Ever since Michele described the gardens in my neighborhood as "super-sophisticated woodsy," I’ve been pondering that phrase. Of course, unaccustomed as I am to seeing my name in the same paragraph as the word "sophisticated," it was a surprise. And "super," no less.
Now woodsy? You bet – I got lucky there.
But what the hell is sophistication, anyway? Not the pseudo kind that’s such a turn-off but the kind we acquire slowly by doing and learning and changing. And as gardeners, we naturally change our plant choices and styles as we learn by doing. We fall in love with new plants and new ways to grow them. So whether it’s sophistication or not, it’s really cool stuff.
- Using increasingly organic techniques and caring more about how I treat my land.
- Going for a more naturalistic and informal look, wanting all lines to curve.
- Simplifying the garden – by massing plants and using less fussy lines and fewer types of hardscape.
- Caring less about blooms and more about whole plants and groupings of plants.
- Sacrificing blooming plants in favor of evergreens as I care more about how the garden looks in winter.
My garden is stuffed with American Mixed Borders, as the wonderful Ann Lovejoy calls them in her book by that name. They imitate open meadow surrounded by low plants, then understory trees and then tall trees. We humans apparently prefer habitats with this arrangement of plants.
So how have you changed as you’ve progressed as a gardener? Because whether it’s called sophistication or something else, we’re changed by what we do. And do and do and do and do, in the case of gardening addicts like myself.