Small Wilderness Containers

Hello, my MARtians!

This week I made it a point to get back into the garden and begin to update, change, and create new exciting vignettes which will be revealed at the many garden tours and shoots scheduled for the season.

That said, I have noticed as time passes (and adds both age and experience) I often reflect on the many gardeners before me who have also enjoyed “playing in the dirt.” We are all connected by the delightful truth that our love and passion for the garden have no retirement date. Truth be told, my grandmother gardened right up to her last birthday, and so it’s no wonder that I feel that my partnering with Mother Nature provides great job security, not to mention exercise.

My earliest memories in the garden take me back to a small watering can my grandmother gave me in order to “help” her in the garden. In the days before irrigation systems, if one was to enjoy any sized garden one needed to come to peace with the fact that it required watering – and my grandmother knew that I was more than happy to take that role. Don’t get me wrong, she worked plenty; deadheading, planting, dividing perennials and trimming her garden. As I watched carefully she would speak about how her garden – or any garden – needs us. She would talk about how she began her gardening career in a container and would end up in one, too. She said to me “Mar, if you can carry it you can plant it.” It seemed that my little watering can constantly needed to be filled, and the many trips back and forth from the tap meant that I was communing with something that was so special.

I was in awe at both her skills and the beauty of the garden. She never saw the need to dress especially to work outside (always wore a simple housedress), never wore gardening gloves, and didn’t do it for recognition. The proof of her success was the abundance of flowers to pick and enjoy year after year. She made taking care of her garden a priority and a career that was loved and admired by all who visited. A career that lasted over eighty years, for which Mother Nature provided amazing benefits in return.

So here I am, a grown man tending to my own garden. Just like my Grandmother and her mother before her, I’m finding that although some tasks get harder as I age, the rewards are still the same. Truth be told, something as small as a container can be just as rewarding as any of the big stuff.

This season I embraced my small mini gardens in a whole new way. I’ve taken the terrain of the forest and reinvented it to create beauty in my stone planters. Interwoven with many details, these mini wilderness are filled with textures and various heights of these small, dense, low-growing evergreen plants that resonate a calm, tranquil place. (I can imagine Bambi and Thumper arriving any moment and giving a thumbs up.) The allure of these types of miniature vignettes has existed for centuries. Mine are definitely Bonsai-inspired but without the long-term commitment and less maintenance.

So this year’s planter theme is a “wilderness terrain.” Small, portable, and easy to create (coming soon: a sMARt Tip on the subject, with instructions on how I do it.) Because these mini evergreens and plants are so small they are easy to carry and plant. I’ll be carrying that watering can again, but this time with a cocktail in my other hand. I, too, already know that my career with Mother Nature will be a long one, which allows me to be inspired by the smallest things in life.