Channeling Julie Moir Messervy

She makes garden design look so easy. Last Thursday for the second time in exactly a decade Julie Moir Messervy enraptured the Garden Design Luncheon crowd with her graciousness, easy-going wit, energy, style, and utterly pragmatic approach to design. For busy homeowners she promotes outdoor living spaces capable of enticing anyone away from their computer screens (and has somewhat ironically created an app for that.) For gardeners who might be paralyzed by the endless possibilities she shows us how to tune in to our deepest desires to create a garden as comfortable and welcoming as our kitchen.

According to Julie, we already know how to design the garden of our dreams. We formed a connection to the outdoors as children. – Where did we go for daydreaming, reverie and reflection? Those places are part of our inner garden. We are full of great ideas that we have been collecting from all of the places we’ve ever visited and loved. We know what we like and what we don’t.

We can take an inventory of those ideas and predilections and translate them into what Julie calls the “big moves”, which are not unlike what we do inside when we set the table or rearrange the objet d’art on the mantel until we get it exactly right. Granted, the “big moves” outside often involve a little more heavy lifting, sometimes a lot more money, and even occasionally someone with an engineering degree and that is why some of us (my hand is raised) become too scared-rabbit to commit.

But Julie’s gorgeous slides were enough to catapult anybody out of inertia (if you could have heard the gasps!) To begin, we might identify our garden’s comfort zones; think about the frontyard as if it’s the back; create paths that choreograph pauses; audit the visual energy; place the pieces, and set about “crafting the details of nature.”

Julie also urged us all to follow Doug Tallamy’s advice about planting natives for the bugs and the birds. Whatever kind of garden you design, be sure to plant a few natives at least along the periphery. When our neighbors follow our example, swath-by-swath we may begin to restore the ecosystem we’ve all but destroyed.

It’s as clear as a sunny fall day that what Julie wants more than anything is for everyone to get outside and to have a garden to feel completely at home in. To that end she offers all the assistance she possibly can – from a range of design services for every budget, to an iphone/pod/pad app that’s way more fun than a piece of blank grid paper. (Believe me, I bought it and can’t stop moving patios and paths around my yard.) And her book, Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love is the confidence-inspiring blueprint that takes us through the creative process step by step.

Have you been able to channel your inner Julie* to create the garden of your dreams?

(*credit for “channeling your inner Julie” goes to Julie Murphy Christina)

2 thoughts on “Channeling Julie Moir Messervy

  1. What a great talk this must have been! “Outside the Not So Big House” was one of my first favorite design books. That book, together with Beth Chatto’s book on her gravel garden, inspired me to create a sustainable design that fits the way I live!

    Kim, It’s clear from the pictures I’ve seen of your garden that you have designed a sublime and endlessly fascinating garden – one that has inspired me. Maybe it’s your turn to write a book! -kris

  2. Dear Kris,

    Thank you so much for posting this wonderful summary of my talk to the Blithewold membership. I loved meeting your talented staff and members, giving my talk at such a perfect venue, signing books with the help of your curator Margaret, having such a delicious lunch with fellow designers and friends, and enjoying the enthusiastic support of Blithewold with the raffle gifts and the beautiful Japanese garden centerpieces (complete with little bamboo rakes!). Trish and Julie and so many others created a magical event for us all–A perfect day!

    And special thanks go to my friend Ginny Purviance for asking me back once more to speak. It’s a treat to present to people who care so much about their organization and the subject matter. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch about more ways to help get people outside again, even if it’s with an iPhone or iPad in hand!

    Julie, Thank you for your offer! You’re absolutely right about everything being so perfect that day. The Garden Design Luncheon Committee did it once again! Cheers to them, to Dan for making those precious rakes, to Ginny for enticing you back, and to everyone who attended my very favorite Blithewold fundraiser. -kris

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