Earth, air, fire and water; the mythology is long and varied. My simple version: the sculpture, which is the earth, makes for life. No less important is air-every living thing breathes.
Air can be wind storms, or breezes. Air can be still and palpable; one remarkable things about fog is how still the air is. Air conditions influence the performance of a landscape as much as the earth. Frost, air laden with freezing water, sinks into low spots, and damages or kills plants. Air moving over water, off a lake, is intense air-whether we’re talking hot, cold, or strong. Hot winds dry out plants; cold winds make for winter burn. Wind is a force to be reckoned with-do you need a windbreak first off-so you can garden in peace?
We had big winds and 80 degrees, today-in April, for pete’s sake. We watered all day. The lettuces in my spring pots had that windblown look-it was not a good look. A straight line wind ripped the roof off my building a few years ago- in seconds. Wind makes very large buildings sway. Windy weather affects everything in a landscape-plan on it.
I cannot figure out how to take a picture of wind-I could only photograph the debris it picks up, the petals it scatters, the rain it drives sidesways. The unseen air can make for airy-loose and beautiful. Good air circulation is an enemy of mildew, and a friend to root development in all plants. Airy is the texture of some trees, where you might want a view through to a far landscape element. A breeze makes for that motion that makes a meadow so beautiful. Heavy foggy moody days soften the view and invite retrospection; a sharp crisp fall day is invigorating. Air at great speeds can make for hell on earth. I think this is a good description of nature- what you are least expecting, happening on a regular basis. Taking nature into account when you design, and when you plant, will help you be successful. I am interested in people being successful with their landscapes; who doesn’t enjoy what they apparently are good at? Some success makes the inevitable failures easier to bear. Sensational landscape design begins with an understanding and respect for the elements. A plant you really like, that requires protection from winter winds, will prosper from the companionship of a windbreak. Farmers plant windbreaks, maybe you need beautiful enclosure.
Deborah Silver is a landscape and garden designer whose firm, Deborah Silver and Co Inc, opened its doors in 1986. She opened Detroit Garden Works, a retail store devoted to fine and unusual garden ornament and specialty plants, in 1996. In 2004, she opened the Branch studio, a subsidiary of the landscape company which designs and manufactures garden ornament in a variety of media. Though her formal education is in English literature and biology, she worked as a fine artist in watercolor and pastel from 1972-1983. A job in a nursery, to help support herself as an artist in the early 80’s evolved into a career in landscape and garden design. Her landscape design and installation projects combine a thorough knowledge of horticulture with an artist’s eye for design. Her three companies provide a wide range of products and services to the serious gardener. She has been writing this journal style blog since April of 2009.