Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pencil to Graph Paper

I finally managed to get outside with a measuring tape and see how many plants I'm eventually going to need to fill out the garden.   Now, there is a good chance it will be a few years before every spot in the garden is full up on blooms, but it hasn't stopped me from planning it to within an inch of its life.  In my head, that is.

I got out the graph paper this morning and drew a big square, with a big circle in the middle of it.  My backyard.  Then I proceeded to draw tons of little mini circles all over the place.   Then I balled it up.  It was an unintelligible mess of scribbles and circles which represented nothing that gave me a better understanding of how to arrange the garden.  It was unintelligible the second time too.    And then it occurred to me.  For maybe the first time I can think of, at least recently, my natural inclination to plot everything out wasn't working.    And whats more,  I don't think it is going to work for me.   Even if I do manage to get something resembling a snazzy garden plan onto graph paper, I highly doubt that my garden will resemble that in the slightest.     After all, the reason to put brainwaves to paper in the first place is so you can cement whats roving around inside and visualize it so that you can see if it works or not.   I can't tell anything more on paper than I can in my head!    This means, dear reader, you get no garden plan to peruse.  Instead you get this:
"Best garden plan yet"

So despite what nearly every book I keep reading is telling me, I am not going to really plan my garden beyond a sense of color, size and the need to put shade plants in the shade.   I am not going to take advantage of the opportunity for planning that an empty garden space brings with it.   I have a short list of plants that I would really like to have.   The rest is just going to have to happen.  Seat of the dirty garden pants.


  1. I like that garden plan - don't worry, just go for it! There's nothing you can do that can't be changed :)

  2. Jess, I have a feeling that there are as many approaches to garden design as there are gardeners -- and we all learn what works best for us by trial and error. Trying to think about the whole garden at once gives me a panic attack, so I have to work on just one small section at a time. In some parts of my garden, just sticking plants in the ground and moving them around has worked well, and in other parts, it has been a disaster. But I agree with Cyndy -- just go for it! -Jean

  3. Hi Jess~~ I'm enjoying your blog. Thank you for having me on your blog roll. I'm humbled.

    Well now, you saw my garden photos. Every inch of space was planned out and implemented exactly as intended with no problems whatsoever.

    If you believe this well, as the saying goes, the proverbial bridge lies in wait... LOL

    I've jotted ideas for hardscape and pathways. IDEAS. Those papers are MIA, probably in a crumpled ball similar to your depiction only on the bottom of some obscure drawer or shelf.

    For some lucky souls, inspiration comes while the pencil is freshly sharpened and the mug is still warm. For most of us, I daresay it's while we're out there moving things around or when we're visiting other gardens. When we're at the nursery or reading a book. There's nothing more lethal to our creativity than forcing it. It's a lot more fun and successful when it comes serendipitously.

    The Nike folks have it right: Just do it. And enjoy it. And then show us your results!!

  4. Hi Jess~~ Sorry. I'm slow. I just got it: Children of the CORM. Clever!!

  5. If I were starting my garden now, I'd make many, many specific plans. All of which come from what I learned by gardening impulsively. I don't think that you can really make reasonable plans for a site until you've gardened on that site. So the crumpled plan seems like a good, er, plan. :)

    Of course, there are useful rules of thumb - for example, I know that I tend to use too much variety, so if I were starting a new garden, I'd force myself to make larger clumps of a smaller variety of plants. But even that comes from learning about myself as a gardener, which came from gardening impulsively.

  6. I like your plan...or not a plan. :) It will all come together. You have in your mind the plants that you love and you can just work around them. It might be less frustrating by going to the nursery and looking at what they have rather than having to search and search for a particular hard to find plant. Keep us posted ...:)

  7. Thanks for the encouragement everyone! Things are going to be happening soon, because the last frost date is only a week away!!!!!!

  8. Putting it on paper is not the important part from what I have found. It is all the thought, dreaming and imagination that happens before a pencil might even reach your fingers. You sound like you are way on your way to the beginning of a garden that will evolve as each day passes and that is what a garden is all about.

  9. This is the first garden where I have actually made a plan. Most times I have just put a bed in and crammed it full of plants. I did colour theme, (eventually). My new garden is 3/4 of an acre of lawn. I am trying to divide it up into garden room, so I find the graph paper helps with that. Especially as I want vistas from one room into the next, and (hopefully), one side of the garden to the other. But, I am not making a planting plan, that is still impulsive!

  10. I would like to be one of those people who uses a spread sheet and is left brained like that, but I pretty much just wing it in my garden(s). Each year the garden looks a little different, and I find myself adding new things, moving them around or just admiring what happens to come up. When I'm actually at a nursery I will give thought as to how many plants I actually think I can fit (or afford)...but generally, I just 'buy and try--on the fly'!!!

  11. If nothing else, I like to plan my hardscape. I have moved and removed enough paths, decking, and edging to last a lifetime.

    And for some reason, napkins are the next best thing to a garden muse for me. If I have a pen and a napkin to sketch on, brilliant things happen in my garden. The hubby is still (in vain as of yet) trying to teach me CAD so I can draw my plans on the computer.

    Christine in Alaska

  12. Compost - thanks, I'm assuming if I go really wrong in here somewhere you are at least going to shoot me a warning, living up the road as you do.
    Jan - Funnily, I AM one of those people, I already have a spreadsheet ready to go, but I am finding organizing my thoughts for a garden onto paper aren't having the same impact I normally get from being a concrete type of person. So, I give up.
    Christine - hmmmm. napkins work better than graph paper. Will remember that! Fortunately, or unfortunately, my hardscape is somewhat set unless I want a major project. But, now that you mention it, maybe someday I will want one, because I already have a dozen things I don't like about it!