Planting a vision and watching it grow Garden: Instead of relying on someone else's design to transform your yard into a thing of beauty, look to yourself for inspiration.

February 02, 1997|By Joan Jackson | Joan Jackson,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Whether it's Monet's Giverny you love or your brother-in-law's roses, trying to play copycat to someone else's garden dream is a waste of time.

Instead, says Jacqueline Heriteau, "Dream your own dreams."

"To have a beautiful garden, you must nurture a vision of your own. It's the interaction between you and your own piece of land, your love and passion of the plants you choose, that will make the garden satisfying," she says.

Love. Passion. Devotion. These are the emotions Heriteau discovered between gardeners and their gardens as she researched her newest book, "Glorious Gardens," (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $59).

"The glorious gardens shown in this book were created by individuals who trusted in their own ideas of beauty and communed with the earth and the plants," she says. The ideas in her book are just that -- ideas to inspire, not plans to copy step by step.

In fact, Heriteau cringes outright at the idea of trying to reproduce another's yard flower by flower, tree by tree. She is a Washington author, journalist and columnist who has written three dozen books in her crusade for individuality.

"You literally cannot repeat the gardens in magazines or books. Gardeners drive themselves crazy trying to create the gardens of wet, cool England, even in the wet, cool Pacific Northwest. The climate is too different. You can't repeat in New England's short growing season the beautiful gardens" you see year round in California's climate, she says.

What you can do, however, is nurture a vision of your own. "Open yourself up to the land, walk it, study it at dawn, at sunset, in a dust storm, plant under an umbrella in the rain, and trust the ideas that come to you. That's how you and the land and the plants together will make a beautiful garden happen. Submit, and the land and the plants will speak to you, and your garden will be different and wonderful and satisfying," says Heriteau. Besides her many books, she writes a column for the Washington Times and is on the board of directors of Garden Writers Association of America.

Because of the book's 10-by-12-inch size and the hundreds of lavish photographs, some people might think this is just another coffee-table book -- and that would be too bad. This book has substance.

"We wanted to make a great coffee-table gift book, but we also set out to make a book you will read and come back to often, because it inspires ideas and self-confidence," she says.

The gardens were chosen for their beauty. Their job, Heriteau says, is to show what can be achieved by any person who is moved by beauty, by the fragrance of a rose, by the gawky way a little old radish pops up out of the dirt on a cool spring morning.

The right plant in the right place is her theme song. She gives tons of specific examples of the types of plants to use, and almost every one is pest-resistant or disease-resistant. She recommends grasses for several types of gardens -- natural, weekend, seashore and others -- because "they don't need much extra watering, need dividing only every 10 years or so, and they give the lovely, flowing, open look."

This is a book anyone can understand. For plant examples, she uses familiar things so readers can visualize what she is talking about.

There is a basics-of-gardening section at the back so a person can evaluate the work, time and cost involved in planning, planting and maintenance.

Heriteau's advice to gardeners, experienced and otherwise: "Fashions in plants and landscaping are exhausting and misleading. Skip fashion."

Instead, "trust in your own idea of what is beautiful. Grow mini-pumpkins on a rose-covered trellis if that appeals to you," she says. "Mix purple and orange, mauve and red. Do a collection of cactuses. Garden for wildlife, or perfume roses. And hang in there until you get it just right for you. Then be proud of it."

Pub Date: 2/02/97

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