April 24, 2012

Finding the Art of Landscaping

This is a Guest Post by Bilal.

For anyone who looks at their lawn like it was a foreign object I can sympathize—blank canvases scare me. Landscaping does involve a bit of knowledge about plants—or a good store clerk who can get you through. It also takes some time and a bit of imagination.

My father was a horticulturist. When he retired from the Army he went to school to learn how to fiddle more efficiently with something he had fiddled with all his life. I was about twenty-two when he said all in one breath: “Let’s go into the landscaping business together.”

Partnering with the Perfectionist

There are very few landscaping styles that do not impress me—be they casual, country tailored, English cottage style or very formal. The thought was captivating and though I had the upmost respect for my father’s many talents he was a perfectionist. I didn’t know how to answer him, but I could see he was dead serious. We decided on a trial period but I was skeptical. After all, he did like everything symmetrical—and I rarely had a symmetrical thought in my head.

Moving forward in spite of differences

We tried a section of his back yard to begin with—and after all, we did need a portfolio. We chose this corner that was out of the way, set in front of a chain link fence and was pretty much dead.

His first stance was to put a backdrop of foliage against the fence—I agreed. He wanted it to be perfect in height all around the corner with perhaps a gap every three feet to break monotony but keep symmetry. The thought caused my first great sigh of the job. I walked off for a glass of iced tea thinking: “This will never work!” He graciously, head held low, followed.

Well, we did go on to create a wonderful haven for birds—complete with birdbath, with great symmetry though far from the norm. We used lavender at both outside edges with a big hibiscus in the middle inside corner—ours had red orange blooms. We filled in with a mixture of marigolds, both tall and short, cosmos, tall and short ornamental grasses—several carrying the purple theme on, and nasturtiums in an array of color which we also used to aid in the symmetrical order.

That was thirty-five years ago. My father is no longer with us and who knows whatever happened to the pictures we took. After adding various herbs—especially around the birdbath we took hands and stood back. It looked good for our first attempt, and we both agreed we had learned valuable lessons not only about the garden but about each other and how two styles could work perfectly together if you just got beyond who you thought each other was.

About the Author

You can find more garden and landscaping tips by Bilal on his site, the DIY Gardener.


Phil Goold is a retired landscaper of 30 years. He loves being outside more than anything else, except maybe pie. He enjoys connecting with other landscapers and gardeners because everyone brings something new and fun to the table. Connect with Phil on Twitter and Google+.

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