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?

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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.

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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.

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Who is the BIGGEST Sexiest Tease in the Garden? February 24, 2014

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

If November is about the slowing down and putting the landscape to bed for a few months, and December is about focusing on our indoor garden, then January is surely about the long, hazy dream of what a landscape COULD be with catalogs and wish lists, but what is February? February is the TEASE. The spell you can’t break. The sexy, lusty, take you right to the edge TEASE.

It’s the itch you just can’t scratch, the pleasure behind desire. You nearly break into a sweat at the faintest whiff of daphne perfume. The thrust of a brand new tropical plant in front of you that you simply must have because it nearly makes you forget your own name. The subtle mention of when we might get a glimpse of skin-baring (or fleece shedding) sun sends thrills up your spine.

The sensual act of browsing the garden tool aisles has you imagine your skill and prowess using them is nearly enough to send you over the edge. And as you gently brush up against watering tools and seed packets or sexy bulbs swollen and ready for planting, it’s almost too much to take. Yes, February is the ultimate spring tease all right, nature is a powerful summons.

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

Your seeds might be started inside, under the hot, horticultural, sexy glow of electric stimulation. Or maybe you are just playing it cool, having been burned by the tease before and not being able to fully complete the act before a late cold snap yanked you back to your senses.

Yes, you KNOW exactly what I mean. In February we achingly want to be outside, it’s almost an inner panic, a dizziness that only working in the soil will satisfy. But the cold, rain and snow has us locked up behind our computers, wantonly ogling others fertile blooms and foliage in warmer locales where they are already harvesting the rewards.

I am certainly NOT immune to this. I too have been exquisitely frustrated and come close to reaching out for the long distance satisfaction of a warmer climate landscape. In fact, I am maintaining my “grounds-keeping” (wink wink nudge nudge) just in case such an occasion pops us where I can hop on a plane at a moments notice to indulge my cravings. I am NOT above flirting with the idea of leering at a landscape in Santa Barbara or the Spanish Riviera to fulfill my gardening appetites and refine my gluttony for the fine bouquet of warmer air.

There is a palpable attraction to jumping on a plane to a landscape where there are bees buzzing over HOT flower sex, stigmas, pistils, receptacles, ovules…Oh my! But there is a point when it just feels wrong. It’s like I am breaking a sacred bond with late winters essence. When my credit card and my self-respect simply have to say, enough is enough.

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

I have to embrace what I have here at home. No, really! Until I can cultivate my horticultural design thirsts in less expensive and more meaningful ways. I can appreciate those mouth-watering, handsome landscapes that make me swoon feverishly from my corner of the country for a wee bit longer. I will learn how NOT to give in to the luscious gluttony of plants that I can’t have and landscapes that I will never come to know physically. I will resist the temptation of flying out-of-town to have a fling with another climate. I will refuse delivery on the notion that I MUST escape my day-to-day gray and I will maintain what respect I have left for my commitment to rain-wear and fleece.

The urges and wantonness that February propels us toward are soon going to be satisfied by March. It’s only a little longer and surely, I can keep my urges under control until then, right? RIGHT?! OK, I realize now that what I really want February to do is to take it slow. To gradually, deliberately move in a way that makes me tingle with each and every bud taking its sweet time to emerge – NOT TOO FAST now! We don’t want to rush things. I’m going to savor every single wet, spring kiss. I’m going to be aware and appreciative of every moment and of the enchantment of it, for real this time. If it has to be an un-hurried build-up to the mind bending explosion of outdoor excitement in July and August, then so be it, I relent.

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

The best thing I can do right now is relax and to give in to the tease, to enjoy the craving. I don’t want to rush with too much fervor right past the delicate dance of the early spring. This weakness in my self-control could ruin my appetite for later. Isn’t Mother Natures role in this whole thing to bring us the aphrodisiac, the splendid appetizers before the feast? Maybe curled up in front of the fire, basking in the arousal of a plant catalog is just the sort of titillation we all need to get by, at least for a few more weeks right?

We can do this. I may need to invest in some more Cinnamon Whiskey – but we can do this, after all, we’re ALL Hort-heads of one sort or another. Whether we like to admit it publicly or not- we all WANT it. But, now is the time for calm, for dignified behavior, for waging the war on lust.

So, bring it on February – wait a minute its March next week? Ha! I’m heading out-of-town for a plant show!!

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November Sun – Cold Color Celebration November 20, 2013

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Sunny November days in Seattle are a pure unadulterated bonus. Our gardening climate is alternately dazzling and maddening at the same time. The depth of gray in winter seems to last forever and the utterly outstanding glory of summer here fall at the opposite end of our horticultural universe for an exquisitely painful short period of time.

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
–   Emily Dickinson

We can grow such wide array of plants here that it makes many in other parts of the world green with envy. So, on a crystalline blue-sky day like today, it feels like we are COMMANDED to get outside and document its glory for everyone to see. I did just that in my robe and jammies this morning for you! If nothing else, it may just be to document it for us so that when we are nearly suicidal on the gray days in January and we want to hop a plane to Las Vegas, we remember why we live here.

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Fatsia Japonica blooms

It occurred to me as I took this shot that the years of the heaviest Fatsia bloom, we’ve also had the hardest winter. Hmmmmm……..

We rely on many a Huechera for some November color here in the Northwest because we don’t really have too many flowers at all. So the WIDE variety of foliage colors are a very welcome sight here in gray land.

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Note the Fuchsia near the bottom still doing her thing! I scared the (bleep) out of a poor local Hummingbird trying to get this shot. Ooops!

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Another plant that “tolerates” our wet cold winter climate, is Phormium, or New Zealand Flax. You need to understand that I do say this somewhat tongue in cheek today. I lost about 27 of them a few years back after an ice storm. When the cold almost 2 inches of thick ice melted off of them, they actually looked fine until they succumbed to Crown Rot.
That was about 5 years ago now and I have recovered from my cynacism toward them, but only enough to have two. So, far. I just refuse to fall in love again and have my gardeners heart and wallet broken again. :-)

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Having said that, I do have a torrid love affair with my Fatshedera. If I have to buy a new one every year, I’m cool with that. This variegated one was particularly lovely with cold weather color and the light of the morning coming through her.

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“If I’m ever reborn, I want to be a gardener—
there’s too much to do for one lifetime!” 

–   Karl Foerster

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Wordless Wednesday- The Nordstrom of Autumn Color October 16, 2013

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October 2012 Mitch Evans Garden 134

 

A Summer Summary Garden Tour October 2, 2013

Except for one freeze that lasted two days this last winter, here in the greater Seattle area you could safely say that ours was the winter that never happened. Consequently, between the release of Fine Foliage in the spring, my own business and my nursery work, there was no real need for me to update much of my garden for spring and summer this year, it was looking pretty darn good.

Then, in the waning days of August, I received a call from a magazine wanting to come and shoot in my teeny-tiny garden and my containers in 10 days! Scurry, scurry, scurry, rally the troops, plant, plant, plant, clean, clean, clean!

It turned out better than I ever imagined and we celebrated with an impromptu party on a lovely August evening that coincided with my birthday. It couldn’t have been a more perfect gift!

Now as autumn has placed its boot firmly in the rain and mud, this short burst of wild activity, color and enjoyment of the garden is now at its end and I trudge damply toward the clean up and pre-winterization of the garden and containers.

The one thing I did promise myself however, was that I would post a summer wrap-up of the finished (When is it ever finished?) garden for this season to share all of the hard work my friends and I put it in, in such a short time frame.

My special thanks go to Heather Little Bradley and Ryan LaPointe for their invaluable contributions in such a mad-cap few days!

Now, as it fades into the cool, low light of the shorter, wetter days of fall, I can move on to appreciating it in a whole new way. At least until chaos reigns again this spring. Plans are already brewing! :-)

Enjoy the wrap-up! Click on photos to enlarge.

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I hope this end of summer garden wrap-up tour inspired you to plan for spring and summer in your own garden for 2014. Unfortunately there are just too many plants here to list them all by name, but if you want any specifics, I am happy to oblige.

If you would like to look at more photos like these, join me on my Facebook page by clicking here.  We have fun there learning all kinds of stuff!

 

Sunset On A Garden – Stacie Crooks Landscape September 7, 2013

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If you Google Stacie Crooks, you will automatically realize what a powerhouse designer you have just found if you didn’t already know about her. Stacie Crooks is a nationally recognized Seattle-based garden designer and educator. Her work has been published in the Seattle Times, Sunset magazine, Horticulture, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, Seattle Metropolitan and Fine Gardening. Stacie’s work appears in books written by Valerie Easton, Julie Moir Messervy, and Marty Wingate and several Sunset books.

As if that weren’t enough, Stacie also served on the Board at the historic Dunn Garden for 10 years and is currently serving as a trustee for the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

Stacie’s affiliation with these additional organizations is impressive indeed: Northwest Horticultural Society, Pacific Horticultural Society, Historic Dunn Garden, Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, Northwest Perennial Alliance, Garden Conservancy, and the American Horticultural Society.

Now Stacie is preparing to enter a new chapter in her life and this means selling her home and garden of over 20 years, and moving on to an exciting opportunity to start over in a new location. She doesn’t yet know what this new adventure looks like yet, but she says “No matter what, I am going to have a pool!”

I was VERY privileged to be invited to join a small group at Stacie’s home recently for a yearly garden soiree’. Generously, Stacie allowed me to come and visit her garden early for an opportunity to get photos on a warm sunny evening. So, I took advantage of the late day light and got as many pictures as I could.

The mature garden is fat and fluffy, sophisticated and serene. But, above all, its low maintenance and drought tolerant, one of Stacie’s signature design esthetics. Below are some of my favorite shots from that wonderful evening.
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The abundant look of the borders is carefully color coordinated and yet casually elegant.

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As the sun began to set and I was losing my light, my focus was no longer on the garden but on the beautiful and amazingly talented group of women at this soiree’.

Soiree July 2013

L-R: Stacie Crooks, Christina Salwitz, Nita-Jo Rountree, Marty Wingate, Gillian Matthews, Debra Prinzing, Janet Endsley, Tina Dixon

Lucky for me, I got to meet new friends, say farewell to an amazing landscape and look forward to having the opportunity to see the sun rise on Stacie Crooks new adventures. :-)

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Garden Designers Roundtable – Celebrating Trees May 28, 2013

The definition of Dendrolatry: Tree worship, refers to the tendency of many societies throughout history to worship or otherwise mythologize trees.

If that is true, then yes, I am hopelessly guilty. I admit it, I have had a close relationship with trees from a very young age. Trees have had a significant place in my life spiritually as well. But, then again, so has most of man for as long as we’ve been around. Here is a great link to learn more.

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Whether it is because of their inherent elegance, grace and majestic beauty…

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Or their winter interest….

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Or Autumn color against a blue sky…

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Or magnificent flower…..

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Foliage that can’t be denied…..

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A conifer of striking color and dimension…..

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Or simply a sacred place to rest and contemplate the world…

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Trees are magical, mystical and ever present beauties that we dare not take for granted. They are the life blood of this amazing planet that give us the oxygen to fill our lungs, paint our hearts with color and shade and heat our homes.

Planting a tree is the ultimate act of positivity about the future.

Tattoo 2013

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

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

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

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Douglas Owens-Pike: EnergyScapes Inc. : Minneapolis. MN.

 

 
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