Sunday Opinion: Making It Work

I have a new client-a daughter of an old client.  She is a young person, with children.  She has a fairly large property in a really nice neighborhood; she has lived there 6 years.  They have ripped out some things.  They installed a really nicely done terrace in the back-that took a big chunk of their landscape budget.  Now what?  Lacking a clear idea of where she might want to see in this landscape and garden in 10 years, she is circling, waiting, and wringing her hands.  Finally, she calls; I am glad she did. 

I plan to provide her with a schematic plan.  A different sort of schematic plan.  When I was her age, I had loads of energy-energy to burn.  I feel quite certain that she has that same level of energy-I will suggest that she use it.  There are so many things that young people can do for themselves to make a landscape come to life.  She is passionately involved in everything about her life.  My plan is to siphon off a little of that passion in furtherance of a great landscape.  She has enough energy to power a Volt-it just needs a little direction.  What makes a young gardener put their foot down on the accelerator?  A plan that makes her feel that a beautiful landscape is within her grasp.  A plan that enchants her such that she cannot wait to get out there and make it work.

The plan also needs to address the issue of success.  Nothing is more disappointing than a great plan that once implemented, does poorly, or dies.  I was garden obsessed such that the dying and the dead did deter me in the least.  This is partly my personality, but I did not have kids to raise.  The people that I know with children are very busy people.  My evenings were my own-I could dig a drainage trench, or dig rocks into a garden-I had nothing calling me after dinner beyond my own exhaustion.  For her, I would design with a time table in mind.  Prepare this ground, go shopping for plants.  Take the plants out of the trunk, and plant them.  If she cannot swear she will water until she is blue in the face, I will teach her about how to lay soaker hoses, and tell her where to go to buy them.  Then, and only then, go to the next spot.

I do intend that she will lay out, and dig her own beds.  She is perfectly capable.  It may be the most valuable thing I will say to her-that she is capable.  She has a very nice husband who is encouraging her to make some moves.  He clearly knows how to make things, build things, look after things.  Together they will make a great landscape installation team.  Their joint efforts will save them a lot of money. 

There will be lots of places in the plan to play with.  They may decide to grow roses, or invest in peonies. They may switch this plant for that one.  My job is provide them with a foundation they can get behind today, and appreciate many years from now. My big idea here?  There are many ways to make something work. 

My first garden was a God forsaken, utterly neglected 5 acre piece of property.  On the down side, I had just about 25 dollars to devote to the reclamation.  On the upside, I held this property for 15 years-every year I made a dent.  15 years of dents can add up to a transformation.  I am counting on this for her.

There are lots of ways to make things work.  This client-no doubt she has the ingenious gene.  My job is to loosen that rusty valve, and get her to turn the tap on.  This part of the schematic plan is every bit as important as the plan itself. 

I can dream.  I can draw.  I can wave my hands.  I can explain, I can quote-but in the end, the best thing I do is provide a plan for making things work.


  1. Deborah : Thank you for this. We are close to putting the next “dent” in the plan you made for our home. Double boxwood hedge, here we come!

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