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Garden Designers Roundtable: Restoration and Renovation

by Andrew Keys on September 21, 2010

So, I’m guessing a few of my GDRT colleagues may write about restoration. Unfortunately, in my young career as a designer, I’ve yet to restore.

RENOVATION, on the other hand—oh, but renovation is dear to my heart. So dear, in fact, you might call me the Renovator. One of my favorite gardening terms has always been “renovation pruning.” It’s like we’re going to prune new bathroom tile out of this plant! But no, the term actually refers to the act of chopping the hell out of a plant—usually a shrub, sometimes a tree—but (BUT!) doing it well, in such a way that it will automagically grow back better than ever.

I adore renovation pruning, and I believe it may be as hereditary as it is incendiary. My mother adored it before me, and her mother before her.* If scientists could successfully isolate the gene for renovation pruning, we could produce armies of better mow and blow guys.

*I sometimes took issue with what they chose to renovate, but then people have taken issue with my renovations, and like my predecessors, I didn’t care — that sucker was coming down.

Witness: my home’s “foundation plantings” before I got ahold of it.

Is this not the picture of ennui? I’m fatigued just laying eyes on it.

I find many foundation plantings (gosh, there’s a term that makes me snicker) like mine are ripe for renovation. Yews and hollies were cut to the ground, and all but one returned. Rhodie and beautybush were tamed from lions to lambs. We said sayonara to a variegated euonymus, a plain green one, a forsythia and a burning bush, some sad candytuft, and some lawn. And then, I planted, and I planted, and I planted some more. This is my garden (yes, I think now it’s best characterized as a garden) on renovation. This is quite often what I do at clients’ homes. To that end, to me, renovation is one of the great joys of gardening.

Should you ever you find yourself in need of the Renovator, you know where I live.

Read more about renovation and restoration from my fellow GDRT bloggers!

Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Rochelle Greayer : Studio “G” : Boston, MA
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

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