Well, what a year! Is it safe to say that the season evolved differently from what any of us would have imagined twelve months ago? Though the pandemic created challenges for all of us, we noticed many positive effects. We were so happy to see people:
· spending time in their gardens when many other recreational activities were off limits.
· spending time with their kids in the garden.
· taking an interest in food security and growing food.
· taking interest in fostering natural spaces for indigenous plants, pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.
· benefiting from fresh air and exercise at a time when we all had to stay home.
· experiencing joy in their gardens, often while struggling with mental well-being.
· embracing the nursery as a 'safe' place to visit.
Three cheers for nurseries being considered essential services!
With more time at home, life seemed to slow down and gardeners had more time to fuss in their gardens. There's a movement away from low maintenance and towards building spaces that give joy and create feelings of nostalgia and cheer. Many gardeners grew flowers for fresh cutting, food, and medicine as a way to connect and take care of themselves, their families, and their neighbours.
Some of us are using our gardens to recreate past experiences or to establish spaces that evoke faraway locales. It's amazing how plants can conjure strong memories of childhood; perhaps of a family home or a loved one long gone. In my own garden, I notice how my childhood memories influence my plant choices. I recall spending hours playing outside as my parents toiled on their roses (many of which I can still picture (even smell!) but not name). I am now dedicating a small area of my garden to roses. In a different section, I've added Crocosmia 'Lucifer' back by the compost bin right where it was when I was a child. And my rhubarb is from a chunk I've moved from one home to another. At this point, it's a family heirloom to cherish.
But that is not to say that all elements of my garden look to the past as I also find inspiration from faraway cultures. I covet the colourful courtyard-style spaces of Mexico and Morocco, particularly Casa d'Azul (Frida Kahlo's home in Coyoacan, Mexico) and Le Jardin Majorelle (former home of YSL and Pierre Berge in Marrakech, Morocco). Both gardens centre around famously blue buildings (hey, MY house is blue!) and they incorporate lush plantings and hot colour palettes. What fun to combine elements from faraway places with PNW design!! Our gardens can be a means to escape to faraway places in a time when travel is off limits.
Has your garden helped you survive this crazy year? What’s been your source of inspiration? I’d love to hear! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag @russellnursery in an Instagram post to share.