“If you release something old, something new can bloom.” Cheryl Richardson
A big part of my job as a garden designer is to visit with people who would like to improve their view. I take this quite literally. I have always believed that just the right clients would call me at just the right moment, to look at just the right situation, because they needed a new perspective. They often think that they need a new garden, but I have learned that what is really needed is a new way to look at the garden they already have.
Once someone asked me if my garden consultations were complimentary. I had to laugh because all I could think was, yes, if it’s a pretty nice garden. The truth is, I am always able to see more potential in the situation than most of my clients are able to see. My job is mostly about finding appreciation for the inherent beauty that is sometimes hidden. The magic is taking that bit of beauty and then amplifying it. I also like to think of myself as someone who can make something out of nothing; I have a special talent for seeing what isn’t there yet.
My clients often invite me out to see their gardens in disrepair. They begin our visit by pointing out everything they do not like about this place where they are. Many speak of their own failures, inattentiveness and laziness as the cause of the garden’s current state of decline. Sometimes they declare there is nothing there of value at all. I am surprised to find their observations often mirror the way they see the circumstances of their life. Nothing has really worked out; they feel that they have failed, they missed their chance, they didn’t work hard enough and it’s all a mess. They no longer see the potential for improvement.
Now they need an objective coach.
They need a fresh pair of eyes that can offer a new vision.
I often play a game with my clients to access their imagination. By asking a lot of questions I engage a process that will shift their perceptions. I will say, “Let’s pretend that it is next year on the 4th of July and you are having a large party. Who is coming to visit your new garden? How many guests will attend? What will you be doing to have fun?” As they respond to my questions, they start to imagine their garden in the future. This is the garden they would like to live in. This is the garden we will co-create together.
I then begin to paint the elements of a new garden in my mind. I try out different components in various positions. I overlay my new reality upon what I see before me and begin to describe what could possibly develop. I suggest that a blank fence could become covered in vines with flowers and provide more privacy. I describe an outdoor kitchen and dining room where friends and family will gather to celebrate a meal together. I evoke quiet places to sit and look at the stars.
Most everyone knows intuitively that you need to care for a garden for it to thrive. You must water it and nourish it. You need to pull weeds and keep it tidy. All of this effort brings a harvest of results we can see. But how many of us are willing to give this same attention to our lives? Are we willing to use our imagination and then do the work to get the outcome we desire? If we only focus on the mess in front of us how can we create a better future?
Not everyone can see the garden I am envisioning. They are often stuck with the idea of what they see before them and that is a pretty big problem. The solution is never really part of the problem. The solution is somewhere in the field of infinite possibilities. You can only reach that field with your imagination.
The solution is in the realm of pure positive potential. You must step into the field of the unknown to find the new fresh idea.
You need what I call garden vision.
Always remember, goodness grows,
“Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is a triumph of hope over experience. Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.” Elizabeth Murray