Crafting a Handmade Garden

Reader Contribution by Lorene Edwards Forkner
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I’m a handmade gardening gal – part eco-friendly, non-traditionalist; part crafty creative with more ideas than money, and an abiding aversion to off-the-shelf shopping. My garden is my canvas, my vision, and my voice. A place where I am free of all rules, except those of Nature herself. It’s where I make my unique mark on the world.

As kids we did this intuitively. My friends and I dug holes, and pinched herbs from the neighbor’s garden for imaginary feasts of chives and rhubarb. We carved trails in the blackberry underbrush and wrecked a fair amount of havoc on the landscape; did you ever make “confetti” from the stripped leaves of a cotoneaster? Works great! Tree houses, forts and tents fashioned from the contents of the linen closet were the stuff of hours of amusement and play. Pleasantly tired, thoroughly filthy, and completely blissed out, we fought off the dusk and parental calls to come indoors at the end of the day for a bath and bed. Begging for just a few more minutes, we could hardly bear to tear ourselves away from our muddy adventures – even if it was just until morning when we tumbled outdoors again, ready for another day of discovery.

Fast-forward to today. Somewhere along the garden path, outdoor fun and games have been high jacked by yard work. Demanding work schedules and responsibilities barely leave time for weekend mowing and blowing; boring, tedious, onerous jobs more like dusting and vacuuming than play.

Or, maybe you’re like me. I fell for gardening – hard – with a passion known only to the truly plant-obsessed. There wasn’t a perennial, vine or flowering shrub I didn’t lust after. From antique sweet peas to heirloom bulbs and the latest, greatest annual, I wanted them all.    What’s more, I live in the Pacific Northwest. Land of fertile soil, a gentle benign climate and home to more horticultural heros and zealots than you can shake a hard-to-find, choice, double-flowered, very expensive, winter-blooming hellebore at. I was in good company and we reveled in a veritable horticultural heyday—until the weight of our garden chores nearly killed us.

When was the last time you just goofed off in the garden; lolled in long grass or played house outdoors? Now that you’re finally old enough to stay up past dark, why not stay out late enough to watch the moon rise and witness the mysterious night-time garden as it comes alive with heady fragrance, powdery moths and unfamiliar noises?  

Crafting a handmade garden is one part inspiration and one part getting outside and working your DIY chops to create a landscape that fits your life like a well worn gardening glove. Inspiring projects crafted with flair and inventive, made-from-scratch ingenuity, transform your little patch of the big outdoors into a refreshing personal garden paradise. It’s easy, thrifty and as much fun as those carefree days of yesteryear and not nearly so hard on the cotoneaster. Whether you have acres of land, a simple city-sized lot, an apartment balcony or even just a somewhat sunny windowsill, I’ll show you how to once again have fun in the garden.

Excerpted from Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More by Lorene Edwards Forkner, Timber Press 2011.

Lorene Edwards Forkner will present a workshop at the Puyallup, Wash. 2012 MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. 

Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Puyallup, Wash. FAIR June 2-3, and the Seven Springs, Pa., FAIR Sept. 24-25. Tickets are on sale now.

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