Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rant of the Month...

Jeff and I went to go see "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" last week. I was really in the mood for a good movie, and it's been a long time since I've seen anything that I would call "good". I needed a distraction. Well, I still haven't seen anything good as it was terribly disappointing. I love spy movies, I love "different" movies, you know, the artsy type, but Tinker, Tailor... was just plain annoying. Vague for the sake of being vague. What little dialogue there was was so mumble-y that I couldn't make heads or tails of it. It only served to continue to feed my frustration...   (for bad movies and in general)

So, I've been frustrated lately. Uncomfortable. Maybe it's the winter blues. Mostly because I feel like something's missing, or wrong. I actually know what what it is, it's design. Harmony. Balance. Feng Shui even. I've come to realize that my yard is getting on my nerves, that something just doesn't feel right because it's not, it's just a hodgepodge of plants. I'm very left-brained and have very little knack for creativity.

I want my garden to be more than just a buffet for wildlife. I want it to be a provocative display that pleases humans as well. I want to "wow" people, is that asking too much? (Yes) I've been reading about the famous landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden, and Piet Oudolf, and can see that it is possible. I can also see that my yard looks a bit shoddy. Well, of course it would compared to the works of those guys, but I tend to set high standards for myself.

So many things are stacked against me: the big trees and shrubs in the wrong places that were already here that I don't want to cut down because they hide our hideous neighbors, the winter winds, the summer droughts, the bedrock laying 18 inches beneath the soil surface, the deer, the rabbits...need I go on? When you limit yourself to natives on top of those, what's left? How can I create beauty in the holy names of Oehme and van Sweden with that?!

I know what I like when I see it, but I have a hard time actually coming up with ideas on my own. Basically, I think I know what my yard needs, it's just so hard trying to imagine and design when everything's asleep under the soil. Looking at pictures of the flower beds from last year only fuels my angst. I hate moving plants because it means losing a year, more or less, which is agony for the impatient gardener like myself. I will have to though, and I'm sure as soon as I start correcting some of my design errors, I'll feel better. I'm too embarrassed to post pictures here and ask for suggestions. Realistically I'm also too self-critical and self-conscious. (I'm sounding like a loonie aren't I) At least I can admit it.

Like I said, maybe it's the winter blues, maybe it's the moon, maybe everything will be fine once spring arrives and I can start moving forward...

OK, I feel a little better, I've purged...

*Google (or whatever) Oehme & van Sweden and Piet Oudolf and see what I'm talking about. I dare you to say their works aren't gorgeous.


  1. Movies are dark. January and February are dark.

    Increase vitamin D. Get in the sun.

    Plan for Spring.

  2. Re movies, try to catch the Muppets before they leave the theater. Lots of bright colors, fun music, general muppetness. :-) I liked it, anyway.

    Re gardening blahs: I just visited Brookside Gardens up here in Maryland. I know it's a long drive for you but maybe there's a similar spot down in your area. I found several blooming shrubs-- witch hazel, quince, Japanese flowering apricot-- that made me feel much better about the cold blustery weather today. So maybe that would be a good pick-me-up for you too.

    P.S. I think it is definitely not too much to ask that a garden can be both good for wildlife and wowing humans. Good for you for aiming for both!

  3. bill, Yeah, I guess what I'm experiencing in nothing new...

    Jodi, I LOVE the Muppets! That's a great idea. Especially Swedish Chef, can't get enough of him, just watched some on Youtube and I feel better already! Thanks!

  4. If your sturm & drang can be relieved by the Muppets...well, I guess Dark Nights of the Soul just ain't what they usta' be. Hang in there and stop reading Grounded Design for a while and you will be fine:-/

  5. Julie, YAY for the power of Muppets! :-) So glad that helped. Take care of yourself.

  6. I agree this is a bad time to "feel good" about your yard. Stuff looks like crap!

    Yes you can have non-native stuff (not that you needed my permission)! I love my daffodils for their deer-resistance, adore my gardenias and tea olive for their fragrance, and value my 'Chindo' korean viburnum for the privacy it gives me. I would not do without my daylilies and annual flowers. It is all in the percentages for me - they only represent 1% of the plant material in my yard! Decide what works for you.

  7. Winter sux... Maybe consider some tree art?
    Winter is so dreary, ANY colour is good colour, I'm not going to complain about my hellebores and camellias not being native... If it blooms in the winter, it's going to get planted.
    The under-lying bedrock would be of far greater concern to me....
    You get a lot more rain than I do, finding stuff that will grow w/o special effort should be easier than it is for me... That natives limitation...
    While I respect the concept, if I was going to place that limitation on my garden, I'd get more n more limited as I tried to plant stuff that only grew naturally in the immediate area.... which seems like the wild-collected stuff from a few counties over might be prohibited...
    It's like selecting for colour... finer and finer distinctions can drive us nuts...

  8. Girl, girl, girl! Sounds like a garden variety (pun intended) case of RUSHMORE SYNDROME. You pick a hobby, look to the Mt.Rushmore of that hobby then spend your time being sad that you are less gifted than the few greatest individuals ever! No good.Be inspired by them!Frustration is also a sign that you are learning and evolving as a gardener.Only worry if you are have no dissatisfaction.

  9. Ellen, I like your point about percentages, very good perspective.

    Gardens...the tree art is great idea, thanks!

    Lori, yeah, speaking from experience, are you?

  10. Experience? I invented it!!

  11. Sounds like you need to rename your blog A Suburban Mess!

  12. Dr.Nature MD, PhD,MBA,FDIC,USDAJanuary 19, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Trees and shrubs in the wrong places? O my, I must have left my van in Sweden!

  13. "O my...van in Sweden"??? Oehme & Van Sweden. Come on Dr. Nature, that is obscure even by your lofty standards!