Thursday, December 23, 2010


Well, it is here. Winter. The time that the garden is asleep and the time us gardeners get close to the fireplace and look at garden books, plant catalogs and dream of spring. As much as most of us do not like the cold, wet, windy weather, there is an up side. This time of year is good  for hibernating a little and recharging ones batteries. We do not have to be busy all of the time, do we? There is nothing to do in the garden (except maybe some clean-up). With the holiday celebrations and the January let down, it is a good time to dream by the fireplace with a glass of Oregon Pinto Noir, let the nesting instincts develop , sleep a little more and dream of changes to the garden. Walking through the garden on a winters day, we can really see the bones of the garden and can get ideas on how to improve the hard scape without being distracted by the plants. Hard scape is so important to a good garden, although many gardeners over look it. "Collector gardens" often do not have any hard scape.  The plants look great, but if there was a well designed structure to the garden, when the plants start growing in the spring, the garden can go from nice to "oh, wow!"   "Oh, wow" is nice. At Villa Catalana, the gardens at Rare Plant Research, we have tried to build a hard scape with a high "oh, wow" factor. We have done that by moving a lot of dirt to change elevations, make ponds, use borrowed views and have built a lot of stone walls and terraces and garden structures. It has been a lot of work, but in life we need a number of "oh, wow" moments to give life a little lift and to let beauty infiltrate our souls and give us aesthetic  nourishment. We need to feed our eyes with beauty to allow our creativity to grow and develop. Aesthetic appreciation- it is one advantage to being human. It is one of life's experiences that give us joy and meaning. We need to seek it out, especially in the dreary days of winter.

With this in mind, Burl Mostul will be giving a program at the Yard, Garden and Patio Show February 18th at Portland's Convention Center on how Villa Catalana and the gardens were dreamed up and created. It may give you a few "how to" ideas for your own garden and Burl will be available for questions at the end of the presentation.