The Gardener's Way

By Reina V. Kutner

February 20, 2009 4 min read


Find your inspiration by taking a look around you

Reina V. Kutner

Creators News Service

As with any work of art, all you need is a little inspiration to get started in your garden. Often the hardest part of beginning is weeding through the possibilities.

"Because inspiration is really everywhere, sometimes it becomes overwhelming as there are so many things we like that it becomes difficult to make a start," said Jamie Durie, landscaping expert and host of the upcoming HGTV program, "HGTV Showdown."

It's one of the issues that Sonia Uyterhoeven, a gardener for public education at the New York Botanical Garden in New York City, aims to resolve in the garden's home gardening center. She explained that part of the reason why they set up the garden was to help people find the motivation they need to move forward.

"Most people come in and give a sigh of relief and say, 'Here's a garden where I can actually do some of these things,'" said Uyterhoeven.

Durie, who hails from Australia, finds that many of his clients are inspired by their vacations.

"When people take a break somewhere, it is that feeling of relaxation and rejuvenation that inspires them to try and recreate that in their own homes," he said.

The thing to keep in mind: When it comes to gardening, inspiration can be found anywhere. "We need only [to] open our eyes," said Durie, who keeps a "working diary of ideas," using his camera to capture scenes, settings, patterns, landscapes and plants from a variety of environments both manmade and natural.

Uyterhoeven, believes the most poignant inspiration comes from looking at your own neighborhood and the surrounding public gardens. Through careful observation of one's immediate environment, a new gardener discovers plants will thrive in their garden."

Uyterhoeven's advice: "Look for the plants that are performing well.You can open up a catalog and see a beautiful plant, but if it doesn't grow in your region, for a beginner it would be extremely frustrating."

And while flower gardens are beautiful, don't forget your veggies.

A vegetable garden is, according to Uyterhoeven, "something that many people identify with."

Durie added that a vegetable garden is a wonderful project, especially for kids. The concept of being able to grow and bring food to the table is a powerful teaching tool for future green thumbs. And a kitchen garden, he said, "is something every family needs."

Here are some of Uyterhoeven and Durie's best tips on harnessing the inspiration you need to get started in the garden:

* Keep things simple. Start small and build on your design, gradually adding more complex plants over time.

* Know your limits. How much time will you be dedicating to your garden? Certain plants take a lot of effort to help them grow.

* Take a "functional analysis." Determine what you and your family want or need from the garden, and shape your design based on these elements.

* Although there are many wonderful plants, make sure they complement your permanent surroundings. The architectural style, colors and furnishings of your home should influence the look and feel of your garden.

* Do your homework. Research techniques, buy a book on gardening or take a continuing education class.

* Don't be afraid to experiment, take some risks and try new products and tools.

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