December 14, 2010

Garden Designers Round Table : Inspiration


 May Flowers by Moi

One of the most beautiful and beloved gardens in the world was designed by Monet,  an artist with no landscaping experience . He declared "more than anything I must always have flowers, always, always. "  He planted his gardens as subjects for his paintings.  " "The richness I achieve,"  he said, " comes from nature, the source of my inspiration."

 I also combine my passions for gardens and art and like Monet, nature is a great source of my inspiration as well.    The verdant rolling hills of my youth are forever in my heart and mind and the fragrance of cedar and pine in my nostrils.   I cannot pass a garden , no matter how humble or ostentatious, without appreciating the good elements of design it may have, but more than that, the beauty it brings to my eyes and soul.

Winter does not bring landscaping or gardening to an end, rather it is the season we spend planning for the coming Spring.   I find inspiration in the glossy garden magazines, the many treasured volumes I have on gardening, attending garden shows and visiting numerous gardeners who blog on the subject.  I know many who welcome Fall and Winter as a break from the gardening season but if I had my druthers I would choose a place to garden year round for I never tire of it .

Spring renews my winter-weary soul.  Like the earth I am awakening to a new season, a new beginning.  Every emerging plant is a source of inspiration and I am eager to start creating a beautiful garden for someone to  enjoy and attending to mine as well. 

Having grown up without the inspiration and nurturing a mother gives a daughter, I have found a source of it in friends , family and others I come into contact with.  From the person who bought my first painting to the client who trusted me enough to say " do your thing " with my garden and loved the results,  all have inspired me to greater heights.

One of my greatest inspirations comes from visiting both public and private gardens, especially those that have left a living legacy of their work behind.

Monet's Masterpiece -Giverny

Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst

Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden at Monticello

To create a garden or a work of art doesn't require a degree in horticulture , landscape design, or painting.  As famous fellow Alabamian Helen Keller said " Don't look to college for ideas. " That is not to say that education isn't important, it is, but inspiration is the well-spring from which creativity flows.

The gardens of novices Monet, Vita Sackville-West,  and Thomas Jefferson  provide a continuous source of delight and inspiration to all who are fortunate to see them.  As a primitive painter and garden designer I think I'm in good company.



  1. What a great quote by Helen Keller - I've never heard that one! Thanks for such an enjoyable post today!

  2. A wonderful post Carolyn Gail!! Beautiful photographs and I assume they are yours from various visits. Lucky you! Only I did not think the Nasturtiums were allowed to grow as he loved them spilling over into the path. Great to see! I think I fall into that group, who welcome the break from gardening, though I miss being in the lush garden. Imagination and Inspiration are indeed the wellsprings of creativity! You are endowed with an abundance of both. Your painting is wonderful and inspiring!!! I want to walk into it! I too think gardening and painting are such complements to one another.

  3. Inspiration is free for the taking. It's a matter of really *seeing,* isn't it? I enjoyed your take on the subject, Carolyn.

  4. Two of my favorite people, Helen Keller and Claude Monet, couldn't be in better company. A third favorite would be Carolyn Choi for her wonderful artwork, gardening and cooking talents.

    Like you, I really don't enjoy the time off from gardening, although I do like the planning - have received only one plant magazine so far. They must be hiding them from me!


  5. Carolyn, thanks for encouraging us to trust our intuition, express ourselves, and have fun!

  6. Lovely post. Clearly expresses that inspiration is all around us, all the time.

  7. I visited yesterday but was unable to comment. You've sited three gardens on my list of gardens to visit in this lifetime. I went to Monticello as a teenager which left me no memory of the garden whatsoever! Thanks for the armchair journey.

  8. What a fun website! Love the artwork. Though one of the Giverny pictures runs wild on my Browser. I've visited Monticello, Sissinghurst, and Monet's garden — and now I've visited yours...


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