Garden seminar outlines principles

Judging by the falling and blowing snow, sub-zero windchill and the collection of hats, coats and scarves slung over chairs in the auditorium of the BioScience and Health Sciences Building at Iowa Central Community College Saturday, nobody is going to get to go home afterward and work in their gardens.

Of course, after attending the 36th annual Garden Seminar, they will want to and when it does thaw, they can use tips from Iowa State University Professor Emeritus Bill Boon who spoke about the basic rules of design and making a user friendly garden.

He began with the basic principles of line, form, color and texture that can be applied whether the budget is a big blank check or a do- it-yourself project on a budget.

“The basic rules still apply,” he said.

He said that lines can be used to direct the viewer to features such as the house. They can even inspire.

“Vertical lines direct you from earth to sky, from man to God,” he said.

The next principle -form- is the basic shape. He showed a slide of a Las Vegas casino with a reproduction of the Sphinx.

“This form,” he said, “says Egypt.”

Next up was color.

“Color is a very visible part of the whole experience,” he said.

Texture is another element he discussed.

“You can feel it with our eyes as well as your skin,” he said.

Kay Baldus, of Fort Dodge, is a former student of Boon’s.

Attending his talk brought back some fond memories.

“On the first day of class he walked in, stood on his desk and began singing songs from The Music Man,” she said. “While wearing a white suit and shoes.”

She said the memorable event helped put the students at ease and that in her own career, both as a teacher at Iowa Central and as a landscape designer, she was able to use what she learned from Boon.

The program gave her green thumb an itch to get back outside.

“It makes me want spring badly,” she said.

She said that gardening is an art and that people usually recognize good design.

“People have an innate ability to see what works well,” she said.

Howard Jensen, of Fort Dodge, enjoyed the presentation as well. Like many other others, ideas were springing up as he listened.

“I’ve got three acres and a lot of potential,” he said.

He was taking the weather outside in stride and put a positive note on it.

“It looks like a Christmas scene,” he said.

During the next session, Boon talked about making gardens user-friendly.

He cited the work of Thomas Church as the founding of the modern design movement that tries to get the best use of the environment and takes into consideration the client’s personality and interest.

“It feeds the spirit,” he said.

The goal?

“Make the garden so the people in it will feel natural,” he said.

He said that anyone can do that, there are no mysterious “musts” or complex rules, just simple design principles.

“It’s not a complex and difficult art to be practiced by high priests,” he said, “Anyone can do it.”

That includes Marilyn Peterson-Shipp, of Fort Dodge. She plans on using some of the day’s lessons in her own garden.

“I probably will change some things,” she said, “Weed some out, thin out a bit.”

Of course, that means things have to thaw out first, something that has her a bit concerned.

“We’ll see how much lives through the winter,” she said.