August 2021: The Wild - Revisiting Berkshire Garden Style
Almost a year ago, I began this project of co-writing a blog because I wanted to share my story more widely not just with clients but with the broader Berkshire community and beyond. The Berkshire community is changing just as fast as the storms come and go over our valleys. When I began the project of recording and sharing my thoughts I was thinking a lot about what I wanted to say and why I wanted to say it and at the very foundation of these thoughts is a consideration for what was here, what is here before I begin my planning and design work - the wildness. So this month is a bit of an expansion on and revisiting the idea of wildness one year on…
In September of last year, this featured in our blog post:
“The first piece of creating a garden - Berkshire garden style - is to place it within the context of the surrounding environs and underlying bedrock. The Berkshires is a place with wild environs, forests, small rolling hills - a place where a child can discover a red eft in their backyard and an adult can rediscover that childhood joy and unexpected delight in a walk through one of our numerous tracts of preserved wild land. I grew up amongst this wildness. It was my childhood home, and I established my adult life here after a period of time spent in my birthplace of Southern Oregon.”
I often dream of wild gardens, re-wilding and bringing the ‘wild’ into our domestic landscapes. When I enter a garden space, I think about what was there before ‘us’, ‘you’, ‘me’. What and who put a print on the landscape before I stepped on the grass and began my grand plans?
This time of year is a grand time to think about wildness. The landscape is so lush this time of year as meadows uncut are tall and opulent; I see how nature puts on such a brilliant show without our involvement. It feels good to see and feel the wildness among us -- the grasses blowing lightly and starting to seed, the volunteers, the clover, thyme and camomile growing amongst lawn grasses.
Wild doesn’t mean ‘untouched’ and of course it is our job ‘to design’ and ‘to garden’. Wild means appreciating and considering what is there first before beginning any process of introducing new plants or removing plants. In my daily work, I can’t help but interject a little bit of my desires by thinning out the goldenrod but for the most part I’m content to “let be” and these days my touch is lighter than it used to be because I know that nature does such a good job.
We’re so excited that one of our garden crew -- Morgan, my blog co-writer and Viridissima crew gardener -- is currently spending some time abroad in Scotland. She sends weekly snaps of her newfound appreciation for Scottish flora and has shared with us her experiences of ‘wild’ gardens in her walks round her village. Attracting wildlife (bees, birds, hedgehogs and insects) has always been a big part of gardening in the United Kingdom and Scotland in particular, and for most folk it’s a regular practice to leave flower heads to dry on the stalk and let areas of unused grass grow into no-mow meadow areas. Most hedges currently are running wild as homeowners and council workers wait until the end of August to begin hedge cutting after all fledgling birds have departed. Morgan has noticed how much consideration is given by humans to those --insects, birds and others --who use plants for food and for homes.
Perhaps you would consider some wildness in your garden space, perhaps a no-mow area, letting some of the background plants and volunteers spend time amongst your perennials and annuals. All of these acts are congruent with my ethos of authenticity and organic practices -- the foundations of my life’s work -- gardening in the Berkshire Garden Style.