For some Americans the idea of a garden relates only to the plot where fruits and vegetables are raised -- the rest is the yard. Much more charming, however, is the concept accepted by every Britain that the entire yard is the garden, and the vegetable plot certainly can be a part of it. (This is a concept about which my American-born brother and his English-born wife vehemently disagree. I side with her.)
For many Americans, "garden" somehow equals "country." The retreat or escape to a country garden holds promise of quietude, repose and time -- time to think, drink in the fragrance and the beauty, and time actually to stop and smell the roses. This romantic get-away is a true source of inspiration for today's fabric and wall coverings designers because the consumers respond so well to it. A bit of country: how quaint. How appealing. How simplifying and lovely. How de-stressing.
This then, is the theme of our story: how gardens are to us the beauty of flowers, shrubs, bushes, topiary, fruits and vegetables. At one of my seminars at the World of Window Coverings[TM] show in Orlando, FL, in March, I took an informal poll. I asked, "How many attendees garden? How many would like to garden?" Many more expressed a desire to garden but actually did not have the time to do so. The story line is so true for many of us. Though we would love to commit to the intense time required to dream, plan, buy, plant, plot, cultivate, weed, water, fertilize and enjoy, few of us really can tend to such a time-costly indulgence.
But there are some agreeable alternatives, and one of them is to bring the beauty of the garden into the home or interior setting in a way that will need no tending. Floral designs available to us today in wall coverings, printed and woven textiles, artwork and accessories are rich and diverse. Although the roses trend has withered, it nevertheless produced volunteer seedlings of many varieties. Today the choices are as delightful and diverse as the charming English garden full of peonies and poppies, lavender and lilacs, carnations and Canterbury bells. In fact, the great thing about garden designs is that the designer need never run out of inspiration.
We Make the Trends
What are the trends in gardening design themes? Are there any new, exciting looks?
We see seed packets, country fresh flowers, small prints, lavish florals and garden designs as accents. Of note but not illustrated was the type of florals and colors previewed at the 1997 Heimtextil show in Frankfurt, Germany. The offerings were full of intense, almost shocking color, contemporary abstracts and stylized florals. Certainly some of these will become a part of American offerings in coming seasons. But in America, rest assured, fabric houses and distributors will continue offering the kind of florals that sell. So, to an extent, it is your customers who will participate in dictating trends by what they buy. And of course, you, the professional, have a major role to play by the power of your suggestions and presentations.
As for me, I am a dyed-in-the-wool gardener. My peas, radishes and carrots are up and the rest of the garden is soon to be planted. The four-foot deep floral border garden is my passion and bringing garden motifs into the interior is a joy.
Gardens are an escape from the stress of reality. They soothe, cheer, brighten, encourage. Garden motifs help us realize that regardless of our personal successes and failures, nature is really in charge -- the Dutch Iris and daffodils will continue to greet us faithfully each spring, the impatiens and petunias in the summer, the chrysanthemums and marigolds will hang on until the last frost, and pansies will bloom year round.
Gardens give us confidence and hope in the future and a sure anchor to the past. We know our forbearers enjoyed them, and we are confident that so will the generations to come. It is a part of human nature to escape to the garden.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She is a practicing interior designer and has authored several books including Window Treatments and Understanding Fabrics. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising