The air vibrates with life. Birds flit from tree to tree, and the bees hum along their day’s work. The growing season is in full swing at Kathy Veterane’s. Her home garden, with its sprawling borders and wild corners, is in its first full salvo of the year.
At home, Kathy plays with the designs that often inspire her work in her clients’ gardens. She is always looking for new plant combinations and textures. “I love being outside in nature, enjoy watching things grow and getting to know the plants as individuals in a community,” she says.
With her designs, Kathy aims to create cozy and naturalistic gardens that represent a stylized version of patterns that exist in nature. They’re a little wild, yet intentional. One of her key design elements is the use of repetition as a way to create visual cohesiveness.
For Kathy, massing small-scale plants together into rivers or swaths offers more visual impact. “I enjoy the surprise of vigorous self-sowers that come together to create unexpected visual combinations,” she says. “Especially interspersed amongst large scale architectural perennials and shrubs.”
Through a heady mix of color and texture, Kathy also values plants that offer a sense of movement, or that play with the quality of light. Think of the misty transparency of flowering grasses amongst the denser foliage of lower story perennials.
Kathy’s inspirations have been especially influenced by renowned designer, Piet Oudolf. The focus of his designs are with plants that are tough, very natural (often not highly selected and hybridized) and retain good visual structure after they’ve faded. “I named my business Tapestry Garden Design because my focus is on the structure and texture of foliage, rather than on just flowers,” she says. “I’ve found that this creates a longer season of interest, since flowers are often only in bloom for a short time.”
Unlike Oudolf’s preferences, Kathy likes to include a fair number of small trees and woody shrubs in her designs. They are like sentinels in the garden, their structure holding space year round, even when much of the garden has gone dormant.
Kathy has been committed to organic gardening methods for many years now. As a result, she has grown to tolerate the more benign weeds of the home garden. “I value a dandelion’s cheery yellow blossoms, as well as their importance for pollinators,” she says. “One wish is for my designs to offer sanctuary not only for the gardener, but for the creatures that inhabit the garden, including pets, insect and bird life.”
The individual lives and intentions of plants themselves are not lost on Kathy. There’s a mantra that she likes to repeat to her crew and clients: right plant, right place. It’s a consideration taken not only for the location where a plant would thrive; it’s also about choosing a plant that’s the right size for your space, so you don’t get caught in an endless pruning cycle. Doing so often detracts from its natural beauty.
Mal-pruning is an epidemic in gardens. It’s often done with the intention of adapting a large shrub or tree to the smaller confines of our gardens or walkways. One of Tapestry Garden Design’s offerings is specialty pruning on ornamentals and fruit trees.
Kathy ascribes her pruning techniques to the insights of Cass Turnbull, and the work of Plant Amnesty. “Over the years, I have come to observe how each shrub or tree has their own signature growth habit,” she says. “In pruning, my goal is to slowly coax a plant to look more like itself and ultimately enhance its natural form.”
In addition to consultations and offering ideas about plant choices, Kathy specializes in garden renovations. While she enjoys teaching gardeners of all levels about plant care and pruning, Kathy believes she can be of the most help to experienced gardeners. Ones who find joy in their gardens, but whose spaces may be lacking a visual cohesion or need a little extra TLC. All the right plants in all the wrong places, so to speak. Through editing, rearranging and bringing in new specimens, a new life can take hold in the garden.
If you are interested in what Kathy and her Tapestry Garden Design crew have to offer for your garden, visit her website and fill out a contact request form. Doing so will help her to know your preferences.
In the end, the more people who are engaged with and cultivate gardens, the better. “Gardening links us to the natural world,” she says. “It’s a healthy and wholesome activity, the rewards of which soothe the mind and soul.”