During a job interview, when asked to reveal your biggest weakness, a classic response is to modestly admit to being too much of a perfectionist - the flaw that isn't really a flaw. After all, if a job is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing right…right?
Personally, I’ve never bought into that philosophy. LOTS of things are worth doing just ok, including but not limited to: cleaning the house when company’s expected, pruning roses and learning to foxtrot.
Why then did I recently find myself in a client’s garden, unable to relax until I had relocated the dining table a few inches to the left and adjusted a pot until it was exactly centered on the patio’s edge? Am I really a laid-back, live-and-let-live girl, or is there a drill sergeant lurking inside me, just waiting for the chance to turn every project into a Better Homes and Gardens centerfold? After taking a good, hard look at myself, here’s what I’ve decided:
Clean Lines: Perfectionist
When I’m designing a garden, I always make sure edges are strong and purposeful. If the plan includes curves, then I want strong, clear, easy to read curves, not namby-pamby wavy lines.
Part of what I do at an initial client consultation is help a homeowner assess their existing garden. Almost always it seems the patio is overwhelmed by furniture that’s too big, and a collection of plant containers that are too small. You would never clutter up your living room with 14 pots of artificial flowers sitting around on the floor, or buy a full-sized cherry dining room set for your townhouse kitchenette, so why do it outside? I generally give my clients a suggested furniture arrangement that ensures good circulation, furnishings that are balanced and properly scaled, and a layout that keeps the new patio from looking like a staging area for a yard sale.
Furniture Placement Plan
Plants: Relax and Enjoyp
A few things push my buttons, like decades old shrubs sheared until they're just a ball of sticks with a few poor leaves hanging on for dear life. But for the most part, I’m rarely bothered by planting beds that don’t meet rigorous design standards. Wild, unpruned gardens where everything runs together? No problem, I like that jungle feel. Shocking color combinations? Ditto, even hot pink and canary yellow have been known to bring a smile to my face. Sun loving plants scraggly and sad because they’ve been planted in too much shade? I secretly admire the gardener willing to throw down with Mother Nature.
So how about you? Perfectionist, realist, or somewhere in between?