Have you ever seen a drawing of a garden design? The swoop-y paths, and the green circles that mean “this is where you put X”. How do they get there?
I don’t know how others do it, but I can tell you about our process: how the design grew slowly bit by bit in many iterations, with lots of looking things up, how we hit a road-block, and how it all came together.
In the first version of the design, I basically said, OK, we like the front part of the yard, so we’ll just put the food forest in the back half, plop, in three rows of trees. This of course, is not very elegant. No swoop-y paths here. Plus, no room for the mini-sheep. However, it did rationalize the walk to the bikes, and this solution remained in later versions.
I kept at it, taking out my pencil and the tracing paper, putting a new blank piece of tracing paper over an old design and tweaking it here and there, then putting new tracing paper over that drawing. Knowing our land and our goals really helped. So did the 1″x1″ grid, and plant books with information about space, soil, water, and light needs of my plants. Gradually, one part after the other came into focus – an area for growing hazelnuts; an area for regular fruit trees; a spot for walnut trees to be able to grow into their huge selves (after I’m dead and gone); a shed and pasture for the mini-sheep. Then, at last! I had a Design. It wasn’t perfect – it had straight paths going from front to back which were not the greatest – but it had all the plants in the right places, and it met all of our goals. I proudly shared it with Mark. He said, “that looks really lovely, I like this and that, but …” very gently “… wouldn’t it be nicer if the paths were sort of – curvy?”
Grrr!!! I knew it! Never share your Design with anybody! All they do is mess it up and say it’s Not Right! I was frustrated. I drew 20 deep breaths. Then, I said to myself, why don’t you try letting go of all that information and thinking and planning, and just kind of let the pencil do where it wants to do? And that’s what I did. And five minutes later – there was an outline of a new design, with swoop-y paths, very pretty, and after I filled it all in with the individual plantings … it worked! More on the final design in the next post.