Does Your Garden Design Have a ‘Big Move’?

I’ve been digging through my notes from the garden education days I attended this spring. These events are held all over the state and are wonderful sources of information and inspiration. Some of them include well-known speakers, such as Julie Moir Messervy, a garden design expert and author who spoke at the Carver-Scott Master Gardeners’ Garden Fever Day earlier in April.

curving garden beds

Voluptuous curves certainly describes this garden bed.

I reviewed Messervy’s book, Home Outside, back in 2009 and really liked it. Messervy told the large crowd in Chaska that one of her goals with the book was to take garden design principles and translate them into terms and concepts that would be easy to put into practice in a home landscape. One of those concepts is the idea of a “big move” — something about your landscape that is really special, its identity, or a theme that runs through the property. Messervy describes her own garden as a wildlife sanctuary — and many of the decisions about layout, plant choices and even ornamentation stem from that theme.

formal garden design

The straight lines, the topiary, the urns all say “formal.”

Theme is a big part of the “big move,” but Messervy also says things like your garden’s arrangement — is it symmetrical and formal, on an angle or curved? — and its layout — is the garden in front of the house? behind? does it surround the house like arms in a hug?

These considerations help gardeners set out the bones of their landscape and help them give the landscape a cohesive look and feel.

What is  your garden’s “big move?”

—Mary Lahr Schier

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