Letting Go: A Garden Tour About Appreciating What Is

No…they weren’t perfect gardens….or were they?

On July 15th, thirty-five curious garden enthusiasts gathered to explore gardens transitioning from Spring splendor to Summer slumber. What occurred for all that attended was nothing shy of transformational and alchemical.

As you may be aware, Studio Petrichor, a paradigm-shifting landscape architectural firm, focuses on a “whole-system” approach to design, implementation, and ongoing landcare. The clients and communities that engage our services know they want to do something, to be a part of something, to be better humans in a culture that so easily forgets our lack of devotion to Mother Earth. What our collaborators aren’t completely ready for is all that comes with reconnecting to the natural order and seasonal fluctuations of a planet that is alive and breathing.

We opened the tour at garden number one by expressing the theme for the day…letting go. Letting go of the cultural programming and collective belief that our gardens need to look luscious and green and redefining what beautiful is to you! Is it merely aesthetic? Is it only culturally agreeable? Or is it personal?

We would venture to say that it is vibrational…and to paraphrase Janine Beynus, “Beauty has always been a signal of the good. We deepen ourselves when we start listening to cellular truth.”

The gardens we toured were the perfect blend of green, silver, and brown with fading rainbow pops of floral delight. The gardens we showcased were in the process of fading into the toasty, dusty, tawny, letting us know “We’re okay! We’re okay if you let us go without water for another three weeks and we’d be okay if you gave us a little today. We’re okay because you know we are gonna be okay. You are listening…you know what to do…you’ve already done it. And, we’ll be back in about four to five months.” Can we live with brown as an accent color throughout the gardens? After all “brown is a color,” sayeth our mentor and colleague Carol Bornstein.

Anticipation is the gift that reminds us we have something to look forward to….hope! AND….as garden caretakers, we struggle with this! The contrast between this garden and the neighbor’s green carpet of year-round thirst is stark! Deep down inside, do we feel like we are the outcasts of the neighborhood? One garden experienced an irrigation controller malfunction and hadn’t been watered for over three weeks…and you could see it…and it still looked amazing. The plants were shouting to us…”we got this!”

A new project in construction – Image Credit: Heike Knorz

Gardens that attempt to reflect the seasonal changes of a region are gardens that rely on less supplemental water and support so much more than the human desire for something nice to look at. And this all comes down to choice!

We can choose doing what we can to return rainfall to the soil profile like an acupuncturist tapping into the meridians of our cities. Through building the soil profile with organic materials to increase water-holding capacity, the rainfall is invited to remain on the land we have been gifted to care for…rather than away. To honor the regional wildlife and pollinators through emulating native plant communities in the garden. This is what Mother Nature has been whispering to us for millenia. We hear you. We are listening.

When we hike, camp, or drive to the breathtaking places where supplemental irrigation doesn’t occur, we are witness to a community of plants in various micro-climates. We see geologic features that influence rainfall and local environments. What if, from these observations and quiet mutterings we received, we brought them home to co-create “neighborhood ecosystems,” supported by a fully integrated design, implementation, and ongoing landcare approach? A system where water, soil, and carbon were our main focus? Nature already has the emergent strategy we need. The “how to” is right outside, and the pages of this book are written in 365 seasonally changing pages.

In closing, we want to say thank you to all our clients, our friends, our colleagues, to those who support us through social media and continually say “keep going.” Thank you to the guests who joined us for these inaugural, and soon-to-be-repeated garden tours, who without hesitation jumped at the idea of a late-summer garden tour. We felt your transformation as we shared lessons and insights throughout the day and throughout the gardens that MUST TRIUMPH…because if Nature triumphs…WE ALL WIN!

Landscapes are a vehicle for reconnection….so jump in, let’s go for a ride! 

Much Love and Gratitude,
Team Petrichor


A “summer dry garden” in full display. Image credit: Heike Knorz


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