Vanessa Gardner Nagel chirps about garden design

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Welcome to Garden Chirps!
I make every effort to blog once per week (or more) to keep readers current about what I am up to in the garden or with design. If you have a specific topic you are curious about, please contact me. I'll consider writing about it. Read on below...

BEING Outdoors

Outdoor dining at winery and fabulous garden of Chateau do Val Joanis

Outdoor dining at winery and fabulous garden of Chateau do Val Joanis

Whenever I see yet another article on outdoor living, my mind wanders back to the week I spent in Provence during June 2004 with my daughter. We did everything except sleep, shower and pee outdoors. With our window wide open at night, we heard a musical spill of water from a very close canal, so even sleeping felt like we were outdoors. It was magical.

The cottage where we slept, right outside the gravel terrace where we always breakfasted in Eygalières, France.

The cottage where we slept, right outside the gravel terrace where we always breakfasted in Eygalières, France.

This experience taught me the importance of BEING outdoors to the greatest extent possible.  Connecting with nature makes us more sensitive to how we fit in on this planet plus it improves so much about who we are as individual human beings. Do I have scientific proof of this? Can we measure IT? If so, what do we measure? Do we take exit surveys when we leave a garden? How satisfying was our experience on a scale of from one to ten?

Satisfaction at seeing Jardin de l'Alchimiste was very high indeed!

Satisfaction at seeing Jardin de l’Alchimiste was very high indeed!

I have had a few clients (very few) that have aversions to being in some outdoor spaces because they have a fear of bugs, especially spiders. Fear is something to overcome, not used as an excuse to limit our experiences. Nature is a place to engage with life. I feel blessed to have a large garden in which to wander and a wild ravine to observe from inside and outside. During the summer when we can have morning tea, dinner in the evening, or even a brief lunch midday as a work break on our patio, it calms my state of being. It limits the adrenaline rush on those hectic days with a deadline to meet. (Maybe we can measure adrenaline levels?)

All I can say is use whatever space you have available to embrace nature. Create spaces to sit, lie down, dine, play, workout, and even take a shower in your yard. Create a garden that entices you to be outside…even in the winter…to investigate what’s new and pique your curiosity. It can take you back to one magical outdoor experience and also create new ones.

Our typical breakfast still brings back vivid memories. C'est magnifique!

Our typical breakfast still brings back vivid memories. C’est magnifique!

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Serendipitous Spring

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.  While I can’t wait for my garden to wake up in spring, I find myself wishing that it would slow down so I can keep up with the work out there. So much happening! After a hard winter  I am browsing the garden for dead […]

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 4

The Philadelphia Flower Show (grand Poobah of American flower shows) is the first show I’ve attended where floral exhibition was integrated into the landscape rather than segregated as a separate area. This year’s theme, ‘ARTiculture’, found designs inspired by a selected piece of art, a range of paintings by a particular artist, or even a specific exhibit at a museum.  […]

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 3

Because I will be in Philadelphia during the course of Portland’s Yard, Garden, & Patio Show this year, I asked to come to the show the day before its opening. Yes, it’s a LOT hectic that day, with so much construction still going on. So I’m focusing this designer’s eye on what was in place […]

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 2

The same family-owned company that owns the Northwest Flower & Garden Show owns Portland’s Home & Garden Show. This year the gardens were the first visible parts of the show as we walked in, making it more evident that the owners want to refocus this show into something that will eventually look more like the […]

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Learning from Garden Shows-Part 1

At this time of year, garden shows are in abundance. The Northwest Flower and Garden Show has already been tucked away until next year, with two Portland shows about to happen over the next two weeks. The granddaddy, The Philadelphia Flower Show, begins Feb. 28.  Seeing something new is what I yearn to see as […]

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The Ubiquitous Adirondack

For those of you expecting a gushing love affair with the Adirondack chair, this is a rant about the excessively-used and overly-beloved garden seat. People use Adirondack chairs in nearly every style of garden imaginable. While a few locations are well-suited to this chair, many are not. Thomas Lee designed this chair in 1903 when he […]

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Looking Back at the 2013 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

I’m in the throes of substantial anticipation of the 2014 Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Since that is two weeks away my best option is to look back at the 2013 show and what were my highlights. As a member of the APLD’s international board, I must recognize my fellow members’ efforts in the following […]

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Sharpen the Pruning Shears; I’m Ready for Spring.

It’s late January in case you hadn’t noticed. The days are getting a little longer and there’s a wee bit more sun. Time to prune! I’ve already begun with hellebores, which if I don’t clip off the old leaves, the new flowers will have a rather dismal looking skirt. Once I’ve finished with the hellebores (they are […]

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Intentional Serendipity

Serendipity…something to consider in every garden.

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About
Garden Chirps is written by Vanessa Gardner Nagel, gutsy garden designer, passionate garden speaker, enthusiastic garden writer/author, and frenetic gardener.