The summer I turned 11, my family packed our camper and set off on a massive adventure that lasted over a month. The leg of our trip that resonated the most with me was the coast of BC. There was something about the mountains and ocean that spoke to me – it made me feel free. I vowed right then that I would return to live in this place.
Life on the west coast became a reality when my art skills got me into the University of Victoria. However, I quickly discovered I was not like my classmates and had zero desire to become any entity that encompassed being an artist. I lasted 2 years before I bought a car, learned to drive standard in a mall parking lot and set forth for Whistler because it seemed like a cool place to go and get lost.
Fast forward to my years in landscape construction and maintenance where I learned design and plant knowledge and in time I was let loose to create spaces for clients. These playful experiences naturally paired well with my understanding colour and sense of flow. Eventually I realized that I was still creating; it was just a different type of medium.
Now I spend countless hours every year drafting my garden plans for the following season. Notes on notes on notes as to what was great, what was horrible, where to plant what, what not to plant, what I want more of. Lots of mindless staring out the window at my plot fantasizing its potential; then scavenging bits of wood and rocks to add into the landscape. And, like clockwork when it comes to planting time, the plans that have come to fruition are loosely used and I stuff seeds and starters in the beds as I see fit.
Maybe it’s the old artist in me coming out to play and wanting to just be free to experiment with what feels good at the last minute. This is an integral part of the learning process in gardening and I highly encourage it. Sure we can read books and learn what we should or shouldn’t do but at the end of the day if we are satisfied with the results then, who gives a shit.
Feel it out. Plant what makes sense. Plant what you love. Look at your space and see it as a blank canvas in which to create your sanctuary. It can be whatever you want it to be. Let it evolve. You can always return to your canvas and paint over something you don’t love.
Eighteen year later since arriving home in the Sea to Sky I have finally accepted that I’m a gardener and a landscaper: an artist after all.
Photo notes – The main photo (above) was taken out the window when I moved into our current residence from where I sit every day drinking coffee. The picture below was taken this morning and I can guarantee in a month it will look even different. Stay tuned!