30 May 2010

We Kick Grass!

Last Wednesday was a red-letter day. It was the day our Student Exhibition Garden was finally complete! Nearly a year in the making, the sense (or should I say 'scents') of excitement, pride, accomplishment, and not a little relief at watering the last plant in was downright euphoric. I swear I could hear a score of garden angels break into the Hallelujah Chorus when we turned the hose off!

I've heard our exhibition gardens compared to the likes of those at Chelsea, Hampton Court, Chaumont, Cornerstone...if you're not into gardening and aren't familiar with these venerable horticultural venues, trust me when I say such a comparison is huge! Flatteringly huge! Dare I say intimidatingly huge? Granted, we don't have the financial backing that those gardens do, but we took what we were given and turned it into something spectacular!

It was an enormous challenge and we not only rose up to meet it, we stared it in the face and declared through gritted teeth, "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?!" (apparently channeling Clint Eastwood with a trowel in his holster is what happens when one blogs at 5am).

My design partner Shannon and I, along with our Class of 2011 colleagues Carolyn and David, not to mention my other classmates with their gardens, well, there's just no other way to put it - we rock!

Imagine, then, how utterly deflated I felt when I asked why the photos on two of the signs for the gardens don't feature images of the designers and received the answer, "It's not about you".

And there followed a stunned silence.

Beg pardon? 'Not about us'? What is a program - any program - if not for the people in it? And what is a design - any design - if not a reflection of the designer(s)? The Program (she gestures with both hands to indicate appropriate placement of quotes around the word) didn't conceptualize, design, and build these gardens, we did. The Program (quote-y gesture repeated) didn't slog 14 hours a day - often longer - to satisfy work obligations, deadlines, and balance all the other requirements 'the program' puts on us, we did (hey, it's my blog, and I'll rant if I want to!).

The Student Exhibition Garden at Longwood will be officially launched sometime this summer and it is my sincere hope that our hard work receives the recognition it deserves. These gardens reflect not only our creativity and ingenuity, but countless hours of planning, preparation, and sweat (LOTS of sweat! We worked our asters off!).

Installing the gardens was supposed to offer "real world" experience. I worked in the landscape industry for three years before coming to Longwood and I can tell you that many of the tools essential to landscape installers "in the real world" were sorely lacking yet we made it happen. And while there were things that needed to happen and people involved who laid the groundwork, developed the space, and provided invaluable assistance along the way (I salute Dan Maffei and Harold Taylor - We couldn't have done it without you!), my class is the first to leave our green fingerprints on it. I can't think of anything more personal than that.

Last summer when we were putting our design programs together the three main objectives for our gardens were: "Fragrance", "Safety", and "Wow!". If you ask me, I think we hit the bull's eye with that last one! Who's feeling lucky now?

Nicotiana and Papyrus bloom abundantly in our containers

Rebar arches fabricated for us by Longwood master welder, Dave Beck

Our central focal point, a floriferous 'downtown' skyline surrounded by native sedge Carex pennsylvanica and Calamintha 'White Cloud'

Mina lobata covers the arches with flaming blossom

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