What’s Out There® and why should you care?

What’s Out There® and why should you care?

Gardeners are always seeking inspiration, and it is sometimes found in unlikely or unexpected places. Some of the places you may not think to look at with an eye for inspiration are the multitudes of cultural landscapes around you.

You may ask, “What is a cultural landscape?” The Cultural Landscape Foundation answers this question: “Cultural landscapes provide a sense of place and identity; they map our relationship with the land over time; and they are part of our national heritage and each of our lives.” Essentially, it is any landscape that has cultural significance—whether it is historical, design, or ethnic.

Prouty Garden is a cultural landscape property. photo credit: Clare Cooper-Marcus courtesy of The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Visit the What’s Out There® searchable database to see the cultural landscapes near you or to gather vacation ideas. You may find a landscape or site you didn’t know existed!

In the Terry Shane Teaching Garden when placing yourself in the designer's shoes, you recognize the use of bold repetitious color in the border. photo credit: R. Robert

While visiting, explore and study the site with an eye for what the intended purpose was. Put yourself in the designer’s (or former resident’s) shoes and take a look at all the elements in the landscape. How does the landscape lend itself to its use? Perhaps the site is a public park; is there a view? Are there places to enjoy the view from? How do people use the space and how is the space organized to facilitate those uses (or how isn’t it)? Make note of the qualities you appreciate and could incorporate in your own garden.

Looking for pathway inspiration? Try combining pavers and blacktop as seen here in the John W. Nason Garden. photo credit: R. Robert

Upon returning to your residence, take a look around with the same questions in mind. By looking at your garden with a new perspective, one informed by visiting and experiencing cultural landscapes, you just might find yourself tweaking your garden design this coming spring and summer.

Large rocks add texture to the spring floral display in the Harry Wood Garden. photo credit: R. Robert

Come to the Scott Arboretum’s Spring Celebration on Sunday, March 16 at 4 pm to learn how to better “read” the landscapes around you and to learn more about The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s efforts from its founder, Charles A. Birnbaum.

Mackenzie Fochs
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