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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Use your Senses

When doing a program on Design, whether it's Garden Design or Landscape Design I always finish off the same way. I tell people to use their senses in the garden.

The sense of Sight would come first as looking at our gardens gives us such pleasure. Your garden is your art form, enjoy looking at it.

The sense of Sound is one that is often ignored. Here on Long Island it's pretty hard to find a place that's truly quiet. When I go hiking on the Walt Whitman Trails I can still hear the parkway. Even in secluded, million dollar areas I seem to always hear somebodies lawn service or leaf blowers being used.

Our home is near Old Country Road (ah ha, part of where the name comes from). While this road looks quite rural, we still hear the traffic during busy hours. By adding things in the garden to mask the man-made sounds, I find it a more relaxing place. Wind chimes and running water are my first choice. Bird sounds are excellent too.

The sense of Taste. From what I've been reading, vegetable gardens are back in fashion. While I haven't had a vegetable garden in years, I've always grown herbs for our use. These Garlic chives were a pass-along plant and I think they are so cool looking!

The sense of smell is one we tend to think of more often but do we really use it? I just love seeing somebody walking around the garden with a big spot of pollen on their face or nose. You know exactly what they did, they stopped to smell the flowers. (Well maybe not this Peony but many flowers will leave pollen on your face.)

The sense of touch is one one that has so many different ways to be enjoyed. First to mind is the soft touch of some plants like the Stachys byzantina (Lambs ears) shown here. What kid isn't glad to be handed one of these leaves to hold in their pocket?

The sense of touch can be expanded to wonderful plants that when touched, release a second sense, the sense of smell. When I show the garden to friends I can't resist picking a leaf or a bloom from here or there and having them do the scratch and sniff test. Mondarda is in the mint family and the foliage smells heavenly.

The sense of touch is so important that I also had to include a third photo. To me, there's nothing like the feel of potting up new plants, burying your hands into that warm potting soil, and lovingly patting down your new babies in their nice pots. I think this is what I look forward to the most right now as spring is almost in reach.

Finally, don't forget your sense of humor! Now I don't have a toilet bowl planted in my garden, if I did the lid would be down (come on, this has to be a man's planting). But I do have lots of funny things here and there. We all have a different sense of humor but why not consider having something in your garden that makes you smile every time you see it?

What's your favorite sense in the garden?

What do you plant to scratch that itch?


kjohnson said...

I love Viburnum carlesii or juddi and Syringa meyeri "palibin" for a whiff of scent by the front door. They always surprise visitors!

Marie said...

I love your post today! It's interesting and beautiful...

redrahde said...

One of the reasons I love your blog (in addition to it's wonderful content) is that there is something new to look at every day. I find that I stop checking out those blogs that are only updated once a week or so because they don't become a part of my routine. Your blog, on the other hand, is the first thing I go to after reading my emails. It really is very well done and something I look forward to every day. Your link to the Garden Renegade provided a lot more great information. Thanks for all your efforts and keep up the great work!

easygardener said...

I've got to go with two different but complimentary senses.
Sight because it allows me to thoughtfully appreciate everything in the garden.
Smell for that visceral, overwhelming kick I get when a scent hits me.

2greenthumbsup said...

When I was moving to my current home in August 2006, I wanted to give myself a sense of belonging. Because I had spent a huge amount of time working on the gardens and flower beds at my previous home and couldn't stand the idea of having it all go to waste, I brought many bits and pieces of my favorite plants with me. It wasn't the best time of the year for moving plant material, but I'm happy to say that the majority survived. Being able to see these items in their new homes and to continue caring for them truly helped make my transition easier. That might sound a little crazy to some, but most of us gardeners know how wonderfully therapeutic working with our plants can be.

lintys said...

The toilet reminded me of something I'd rather forget! I had a neighbor once with a less-than-well-manicured yard. It was a catch-all for junk, some of which became 'interesting' garden ornaments. The one I disliked the most was a bathtub in his front lawn 'planted' with red plastic geraniums. Although I'm all for whimsy in the garden, I didn't find it whimsical, not even amusing. at. all. :)

Gail said...


Another thoughtful post...

I can't show my husband the toilet, it is just the kind of garden sculpture he would love to add.

Our house came with Ribes odoratum..clove scented current...Have you smelled its deliciousness?


Anna said...

That looks like POT-u-laca in the toilet-lol. I could do a ladder back chair planter but not the toilet. The funniest thing in my garden these days! It makes sense to spend cents on scents!! I just made that up from looking at your post inspired me. Great blog today!!

Melanie said...

KJ, what a great idea with those yummy shrubs, I love the scent of Viburnums and Lilacs.

Marie, glad you liked it, I loved your blue china!

Pauline, thanks so much for the incredibly nice comment. I'll remember it when I'm stumped one morning :-) Isn't that garden renegade incredible!

Easy, I'm with you, when that scent hits me it's unbelievable, maybe because so often it comes as a surprise.

2GTU, I know exactly what you mean! I brought some plants here and loved them dearly but I also so miss the ones I had to leave behind.

Oh lintys, we had a neighbor like that too only it was junked cars on the lawn. Stuff like that can drive you crazy.

Gail, my husband refused to throw out the toilet here when we redid our bathroom. I finally dragged it all the way out back and it stands guard at our compost heap, a fitting spot I think.

Anna, what, did you funny pills this morning? Hope you are still laughing now as my clock tells me you are just about waiting for that landscaper to arrive at your new house. Good luck!

Frances, said...

This has been a wonderful series. Your garden looks luscious and the photos are superb. Great post.

Frances at Faire Garden

Carolyn gail said...

Sweet Autumn Clematis since I can't grow Jasmine here in Chicago !

There's no mystery on the toilet bowl container -it's a redneck gardener :) They don't waste anything. I've seen rubber tires, bed frames, cast iron kettles, etc. used for planting.

minnesota kathi said...

Melanie, this is so beautiful...except for the toilet :), I love the spoon wind chimes and can't wait to hunt for some, thanks for the wonderful idea.

Kathi :)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Your toilet picture and what you said about the lid made me laugh. Too funny. I think I'd pass on that one.

Another wonderful post!