As the landscaping installation season begins to slow down in preparation for the winter season, it seems a good time to reflect on why landscapes are so important. We feel that a beautiful landscape provides inner peace, strengthens family, builds community, and gives back to the earth.
Inner peace is a reward from the garden each time one sits on the patio with morning coffee, walks through the garden to pull a few weeds, or rests on a hammock under a linden tree. A path that winds through the landscape forces us to slow down and look at the garden from different perspectives. The winter landscape can provide this feeling of peace even when indoors as one looks out a window to iced or snowy branches, berries, and evergreens. Dried ornamental grasses emerge from the snow and the wind creates patterns and drifts around them.
The outdoor landscape affects all of our senses: the soft breeze, the scent of lilac, the relief a shade tree provides on a hot day, and the soft colors of spring turning into the vibrant colors of summer that deepen in fall, then fade into somber winter. Sometimes the landscape influences how we feel; a walk on a grey after-the-rain morning during a time of self-reflection may cause us to turn more inward. That same walk on a brisk fragrant fall day may help us to decide to get over it already – to make a batch of soup, some bread, and an apple pie.
A landscape strengthens family by providing outdoor rooms for spending time. A lawn provides a spot for playing bocce, baseball or badminton. A deck or patio is a place where the family gathers for a cookout. Working together in the garden invites family interaction. A child can help plant a tree or a vegetable garden. They can feel that connection to earth that so many people crave. At harvest time, they can help preserve parts of summer. All those tomatoes we have to deal with! All the basil to turn into pesto! Then follows the satisfaction of using those foods during the winter.
A landscape builds community by creating a sense of pride and place. This landscape includes not only our own yards, but also the created landscapes of places we gather, and the whole natural landscape we have surrounding us. The landscape at St. Mary’s Church is enjoyed by many in our community, not just those who are members. The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s garden provides a pleasant stop after a museum visit or as a destination on its own.
Locally, we are surrounded by natural landscapes that allow for larger interaction, including but not limited to Eau Claire Dells, Rib Mountain, Council Grounds, Weston Eau Claire River Trail, and Nine Mile. We can gather for skiing, walking, and biking. New bike paths being created by the cities allow us to enjoy the nature we have close at hand.
Gardening gives back to the earth. Planting a tree helps. Composting helps. Utilizing local produce helps. While we make our little corner beautiful, we need to look at the larger landscape and make a commitment to look at the earth as a living organism and think about global responsibility in our personal lives. We hope as you kick through the leaves this fall, you reflect on how important our environment is on every level. Enjoy and do your part to teach the young! Happy Gardening.