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Living in Nature's Landscape
By Matt Cole, Director of Education on Mar 23, 2009
I've been watching the quiet declaration of drought conditions with an eye more curious than fearful. The US drought monitor classifies the current conditions as moderate drought, or D1, which is pretty low on the scale. The gardeners around me, however, range from "not on my weather radar" indifference to head-shaking, ground-staring, "I knew this day would come" pessimism. It would make a fascinating study of human personality, I think, but also, I wonder if it reflects their gardening interest.
For me, transplanted easterner that I am, I don't yet know what to make of it. Do I water obsessively or give up on anything the wet side of Opuntia? The gardeners whose gardens I admire most do neither–or at least, neither is their priority. Instead, they live within the landscape, the nature that underlies the urban landscape of Metro Denver. They pay attention to structures, winds, hollows, moist pockets and a sense of the biota that surrounds them. The ecology of the space does not escape them, even when they attempt to bend or defy it.
Under the circumstances, I am looking forward to Susan Tweit's and Jim Steinberg's talk on Thursday as part of the Bonfils-Stanton series. Their talk is grounded in and illustrated by the Colorado landscape and I hope it shakes a little bit more of the easterner out of me. "Bringing Wildness Home: Nature as Everyday Inspiration" isn't described as directly addressing the drought, mind you, but for those of us who still aren't used to a truly arid climate, I think that the landscape design involved in restoring wildness to Colorado landscape is exactly what the aspiring gardener needs. I expect to see photographs of many inspiring Colorado places and that often fires my imagination. Register in advance for the best rate.
Of course, my imagination is way more vivid than my actual space allows. Ian Young's talk about his Garden absolutely filled my head with great plants (and you can see some at the Scottish Rock Gardening Society), but Aberdeen is a radically different climate. The great thing about native plants and landscapes is that they've seen drought before. I hope that to find a few ideas that I can use directly, to hear examples of Colorado conditions (drought or otherwise) that I can learn from, and to gain a wealth of experience that I can draw on, whatever the weather brings.