Feed your fam­ily... and your soul

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - - Contents - ARTHUR HGTV STAR

For the last 15 years I’ve been work­ing in TV and me­dia help­ing peo­ple cre­ate their own per­fect space out­doors. Dur­ing that time, I was re­fin­ing my own def­i­ni­tion of the per­fect space. Sur­pris­ingly, what I thought I’d want looks noth­ing like what I ac­tu­ally ended up with.

My orig­i­nal plan for my own back­yard oa­sis was modern and clean-lined with low main­te­nance el­e­ments. I had my mind set on a pool and a hot tub to re­place the lawn and I thought my out­door kitchen should have all the bells and whis­tles of a great in­door kitchen. In­stead of this land­sca­per’s utopia, I re­al­ized that I needed a different kind of space to feed my soul. In­stead of straight flower beds filled with green and white shrubs, I now have garden beds packed with bulbs and peren­ni­als in no par­tic­u­lar pat­tern. I never would have thought that wak­ing up each morn­ing to see what is bloom­ing would be the high­light of my day, and yet here I am, wait­ing for my new tulips to bring a splash of red and white into my life.

Is de­vel­op­ing a love of plants just a fea­ture of get­ting old? I don’t think so, be­cause I have more 20 and 30year old clients ask­ing plant ques­tions than ever be­fore. I once en­vi­sioned a lux­ury out­door kitchen with the big­gest and best bar­be­cue, a state-of-the-art smoker, and a tiny bar fridge. In­stead, I have a cave­man-era and hand-built wood fire pizza oven. I built this oven in a week­end, but I can bake bread and smoke meat in it. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have a great bar­be­cue (I’m not a to­tal Ne­an­derthal). But, there is some­thing deeply sat­is­fy­ing about light­ing up the fire to char the crust on my Mar­garita pizza. By the way, that pizza is cov­ered in toma­toes and basil fresh from my garden, plus cheese from the lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket.

My veg­etable garden has been my pride and joy for the last two sum­mers. I change the plants ev­ery year and start plan­ning each year’s crop in De­cem­ber. Now, I spend more time look­ing at web­sites on heir­loom seeds than I do streaming Net­flix. In Spring, I get ex­cited as onion seedlings are the first to pop up in my little in­door seed-start­ing sys­tem. Not only am I gar­den­ing to grow food for my fam­ily, I’ve be­gun to grow food for other fam­i­lies as well, drop­ping off my ex­tra pro­duce to the lo­cal food bank.

I look back at who I was when I started in the land­scap­ing in­dus­try and laugh at how con­vinced I was of what I needed for my out­door space. I know that my idea of utopia may be very different than yours. Maybe you want or love a modern space like the one that I once wanted.

My point is that when it comes to de­sign­ing an out­door space that works for you and your fam­ily, go out and ex­pe­ri­ence all of your op­tions first. Maybe spend­ing a week­end at a B&B in the coun­try sur­rounded by chick­ens, bees, and pe­ony gar­dens will help you re­de­fine what feeds your own soul, like it did for me!

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