Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Class Preview: Make Your Garden Sing

Add "music" to your garden with ornamental grasses.
Photo by Bob Ayers.
By Rose James T'20

Plants whisper, seed pods clack and the wind rustles through leaves outside your door. A bird trills and a frog croaks, perhaps bringing you back to childhood games of hide and seek in your favorite neighborhood garden. A nearby brook bubbling might bring you back to a pleasant afternoon catching toads with your cousins or fishing with your grandfather.
Plants that attract birds will make your garden sing.
Photo by Charles Twine.

Our sense of sound is one of the strongest triggers for memories. A sound can bring to mind a person or place that you loved, or a favorite pastime. Sometimes this can be a happy accident. But like a composer, you can also shape your own environmental symphony to spark joyful memories or create new ones.

Whether your garden spans many acres or a small bed, consider adding sound to your design principles of form, function and color. Hilary Nichols can help you weave those sounds in a new two-session class at Duke Gardens, “I Need a Plan: The Musical Garden.”

Nichols is garden manager at the Durham nonprofit SEEDS, an urban sanctuary focused on promoting the principles and practice of sustainable agriculture, organic gardening, food security and environmental stewardship. She strives to live her life intentionally, and she loves sharing her design and horticultural expertise to help gardeners at all ability levels create gardens that sing to ears and eyes alike.

Streams and rain gardens are perfect to add a croaking frog
or two to your chorus. Photo by Sue Lannon.
The plants you choose, and the way you arrange your plants, will influence the musicality of your garden, Nichols says. Enjoy the wind strumming the blades of ornamental grasses or rattling autumn leaves. Place a large-leafed plant near your favorite window to enjoy the rain pattering on the leaves. Select plants that attract insects or birds to add a percussive buzz and lilting song. Study the life-cycle of your plants to create a garden in bloom throughout the year, drawing animals to your garden in different seasons.

Sign up for “The Musical Garden” and Nichols will have your garden singing in no time.

“I Need a Plan: The Musical Garden” meets on two Tuesdays, Oct. 11 and 18, from 6:30-9 p.m. To register, or for more information, please call 919-668-1707 or email gardenseducation@duke.edu.

Blogger Rose James is a Duke freshman and work-study marketing assistant at Duke Gardens. 

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