Breaking Up Your Fallow Ground: Coffee Gardens

Several years ago, I was approached about designing a coffee garden. Granted, the title “coffee garden” wasn’t used in conversation but it’s how I summarized the customer’s request in my mind. She had a spacious yard, filled with landscaping (that we had installed some years before), and surrounded by nature. But her interaction with the beauty around her was limited to a casual glance on the way out the front door or a distracted glance as she spotted a weed in the bed on the way back in. She loved the gardens she had but wanted a different relationship with them. A relationship that involved more time being and less time passing by.

Having most mornings free of scheduling concerns, she informed me, left Melinda with plenty of time for morning coffee. She enjoyed coffee time. Truly. In fact, if I were in the coffee business I would most certainly want Melinda on the sales team as I’m sure as can be that she’d sell coffee to the Tasmanian Devil and he’d be convinced he needed more. So, she enjoyed coffee. She enjoyed morning time. And she wanted more outdoor time of a certain sort. An observation station. A Coffee Garden.

So we built it. She needed a hard surface to hold a small bench and, having seen some of the work we’d done with natural stone, asked that the surface be hand-crafted and abstract. She liked the idea of a small ornamental tree nearby, so we settled on a flowering cherry. She liked the birds and butterflies, so we brought some favorites in for them. In addition to the cherry, we used echinacea, dianthus, Shasta daisies, hydrangea, lamium, veronica, and a butterfly bush (of course). Added to these we used Mother Lode juniper to paint the ground brightly and provide a textured backdrop for all of the blooms. Year ‘round blooms.

While I loved the entire project – I love design, love helping, love planting and creating – I think it was the lesson Melissa reminded me of that I appreciated the most. It’s so often that we hear the statements about changing things or viewing things differently. “Stop and smell the roses”. “When you’re tired of the same old story, turn some pages” - this type of thing. But, as you’ve probably observed, so few of us actually take the first step. Melinda did, though. It was very good to see. She wanted a different take on life. She wanted more time to be and to observe so she broke up her fallow ground and turned the page.

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