Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bee Garden Design: Inspiration Journal

Step 1: Make an inspiration binder and/or journal

It's the first day of February and it's snowing gently outside my window. Still, it is time to start thinking about putting in that seed order and designing your garden. I love to read glossy lifestyle and gardening magazines as a form of escape and inspiration. There are plenty of great mags at the library, but your local thrift shop may have a stack. You should expect to pay about 25 cents for a used magazine. Now it's yours to clip, rip, and collage. I have a binder of gardening ideas, from fantasy gardens with a view of the ocean to ideas for the costumes my friends and I could wear on the set. Yes, think of your garden like a stage. Consider yourself the artistic director and let your imagination run free. Where is your drama being staged? Ignore the zones for a moment and think about where your fantasy garden is set. Do you love the bright oranges and saffron shades of India? Maybe you could grow a variety of Indian marigolds. Are you inspired by all things Chinoise? Maybe you could grow peonies from the Orient. The country that inspired you could influence the garden furniture you choose and the objects you place in your garden.

I have clipped pages with a color or texture I was attracted to, or a piece of furniture that gives a sense of style that catches my eye and my heart. I love articles are artist's gardens and I like to think that some day my garden could be filled with beautiful pieces of art as well as an abundance of fruits and flowers. I've clipped recipes for years, and now I look for themes and threads--which veggies am I the most passionate about and would make give me the most pleasure to grow in my small back yard? Put those recipes in your binder and refer back to them when you are ordering your seeds. My garden binder has newpaper articles too. Gardens are political. What kind of a political statement will your garden make? I refuse to buy seeds from companies which produce genetically modified organisms. As bees are attracted to heritage and heirloom plants, old garden books from the forties and older are a great resource to draw from as well.

After you've made your binder, take the time to have a cup of tea in a quiet spot and meditate over the connections in your book. You may find you have an attraction to the intense purple blue hues. You may admire delphiniums in someone else's garden, but for some reason think you can't grow them yourself. Why not take up the challenge? You may find yourself longing for the gardens of your childhood or those from a place where you had a memorable holiday. If you can't find an overarching theme, consider making your garden a patchwork quilt of niches, altars, and oases inspired by the diversity in culture and nature.

There are many articles these days about how to plant a bee garden, but the truth is there innumerable ways that you can make your garden attractive to bees. I like to start the process with creative visualization, which can then give us a starting point that will lead to the scientific aspects of the bee garden. Take the time to imagine yourself in your garden. Plan an ideal day in the garden--morning, noon and night. What kind of dinner parties, brunches, or tea parties will you have? Make drawings, collages, and sketches. If you want, use words to sketch out your garden, but use colorful pencils and pens. Do you have a friend that loves to garden? Send them a letter with a color photocopy of your ideas.

Why not have a garden design party? Invite a bunch of friends over, pop open a bottle of mead, put out your garden books for inspiration and start sketching out your ideas, and getting some creative feedback. Have fun!

Now it's 3 degrees Celsius and raining.

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