Last Sunday, I sat under the canopy of a Canada red chokecherry in the northwest corner of our backyard in southern Idaho as a slight breeze made the branches lazily wander back and forth, almost following the rhythm of my thoughts. The ground was moist and the encompassing plants were happy to have me for company. On the outside of our custom-built iron fence, moonshadow junipers and hostas seemed to make the street in front of our home fade into the distance. A grand blue spruce, privets and a shapely boxwood hedge lead to this sanctuary.
As I reflected on our journey toward creating this beautiful getaway, I realized that it had been the epitome of true gardening: vision, work, love and patience.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, most people are all about curb appeal! It is like marveling in the beauty of the paint without looking at the painting and what it means to us. We have somehow lost our way when it comes to creating intimate garden spaces for ourselves. Our intimate gardens – the ones we create for only ourselves and our loved ones – seem to have been forgotten. We all have fond childhood memories that include a secret hideaway, the place at the bottom of the hill no one dares to go, and the mysteries of undiscovered treasures laying somewhere in the brush. When designing your intimate garden here in southern Idaho, hold to those memories and don’t be afraid to find your inner child.
CREATING YOUR INTIMATE GARDEN SPACE
Take time to visualize yourself walking through your front door from a long, stressful day at the office and longing to be somewhere else. Think of the rainforest garden you walked through on your Hawaiian vacation. Or think of the serene landscape you experienced on the family camping trip to Smiley Creek last summer. Why not re-create that feeling in your own backyard?
If your first thought is that you have nothing in your backyard but an old horse chestnut tree and a conglomeration of plants that have no rhyme or reason for their placement, take the first step and change your mindset. What if you pruned the old horse chestnut into a wonderful specimen focal point? Transform the old tree’s masculine branches into an intimate garden underneath its canopy. Build a small sitting patio with flat stone and floor your garden with creeping woolly thyme. Then place your
favorite lounge chair, sit underneath your new space and visualize what you would like to smell, touch, hear and see.
If it is a shady spot, plant a mixture of hostas, Japanese painted ferns and astilbe. Planting a Japanese maple behind your lounge will make you feel more enclosed and safe.
If the area receives afternoon sun, your plant selection will have to change for those conditions. Instead of Japanese maple, plant a Siberian weeping pea shrub to create a similar feel. Ornamental grasses, snowmound spiraea and a mixture of sun-loving perennials are just a few suggestions. Complete your intimate space with decorations, statuary or water features that remind you of your favorite places around the world that your mind enjoys traveling to.
Take a journey through your backyard and find all the intimate places that you can create. To be a successful gardener, you don’t need a prestigious horticultural degree; you need merely to be humble in your reverence for nature and bold in your passion for expressing yourself through the plants that paint your landscape. The great thing about gardening is there is no right way. Delight in the fact that you can put your thumbprint on this earth for all to see. If gardening is done with more passion than understanding, more patience than worry, and more love than selfishness, it may be your grandest epitaph. In the words of the poet Alfred Austin, “Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.”
Ryan and Jamee Muchow own and manage
Windsor’s Greenhouses & Nursery
3796 N. 3386 E. Kimberly Road, Kimberly