Personal Garden Coach

The Motivational Gardener at Large

2012 Northwest Flower and Garden Show – Miniature Gardening Craze February 21, 2012

The Miniature Gardening craze is finally getting the recognition it deserves. You must know that I am quite biased on this topic as I have connections to THE BEST in Miniature Gardening in the form of my friend Janit Calvo, owner and designer at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.

Janit and I partnered on our Container Garden Display at the 2011 Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Our theme, “Eat, Pray, Love” was a big hit! Janit displayed all three parts of the book/movie in Mini-Container Gardens! I designed the accompanying tropical themed larger containers for our backdrop themed in Thailand.


This year at the 2012 Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Janit took the Fairy Themed Gardens in her display to a whole new level of fantasy! Many of you may not know that Janit is a trained artist far beyond what anyone would guess-she’s amazing! She had some great fun embellishing the containers in her display. Little gems and glitter were everywhere in this cheery display on the Skybridge of the Seattle Convention Center. This lovely little spot was a magnet for people to spend few minutes, admiring and analyzing new details with every pass. In the evening was when it really came alive, with twinkling lights and sparkle bits, though I had a  hard time capturing that light with my camera to show you here.

Janit and her husband Steve ran a delightful little shop booth at the show too! They sold a serious quantity of everything you can imagine needing to create your own Mini-Garden of ALL shapes sizes and style. From plants to miniature Robots, if you couldn’t find something to fit your gardening personality in small form at this booth- it isn’t out there!

 

Be sure to look for Janit Calvo’s book on Miniature Gardening to come out from Timber Press in the Fall of 2012. Janit is THE authority on the topic and has been an expert for over 10 years. This book is going to be a huge hit! Until then, if you want to talk Mini-Gardening with the GURU, you can find Janit’s wonderful Two Green Thumbs Page on Facebook.

 

Choosing Winter Foliage That Says WOW! October 31, 2011

How do you choose your foliage palette for your garden? Does it vary from season to season or do you keep it a tight color scheme of just a couple of colors year round?

When I’m shopping and designing for a client in the Fall and Winter, it takes on a completely different feeling than in the abundant and effervescent summer when you can nearly throw a dart out in the nursery and hit combinations of plants that will play well together.

This time of the year I have to think much more about the textural effects and the vivid or subtle nature of foliage colors together. This raises my passion for this process to a whole new level. The challenge and yet sometimes the utter simplicity of this task when all is said and done are among my highest highs.

Recently, I had the fun opportunity to put together a couple of custom containers for a client to sell at a charity auction. I was short on time and even more short on plants at the ready. I made a special shopping trip to get a bunch of colorful options to go with the particular color of pots I had in mind.

The client’s only request was that they look very fall’ish. I was very pleased with the result, but even more so with the ease with which they went together. I based it on what I call my “Garanimals of Fall/Winter Plant List”. You can read more about this here. 

Carex 'Cappuccino', Leucothoe 'Rainbow', Heuchera 'Electra', Selaginella 'Aurea', Coprosma 'Tequila Sunrise', Euphorbia 'Helena's Blush', Creeping Wire Vine, Hebe

Now I’m onto another Fall and Winter design using foliage as the focus. I picked up a whole bunch of plants the other day and as I unloaded them from my car, I was tickled at what a great start I had from just the plants sitting in the driveway in boxes!

Tomorrow I go to get another load to go with them, since I have to get enough large-scale plants for three large containers. I’ll be looking for Nandina, Leucothoe, Choisya and maybe an Aucuba if I can find a good one.  I have some great colors and textures to riff on. The flowers from the Hellebore will be fantastic in late winter. I love how they’re happily spitting out a few blooms now too!

Of course you know I’ll get some good shots of the pots when I’m done so you can see how they turn out.  :-) I would love to hear how you see foliage in the garden working for you and how you choose them for various areas and focal points.

 

Garden Designer’s Roundtable – Getting From Here to There September 27, 2011

Path: Definition – Course or Way. Synonyms: aisle, artery, avenue, beat, beaten path, boulevard, byway, cross-cut, direction, drag, footpath, groove, highway, lane, line, pass, passage, pathway, procedure, rail, road, roadway, route, rut, shortcut, street, stroll, terrace, thoroughfare, track, trail, walk, walkway.

You can certainly look at getting from here to there from the broad perspective OR in close detail. Enjoy the collages of pictures that I gathered for you to look at getting from here to there from a few different vantage points. :-) 

Sometimes getting from here to there means focusing on the short ends of coming and goings like entrances and exits. 

More home landscapes are trending toward emphasizing the street view of the front garden with very unique and interesting entry paths and gardens. 

Creativity and artistry are shown with different materials for gates and railings that help to define the personality of the garden or homeowner’s style. 

The wide variety of path and walkway selections for materials are as vast as your imagination can envision. From decomposed granite, ground covers, brick, wood, lawn, mulch, cork, slate tiles or log rounds, you can create a path that defines your personal style and suits your environment. 

Adding beautiful places to pause and appreciate craftsmanship and artistic expression make the walk even more enjoyable! 

Repetition by using design cues and long visual lines carry the viewer along the path.

Details can make or break the design and stick in the memory of those enjoying the garden. Decorative, dramatic and unique elements make a garden memorable. 

A viewpoint at the end of a path is a dramatic and memorable component of getting from here to there. 

Grand paths create vista points in large gardens. Pull over and take a picture! 

Exits and entry’s can be unforgettable even for a casual garden. 

Sometimes a hidden garden is on the other end of the path!

Getting to this quaint seating area is a lovely experience with this well-groomed informal pathway. 

Please take some time to read and invest a comment or two in blog posts (links below) written by other Lords and Ladies of the Garden Designer’s Roundtable and most especially our esteemed guest posters Debra Prinzing and David Perry

Debra Prinzing & David Perry:  A Fresh Bouquet

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Jenny Peterson : J Peterson Garden Design : Austin TX

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

 

The Edible Front Yard- Ivette Soler February 1, 2011

When I think of eating produce that I can grow in my front yard, I can almost hear the cries of the neighborhood Lawn Nazi’s now. Grousing not so subtly when passing by for inspection, “What about the green carpet of tweezed by hand, weed free, edged to perfection, pride of ownership that defines your island of possession and weekly proof of conquering nature?”

Surely Blueberry shrubs could be acceptable. They’re so pretty in Fall! Especially if I bake them a pie right? What about some Rhubarb? That can’t hurt if I have some strawberries growing underneath. Then they can have a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie! I could even have hanging baskets of berries growing on the porch. Certainly, the Lawn Inspector Generals can’t have a problem with that, right?

Simple- Strawberries and Lobelia!

Now, with the support of “The Germinatrix”- Ivette Soler and her brand new book called “The Edible Front Yard”, I have her chutzpah and encouragement to go for it! Ivette has written an entertaining and might I say, down right persuasive book for me to have the guts to stand up and plant my veggies, right here in my own front yard! Lawn Nazi’s be warned. I will not tolerate your irrational tyranny any longer.

With Ivette’s brand of witty and passionate support, her book is lighting the way to create a front yard landscape that is elegant AND tasteful, in the best possible way! The forward in her book is written by Fritz Haeg, the author of “Edible Estates”. Fritz challenges us to be brave, go forth and conquer our fear of the neighbors downward glances and make the display of your edibles beautiful!

Photos Worth 1000 Healthy Calories

Ivette has gathered hundreds gorgeous of photos of gardens and plants in this book that help tell the story of distinctive and beautiful edible plants. Photographer Ann Summa gets the bulk of credit, but there are also photos from edible gardening experts and designers from many varying locations. They give great example of aesthetic’s and variety of styles and ideas to springboard your integration of edibles into the face forward side of your landscape.

Style Advice for Star Quality Veggie-scapes


The “Rules For Front Yard Edibles” on page 15, gives four guidelines to follow so that your edibles to rise to the occasion. The performance AND the beauty necessary for making the most of the design and devourables is paramount. Ivette puts great weight on Beauty, Style, Regional Appropriateness, and your Home’s Architectural Style. Those are points that really ring bell’s with the neighbors and HOA so that they know you’re not going to be creating an eyesore.

The book is chock full of suggestions for ways to add edibles to your landscape that follow the four guidelines. Plus a whole slew of plant suggestions and even design renderings that you can copy in your own garden!

Fired up doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about tackling this Edible Front Yard revolution! This book also has a great section on the Reality Check needed before you really get going such as, Climate, Boundaries, Grading, Structures, and Sunlight or lack of it. There are even some suggestions for shade edibles!

Red Sails Lettuce, Lemon Thyme, Hellebore, Jasmine and more!

My FAVORITE Page

Of course it would be imprudent for me not to mention the VERY BEST part of the book – THANK YOU, Ivette and Timber Press, the column on page 131 about Garden Coaches!!!! YES WE CAN be of great help to a gardener who wants to embark on this great new gardening adventure in eating. Saving you Money, Time and Labor is my specialty!

The How-to’s

The chapters and sections that cover the removal and reuse of the lawn, working with existing trees and plants, making the most of hardscaping, and maintenance of your newly designed Edible Front Yard are fantastic! Ivette has written them with a green hand and responsible attitude for todays new gardeners. Setting an example for the neighbors and young passers-by is a truly noble ideal in this day and age. Worms, Compost Tea, Organic Pest Control methods are all topics that we need to be preaching from the top of the compost bin and Ivette has set in motion a beautiful means of doing just that!

Eating out of your Edible Front Yard will not a be considered a subversive act anymore. Even Martha is talking about it! The Mayor of San Francisco has also turned a public space into a fruit and veggie bearing garden for all to enjoy.  This can begin to transform a community, create great relationships with spectators and promote biodiversity that goes beyond lawn and Lobelia. Not to mention the financial and physical benefits of growing your own produce and staying in shape while you do it.

I WILL reflect my own style with veggies in the front yard and I WILL be removing some lawn chores from my routine this Spring while I add some produce curb-appeal! Thanks Ivette! :-)

*Leave me a FABULOUS comment for a free book give away of “The edible front Yard Garden” – drawing on March 1st!!

 

Brainstorming A Container Garden Design: “Black & Tan” June 11, 2010

Brainstorming ideas for container gardens is really no different from any other type of garden inspiration process. An idea can jump-start from anything really.

Garden art:

Or the container itself can demand a certain color combination:

My “Teal Pot Theory” in action :-)

But in this case, it was a little plant that inspired this combination for me! The “Phantom” Black petunia, with its creamy, rich stripe had me at “Hello”! Even through the pouring, cold rain, I was inspired to maximize the caramel, chocolate, purple tones of the petunia to the max.

This container design was a custom request, with my very FAVORITE requisite, “make it awesome”. I love a challenge like that! Below is the result of my creative passion today. Hopefully it will fill out the way I think it will and be a huge, sexy mass of interesting texture and luscious colors and tones.

The “Black & Tan” name for this combo is thanks to @MJausson via Twitter, with a little nod to @PatFitzgerald thrown in for good measure!

I made this in mirror image so that it could be viewed from both sides too!

This turned out to be one of my favorite containers that I have ever done, I can’t wait to get a picture of it in a month or two!

**Bonus for staying with me all the way to the bottom of this post: If you want to win a super cool spin composter from

Clean Air Gardening, then leave a comment on this post. I will draw a name randomly from a hat and you will have a new composter on your doorstep before you can say “sustainable gardening”!!

Thank you Clean Air Gardening!

Like this post? Please share with friends! You can also find me on Facebook here where I post TONS of fun things daily!


 

Garden Designer’s Roundtable-“Container Style” May 25, 2010

When we move into a new house, condominium or apartment, many of us dream about how we can start personalizing our space and really give it our personal signature. Adding your personal flair to a garden in the form of a long term design plan or potentially even construction takes planning and lots of money.
You can easily get that instant gratification by adding a container garden or maybe even more than one special
container in various focal point places for your garden, patio or balcony. A personal statement that is unique and
defines your garden personality can be made in a million different ways such as through color, theme, scale or drama.

The little nursery where I work has me design containers for sale as well as custom designs for customers. I also create container gardens for my own “Personal Garden Coach” clients and of course myself! I need to have a VERY flexible design attitude to be able to change with the customer or client as well as creating container gardens for anyone who may fancy them at the nursery. This may mean that I design a container that is pink and feminine one minute and then create a modern contemporary creation for a bachelor pad the next! This gives me a wonderful perspective for using plants in a large number of ways that may not be typical, in other words, I have creative license to use whatever my imagination allows.

I think that one of the most valuable ways to understand the potential for containers in your space is through pictures and I have many! A number of them are just quick snaps that I take at the nursery very quickly as I put them out for sale and others are from my garden, clients garden or shows I’ve attended.

Some women get all crazy about shoes, for me it’s pottery!! OK, make that any container really. As long as it has drainage, or even the potential for drainage, it’s fair game in my book. I’m not going to go into all of the myriad of possibilities for various container options or we could be here all day. Let’s just suffice it to say for this post, that any and all are just fine by me!

A container as a focal point is a design strategy that is used by many as a way to draw the eye to a particular point or area in the garden. One of my favorite new containers is seen best from inside my house, silhouetted against my neighbors home. Here are a few pics of the garden and the focal point pot as it was installed and as the garden began to mature over the seasons. In the foreground is a spectacular Hydrangea Paniculata that blooms right there in the window for a full on summer display!

Frequently I allow the container to determine the design of the plants. I will choose a container that inspires me for a particular spot and then let the plants show off or support the shape and color of the container.

I hope you enjoy these pictures that I’ve assembled here. Leave me a comment and share how you make your containers special!

Close up details are fun in containers too!

Don’t forget to have a little sense of humor.  :-)

Garden Designer’s Roundtable is wonderful group of garden bloggers who also happen to be terrific designers. Please visit their posts on “Containers” as well.

This month’s bloggers!

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Jenny Petersen: J Petersen Garden Design : Austin TX

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Laura Livengood Schaub : Interleafings : San Jose, CA

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA

Rochelle Greayer : Studio “G” : Boston, MA

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA

Tara Dillard : TaraDillard.com : Atlanta, GA

 

The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show- Container Drama March 31, 2010

Container gardening is one of my particular favorite things about garden design. So when I was looking for my unique “take” on one aspect of  the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show I knew it had to be about the abundance of ideas for dramatic container garden plantings that you had to see!

With styles ranging from modern to whimsical, country to antique, and natural to edible there was a plethora of fantastic design concepts that can be translated into ANY garden.

Here are some that I found to be interesting and noteworthy. This should inspire you to get out there and be creative with your containers too. Many of these are planted with found or recycled objects. Try something new, get out of your comfort zone and define your space so that it will reflect your personal style!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for taking a moment to visit my photos. And a BIG thank you to Laura Schaub for inviting and organizing all of us Garden Bloggers at the show. Applause applause!

 

 
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