Mountain Meadow Design Philosophy
Reese Nelson, PhD
The Skeleton is the backbone of the design. It is the form you see and creates the line that your eye follows. Curvilinear lines and shapes form natural images such as explosions, meandering rivers and cloud shapes. The Skeleton is the dominant factor in the visual weight of the design based on color, texture, size or height. It is normally placed in groups of three in a scalene triangle. Skeleton plants comprise about 25% of the whole Mountain Meadow Design.
The Tendon helps to expand the visual line of the Skeleton, interlocking with it. They are less dominant than Skeleton plants. Tendon plants are tossed out in triangles with one point of the triangle on or near the Skeleton line. Tendon plants utilize about 35% of the whole design.
The Flesh filled up the remaining irregular spaces, in masses, in and around Skeleton and Tendon plants. Flesh plants are non-descript workhorses that do their job without complaint and comprise 40% of the whole design.
The Sparkle is used as an accent among the Flesh plants, giving the design and extra flare. It is used sparingly and can be compared to a birthmark or a freckle on the human body.
It is important to work with what is already in the planting bed and implement whatever might be present into the rest of the design. These factors could be existing perennials or fire hydrants or light posts. It is also important to understand that this design is flexible. The lines of the design can change based on the feel of it while tossing the plants onto the soil surface. When tossing out the plants, one can toss the plants where it feels right. Similar to arranging cut flowers in a vase, you can make several appealing designs using the same mixture of flowers.
Good gardens have continuous blooming flowers throughout the growing season. There are no bare spots even after one type of flower is done blooming. This is accomplished by choosing flowers that bloom at different times in the season. Early spring bloomers, mid and late spring bloomers are used so that the design is always visually performing. Once the plants reach their peak they are taken out so that you don’t see the declining, dying plants.
Sun, water, soil conditions, space provided and length of bloom time are all elements that affect plant growth and its success in the garden. For example in a zone 5, pansies overwinter; they are planted in the fall to be used for early spring color. Understanding the growth habit of a particular plant is also important. Some plants may grow more quickly than others and overgrow or crowd out their neighbors. Sweet Potato Vine is a good example of this because it grows quickly and crowds out other plants later in the season. Some plants re-bloom and have a longer season than others such as roses. It is good to use the space wisely to get a good early coverage. This usually means planting annuals at the rate of two plants per square foot. If plants have been designed to spread out over the ground over time, the design looks full and weeds will not grow as easily.
Brother Byron John started working at BYU Idaho, then Ricks College, in the Fall of 1989 in the Horticulture Department. He has been working with students for 27 years designing and landscaping the gardens. The gardens have always been a place of beauty and education. All of the areas have been designed and created by students and faculty, the first project was completed in 1976. Brother John's last project was adding a beautiful stone walkway near the Mountain Meadows Design area of the gardens. He has taught thousands of students the art of landscaping and will always have a special place in our hearts. This semester is his last, but he has left an impression on our lives and on the land that we will never forget.
Our aim for the Department of Horticulture at Brigham Young University-Idaho is to nurture understanding of both the art and science of Horticulture. Students learn experimentally in the classroom, laboratory, greenhouse, and ten acre Thomas E. Ricks demonstration garden as they pursue an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Using the medium of plants, students develop habits of hard work, enlightened minds, and healthy living that assist in gainful employment opportunitues.