Horticulture magazine sponsors symposium at Wellesley's Elm Bank Reservation, "Discovering and Enhancing the Hidden Dimensions of Your Garden," features five gardening experts from around the world.
Whether your garden is an au natural collection of plants or styled after a famous country estate, you'll find great design advice at Horticulture magazine's upcoming symposium, "Patterns in Gardening."
To be held Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's Elm Bank Reservation in Wellesley, the symposium, subtitled "Discovering and Enhancing the Hidden Dimensions of Your Garden," features five gardening experts from around the world.
Nan Sinton, the developer of the symposia for Horticulture magazine, said many cultures around the world use patterns in their gardens, especially European gardens.
And their inspiration?
"If you look at tiles in a cathedral or a piece of lace, that's a beautiful pattern," said Sinton, a South Shore resident. "That sort of interest in making patterns translates in making a garden."
Sinton will be the first speaker at the symposium. In her talk, titled "Wild About Patterns," Sinton will show pictures of gardens from around the world illustrating patterns.
Sinton insists patterns are not just for formal gardens.
"It actually works in all styles of gardens. Suppose you have a nice field in the country. Well, you have some patterns going already with a fence between the house and the wild. You've got the grasses in the meadow and the wildflowers, and they will give you patterns of colors throughout the season. And if you mow a path, you've formed (another) pattern."
Valerie Easton of Seattle will also speak at the symposium. Her talk is titled "Why Use Patterns In The Garden?"
A lifelong gardener and former horticultural librarian at the University of Washington, Easton now writes full time. Her most recent book is "A Pattern Garden: The Essential Elements of Garden Making." She is a garden columnist for the Seattle Times and writes frequently for Horticulture magazine.
Easton said it was a book on architecture, "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander, that first got her interested in patterns for the garden.
"He identified hundreds of patterns that make you respond emotionally in architecture," she said. "He called them patterns because you put them together in different ways to make a home. I'm totally untrained in design and this idea of patterns was very helpful.
"I was inspired by Alexander's book to write about gardens."
Easton said her book is not so much about plants but good design.
"It's the designs that make a garden easy and comfortable to work in. The plants come second," she said.
Consideration must be given to all facets of the garden, including where you will place walkways, seating, arches, walls and other non-plant items.
Another consideration is trees, and Gary Koller, a professional horticulturist and landscape designer from Roslindale, will talk about them in his portion of the symposium titled "Native Trees Anchor The Site."
"One of the big things these days is native plants," said Koller. "With the emphasis on trying to make landscapes that are more regionalized and native in their flavor, you can't do it without native trees."
Koller pointed out that trees are as varied as any plant. They are short or tall, thin or bushy, and present different colors and textures to the garden. Some even bear fruit. They can be used as a border, even creating privacy for the landscape.
And following with the theme of the day - patterns - they can and do create patterns all their own. Notice the trees in your community and you will see thoughtful design, even in the planting of trees along the road.
"They're spaced equally apart," he said. "It makes a rhythm, a cadence of the tree trunks." Planted equidistant from one another, they also create order.
"If you have a new home, the first thing you should think of planting is trees because they take so long to develop," said Koller. "They plant peonies and day lilies but it's the trees that really make a community feel settled and established and, really, quite gracious."
"I think pattern gardening is about creating a space that's going to work for their family so they're not just 'working' on the garden, they're enjoying it," said Easton. "It has everything to do with the design elements and how much the gardener has expressed himself in the garden."
Sinton said gardeners of many skill levels can benefit from attending "Patterns in Gardening." Additional presenters are Raymond Evison, who will speak about clematis, and Jan Moyer, who will speak about the use of lighting in the garden.
The symposium is for "gardeners who are interested in refreshing their own garden or those who are just going to begin reworking their space. It's a moment to give yourself inspiration for the new year, whether you're working in a window box or a whiskey barrel or a half acre," said Sinton.
"Patterns are the very fabric of the garden," Easton said. "Why not make them as personally expressive and appealing to you as possible?
"I'm looking for ways to make (gardening) very satisfying and special."
"Patterns in Gardening" will be held Sunday, Feb. 10, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Elm Bank Horticultural Center, 900 Washington St. (Rte. 16), Wellesley. Participants must preregister before the event by calling 877-436-7764 or visiting www.hortprograms.com. The cost is $124 for Horticulture magazine subscribers and members of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and $134 for non-members. Lunch and handouts are included. For more information, visit www.hortmag.com.