The garden has long been viewed as a getaway. It is a place where we let go of our worries and unwind. It is a place where we trade the stuffy confines of the cubicle for the sweet, fresh fragrance of the outdoors. We need these places. We need a place where we can revel in the beauty of nature all around us; to enjoy the beauty of a single flower or a sunset that paints the entire sky.
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to stay in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike." - John Muir
John Muir was envisioning such a place when he penned these words over one hundred years ago. He worked tirelessly to create the first National Parks, as a place where people could reconnect and be refreshed. He could never have imagined the unending race we sprint every day that we call “normal” life. And somehow at a time when people feel more stressed than ever, the idea of a garden is slipping away, doomed to be a magical place only remembered in dusty novels. It is not gone.
When Francis Hodgson Burnett wrote the classic children’s story The Secret Garden a century ago, she captured something of the hopes of all people young and old. A place, a getaway, where all worrisome things were gone, and beauty was the only rule. She wrote of a place where miracles could occur, and where new life and love sprang up, as if out of the ground. She captured the story of a garden.
But what makes a garden? What turns a collection of flowers and bushes into a place of healing? To understand the garden, we will have to take a varied approach, looking at The Secret Garden for clues, borrowing ideas from art and science, and examining ourselves to understand nature’s allure.
A garden’s setting may be the most overlooked dimension. It can also be the subconscious factor that has the most impression on our memory. A garden’s location in relation to the rest of the environment connects directly to the feelings we have there. Humans attach locations to memories and emotions. When you spend an entire day in a crowded street or a busy market, it can be difficult to remember what happened, and in what order. We need distinct locations to help us mark our memories.
Walk into your 5th grade classroom or a home where you once lived – suddenly a flood of memories return that you had not really forgotten. But those seemingly long-forgotten memories were attached to a place. Our memories attach themselves to places. But beyond the plain memory, even our deepest feelings can be there as well.
If you have ever gotten sick after eating at a restaurant, you may find it difficult to eat there again. Even if you order different food, even if there are different diners and different cooks, you might still feel uneasy. This is the place where you felt ill.
Fortunately, this same connection works the other way as well. When your garden has the correct setting, it too can create the same alcove of memory and feeling. It must be a separate place, a place distinct from anywhere else in your world. Maybe it’s a formal iron gate and well-pruned hedges leading to a manicured pathway. Perhaps some simple stepping stones lead across the lawn to a small cove. But it must be a distinct place. When you step up into a formal dining booth, you feel like you have left the restaurant and are in a different place. The secret garden is not far away. It is not difficult to enter. But when you get there, you are in a different place.
Privacy is the dream of every harried and frustrated mind. The whirlwind of life endlessly chases us, catches us, and lets us go again. If only we could get away. Most people don’t wish to be entirely alone. Instead, we dream of a place where we can relax without the constant judgment of the world.
When Mary Lennox slipped behind the high brick walls of the secret garden, she shielded herself from the critical eyes of her world and entered a place where she could laugh and live. Maybe you don’t want to be surrounded by high brick walls. But we long to have a place of solitude. Our ability to think, to meditate, and to reflect is connected to our closeness to people around us. People who silently watch game after game on the TV will scream themselves hoarse in the stadium. We buy gifts in a frenzy among a crowd of Black Friday shoppers, and then after Christmas is over wonder why.
We need privacy to discover our thoughts. Privacy may require more than just a vinyl fence to block the neighbors house. Maybe you need to plant some mature shrubs to hide the garage and its to do list. The gentle sound of running water can cover humming highway traffic or the droning of a neighbor’s lawnmower. And maybe somewhere in the garden there is a bench, or a hammock, or a just a special spot where you can escape.
Each garden is unique, just as each painting or sculpture is unique. And it is the uniqueness that makes each one special. Outside of Eden, there is no paragon of gardens. A garden is made to the liking of its owner, so it is foolish to assume all gardens must fit a certain mold or style. Some are formal and decorous, with manicured pathways and well-pruned hedges and roses. Others are rustic to the point of antiquity, with unkempt wildflowers spilling over so they almost cover the winding pathway. Formal garden sculptures or eclectic stonework; all can be a part of a garden.
No style is superior, no design less worthy. Rather, each garden in its own way should harness all the capabilities of the senses. The sound of running water, of birds in the trees, is just as necessary to the composition of the garden as the color of the flowers and foliage. The smooth pebble pathway, or the cool flagstone under foot, either one is an important part of the composition that adds flavor and dimension to the garden. Maybe it is a rustic pergola laden with vines, or a tidy pavilion offering shelter from the rain. The composition of a garden reflects its owner’s taste.
When completed, all the elements of a garden combine in a symphony of beauty and life. The fragrance of summer flowers, and the smell of fresh dirt beneath our feet reach out to us, tug us into their world. Fish swimming in a tranquil pond communicate grace like the water lilies who share their home. Breezes wafting through the trees, birds singing their songs, and waterfalls bubbling the echo whisper the secret of the garden in our ear. Welcome to your Secret Garden!
Talk To Us About Creating a Secret Garden
If you’d like to talk with us about creating a dream secret garden of your own, call us at 814-696-3700 or contact us online.
Stamped concrete is a poured concrete slab that is imprinted with a design or texture to replicate the look of pavers, natural stone, or another substance. Stamped concrete is often colored or dyed as an added feature.
Stamped concrete is a cheaper alternative to pavers, yet holds more aesthetic appeal than regular concrete. However, stamped concrete has a few drawbacks.
Here are five issues that we believe you should be consider before choosing stamped concrete for your project.
1. Stamped concrete tends to crack over time.
This isn’t unique to stamped concrete – any poured concrete will crack and move over time when exposed to freezing and thawing cycles.
2. Stamped concrete can be slippery, especially when wet.
This is usually a result of the surface finish done to the stamped concrete.
3. It can be challenging to get accurate coloring on a colored patio.
Some concrete patios are poured with regular concrete, then afterward sprayed with a sealer/color agent that gives the desired color. This spray-on sealer tends to peel off over time. Most spray-colored patios require resealing every few years, which is an added expense. For this reason, most concretes have a dye mixed in to give color through the concrete. At the concrete plant, the batch is mixed with the dye added, then loaded into trucks and hauled to the job site. Unfortunately, this dyeing process is not a specific procedure. Often even after a customer picks out the color they like, when the trucks of already mixed concrete arrive, it may be slightly different than expected. This color variation is commonly considered the responsibility of the customer. Since the pre-mixed concrete on the truck cannot be reused, the only way to change colors may be to pay to return the delivered concrete and purchase a new batch. This can quickly add cost to the project and stress on you.
4. Stamped concrete is difficult to repair or change.
After a concrete pad is poured and has cured (dried) in place, it is permanent. You cannot fix surface imperfections, chipped corners or edges, or puddling issues. The only way to remedy these problems is to cut out a patch of concrete and replace it or demolish and redo the entire project.
5. Salt cannot be used to remove ice from stamped concrete.
The chemical compound in salt will cause the surface of the concrete to chip and fracture off if exposed to concrete. This makes snow and ice removal difficult, especially with a textured surface that makes shoveling difficult.
If you're looking to build or re-do your patio or pool area, let us know how we can help. We're happy to answer questions you might have or to provide an estimate. Call us at 814-696-3700 or contact us online.
Weston has been working at Tussey since 2007, starting as a laborer on the crews. Today he works as a foreman on one of the crews during the landscaping season, as well as our marketing director at Tussey.