Ode to Violet
October 16, 2020 JC Williams
I would bet my favorite pair of secateurs that one thing we all have realized this year, aside from the fact that 2020 has been bona fide the most bizarre year the majority of us have experienced, or may ever experience, is that we all appreciate being able to go outside, breathe clean air, and experience the beauty of this province. When entire countries and cities across the globe were on lockdown, we were fortunate. Some of us had back gardens, others a balcony, for most, the outdoor spaces in their communities. For those of us living in Vancouver, the North Shore mountains, whenever they are not shrouded in rain clouds or the occasional spell of forest fire smoke, are fantastic eye candy, most often enough to elevate one’s mood, even on Monday morning.
As the year presses on, more and more people seem to be beginning to understand the value of green space, the connection between nature and good health. What if we take this opportunity as home gardeners, business owners, and beyond to recreate what a garden or a green space should be? To move beyond the cliche plant palate, the bags of fertilizer, and think more consciously about the spaces we want to create.
When designing a garden or landscape, we should think about how that space will be utilized by the individual, the family unit, the pets. How will it affect the development of children, will there be areas to play and to learn? What plants should be avoided around small children or pets? For example, plants with thorns or plants that may be toxic. What wildlife do we want to attract or deter from the landscape? How do we develop healthy soil and the networks of life that are created below the surface? The importance of using organic fertilizers and pest control methods. Landscape designs that are planned and planted for what they will look like in 10 years, 20 years’ time, designs that select trees and plants for the macro and micro environments of the land on which the landscape will be installed.
For me, any garden, park, or balcony with two plants stuffed into the corner, hanging on for dear life, is still a little slice of nature, an opportunity to see something new. In these spaces, I am inspired by the fuzzy hairs of a bee, the iridescent chin of the hummingbird who lives in my backyard and plays with Socrates, the cat.
Having a career in Horticulture, which immerses me in nature every day, is a gift; kinda like the best multi tool of all time, which can be used for meditation, creativity, wonderment, a killer workout and the perfect conversational tool, as nearly everyone loves plants or has a story about someone who does. Will we go back, then, to the practices of old, when chemicals, pesticides and mass scale plant production did not exist? To the days before plastic pots or artificial anything. One day we may, and perhaps then we will replant our individual and collective landscape of the future, like my hero, Granny, born in 1922, still gardening like it’s 1935, outport Newfoundland style.