The Power of Nature to Heal Pt. 5: Creating Habitats

By Cheri Stringer

Natural boulder water feature and textured planting design from Tiga Sanctuary

A connection to something lost,

A profound understanding of ourselves,

A gratitude to what we have the opportunity to experience;

These feelings are what I strive to encompass in the creation of outdoor environments.

Our work at TLC Gardens requires aiming for excellence and constantly pushing the boundaries of form and function. We strive to do what nature does seamlessly. It takes patience, care, craftsmanship, and the desire to constantly learn that is rewarded by the creation of something that previously did not exist.

On some projects, I spend months learning and striving to achieve a cohesion or conjoining of spaces that speaks to the essence of place. The feeling that is captured is usually one of wonder and peace. How can I, for example, create enough space and frame the natural beauty in a site so its inhabitants can experience it on a higher level? How will they connect with it? Can I create a microenvironment where the native plants and animals show their true selves as well? 

Terracing and deer resistant plants from Flatirons Terrace

One of our clients grew up on a family farm, and this land borders the mountains. They often have several animals- bears, coyotes, falcons, owls, and foxes- roaming the land. When I met them, I yearned to create a habitat that would both embrace and elevate the opportunity to observe and appreciate this wildlife. Can I create an environment like this for the clients? I wanted to give them a metaphorical window through which they could appreciate the site around them. Can this experience in an outdoor space be created in harmony with nature in order to bring balance to our lives?

When I walk through the forest, I am always in awe at the complexity that comes together: the layers upon layers of fauna, plants, life, weather, sky, water, and earth. I strive to bring this complexity of life to my projects. As the famous Dutch designer Piet Oudolf explained, there should be about 13-18 species per square meter of land. He was referring to plants, but in creating these environments, bringing together the complexity of layers adds a richness to the experience that is indescribable. The elements that complement these layers are steel, wood, stone, topography, plants of different heights, textures, colors, and so much more. Together, these layered elements ultimately create an environment that becomes one with the home and the land. This is my life’s work. It is not landscaping; it is something much deeper. It is about the power of nature to heal, inspire, and connect us to ourselves. 

View of the mountains emphasized through Polaris Escape’s outdoor spaces

The Power of Nature to Heal is a series by TLC Gardens CEO and Lead Designer, Cheri Stringer. Read the previous parts of the series here: Part 1 – My Journey, Part 2 – Immersion, Part 3 – Gratitude, Part 4 – Biophilia