March Opinion: Gunning It

We had so many gardening friends stop by over the past 4 days in celebration of our 2012 opening.  I will admit I was beyond delighted.  Lots of our regulars responded to our spring call.  Thanks to Susan Pollack at the Detroit News, who wrote and published about our opening on Friday, we had lots of new people.  What fun-to have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to people who have never been here.  Many thanks, Susan.  Any discussion about the garden revolves around individual people, with individual ideas about what constitutes a great garden.  This means every person, both returning and new, means much.

Recreating the shop from the previous season to the new one is an enormous job.  We empty just about all of what is still standing in 10,000 square feet of space.  We clean as if we have but 10 minutes to live.  We repaint, rebuild, fix, change, alter, move around-you get the idea.  Rob’s shopping becomes a reality-this means containers and trucks to unload.  Every single garden ornament gets cleaned, moved, integrated-reimagined.  There is not one thing that has not had hands put to it.

This is work I look forward to.  I am first and foremost a landscape designer.  By the time that late November comes, I am usually finished working outside.  This year, I ran 2 crews until December 17th-the weather was unseasonably mild.  Once we clean and oil the tools, do maintenance on the equipment and trucks, that part of my work comes to a close.  The shop space is a landscape of a different sort. Certain things about this landscape project are vastly easier.  The entire place is enclosed by 4 walls and a roof.  This means I do not have to worry about rainfall, snow, winds, or any other difficult weather.  We have heat.  This interior landscape is meant to create an experience that suggests the garden. The suggestion that this pot or that trellis might not only be possible, but good.  As much as our customers know what they like, they can be persuaded by something they see.  Not something that I think, but something they see that comes from what I think.  We fuss each space down to the last square inch, knowing it will be intact but for a moment.  The overall shop landscape has to accomodate the change that comes when things go home to another garden.  

The experience of our opening was as different for us, as it was for our clients.  Though we customarily open March first, we usually have to push the snow aside, opening the gate.  Our usual opening-very quiet, and without much fanfare.  This winter was the winter that wasn’t.  We decided to do opening day differently.  We threw a party.

  This past weekend, I was so pleased to come face to face with people who love to garden just as much as I do.  The decision to do a more formal opening was dictated by the weather.  This winter’s weather was on a lot more gardening minds than mine.  Plenty of conversation had much to do with this atypical winter.  What was my take on the winter that was never a winter?  What did I think about a winter with no snow?  Are there plants that have broken dormancy, that will see damage if we have a substantial cold spell in March?  Have you ever experienced a winter like this? (no, by the way)  How do you see the spring shaping up?  Will we even have a spring?  Could we have snow in June?

I have lots of friends in the nursery and landscape industry.  They have the same questions.  How shall they schedule their crops?  Will this 40 degree weather persist into late May, or will we have reliable 80 degree days in mid-May?  No one knows the answers.  I would be lying if I said I would not appreciate some answers.  But nature calls the shots, and I have no address or phone number that would permit me to contact that natural phenomenon in charge. 

This means I have no answers. This was my first winter ever like this.  But it did seem to me that some part of our spring may be early.  And that anyone who loves to get outside and garden has had spring in their nose and on their mind for weeks.  Nature, as Rob has so aptly observed, announces spring at least 5 times before she really means it.  What does that mean for us?  We committed.  We had a party to celebrate spring.  March 1.  Judging from the numbers of people who came to say hello and shop, we were not alone in looking for a firm start date.

Rob’s partner Meg observed it appeared we were gunning it.  Gunning it out of the gate, in spite of every uncertainty.  This made me feel incredibly good; many thanks Meg.  I might have reservations and worries, but I am confident that what we have to offer falls under the one of a kind experience. Many thanks to each and every one of you who came and shopped.  No landscape design and installation means more than the relationship between client and designer who forged it.  No spring at the shop means more than the relationships, both old and new, that we have with the people who frequent our place.  We threw a spring party to which lots of you came.  To my mind,  this means spring has arrived.        


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