Was all this always here? Or…I am nature’s handmaiden.

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.

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