Trying eye-catching garden tricks

Synergy of styles can create unique opportunities for landscape.

To all the grads and other students, here’s a fun little poem for you which goes like this:

Don’t worry if your grades are low, and your marks are few;

Remember that the mighty oak, was once a nut like you!

And, to celebrate the beauty of all the lilacs and other flowering bushes and trees in the area:

White May is flowering, red May beside;

Laburnum is showering, gold far and wide;

But I sing of Lilac, the dearly loved Lilac,

Lilac in Maytime, a joy and a pride!

I love her so much, that I never can tell;

If she’s sweeter to look at, or sweeter to smell!

(The Song of the Lilac Fairy, by Cicely Mary Barker.)

Years ago, when my sister was living near the Nelson area and my mom and I were visiting for a few days, she insisted we come and see her dentist’s office, which was on the second floor of an old, funky building in downtown Nelson.  Apparently, this guy had been quite a traveller and had learned a Japanese technique (I forget the word for it) used for interior/exterior designs as well as gardens, whereby there is always something interesting or attractive that will catch your eye, leading you either to it or distracting the eye away from something unsightly.

His office was truly lovely, having used a combination of Japanese and Santa Fe construction styles, and this eye-catching design technique really worked. No matter where we sat, there was something that would either take our attention away from the dentist and office stuff, such as a beautiful plant, a water feature at the end of the hall or something interesting hanging on the wall, so I filed that idea away and now I use it around my home and gardens.

Judging by the letters to the editor, along with the comments I hear around town, our new municipal hall unfortunately does not exactly win the people’s choice award for building design. However, it’s a “done deal,” and it’s here to stay, like it or not. However, there may be some hope for the unhappy observer, because I just saw a whole crew of people outside the front door the other day with blueprints in hand, so I’m assuming that the long-awaited landscape project is close at hand. If they pull off a great job for the front entrance and transform it into something welcoming and beautiful, this Japanese technique may pull those disgruntled eyes away from the actual building itself so their focus naturally lands on the greenery out front.

I have a fairly big composting area with about five or six bins cooking away, which I affectionately call my “industrial park,” and another spot where I keep my power wagon, leaf shredders and other big items. These are not the most attractive areas, so I’ve used this technique and planted pretty flower gardens next to them, so that my eye automatically travels there instead of the bins and machines, and it’s amazing how it works.

If you have areas that rankle the senses such as a messy or unsightly spot, the parts car, woodshed etc., give it a try. Sometimes a couple of big, colourful flower pots will do the job as well. This way, you and your company will only gaze upon what’s lovely, because we all usually have our own industrial parks somewhere in the yard.