Chicks and geese and ducks better scurry
I’m in Oklahoma City at the annual Garden Writers’ Symposium. So far it’s been interesting, but more for the people I’ve met and spoken with than for the gardens I’ve seen.
I’m sure there are wonderful, personal gardens here. (I know for a fact that I missed two yesterday. Drat!) But most of the gardens we’ve visited have been impersonal spaces that give you no feeling for the people who live in them. They were designed by a large landscape company and are devoid of individual personality.
Imagine my delight this morning, when after seeing 5 soulless landscapes, we arrived at the home of Kamala Gamble and Lance Cornman, owners of Kam’s Kookery. Kam catered our box lunches two days in a row and our very tasty dinner last night (mmm…buffalo ribs…). She’s also a founder of the Slow Food movement here in OKC and her garden overflows with heart and soul.
This is a garden where vegetables and ornamentals intermingle. Is the Jerusalem artichoke a pretty daisy or a native plant with a tasty root? Both! And while I freely admit okra is a vegetable first, it’s a darned attractive vegetable, especially when it’s in flower.
Why shouldn’t our landscapes be beautiful AND delicious? Why not feed the eyes, the heart, and the stomach all at the same time? In this garden, even the plants that were clearly food (healthy rows of kale, arugula, and mizuna) looked beautiful, and the dedicated ornamentals (morning glories and zinnias) were over-the-top exuberant. This is a place that delights the senses with bright colors, textures, scents, and tastes. I know something about the people who live here.
As a professional gardener, I’m clearly not suggesting everyone do their own gardening. (Why would I talk myself out of a job?) But if it’s your garden, let it reflect your personality. It’s not a parking lot or the entrance to a bank. It’s you. Show me what you’ve got.