HGTV’S CARSON ARTHUR
Feed your family... and your soul
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!