Thursday, January 12, 2012

Longing for order in chaos


My friend Cathy Stopher is the kind of person I want to be.  She is amazing.  For years, she has taken charge of planning functions and heading up huge fund-raisers and organizing anything, whether for hundreds of people or for ten.  Whereas I might think of getting a group together for lunch, say, she will actually make the calls and do it.  Meanwhile, the day I would have chosen would pass with nothing happening, except my woeful regrets.

Cathy's home in Florida where she spends part of the year is perfection.  The soaps match the towels exactly, and the glasses in the bar are all lined up perfectly.  The cabinets where cereal and such are kept look like a display in Williams-Sonoma.  When something gets out of place, she cleans it up immediately.  By contrast, sometimes I go into the kitchen at dinnertime, and I will have forgotten to clean the coffee pot.  But Cathy can be organized and neat and is still tons of fun and the life of the party.  She is so dynamic that for weeks after I'm with her, I find myself mimicking her gestures and her infectious laugh.

I long for her kind of order, with the exuberant personality attached.  I think that's why gardens like the one pictured above appeal to me.  I like the granite paver borders, the clipped boxwood, the symmetry of the trees.  But I also like the vine clambering up the structure in the background and the varied plantings within the box borders that don't quite match.

This photograph was taken at probably one of the worst possible times for an Atlanta garden.  I called the owners, Pat and Ted Plomgren, and asked if I could run over and take a few pictures.  It was a hot July day, and they weren't expecting visitors to the garden.  Still, with the good hardscapes and well laid out plantings, it was all still so pleasing to the eye.  At once ordered and perfectly arranged, but with personality and tons of appeal.