Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Calisthenics for your Cultivation

In my wavering pursuit of physical fitness, I dipped my toe in the waters of yoga.  Having observed that yoga fanatics always appear slim and trim in spite of the sedentary nature of their sport, I was intrigued.  If a toned physique could be acquired by simply stretching and holding a few poses, count me in!  I scurried out and purchased a yoga DVD.  Several sessions later, the verdict was in: yoga was too slow.  It required a certain level of focus, which my undiagnosed (but raging) case of ADHD undermined.  As luck would have it, aerobic exercise is too fast for me, so I am forced to drift further from my ideal blue jean size until someone develops an exercise program that is neither too slow nor too fast, but nevertheless, incredibly effective. 

My short rendezvous with yoga revealed some surprising similarities with gardening.  Both practice the art of slowing down: you can’t rush the lotus position, nor can you hurry along the flavor forged in a ripening tomato.  Yoga and gardening test your inner endurance (and patience), as anyone who’s ever tried to maintain a half-moon pose or grow a red pepper can attest to.  Both challenge you to find balance.  Yoga tried (and failed, for the time being) to conquer my lack of focus, a contributing factor to the unbalance in life. 

But finding balance in the garden is a mission I haven’t given up on yet, and that destination is reached with a GPS (gardening perfection system) known as design theory.  This framework of rules provides a structure on which to drape your original ideas.  I find them freeing, but I always was the rule-follower as a child.  Goody-two-shoes, that’s what the other kids called me.  The ADHD and rebellion didn’t set in till much later. 

Nowadays I enjoy breaking rules when the mood strikes, and gardening is the perfect outlet to assert my defiance.  This is, after all, design theory, not design commandments.  Take, for example, the rule of odds.  In design, odd numbers of groupings are visually pleasing.  I recognize the validity of this, and most of the time I toe the line.  But sometimes the square footage doesn’t cooperate.  A hideously even number of hydrangeas congregate in front of my porch, because that is what fit.  I would’ve been docked in design class, but in real life, someone has to foot the bill for the extra, and extraneous, Hydrangea.   My checkbook said "No thanks". 

Having given you free reign to break the rules, let me insert one addendum: the occasional departure from a rule is one thing, whereas complete ignorance of its existence is another.  You don’t have to follow all the rules all the time, but you should be aware of them.  I have listed several essentials, along with a question to help you gauge its relationship to your yard.

Sequence: Is there a sequence of activity (foliage, flower and fruit) in your landscape that keeps it interesting all year long? From the early blooming Hyacinth to the late blazing Burning Bush, the riotous colors of Geraniums to the stoic attention of Blue Spruce, no season need go unnoticed. 

Scale: Are your plants in scale with the structures on your property and with each other?  Consider the mature size of plants when locating them around your yard.  Dwarf Alberta Spruce is not interchangeable with Blue Spruce, and a dwarf Japanese maple should not be featured near a giant stand of Miscanthus grass. 

Views:  Are the most important views from the street and the home maximized?  The perspective from that big picture window is every bit as important as the view from the curb.  Spend the bulk of your budget where it will be seen.   

Color: Have you selected colors, both in foliage and flower, which blend and accentuate each other and your home?  Consider studying complementary and adjacent colors on the color wheel to find the best partners. 

A little focus and stretching and your yard will be ship-shape in no time.  Wish I could say the same for my abs.  

1 comment:

Casa Mariposa said...

I love yoga! But walking is my favorite exercise. Good design tips, as usual. I consider rules to be suggestions. I just don't think there are as many "supposed to's" in life as we think there are.

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