During the garden tour a couple of weeks ago, we were asked many times if we did all of the work ourselves or if we had a landscape designer – as though it’s an Either/Or option. When Mr. Hensong or I would say “We worked with Dupont Landscape Design…”, people would start to walk away before we could finish the sentence. I’m guessing we were immediately profiled as not possibly being able to have an intelligent conversation about our yard….the mysteries of horticulture being beyond the average person’s ability to comprehend. We learned to quickly say “Our gardens were created in partnership with Suzanne Dupont, would you like to hear how we worked together?”
During our child-rearing years, we were total DIYers….that’s what the budget dictated. We did pretty darn well with our patchwork projects. The time finally came when we could consider a Master Plan for our front and back yards – but we still had a budget. We stumbled through a couple of failed design projects with people who were more interested in making their mark on our turf than they were listening to what we wanted. My favorite was the designer who placed several large plants right in the middle of the sidewalk in our backyard. Apparently she forgot the plan she drew of our property when it came time for plant placement. She ended up with a short stint on Curb Appeal (HGTV), to my horror….so I won’t mention names…
All of this taught us that we are the kind of folks who want to work WITH someone. Mother Nature was listening (probably saying “finally….they get it”) and a friend said “You need Suzanne”.
At our first meeting, Suzanne asked to sit in our backyard and chat. She looked at the fancy landscape blueprint we presented her (failed designer attempt #2) and asked if she was required to use it. All she wanted to do was talk about what we are dreaming of, how we walk through our yard, what bugs us, how our dog uses the yard. From this nice conversation over some tea – she came up with suggestions that fit our wishes as well as providing a path for Robbie the Sheltie to run the fence line and a great gravel play area for our little grandson (so much better than sand!). Our front yard project started a couple of years later and it was designed in the same manner. None of us are purists; all of us want to do the best we can given our resources.
What we also learned is that, like so many things in life, landscaping is an art. Some ideas are great – right out of the starting gate. Some need time to think and grow. And some just fall flat on their leaves and flower faces. It has taken years for our yard and us to get to know each other.
I took it very personally when our first Fuji apple tree just curled up its roots and died. I was the only one why was distraught. Our great master gardener at Alden Lane Nursery said “Sometimes a plant just doesn’t work. ” What? You’re kidding?!
I’ve learned that I’m a Tough Love gardener. I plant something and the growing part is up to the plant. I don’t coddle. Sometimes I don’t even water (shhhhh….don’t tell….we can’t make a plant drought tolerant). Suzanne takes care of the likes of me by taking away plants that I don’t get along with…for their safety.
To sum up our gardening philosophy – it takes a partnership. I bring skills and ideas to the table, Suzanne brings loads of life experience and the talent of translating wishes into reality, Mr Hensong just tries to stay out of the way so he doesn’t end up with a shovel in his hand and a pile of compost that needs to be moved.
We are just starting on this new journey and beginning to expand our partnership to include local farmers and ranchers to our urban edible garden and backyard chicken venture. I’m looking forward to sharing the ups and downs of growing our own….hope you are too.