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’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!
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!
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!
Celebrating One Season at a Time April 20, 2012
Each spring I find that my wonder and exaltation of natures capacity to renew me after a long winter seems greater and greater. Once I’m able to be outside for any length of time without getting either soaked or numb is a wonderful day to be outside enjoying the garden.
In the Northwest we live with a constant paradox, our winter seems longer than a truly cold climate season due to our gray skies that seems to last for 6 months. Well, now that I actually think about it, it really is almost a 6 month winter. So, when we do get let out of the house we get a little nutty and want to plant tomatoes in March. Not that I would actually do it, but when we are pining for those lazy warm summer days that never seem to arrive soon enough, it’s a tempting thought.
While I can commiserate with my damp, often pale and possibly pruney gardening compatriots, I do firmly believe in celebrating one season at a time. Enjoy spring, people. It’s the lovely, bursting with juicy color season. It’s the time to wind your spring for summer. Exercise those gardening muscles in the slow warm-up to balmy weather madness. Don’t pass up the wonders right in front of your eyes in favor of the lure of Impatiens and Peaches. Seize the SPRING day and discover all of the shrubs, perennials and edibles that deserve to have that level of adoration too.
Here is a small taste of the spring delights that I have been able to capture so far in April. So, get out there and beat the drum, blow off steam, carouse a bit, exalt, extol, fete, and glorify. Have a ball, jubilate, kick up your heels, let loose, live it up, make merry, make whoopee, mark with a red letter, memorialize, observe, paint the town red, party, proclaim, publicize, raise hell, raise a glass, revel, rejoice, revere, ritualize, solemnize all that is spring rather than skipping it and moving right on to summer.
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!
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!
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.
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!
2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show Goes Hawaiian March 16, 2012
Recently I was extremely fortunate to be invited to work at a good friends vendor booth in the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show. In the off-season of nursery and landscape design work, this was a fabulous bit of good fortune! My friend Barbara Sanderson, owner and artist at Glass Gardens NW sells her glass garden art all over the country and this show was a HUGE opportunity to show off her glass to another sector of the market. So, I took this fortuitous moment to blog about the show for those of you around the country who might not be able to go to such a remarkable event. This will be the first of a few different posts covering the show.
The largest indoor flower show in the world blooms in Philadelphia every March at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The country’s premier landscape designers and florists are featured and turn 10 acres of exhibit space into a floral fantasy world with exotic plants and eclectic designs.
The economic impact of the Philadelphia International Flower Show extends much longer than the eight-day event and far beyond the walls of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
- $61 million economic impact
- The equivalent of 637 full-time jobs
- $8 million in city, state and federal tax revenue
- 25,000 hotel room nights
The Philadelphia International Flower Show has been a Philadelphia tradition since 1829. The Show has evolved from a gathering of professional growers showcasing their prized plants to the largest and oldest indoor flower show in the nation. Revenues generated by the Philadelphia Flower Show help support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s outreach program Philadelphia Green. The program provides technical support and encouragement to thousands of residents, community groups, and public and private agencies who work together to transform Philadelphia’s communities and public landscapes into vibrant green spaces.
More than 150 vendors, from across the United States and as far away as the country of Wales, sell plants, flowers, orchids, sheds (even a small barn!), floral-inspired furniture from the romantic to the practical, artwork, unique food and garden-related crafts and supplies.
Growers and horticulturists from around the world showcase their prized plants and compete for prestigious honors. More than 580 artistic and horticultural classes are exhibited with more than 2,000 entries in classes ranging from miniature settings to pressed plants.
There is no way I could possibly do justice to the show in one post, so I made this fun video. It’s my first time making a video like this- I had a blast! I hope you get a wee little taste of what some of the show was like. I have huge quantities of pics still to share over the coming weeks.
Since it’s unseasonably warm in many parts of the country, you may already have Spring, for those of us in the cold areas like Seattle, this is a bit of a tropical respite from our rain, hail, snow, rain, hail snow scenario! Let’s all raise a glass to toast to the beginning of Spring. Cheers!
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.
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
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!
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.
Below is a slide showing the “Fiddlesticks” that are so popular for Glass Gardens NW in a container that I designed.
Here is a peak at some glass art from Glass Gardens NW in containers by The Personal Garden Coach.
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:
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!