference. What an interesting time you had and how thoughtful to share with us some of the main points which came from it.

I must confess, I do not have a single curve in my garden. For myself I find straight lines much more purposeful and a way of giving direct meaning to a garden. They also act as a counterpoint to the varied shapes, often flowing in drifts, of the plants.

That said, I appreciate that we all have different ideas as to how we wish our gardens to appear, and that is all to the good.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I agree Edith, we all have our preferences and the speaker did stress that the garden should be an extension of our own personalities.

I think he did have a good argument against having too many curves and showed many works of art in contrast with actual gardens to prove his point.


Sweet Home and Garden Carolina said...

Well you've just listed all the garden designers principles, Eileen. The next step is to apply them :-)

I've spent a fortune on garden and art books as well but love having them around.

Sounds like you had a splendid day.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I am sure I have a lot of mistakes in my garden, but It will force me to take a new look at what I am doing. The aqua probably will not be a color I'll be doing, although it is a good color for me to wear.


Indoor Fountains said...

I wish I could attend one of these symposiums. Unfortunately it's a bit far of a trip for me. Nonetheless I am glad you gave us some great insight. Thanks

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Your fountains are lovely. My husband and I both enjoy the sound of the water on our patio. We have a large standing stone fountain. I actually grow some water plants in the basin. We do not have room for a pond so this takes the place of it.