Learning The Ways of Curvilinear Bed Design - March 2021

I've talked and talked and talked about our backyard landscape plan on the blog over the years and I've made a lot of progress towards realizing the vision laid out there.  But, because I'm doing things myself, my best laid plans don't always work out.  And, one of the ways where I've been having trouble is in laying out the beds in the back.  You look at these ideal woodland gardens and any backyard garden of note, one of the things that you often see are beautiful, graceful, swooping curves that mark the edges of the beds.  

In poking around the Web, I found this post from Sue at Not Another Gardening Blog that was part of her "Good Lines Mean Good Designs" series titled: Curves Wonderful Curves.  Those posts are almost ten years old, but they're just as valid as today.  And, for a beginner gardener like me?  They are *just* what I needed for where I am on my gardening journey right NOW.

In the post, Sue introduces (to me) Curviliear Form for beds and details the basics and some watchouts.  From Not Another Gardening Blog:

Source via Not Another Gardening Blog

She also articulates something that I'm dealing with: a lot of bends and dips in the beds.  She writes that this is a common mistake:

Unfortunately the tendency is to use too many smaller arcs. As I’ve mentioned before, gardeners tend to subscribe to the adage that more is better – they equate simple with boring and mistakenly assume that adding a few more bows and bends will up the wow factor. It doesn’t. Instead it creates an awkward kind of visual movement as the eye wanders along a vague path.

What do some of our beds look like now?  Funny you should ask.  Are you familiar with that TikTok meme using the song September by Earth Wind and Fire that is named "september on crack featuring a recorder"?   Like this one:


##greenscreen ##funny ##DIYFashion ##ReadyForHockey ##fy ##fyp ##comedy ##you ##pizza ##school ##class ##student ##great

♬ september on crack ft. a recorder (Earth, Wind & Fire - September) - frickin weeb

Now that you're familiar with the meme, I would show the photos from Sue's blog post first, then when the recorder comes on, I'd show everyone these photos below - showing my bed edges.

You're probably thinking the same thing that I am.  

Pretty bad, right?  But, how do we make it better?  It starts with idenfying the circles and ovals that make up our design.  Here's a look at where I've landed.  Red circles = outside.  Blue circles = inside.  Green line = bed edges. 


To achieve this, I have to remove turf in excess of ten or twelve feet in some spots and just one foot or so in other spots.  It also means that I have to pick up all of the Automower wire to allow for the beds to be created.  

But, it seems like this COULD be the time to do this very exercise.  And just kind of rip the bandaid off as part of a bigger project this season.  We have planted everything FAR too close to the fence line and everything is cramped.  Even the things I planted last year - the Oakleaf Hydrangeas are too close together.  And, I mentioned this in a recent post about Astilbes that the original dozen from last year are too close to the hydrangeas.  That bed needs to grow out into the yard like three feet.  Once that's done, I have to dig up and transplant things closer to the edges of the new beds.  

If I go this route, it will give me the final resting place for things I already have AND a place for future plantings.  It will also, however give me A LOT of empty beds.  If I just these beds out 15 feet past their current lines, that's A LOT of mulch and space to fill in.

Also, just in terms of keeping myself in check, #18 on my 2021 list is to keep moving on the woodland garden design and this would check that box, I suppose.  But the idea of setting the final edges of my beds is NOT on the list specifically, so have to wonder - is it better to put my time and resources towards something else like adding the steps and walkway to the northside of the house?  Somewhat apples-to-oranges choice, but I suppose it is worth considering.  


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