What are those special ingredients that elevate a garden into a stylish and unforgettable space? What’s the best way to unleash your garden personality, and how can you create an outdoor place that’s uniquely your own?
Just in time for another gardening season, Seasonal Wisdom sat down with London-trained landscape designer Rochelle Greayer for ideas on developing personal style.
Photo copyright Adam Woodruff
If you’re an avid gardener or reader, you may already know Rochelle Greayer. She was a graduate of the English Gardening School in London. She is the creator and editor of the hip gardening newspaper Pith + Vigor. And she also writes regularly for Apartment Therapy. I’ve gotten to know her better, because we are both members of the Troy-Bilt Saturday6 national blogging team.
Rochelle is also the author of Cultivating Garden Style: Inspired Ideas and Practical Advice to Unleash Your Garden Personality (Timber Press). This hard cover book is packed with photography, design tips and advice on styles ranging from Playful Pop to Xeric Hacienda and Handsome Prairie.
Whatever style you enjoy, you’ll find a wide variety of garden accessories – from modern umbrellas to retro fire pits to comfy loungers. There are literally hundreds of ideas to get your creativity flowing.
This visually stunning book is designed to help you determine the look that’s right for your home. Along with lots of design ideas, there is The Little Green Book in the back with good garden resources. You’ll also find general gardening advice for everything from firescaping a yard to choosing the right tree. There are many little gems in this jewel of a book.
Obviously, Rochelle is a good person to ask about garden design:
Photo copyright Marianne Majerus
Q) How does someone cultivate “style” in the garden?
Rochelle Graeyer: I think everyone has a personal style whether they know it or not.
Sometimes it is hard to find. But you can see personal style in the car they drive, the clothes they wear, the things they eat and the art they like. I think people are often afraid to embrace their style, particularly in the garden, because it can be so visible to everyone around them.
Finding your style is about finding what sings to you – the colors you love, the stories you like, the books you read, the images you are attracted to – and then learning how to translate that into a garden.
Pinterest is my favorite tool for people to use to find what they love. A fun activity is to go to Pinterest and perhaps go to someone else’s page that has a wide variety of boards.
The point is, expose yourself to a huge array of images. Then start liking — not pinning – but liking images. Liking is super fast; you just click the heart in the corner on anything that looks interesting to you for any reason. Let it come from your gut. The faster the better, so you aren’t over thinking or letting your critical thinking mind engage at all.
Don’t pin; that stops your freedom… it makes you organize and judge. The point is to turn that part of your mind off. Once you have done that, take a look at all the likes and see what patterns you find. Did you like stuff with a particular color, style or element? What threads do you see? Sometimes a thread in your boards can be hard to find, but a friend can see it more easily. The threads are the beginnings of finding your personal style.
Photo copyright Hugh Main
Q) What are some common misconceptions about garden style?
Rochelle: Style to me is very personal. It is not what the neighbor has down the street, although that may look great! Lots of people aim for what their neighbors have in the garden, but I think that only leads to a boring world (and boring neighborhoods).
Creating space around you that uniquely serves you, inspires you and comforts you is something that can only be done for you and by you. Style isn’t universal – it is personal and unique.
Q) What have been some of your most important garden design inspirations?
Rochelle: Art and fashion are both hugely inspiring to me. Both tell stories and when you are drawn to something (like art or fashion) you are drawn to some element of the story that it is telling.
Then, of course, there are other garden designers. From them, I am often more inspired by the technical elements – such as how they built something, or the plants they choose and how they put them together. If they are really thinking, then I can be very inspired by the stories they are telling. For example, I’m a fan of avant garde garden shows like Chaumont, because the whole point is to get away from “pretty” and more into an idea or concept.
Pretty is great – and of course pretty can carry the day in a garden – but just pretty can also be sort of a boring story.
Photo copyright Andrea Jones
Q) How would you recommend people deal with their “inner critic” and create their own garden style?
Rochelle: Maybe thinking of it as “art” or “style” is too stressful and puts too much pressure on it?
Think more about what you love. Consider how you want to spoil and indulge yourself first. Then, once you know what is meaningful to you, it is easier to tell the inner critic to shut-up and go away. It’s all about you and whatever makes you happy. Who cares if that rhubarb plant is next to the mailbox, if it makes you happy?
Photo copyright Jim Charlie
Q) Is there anything else you’d like to add?
People always ask me, ‘What about my homeowners association?’ And to that I say, there is always the back yard. Build a fence if you must. Then do what you love and what inspires you out there.
Thanks, Rochelle! Best of luck with your own garden this year.
This is not a sponsored post. I was provided a free copy of the book from the publisher, but I was not compensated in any way.