Cumberland "When I Survey"

“Were the whole realm of Nature mine, That were a present far too small!”

Some versions of this hymn by Isaac Watts have “offering” in place of “present,” yet both were flowing through my mind this past weekend at Cumberland Island – the last pearl in a string of islands off Georgia’s coast.

Most recently known as the marriage site of the late JFK Jr. and his bride Carolyn, the tiny African church on the island sent my soul into splendor as I entered the church proper and saw the altar…laden with shells, feathers, flowers, and pine cones…part of nature’s realm as a present, an offering back to God.

I loved the simplicity, the beauty of the simplicity, and the heart and soul these offerings allowed. As a designer, new inspiration, mostly from nature, is always craved.

To be engulfed and surrounded by a perfect blend of natural flora and fauna and fine food and lodging was a true delight. "Then sings my soul" (a line from the hymn How Great Thou Art) also kept coming to mind as I surveyed the realm of nature that is the splendid Georgia coast.

Whether designing a new garden or restoring a historic home, getting back to the natural wonder of it all is the best inspiration and rejuvenation for this designer.

Were the whole realm of nature mine

That were a present far too small

Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all.