Many years ago, when I was first making my own Brooklyn garden, I had an afternoon garden party- office friends, neighbors, acquaintances. Most were people who didn’t know a lot about plants or gardens, but knew I had been spending every spare moment on the garden, studying landscaping, selecting plants, placing them just so.
So when a guest who did not know I had been doing this – and obviously knew even less about plants – walked out and exclaimed “This is gorgeous. Was all this always here? Is it all natural?” there was a collective gasp. My other guests probably expected me to draw blood.
But perversely, I was pleased. First of course I explained to him that there had been NOTHING here before. It had been an Ailanthus-filled, overgrown, weedy, trash-strewn empty lot. Everything he saw and liked was man (or woman)-made.
But still I was pleased. Because if it looked as if it had always been there, it looked natural, comfortable…as if it belonged. And that is exactly what I was (and still am after all these years) after.
What had been there originally also looked natural I suppose. But it would never have drawn the “this is gorgeous” response. He knew it was beautiful. He saw that it was right, somehow. And that is what I wanted to accomplish. Not a duplicate of a natural landscape, but a stylized version that has a kind of beauty nature almost never achieves.
As a designer, I use the tools and materials of nature, but to my own purpose. I create compositions, seasonal changes, color blends and contrasts. I try to control the way the eyes move through a space and the way visitors are invited to travel. It is nature…but controlled.
I am proudly nature’s handmaiden.