Bone structure

maple musclesIt is generally acknowledged that the difference between being temporarily pretty and eternally beautiful has something to do with bone structure. Like our own skin, which may or may not be wrapped around a Katherine Hepburn-esque skeleton, our garden hangs on its bones too. But although no plastic surgeon is truly capable of changing those of us unlikely to age gracefully, I think it is possible for everyone to have a garden every bit as timelessly handsome as, say, Gregory Peck. All we need, aside from a plan, is … time. Plus patience. (Isn’t it interesting that, when it comes to standards of beauty in a garden, age is usually a benefit rather than a liability?)

nut grove bonesweeping beech path bones

It’s easy to recognize an eternally beautiful garden. During the height of a colorful summer, you might not even be aware of why it’s so beautiful. But over the winter it hits you that the garden is every bit as stunning, stark-raving naked. Some properties (like Blithewold) are sublimely situated and while, like the curl in one’s hair, that’s definitely part of beauty, it’s not the be-all and end-all. What the garden really needs is structure within its perimeter and view to keep it from being as boneless and boring as our cutting bed in winter. It needs permanent elements – trees with muscles, rocks maybe, buildings (most of us have a house in the middle of our garden if not a garage and sheds too), and some might say to include a water feature – anything worth looking at even after the summer’s skin is shed. And those features should fit the scale of the garden’s face like expressive eyebrows and chiseled cheeks.

Camperdown elm and the Summerhousenut grove bones

The last leaves haven’t even fallen yet but I’m already jazzed to think about Gregory Peck – I mean the gardens’ bone structure. The Display Garden still has a ways to go before it’s truly handsome in its own right but now it’s much easier to see what it needs. — My own garden at home cries out for eternal beauty too and there is where my patience will be truly tested: Good bones take such a long time to build.

boneless Display Garden

Does your garden have good bone structure? Do you have plan(t)s to improve it?