Tips for planning your middle-age garden dreamscape

When you think of aging, do you think of wills, nursing homes, and landscaping that’s  a chore to maintain? Do you think “it’s all downhill” after 40 or 50?

STOP!

Research shows that life tends to have a different shape. Yes, it’s upward to middle age, but then it levels off. For most of us, there will be a steady state with a short drop-off time at the end of life. Look at this curve. What are you going to do with that lovely steady state after middle age? It’s time for your dreamscape!

Nature can be your “vitamin N.” Make your yard very nourishing and nurturing rather than a plain green carpet that’s just low maintenance compliance with your homeowner’s association.

One way to enrich your yard is to add reminders of other joyous times outside.Grab a notebook and pen or sit down at your computer. Jot down your early memories of enjoyment outdoors. Do you remember doing any of these?

"<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Golteria1-pl.JPG#/media/File:Golteria1-pl.JPG">Golteria1-pl</a>" by Karol Pilch (<a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Karol91" title="User:Karol91">Karol91</a>) - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>. Licensed under <a title="Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a> via <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/">Wikimedia Commons</a>.
  • Gathering teaberries growing near a stream in the woods and tasting them to discover their subtle, sweet flavor
  • Tying bits of bacon to a string and throwing it into a slow-moving section of backwater at the beach to catch crabs
  • Finding the perfect trunk-to-branch angle for summer reading in a tree
  • Using rock formations as imitation forts for hiding and sneak attacks against your brothers in summer adventure games

Now ask yourself, “What would I like to remember more often?” “How could I bring those memories to life in my yard?”

Think about a patch of teaberries if you have a cool shady spot with acidic soil. Or mimic these conditions in a container on your porch for a quick occasional nibble. Yes, you can buy teaberry plants these days!

You don’t have to live at the beach, or even create a beach in your yard. A small patch of sandy soil with short native grasses to simulate grasses on the dunes, plus a scattering of shells, a comfy chair, and painting the fence blue as if it’s sea and sky in the distance can transport you to pleasant memories.

If a treehouse isn't feasible these days, create a wonderful reading spot using a comfortable teak outdoor chair and plantings to get the combination of sun and shade that you remember.

Your outdoor dreamscape should include plants, flowers, and natural materials to bring back happy memories of earlier outdoor experiences, plus those to keep your senses and memory strong now. We’ll explore those even further in later blogs.

What great memories could you add to your yard for vitamin N?