Personal Garden Coach

The Motivational Gardener at Large

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hiring a Personal Garden Coach! March 7, 2014

August 2008 garden 003 copyEnthusiasm for gardening is easy to acquire every single spring when you begin to see the first little plants start to line the front of the grocery store entryway. St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon you, here put this super cute clover on your desk at work and watch it…die. :-( Easter is coming and there are those fragrant, gorgeous Easter Lilly’s at every turn. YES!! Let’s get one of those for the kitchen window and enjoy the blooms…until it dies. See a theme here?

IMG_7208But its SPRING! You simply feel compelled to head to the Big BOX store and buy a flat cart load full of soil, mulches, fertilizers and dozens and dozens of plants. You eagerly roll up to the cash register pay for your loot and take it home. Now what? PLANT! We’re weekend warriors, we can DO this! Dump those bags of soil out, plant that one over there, that one the other side and zippity-doo-dah, you are very nearly the definition of a PRO-Gardener. You sprayed the fertilizer of green liquid just like the commercial, sat down, had a cold adult beverage and admired your handiwork while you called your friends and invited them over for a barbecue to admire your horticultural feats.

Sumner McLendon's 007Now its a month later, your plants are either dead or they look really sad. What? No one at the Big BOX store told you that those were actually not hardy OUTSIDE in your area? They may have also failed to mention that those pretty little flowers you were SO excited about are chock full of disease that will kill them quickly and the store knowingly sold them anyway? OUCH! They didn’t mention when you were shopping that you were buying “Potting Soil” for your perennial beds when you really needed a compost mix? The fertilizer you bought and sprayed all over everything with abandon not only isn’t organic for your edibles but you used 6X the recommended amount and now they have all turned black?

mowing-the-lawn
What happened? You went out with all of the very BEST intentions, but once again, you feel like you failed because it all turned out wrong. How come it doesn’t look like the magazines or all of the pictures on Pinterest? It’s NOT your fault!

It’s because you need a “Horticultural Hand-Holder”! Seriously, you’ve heard of people using Career Coaches, Nutritionists to help with a diet, or a Fitness Coach right? How about a Personal Shopper? Personal Chef? Dog Trainer? The bottom line is that we are all busy and you simply can’t be expected to have the time or inclination to be an expert at everything. And just like anything else, learning about YOUR garden takes time. Why not take the step to hire a Personal Garden Coach? Don’t be intimidated, just dive in, the beauty is that YOU set the pace. Once per month, once per season, twice a year, it all depends on what goals you have in mind for your landscape and what YOU intend to get out of it.

Head Shot IMG_6512
Here is what you need to know about working with a Personal Garden Coach:

  1. A Personal Garden Coach has the goal of saving you MONEY, TIME and, LABOR. By making informed decisions when you are shopping for plants, and hard-goods likes soils, fertilizers and tools. We have tried them ALL and made the mistakes for you. WE know who good vendors are, we know what products are worth spending a little bit extra on and even more important, we can help you save where it makes sense to save. By doing it right the first time, you aren’t wasting valuable time that you can be using to ENJOY your landscape.
  2. We want to see you succeed and eventually not need us anymore!
  3. A Personal Garden Coach wants you to find the PASSION in plants and gardening, not the drudgery.
  4. A Personal Garden Coach is on the journey with you, there WILL be mishaps. A plant WILL fail, a storm will happen at the wrong time, animals WILL cause problems. But, learning how to handle those issues as they happen is part of learning.
  5. A Personal Garden Coach is there to cheer you on to try NEW things that you might not have considered before. Want to create a fantasy miniature garden? Why not?
  6. A Personal Garden Coach is also the FIRM hand of reason. You want to begin collecting $1000 Koi fish? Maybe we should try our hand at building a self enclosed fountain first?
  7. A Personal Garden Coach is going to help you decide on your best options for that new Hot Tub and Patio you have always wanted- need a subcontractor, a Personal Garden Coach is going to help you find one.
  8. Feeling the need to Prune? A Personal Garden Coach is going to teach you how to properly to avoid situations like this one.
  9. Is your dream to have a sustainable vegetable garden and homestead for chickens? A Personal Garden Coach can help with that too!
  10. Got a fruit orchard and need help learning what to do with it all? A Personal Garden Coach is your foodie growing and preserving ally!

See? You CAN do this, don’t just settle for bland when your garden and landscape can be your proudest achievement without nearly as much expense and personal inner turmoil as you might have thought.

Enjoy this post?
Please do me the honor of sharing it with friends. And if you are on Facebook, you can find LOTS of neat info every day right here too! 

 

Gardening With Confidence – Book Review February 14, 2013

GWC Pic 2

My book shelves are organized by a few different groups. I have a my garden “How-To” books, then my juicy pictorial coffee table type books, then my collection of what I refer to as my beloved “Garden Literature”. These are first-class books having to do with gardening that I would want to read over and over because they have such impressive writing. Books that make it on to THIS shelf have a high bar set and earn their space there.

When you open this book and start reading the “What people are saying” section, you think to yourself, “WOW, that is a LOT of gushing about this book, can it possibly live up to all that?” It does. As so many others have said over and over in other reviews, Helen clearly has a gift for writing as if you’re having a conversation with a great friend in the garden over a cup of tea, or a glass of great wine at sunset. This is a rare talent indeed.

To be able to address such broad topics as “50 Ways to Add Style For Personal Creativity” in a way that’s both comforting and reassuring is very unusual. As a person who works with the public in a nursery where the hot business conversation topic right now is getting the NEW gardeners the confidence to simply come IN to the nursery, here is the manual they need.

I have crawled into bed with Helen’s book on a number of occasions so far this winter and referred to it quite a few times. Helen makes me feel great about trusting my own instincts with friendly lessons told in humorous and touching ways. She talks about gardening and design with all the new fangled approaches, but also about not losing sight of the tried and true too. Both ideas are addressed with passion and comedy.

Chapters in Helen’s book are soft approached by a Garden Coach who gives you light-hearted direction not dictation. The book is broken into these thoughtful sections: Basics, Garden Styles, Garden Elements, and Your Garden Environment. The three segments add up to 50 different themes that range from Bulbs to Balance, to Moss and Movement, and so much more.

This book gives elegant insight and helps you understand these ideas in the most gracious ways;

We are all unique, and you need to learn what goes into creating your own signature style, but that style needs to be balanced with good design technique.

Take the BIG picture view, while focusing on the harmony of your designs.

Developing your style means that there is a beginning, a middle and an end.

If YOU love it, then its right!

How can you apply what you have learned about your style?

Lastly, be wary of transplanting Voles. :-)

As a Garden Coach myself and a fan of Helen Yoest for a number of years, I can with all my heart say that THIS book has earned a coveted spot on a very special book shelf. It’s the book I would want all of MY clients to read too.

If you would like to buy Gardening With Confidence, here is the link for you!!

 

Garden Designers Roundtable- SHOW of Inspiration January 22, 2013

Inspiration for garden design ideas for the New Year can obviously come from any number of sources. You can fall down the internet rabbit hole of Social Media and lose hours of your life to just Pinterest alone for ideas on anything you can find inspiring, that’s the whole POINT!March 2012 Philly Flower and Garden Show 1122 copy

People can be an inspiration; a winter walk can bring inspiration, great garden books, and meditating on philosophic ideas, food and cooking, architecture, animals, interior design, all of those and more can be the spark of inspiration. I am not going to list here ALL of the innumerable ways that you can find inspiration in your design life. I am only going to focus on one way here. But, do be sure to check out those phenomenal links above too. ;-)

January 2013 Office Inspiration

My bookshelf of inspiration!

Last June I wrote this post that struck a chord with a number of you, titled “Looking To the Landscape for Mental Healing”. In it, I referred to one of my most favorite “bits” with regard to “inspiration”, if you have a moment, I think you would find it a great companion to this post.

Chanticleer

Chanticleer

My inspiration is so seasonally predictable, so like clockwork, so springtastically motivating- its the Garden Shows that get me revved up! I have only missed one of my local show- the Northwest Flower and Garden Show since its inception 25 years ago. Beginning in January, I start getting the garden itch for new plants, seeds, design ideas, garden art. By the time the show rolls around in the third week of February, I’m positively apoplectic for my fix!

NWFGS Pre-View Gala Fundraiser, January 2010 266

I spend the entire week of the show blogging, photographing and networking with my compadres in the world of Horticulture, Garden Writing, and Design. Getting inspired by the immensity of imagination and effort that goes into one of the largest garden shows in the country is positively exhilarating.

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Leaf Magazine, Riz Reyes, Nancy Claire Guth

Before the Northwest Flower and Garden Show I will be heading south to the Yard, Garden and Patio Show in Portland as a Show Judge! Plus taking a couple of days to visit with friends at places like Viscaya to get my plant groove on and take some fun bits home.

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A couple of years ago, at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, I presented a Container Garden display with Janit Calvo of Two Green Thumbs Miniature GardensEat, Pray, Love, Garden.

February 2011 NWFGS 011

This year is uber special because I will be speaking at the show with my co-author of Fine Foliage Karen Chapman of Le Jardinet Designs. 

Christina and Karen Portrait

Do I have reasons to be extra special inspired THIS year of all years?? – YOU BET I DO! Look at all of the magnificent friends I have, with whom I get the privilege to share my passion for landscape design and horticulture!

To see more fabulous blog posts from the other Lords and Ladies of the Roundtable please follow these links below:

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

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

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Jenny Peterson : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin, TX

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

 

Wordless Wednesday: When Seasons Collide October 31, 2012

 

Garden Designers Roundtable – Finer Points of Details in the Garden September 25, 2012

As the sign of the Virgo, my detail-oriented nature is ruled by the mind. Virgos are always analyzing everything, with a penchant for working with very precise and detailed designs on a more focused scale than many signs. I notice everything- when it comes to the garden. In that way, I’m the classic definition of a Virgo, the love of fine points, minutiae, particulars, specifics and technicalities.

I think that’s one reason why I love photographing the garden so much. To me it’s really all about the details. It allows another type of focus that you don’t get when you’re purely experiencing the garden with touch, smell, taste and sounds.

Today, I’ve rounded up a group of fabulous recent pictures that help you understand how I see the details at this late summer/early autumn season. ENJOY!

The angle of the evening light coming through this Hydrangea Paniculata ‘Quickfire’ is exquisite.

A singular Coreopsis ‘Big Bang Solar Cluster’ nestled in this ‘Cirrus’ Artemisia with a bit of ‘Rainbow’ Leucothoe is magical.

Blink and you would miss them!

Tree jewelry? Now THAT’S detailed!!

Taking advantage of the reflection!

The almost clockwise swirrel of the petals on this Echinacea are mesmerizing!

Such architecture in a seed head!

Magnificent view, and magnificent rose right under my nose!

Rhythm in the grasses……

An unexpected giggle that catches you by surprise is always a treat.

This container design shows it’s jaunty nature with it’s offset beret of Acorus grass planted askew and Mexican Feather Grass below that mimics the fun.
Also notice how the Poppy seed pods imitate the bumps on the container at the same level too.

A true detail after my own heart. I’m dying to make one of these someday.

Not only a monochromatic color combination, one of my favorite things, but a textural contrast too- BONUS!

This picture represents the realization that this color combination illustrates ALL of the favorite colors of my living room decor. Now THAT is detailed. :-)

Be sure to visit the other Lords and Ladies of the Garden Designers Roundtable for September to see how they interpret the details. :-)

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

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

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

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

 

Garden Designer’s Roundtable: Ideas for Adding Texture to Your Landscape June 26, 2012

Texture is my thing. Let me say that again LOUDER so there is no doubt in your mind. TEXTURE IS MY THING!! I adore it in the garden almost above all else. I see it everywhere, it dominates my design sensibilities in every conceivable way. The fact that I tend to see almost everything through the lens of a camera whether I’m holding one or not helps me to focus my design esthetics so that I see textural vignettes everywhere.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Since all of us at The Garden Designer’s Roundtable are tackling this topic for June, you are sure to get some seriously great tips and techniques on the actual step by step of adding texture into your landscape. As is my way, I am not going to do the expected, but rather, I will give you a pictorial of what adding texture to your landscape means to me through a collection of photos. I feel strongly about learning visually on this topic, reading the actual variables is handy, but sometimes you have to just see it to know and understand it.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden

I am also sprinkling in some EXCELLENT links for you to go and visit as well as referring you to my fellow Lords and Ladies of the Roundtable and their collective expertise.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Here is the first link that I stumbled onto the other day while doing a bit of research. This is one of the very best explanations of Adding Visual Texture to the Garden that I have ever read. Writer Doug Skelton, lays out the principles of adding texture expertly.

  1. Form
  2. Space
  3. Color
  4. Balance
  5. Man-Made
  6. Combinations

FORM – Bellevue Botanical Garden

SPACE- Bellevue Botanical Garden

Margaret roach explains “underplanting” here with great expertise, but even more, look at that TEXTURE!

From Margaret Roach’s Blog Post “10 Thoughts on Successful Underplanting” from http://awaytogarden.com/10-thoughts-on-successful-underplanting#more-540

This beautiful and simple post from LIVE PRONTO! shows the appreciation of taking a walk to admire the textures and breathe it in a bit after a long day at work.

BALANCE- Bellevue Botanical Garden

MAN-MADE

I love the glass ground cover in this link!

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One of the assignments I give my clients when I am Coaching is to have them take a photo of the anything in the landscape and look at it solely in black and white. This is a fabulous exercise for designing with texture in particular because it forces the eye to look at the shapes, balance and details in a completely new way.

Adding structural plants is a focus in this blog post called “Rooting For Ideas”, very well done by Designer/Blogger Don Statham in a post about “Texture in the Garden”.

Sometimes adding visual texture to a landscape can mean adding focal points that might be rare and unusual collectors plants or literal texture too!

Distinctive and Unique

I love the idea that sometimes you need a seemingly basic plant that has a high degree of textural interest simply to set a backdrop for pure drama in the garden.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

At other times the focus can be very macro on the texture of one plant in particular as blogger Matt Mattus explains in this post from his blog “Growing with Plants” about Pulsatilla and his love of the texture when they have those fluffy seed heads.

In this shot, the take-away is the literal texture and impact of the subject matter on the container and how it’s so balanced with the amount of detail on the foliage of a fairly common Caladium. Also, note the balance of the tone in colors here as well, if the pot was the same pattern in another color, this might not work at all. This combination takes both pieces to new heights.

Houzz.com is getting a lot of Buzz lately for their take on the “Idea Book” that people have fallen in love with lately- check out this post about adding lushness to the garden with layers, by Amy Renea.

And simply because I love these shots and ALL the texture they conjure, my beloved coleus cannot be ignored.

I love this post from “Not Another Gardening Blog”. This blogger does a masterful job of defining texture as it applies to the winter garden.

The many other talented Designers of the Garden Designer’s Roundtable await your visit, they have been working hard on their “Texture” posts for you to enjoy- so GO- ENJOY!! I left the links for you below:

Thomas Rainer : Grounded Design : Washington, D.C.

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

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

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

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA

 

Wordless Wedneday: Allium and Friends May 30, 2012

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Container Garden Season is OPEN! May 23, 2012

 

Garden Designers Roundtable: Designers Home Landscapes May 22, 2012

At the Garden Designer’s Roundtable this month we will show you our own gardens. This is no small thing for us, because most of us designers are busy at YOUR house making it look beautiful. And then we get home and experiment in our own gardens so you don’t have to. Truly, I don’t have a plant hoarding issue. Am I selling that well? :-) Actually it is true. I buy plants and trial and error them at home fairly frequently, strictly for testing purposes. Still buyin it?

OK, actually we do try out design ideas and test some plants from Growers and Breeders. We try to figure out the million dollar Bunny and Deer deterrent fixes. We use our gardens for our own blogs to show our successes and sad seasonal distresses, but it’s really just our own place to play just like yours, the good the bad and the really really bad. We just don’t usually bare our collective souls like this to the general public.

So, ready or not here is a snap shot of where my back yard landscape has begun and where it is today thanks to my friends at May Creek Landscape.

We downsized from our giant, custom-built dream home in 2007  just before the crash in 2008 to what I lovingly refer to as our “Barbie Doll House”. We bought our current home in the middle of the block in an almost brand new neighborhood about 30 seconds from our former home so that our teenager would be able to finish school and stay near friends until she went off to college.

As a former Real Estate Agent who worked for one of the 5 builders in this planned community I knew the neighborhood well and the small, contemporary San Fransisco lot styles with the alley in the back were just the right amount of maintenance for me to handle. Our side yard property line is right up to the neighbors foundation.

When we bought the home it had already had two owners, most recently 5 Bachelors with a motorcycle hobby. Yup, they were beloved by ALL the neighbors for sure. Not to mention that yard maintenance was not exactly a priority. So, it was a typical example of a NEW fixer upper these days. But, also a VERY blank canvas from the stand point of the garden.

I failed to get shots in 2007 of the gardens, I was too busy cleaning and planting! This pic shows the back yard in 2008, one year after we moved in. This gravel path and the beds on either side as well as all of the plants you see here did not exist at that time.

Back Yard in June of 2009.

I’m pretty sure I spent the better part of the first year simply adding soil to even make it diggable. Yes, that is the most correct Hort-term I could think of for this awful, hard-pan clay soil. Also, as you can see across the back side, privacy is an issue, so my baby Leyland Cypress trees that I started as 1 Gallons are 3 ft. tall in this picture. I also started creating English Laurel Standards from 1 Gallon babies too- wait until you see those now!

The drainage here is abominable. The lawn is just a bog all winter and most of spring until it dries out in summer and then it’s impossible to keep watered. Even the dog didn’t want to walk out there. Luckily all of those big tree roots have been helping to suck some of it up.

Now skip ahead to early spring of this year before any of the color and fluff came on and this was where we were in 2012. My MASTER Plan is about to unfold before your very eyes!

LAWN be gone!! No more mowing and edging- YUCK!

Construction day one, 7 years in the making…. no, waiting, yes, that’s it!

The Gravel base my patio and edging are down.The guys are getting the forms ready for the 3 concrete pedestals for my containers and building my water feature. The pedestals will be covered with slate tiles. Check out the size of my very pruned Leyland Cypress trees and Laurel Standards now!

Ta da! There are still a few tweaks and of course more plants needed. But, for the most part, it’s exactly as I had envisioned it. My landscape crew thought my idea was totally nuts, but now they see the light!

I adore my new veggie bins!!

A cool respite in the shade on a hot day.

More updates on the new back yard to come this summer as I finish planting and getting it just the way I want it, this is only 2 weeks old now! I’ve now bared my garden soul to all of you. I hope you enjoyed what took me a long time to get here.

Please be sure to take a look at what the other brilliant Lords and Ladies of the Round Table have to share as well!

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

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

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA

 

Focal Point Trees April 29, 2012

My tiny back yard has recently undergone a massive makeover this spring. I’m still finishing up a few details before I share it with all of you. But, I wanted to make a point about Focal Points and Focal Point Trees in particular. A small or large-scale tree placed strategically in the landscape for its shape, texture, color can add an immeasurable amount of artistic flair and drama with very little effort.
This brand new Larix pendula, ‘Weeping Larch’ does just that here at the end of my path as it opens into the main yard. In fall when the needles turn a warm gold and drop, then I will have that incredible weeping structure to look at all winter. WIN WIN!
Frequently, I have customers and clients who are SO bloom focused for the few weeks of a flowering tree or shrubs blooms in the year that they forget the rest of the season. I’m all for flowers, but don’t forget that a focal point plant of any type needs to bring more to the party than a pretty hat. :-)

 

 
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