If you have "no place to go," come here!

Drama among the zinnias

I want to explore a bit more the idea of making vistas dynamic. (And once again, I have literally no language for this; and there are probably actual designers who have languages, even pattern languages, for this kind of work, and if any readers know of such, I'd love to hear about them.)

Anyhow, this is the other half of the "front yard" from the triangle; "yard" in quotes because I have abolished the lawn. Here's a poor photo:

I say "poor" because this photo in no way conveys the experience of this vista (or, as I suppose one might call it, a "flower bed," except that phrase has a two-dimensional and static feel, as opposed to a "blooming and buzzing confusion"). In the life we are pleased to call real, the colorful flowers assume a much greater prominence in the visual field, and the background green is almost unnoticed. I don't know if this is the iPad's poor and wide angle lens in operation, my poor eyes, or my brain thinking like a bee by giving the colorful and various a greater part of the representation it is helpfully constructing for me.

Because what I experience, as I walk past the vista -- tallish hostas in the background, like telephone poles seen through a railroad window, "moving past" more slowly than foreground zinnias -- is many dynamic little scenes and objects of interest. For example (still in late September) a happy bee:

And here are some volunteer zinnias -- I certainly didn't plant them outside the fence! -- rushing to flower, still in late September. Will they make it? And so what if they do?

Here is a sketch of what I have turned out to have done:

Having stumbled into a good vista, some retrospective thoughts:

1. Three (hmm) parallel lines not a triangle

2. Clover between (lower) zinnias and (higher) hostas creates distance, hence foreground and background, a sense of motion

3. The fence sends a message to the town that I respect property, though perhaps -- because the zinnias hide it -- in a different way from the way others do

4. All that clover is going to improve the soil

5. No fucking lawn

6. Original zinnias were sown in the spring in the rain, and maybe the rain washed the seeds for those volunteers down the slight slope to the sidewalk. When I got worried and frustrated, I added some flats, but the zinnias from seed caught up and dominate

7. Clover and grass was weeded away from the seedlings after they sprouted, and they were later sheet mulched. This was successful but too much work

8. Zinnias are said to attract Japanese beetles, as are raspberries and roses, all of which I have, but I had very few beetles this year. I don't know if this was skill or dumb luck

9. Zinnias give a big bang for the buck.

zinnia_1.JPG296.15 KB
zinnia_3.JPG315.12 KB
zinnia_2.JPG422.19 KB
zinnia_4.jpg262.66 KB
No votes yet


Andre's picture
Submitted by Andre on

I think of the sections of my yard as 'rooms' (I guess similar to the rooms you're painting!) and each has it's own needs and characteristics, to which you do what you can afford to do to make each room pleasing. If I could make a suggestion, it might be very helpful to see a larger picture of a larger area containing the smaller area, so the needs of the smaller area can be put into context. Also, the direction of the sun (and of course if there is sun!) maybe delineated with one of your famous arrows. But here is a good volunteer for the triangle that you had in a post the other day, it is Gilbert Wild's perennial of the year for 2002, it is sun tolerant (in fact it thrives in sun from my experience), has white blooms in Aug/Sept (mine are just passing now),,AND it is fragrant:

The famed House of Seven Gables in Salem Massachusetts had a garden at one time on the back of the House (overlooking the Atlantic, of course!) which was surrounded by Royal Standards and it was quite spectacular. They are called Royal for a reason, but they're quite cheap to buy.

NWLuna's picture
Submitted by NWLuna on

Yeah, cameras (even ones far better than an iPad camera) don't have the capability to equal the human eye. I remember being so disappointed to hear that from a photography instructor.

BTW, have you read Valerie Easton's A pattern garden: the essential elements of garden making? It has some intriguing ideas about the concept of patterns. Vistas, not so much, as I recall. I can't check my copy, since I'm in the middle of moving now and am living out of boxes.