In the Garden with Miriam Jabour|At home, let your landscaping do your talking

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2009

A garden should reflect the personality of the gardener, and that, said a landscape instructor from Mississippi State University, is “what makes a garden special.”

Speaking at the 54th Landscape Design Symposium in Starkville, Bob Brzuszek, assistant professor of landscape, pointed to Vicksburg’s Art Park at Catfish Row and nearby Riverfront Murals as an example of a uniquely landscaped space with a strong identity to a specific place.

On the flip side, he spoke of landscaping in subdivisions in which all lawns and gardens look the same. Referred to as “placeless” by landscapers, Brzuszek said those spots can be found anywhere — Jackson, Dallas, Birmingham or Atlanta.

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Miriam Jabour, a Master Gardener and Master Flower Show judge, has been active in the Openwood Plantation Garden Club for over 35 years. Write to her at 1114 Windy Lake Drive, Vicksburg, MS 39183.

At Catfish Row, he praised the tall columns resembling steamboat stacks, concrete walls covered in children’s artwork and the 32 historical murals as elements that can be identified with the city and its history.

Vicksburg and the rest of the Southern region are lucky, he said, because temperatures allow year-round gardens, like those at Linden Plantation in Bovina.

Bryan Brabston’s ancestors’ original home burned down in 1956, so Brabston and his wife, Joy, built a new home on the site modeled after a 1790 Louisiana Creole cottage. As one drives up the formal driveway to the house, giant 150-year-old magnolias guard the front entrance just as they did the original house. A ruins garden was created from old bricks and household relics salvaged from the original house site and are interlaced with plantings. A wild garden filled with native plants sits under giant old cedars that were mature when Bryan Brabston was a child.

A small cottage garden just outside the kitchen is filled with old roses and seasonal plantings. A parterre garden with plantings of herbs and heirloom vegetables surrounds an old syrup kettle that was converted into a small water feature.

The Brabstons have created eight acres of gardens and brick walkways that communicate the history and personality of their property.

As in the Brabstons’ space, yards and lawns should reflect our regions and our personalities, Brzuszek said, encouraging us to create different spaces, environments and rooms in our gardens.

Here are a few tips for local landscaping:

• Be conscious of the ceiling or the trees and overhead structures.

• Create walls with hedges and fences to screen one room from another. This technique can often make a garden look much bigger.

• Floors can be concrete, asphalt, gravel, pavers or lawn.

• Gates, arbors, corridors and doorways create transition from one place to another. 

• Use evergreens to create a backdrop for focal points such as sculpture, or flowering shrubs and trees. Celebrate Mississippi and its native plants by incorporating them — including many dark evergreens found in the native wild landscape — because they are soothing and offer color year-round.

A personalized garden is one that is an extension of the owner functionally, aesthetically and emotionally. The ultimate goal is to achieve a visual layout that pleases you and communicates your unique personality to others.