Personal Garden Coach

The Motivational Gardener at Large

Steel, Rock and Sedum Focal Point April 3, 2012

This little vignette at a client’s home pleased me to no end on this lovely spring day and I just wanted to share this with you. I thought it illustrated a couple of cool things.

1) My client bought this steel pot because she simply fell in love with it and HAD to have it. I can totally understand this, I would too!
It’s common in my line of work that I’m the one that has to figure out where and how to fit this new thing of passion into a particular garden design. My homework assignment to the client was to find a great rock to pair with the container and help balance the scene. Since the homeowner’s son is very helpful in the garden he took the rock task on. And THIS is the fantastic rock that he chose. So much subtlety, elegance and geometry. It perfectly fit my vision for the spot! 

2) One of the great things about Personal Garden Coaching that I LOVE is that I get to encourage homeowners to do what they already wanted to do by their own natural instincts….take down a tree, move a shrub, throw away bad plants.  But the best times are when I give the client permission to have fun with it, be creative, and they do! I think nature is so much more a part of us than we give her a chance to be and when we let ourselves be open to it, such amazing thing can happen. When gardener’s open up to being creative and have fun with it, they free up themselves to not need so much permission to try new things in other areas of life. 

This rock might not look that exciting, but to me, it means SO much more than just a piece in the garden.

 

Devotedly Hoarding and Dividing Spring Perennials March 28, 2012

It has turned out that I have a great passion for collecting Heuchera, Heucherella and now some Tiarella too.  Especially in part due to the eye candy of plants at the Terra Nova website. Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries has built an empire of Heuchera and MANY other tempting delights. I never thought of myself as one of those gardener’s who would have a fixation for assembling great numbers of any one genre of plant, but these seem to be my thing. All right, you got me. That’s not ENTIRELY true I must have Euphorbia too!

My current favorite 'Berry Smoothie'

I did have quite a love affair with Nandina of ALL types for many years, they still have a place in my heart, just not as ardently. I had an extremely prized ‘Threadleaf’ Nandina that made it to an impressive size at one home. I couldn’t bear to dig it up and take it with me as it seemed to complete the spot near the front door where it thrived.

You could add on to my list of devotions, Hellebore’s and Conifer’s now, thanks to my friend Mitch, a serious collector. His influence on me has been profound in a Plant Porn kind of way. I go to his garden for a biennial fix. Mitch is going to give me a division of some of his gorgeous Blue ‘Willow’ Gentians. I am SO excited!

It occurred to me the other day as I was out on spring garden clean up day two of probably ten, that I had not divided the Heuchera’s since I had been at this house. So, I grabbed my camera to show you, if you have never done it. It’s a shame that many people simply let them die and don’t realize that Heuchera can be divided incredibly easily and with a fabulous ratio of success!
When your, let’s call her the “Mama” Heuchera gets to about 4 years old or so, you will begin to see the foliage diminish slightly and she will develop finger length “Pups” that stick up about 3-4″ with a little tuffet of leaves at the top. I know this is terribly technical, but, stick with me! :-)

What I like to call a Heuchera "Pup"

In late March, I will either, dig up the whole plant, or if she’s a tough broad, sometimes I will just rip chunks off of her right from the ground. You will usually see anywhere from 5-10 “Pups”. Some that will be large and fat, about 4″ long and an inch around and some that are really small, only a few inches long and 1/3″ around. Yesterday, I got more than 40 divisions out of 5 plants. That’s a pretty great ROI on plants that are not inexpensive!

Simply plant them back in the garden, roots side down. :-) Then hurry up and wait! Smaller ones take longer, larger ones just take off. Easy peasy! Try it and save yourself a few bucks to go out and get obsessed about a new plant to spend your money on.


Hmmmmmm…. Terra Nova has these new Kniphofia I have been eying.

 

AM Snow and PM Spring in the Garden Today March 23, 2012

Other than the sounds of snow thawing and water draining out of the unbelievably soggy lawn, you would never know that I woke up to snow this morning at 7:30am. It was a winter wonderland. Not an altogether happy one on my part, having just come back from a month away, where it was 70 in Philadelphia for 2 weeks and then 80 in Houston for almost another week. But, considering it is March in my beloved Seattle ‘Burbs, I know better than to whine. Much. :-)

Here are some pics from the garden today. Clearly, my Euphorbia’s of ALL flavors are glorious in their Pre-Easter nodding fashion. The Hebe’s  and Heuchera are pulling their weight too, and my winter container designs are quite striking in the early spring sun. I’m not sure how much of a hurry I may be in to trade them in just yet. Enjoy!

 

Garden Designer’s Roundtable – First Impressions February 28, 2012

Jane Austen began her second novel, Pride and Prejudice, before she was twenty-one. It was originally titled First Impression because the appearances of the characters created the plot of the novel. The two main characters formed immediate impressions of one another that set the entire story in motion.

"Pride and Prejudice" From Deviantart.com

Imagine the power that your front garden has on the first impression your guests might have about YOU or your HOME. Does it say anything about how the visitor might find the condition of your interior? What could your landscape be saying about your personal style? Does it say anything at all?

No matter what your landscape and climate might be, you have the opportunity to place your own personal stamp on what a passerby or first time visitor may think of you and your home. Small space or large, there are many ways to make it your own.

Even if you don’t have a landscape, some containers can create a big impressions.

Curb appeal or the first impression =  A homes CHARISMA

“Landscape your outside entrance–Add a few new flower pots, small shrubs or hanging plants to spruce up the outside. Spending just $400 to $500 on fresh landscaping, according to the survey,can boost your home’s value by $1,600 to $1,800.”
Home Gain Survey 2007

Here’s a list of Fourteen Ways To Make the Most of Your Homes Curb Appeal

As a former high end Real Estate Agent, I could go on and on about improving the first impression of your home. But, I thought some pictures of some landscapes that I’ve worked on changing over the years might be a good illustrator for you too. Unfortunately, I don’t have the original “BEFORE” shots on these homes, I was too eager to just jump right in and get started and forgot them. But, these are all taken over the course of a few years, all of them starting in the second or third year. Enjoy!

Originally, this front yard that blends into the main yard, had a very steep slope of lawn here that was impossible to mow and very little landscaping. The curving wall cured many ills here.

This is the third year, where we just wanted to add inexpensive but bold color until the larger plants
began to fill and mature.

By the fifth year, trees, shrubs and ground-covers began to mature and give a sense of scale.

This was into the second year of improving the “Builder Special” landscaping.

Third year and done up for a magazine here, not bad!

Second year on this side too. Still lots of inviting color and personality.

One year later. I’d say that’s a pretty WOW first impression!

Here is the number one piece of advice that I give my clients when we talk front yard landscape design- You should be able to pull up to the front of your home in the worst weather of the whole year and say WOW! If it looks great for the months that you are not out gardening actively and fully, then THAT is a great front yard!

For more on “First Impressions” from the Lords and Ladies of the Roundtable, please visit the links below. Enjoy!

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

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

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

Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers Blog : Los Angeles, Ca.

 

Glass + Art = Landscape Jewelry February 26, 2012

Art in the garden is just one way to express your own statement of style and personality. As a designer who is like a cat attracted to shiny objects, glass is very difficult for me to resist. Many of my clients have budding collections of glass garden art and I have to admit my jealousy. I endeavor to have my own collection someday too. :-)

Luckily for me, I have a friend, Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens NW and she graciously allows me to have fun designing with her glass frequently. Barbara’s art has been recognized across the country in magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Fine Gardening, blogs and at large shows across the country including the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

This year at the 2012 Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Barbara created a custom design for an award winning display garden, created by Sublime Garden Design where she made a flickering glass fire, one of the focal point pieces in the display. They were gorgeous!! I could see those in someones home where a real fire might not be feasible, but the ambiance is desired.

Here is what it looked like in the display- very elegant!

The Glass Gardens NW booth was bedecked in garden jewelry! Here are some pictures of what was being snapped up during the four day extravaganza where gardens and art collide.

Glass Flowers

Glass Flowers

Icicles lit up from within and Glass Leaves

Truly Garden Jewelry! Water Features- SO pretty

Birdbaths, Flowers and Water Features

HOT sellers- Birds and Cattails!

Containers designed by The Personal Garden Coach with Glacicles and Leaves

Below is a slide showing the “Fiddlesticks” that are so popular for Glass Gardens NW in a container that I designed.

Fiddlesticks in Spring fresh colors!

Here is a peak at some glass art from Glass Gardens NW in containers by The Personal Garden Coach. :-)

Left is a brand new design for 2012 "Glacicles"

Colorful glass leaves!

 

Glacicles in the snow!!

Now THAT is some winter color!

 

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of Garden Jewelry, for more information, you can also reach Glass Gardens NW via Facebook too. Go “LIKE” the page!  Be sure to look for more great Garden Art ideas coming soon from my visit to the Philadelphia Flower and Garden Show!

 

 

Northwest Flower and Garden Show – Symphony of Flower Bulbs February 16, 2012

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle just ended and as I spend the countless hours editing my numerous photos, I realize that I have much too much great color, design ideas and details to share with all of you for one simple blog post. And far be it from me to ever be simple!

How will I be able to share as much of the show as I possibly can with you, without short-changing any of the fabulous elements that make up one of the biggest shows in the country? (Our Seattle show is 2nd in the US only to the Philadelphia Flower and Garden Show- where I will be in about 2 weeks!)

My plan is to show you parts of the show by thematic element rather than by designer, vendor or big garden display, in a number of posts over time. Hopefully you will follow along and maybe even feel like, if you couldn’t attend the show, that you got a great sense of what you missed. Maybe you will even be motivated enough to attend next year. With a theme for the 2013 show like “Hollywood” there is bound to be some serious fun. I can’t wait – maybe I will even decide to jump into the spectacle once again! :-)

If you want to delve yet even deeper into the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, you can Tweet with other #NWFGS fans on Twitter here or you can “Like” the Facebook page here, and chat with all the other devoted show Followers.

Today’s post will focus on flower bulbs which were more than voluminous throughout the entire show. From basic to exotic, spring was definitely filling the air with fragrant bulbs. I found bulbs in almost every single corner of the show, so it’s as good of a place to start as any!

In later posts I will cover Orchids, Lighting, Miniature Gardening, Terrariums, Water Features and so much more. We ought to be able to get some of our spring groove on well into the warm weather to get you going!

Still can’t get enough of the show? I know, I understand that you need your fix, here is a short list of Blogs and Articles that have also posted about the Northwest Flower and Garden Show to give you even more variety at a glance. In the next post I will share some other ones too:

http://bggarden.com/blog/

http://www.valeaston.com/

http://turnerphotographics.com/blog/2012/02/11/northwest-flower-garden-show-2012/

http://www.jpetersongardendesign.com/2012/02/northwest-flower-garden-show/

http://desertnw.wordpress.com/

http://nextgenerationgardener.blogspot.com/2012/02/2012-northwest-flower-and-garden-show.html

http://inthegarden.marthastewart.com/2012/02/06/northwest-flower-garden-show/

http://www.gardenhelp.org/garden-show/northwest-flower-garden-show-2012-its-a-wrap/

http://www.gardenfreshliving.com/2012/02/2012-northwest-flower-garden-show-highlight-video.html

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/02/08/2017056/paradise-found.html

http://reddirtramblings.com/?p=19357

http://bwisegardening.blogspot.com/

Please comment and share this post and if you are on Pinterest feel free to Pin these photos! If Pinterest is new to you, take a peak at my “The Personal Garden Coach” Boards to see what all the fuss is about- be warned it’s VERY addictive!

 

Garden Designer’s Roundtable – Winter Reality Check for the Landscape January 24, 2012

There seems to be a time cycle in gardens and landscapes of about 10 years. Whether you live in a new neighborhood or an established area of homes, where landscapes ebb and flow with changes and age. New people move into the neighborhood, older neighbors move out and the landscape still remains there growing and changing. But, we often forget to take the long view in the life of large plants like trees. Our Homeowner’s Association’s could stand to take note here.

While we move though our busy lives, trees and shrubs mature and we often don’t realize that they were either planted too close to the house, just planted improperly or are in need of some kind of attention. Either to prevent disease or damage from any number of things until a drastic change forces us to look at it straight on in the wallet.

Time and priorities often make us forgetful about taking the time to properly evaluate the potential damage that can happen to our gardens and properties in a dramatic winter storm of snow, wind or ice. Even a relatively mild climate like the Northwest can be hit by surprise events that cripple the city for days or sometimes weeks. These tend to be the times we look back and wish that we had taken steps to prevent the cost of what it will take to fix the damage.

For example, look at the place where this specimen Paperbark Maple broke. A good Certified Arborist could have helped in this situation. The homeowner here is absolutely heart-broken.

My thoughts in this post are focused not so much on a “How-to” fix the damage but on what money could have been saved and what damage could have been avoided by being even a little bit pro-active in the care and planting of large trees and shrubs before they are irrevocably damaged or hurt.  This is an expensive way to operate in home landscape costs and potentially in property insurance or just plain labor to have them removed or replaced.

Here in my area, we recently had a snow, ice and wind event all at the same time during the course of one week. The season had been very warm up to that point thanks to the La Nina winter. But, the experts had also warned us that this would also bring much more stormy conditions as well. When all was said and done, we got power back, everything thawed and when we took a good look around the damage was sad to say the least.

Such an incredible amount of damage could have been avoided by truly simple maintenance done by experienced professionals or a well-trained homeowner – easy!

If you look carefully note that almost every single branch broke where it had been subject to rot.

Thinning out heavy trees such as Maples can keep heavy ice and snow weight from breaking and snapping large branches. Also, making sure that the central leader is not competing with another can keep this kind of damage at bay.

This neighborhood had an entire boulevard of this type of maple tree planted 12 years ago when the builder designed it. I’m sure the landscapers got a terrific deal on 12 foot tall saplings at the time, planted them and that was it. Now there is not one tree on the entire street that is not badly damaged.

The “Maintenance” crew is not trained in taking proper care of trees other than cleaning up a broken branch here or there and raking fall leaves. If the neighborhood had taken the time to hire an Arborist even once every 3-4 years, much of the damage could have been prevented.

This is a great example of a tree planted without adding enough additional soil over the hard-pan clay for it to get anchored. In addition to being planted far too close to the house, this is why I call these situations “The Builder’s Special”. It is incredibly common for trees to begin having problems at about 10 years of age in a stressful period like a storm.

The moral of this story is that you can’t prevent ALL damage from a storm event, but you can be conscious about expensive (in labor, time, and money) and mostly preventable “Reality Checks” with the status of the larger, long-term plant residents in your garden. Give them the respect and care they deserve, for they will most likely be there long after you have moved.

Here is a link with excellent information and references for proper care for trees and plants, one of the Horticultural Heroines of our time; Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty.

For a much more humorous take on a “Reality Check” for our landscape, visit my friend and fellow writer Billy Goodnick at his Facebook Page: “Crimes Against Horticulture, When Bad Taste Meets Power Tools” .

For a VERY broad range of interpretations on this months theme for The Garden Designer’s Roundtable “Reality Check” please follow the links below for my fellow Knights and Ladies of the Roundtable below. They have been quite creative on this one!!

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

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

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

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

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

 

Consider Your Gardens “Bones” in Winter January 16, 2012

Does your garden have eye-catching focal points during the long months of winter? I hope the answer is yes! But, if not, this is the best time of the year to spend taking inventory of your gardens weaker points when it comes to structure or what we Designer types refer to as the “Bones” of the garden.

'Crimson Queen' Japanese Maple

This Maple sits outside my dining room, framed perfectly by the window. It’s stunning year round. They are covered in snow here, but in the pot are some stainless steel balls that look so cool! One thing that I always take note of this time of the year when I look at the deciduous shrubs and trees is their form. Do they need to be pruned for shape, directing growth or opening them up for more light?

Blooms from Hydrangea Paniculata Standard 'Angel Blush'

One of the beautiful things I appreciate in the garden are the summer plants that I leave for winter interest. I purposely leave the dried blooms on this Hydrangea because I adore the way they look in winter. Then I trim then back just as they bud out in spring.

Zebra Grass plumes in the snow

Miscanthus 'Morning Light' with Leucothoe 'Rainbow'

Another key element to consider when you are analyzing your winter garden and planning for spring planting is to note how much balance you have between your evergreen plants versus your deciduous or perennial plants. Do you need more of one or the other?

Pinus 'Thunderhead' with Miscanthus Zebrinus

The dark green of this Pine and the tones of the grass together with all of the texture is yummy!

This shot really spoke to me about considering the “Bones” the most. The pure white snow just makes it so stark and easy to concentrate on the shapes, lines, proportion and textures without the distraction of color. I recommend frequently that my clients  stand back or go upstairs and take shots from a distance and print them in black and white for just THIS purpose. Without the distraction of color, you can really SEE the “Bones”.

Below, see my friend and Plantsman extraordinaire, Mitch Evans garden illustrating my point perfectly! From the entry arch to conifers, to PALMS? :-) to deciduous trees and shrubs, it’s easy to see the shapes and textures that are SO showy this time of the year!

Photo courtesy of Mitch Evans

Photo courtesy of Mitch Evans

Mitch uses these well pruned boxwood to expertly frame this Weeping ‘Camperdown’ Elm.

Even your Garden Art can get some attention for where it’s placed, how you view it, or what you have it paired with for it’s best showing.

Don’t miss your next opportunity to take a deeper look at your garden and evaluate the “Bones” this winter. Then when you’re hitting the ground running in your spring garden, you will know exactly where to start!

 

Garden Designer’s Roundtable – Deer vs. Gardener December 13, 2011

It’s common for many gardener’s to be plagued by the dreaded problem of the garden becoming a Deer Buffet. Imagine a blinking red neon sign over your gate that reads, “EAT here” that remains on until the plants are nubbins, or just tipped enough that they never bloom.

Sometimes you feel like you put out the WELCOME sign for Bambi. :-)

There are oodles of resources on the web for researching Deer “RESISTANT” plants on the web. Here’s one of the very best that I’ve seen. The Sunset western Garden Book has a Deer-Resistant list is a pretty darn good compilation too. So, I’m not going to go into it in any depth on the plant list end of things. Particularly since you need to check with your local nursery expert to see which are appropriate for your area anyway.

Notice I use the term “RESISTANT’ and not “DEER-PROOF”. There is a huge leap of Horticultural faith that needs to take place here when you learn the difference.

The strategy that I use and teach my clients for keeping deer at bay in the garden is this:

1) Deer are hungry.

2) Adult Deer have defined palates.

3) Young Deer eat whatever Mom eats.

4) It’s the Teenagers that do all the damage and eat EVERYTHING at least once.

This explains why there is no such thing as any Deer PROOF plant. Plant choices can vary from Region to Region and Zone by Zone. The best we can do is be thoughtful about the strategies we use about planting in areas where Deer have access to our gardens.

Here is the full extent of my strategy:

1) Plant pokey and annoying plants.

2) Anything that will make it difficult or annoying to reach the food they want is fair game.

3) Think ankle biting plants like Barberry or Juniper that they might have to step through to get to the good stuff.

4) For annoying plants, think about anything that smells great to us, like Rosemary or Lavender. Deer have such a highly attuned sense of smell that to them, these lovely things smell horrifying.

5) In general, just make it too much work to get to your tender and tasty buffet.

Here’s a shot of my front yard this Fall. Not bad huh? No Deer damage this year at all!

The above picture shows my Red Barberry ‘Crimson Pygmy’ alternated with Spanish Lavender, Eunoymous Fortunei ‘Emerald-n-Gold’ and Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’. Plus ‘Tri-Color’ Sage for an extra dose of smelliness with Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ and a beautiful Heather that’s turned bright red for Fall and Winter. I can’t remember which one it is though, I’ve been collecting red Heathers and have not been good at record keeping.

Here’s is one of the best plants for shade and Deer-Resistance from Great Plant Picks, Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’, one of my favorites!

Photo Credit - Chris Hansen, http://www.GreatPlantPicks.org

Go forth and plant in your Deer grazing area, just do it thoughtfully. Deer munching WILL happen. Go with the flow, change plants out if need be. But mostly, don’t let the Bambi’s get you down!

Please visit the blogs of other Lords and Ladies of The Garden Designer’s Roundtable and read what valuable advice they have on Deer too!

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

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

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

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

 

Grand November Day In The Garden November 10, 2011

THIS is one day in the garden that I am thrilled to be able to document today. The quality of the light made the fall colors quite extraordinary.

Today is one of those stunning fall days that we all have to make note of when we have unending rain, snow or dreary gray skies that will be here very soon. Or technically already should be here. :-)

I’m home sick today with some kind of crud that has had me down for 5 days now. But, NOTHING was going to stop me from going out in my jammies to get pics of the garden today. NOTHING!

As I sit here at my desk writing this, the sun is hitting my back, it’s a little hot. Maybe that’s a fever talking.

I wanted you to be able to see what I saw this morning. It was glorious, I hope you think so too!

 

 
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