If you are anything like me, you started gardening by first imagining all the beautiful flowers you could plant, then you bought them, and finally you planted each and every one to create the garden of your dreams. But, by midsummer, your dreams were being dashed by those lovingly chosen seedlings not behaving as you had anticipated – or even dying. By hard-earned experience you learned some were shade or sun loving, some thrived in certain types of soils, or some preferred wet to dry conditions. You may have also learned that those dreams you imposed come at a cost of hard work and money to both obtain and maintain. By the end, you may have even succumbed to planting the excess growth donated by your neighbours, with the idea that what they grew was at least suitable for your own garden!
In other words, you slowly came to the realization that you really have to listen more closely to Mother Nature, instead of imposing your will on her.
Enter Tumber & Associates, an internationally award-winning landscape design and build firm! The goal of the company “is to move the viewer to an emotional response, their reaction has to come from the heart.” The company learned on the ground, so to speak, and grew from the knowledge of key people with a leaning towards nature and European craftsmanship.
Having been in business for more than 40 years, Tumber has learned to work within nature, staying true to its values with seamless designs that imitate a property’s natural surroundings, a seamless way to enhance the landscape. The company provides a full-service experience, from site planning, to landscape design, and landscape construction.
Tumber works with principles they say apply to any garden whether a small back lot or an estate sized spread. Day-to-day usability is an important objective. The garden or landscape project has to be functional. In other words, the design has to work from both a vehicle and pedestrian flow perspective, otherwise the interaction with the environment may be awkward. Plantings that thrive in the natural environment and microclimate must also be selected. By utilizing many of Nature’s systems, the landscape is realistically maintainable, and owners do not become slaves to their properties – they can enjoy what has been created. Both aspects are essential if a design is to remain functional.
Being aesthetically pleasing is also an important principle. The property has to project warmth and hospitality. There is a fine line too between ostentation and understated elegance!
Tumber also advises not to follow the trends, which are as endemic to gardens as the fashion world, driven by the industry. They’ll only be ripped out later to be replaced by another vision. Rather, the company circumvents such trends and looks at the historical and timeless elegance of Nature. A classic approach like this means the garden develops and matures over time to always look its best.
It was the view master toy we all had as children that inspired the company’s approach when executing its projects, large and small.
First, Tumber “frames the view”. Like landscape paintings, a context within the existing natural setting is sought. The surrounding landscapes and elevations are taken into account. A focal point is used to draw the eye to a visually pleasing experience. These focal points vary with the project and the context. They must be carefully chosen and properly placed to set up the immediate scene that draws attention to the main elements of the composition, but within its context.
A “depth of field” provides the perspective if you will. It provides the pleasurable contrasts of such elements in the composition of highs to lows, light to shadow, and foreground to background. “Enclosure” recognizes the need for a private place for the owner’s own personal retreat. That sense of solitude in an increasingly developed and bustling world is becoming harder to find. Natural elements like foliage and creeks strategically placed in a design can provide a visual buffer from the outside world – a delicate balance the company has mastered. When worked out, it can provide an emotional feeling of safety and security.
The “Journey” is like a story book opening its pages as one progresses through the path of the landscape. From the starting point, an interesting path is created to each destination. Curiosity on behalf of the viewer can be created along the way by inserting subtle and interesting elements. Texture, size and growth habits are important considerations. Visual pleasure is not the only concern, and the company often includes scented plants and beds of food plants like strawberries to provide fun surprises along the way. The auditory elements are not forgotten either, with features such as pools, ponds, waterfalls, rivers, and fountains which contribute to the senses of the journey being added. It’s the sense of drama created during the journey, from the visual and sensory to the emotional, that allows for the integration of a successful garden design.
Conservation is huge. Tumber has been leading the charge with environmental rehabilitation. Many of its water features, for instance, provide habitat and recreate spawning beds for fish. The company’s projects have also been used as examples of “how to” for conservation. For instance, all natural methods are used to clean and purify water features and swimming holes, and many times objects such as flagstone and landscape boulders found on the client’s property are used as part of the project!
Tumber has been featured in such publications as “Style at Home” and often speak at professional conferences, seminars and to groups about thinking outside of the box. They provide a full turnkey operation, if needed, from storm drainage to recreational amenities and the buildings themselves.
So, if like me, you have discovered some of these truths the hard way, think about them for your Spring garden plans. When you do, you’ll say what many of their clients said when they started: “I wish I had called you sooner!”
Written by: Diana Janosik-Wronski
Resource Materials: Tumber & Associates, Orangeville