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.

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! 

 

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

Like this post? Come and visit me on Facebook too at The Personal Garden Coach!

 

 

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!

 

What Really Worked – My Favorite New Plant This Year September 8, 2013

I suppose I should have amended that title to include “New to ME This Year” because many of you will say “What? – I’ve had that one for years!” It’s not really a new plant on the market at all. Its been around a while. But, I just haven’t warmed up to STOKESIA ‘Peachie’s Pick’ (or the Stokes Aster), until now.

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I think it was the foliage pairing that did it. And me being the “Fine Foliage” girl that I am, well…ya know! The fat lavender blooms looks so great with that soft coral edge of the Acalypha wilkesiana that it just made me fall in love. What a fantastic bloomer it’s turned out to be in late summer.

Here is some information to learn more about that fabulous Stokesia.

Now for more eye candy from other wonderful garden designers on what their favorite new plant was this season. Be sure to click on their links too and learn more!

Asbell-SiamQueenhttp://www.therainforestgarden.com/

Benderhttp://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/category/the-grumpy-gardener/

Carolynhttp://www.cowlickcottagefarm.com/blog/

Chrishttp://fromthesoil.blogspot.com/

Helenhttp://gardeningwithconfidence.com/blog/

Jennyhttp://www.jpetersongardendesign.com/

Kyleehttp://ourlittleacre.com/

Shawnahttp://shawnacoronado.com/

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Nancy Claire Guth “Electro Cute” at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show February 20, 2013

February 2013 Nancy Claire Guth NWFGS Display

Some designers are truly gifted at bringing creative ideas to life. Other designers are good at running a business and creating a loyal following of clients. Its uncommon in my experience to find both in one person. But, now I have found both in my new friend and colleague Nancy Claire Guth of Artistic Garden Concepts.

This year Nancy has created a Small Space garden featured on the sky-bridge at the 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  Her inspiration for this design began by upcycling a whole bunch of electric themed parts and other found objects, which is Nancy’s signature design secret. Clients will frequently ask for one of a kind, funky treasures to be featured in her design and she is more than happy to accommodate those requests. I am in awe of anyone who can take an old radiator heater and think to create a bench seat!! :-)

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In years past she has been a creator of a number of the large scale award winning gardens like this amazing Rain Garden at the 2011 NWFGS. Here is a cute video of Nancy Claire Guth being interviewed by Marianne Binetti at the show describing her amazing garden concept.

Join us at the show this year and see all of the amazing ideas that Nancy has included in her design for this year up close and personal. There are details on top of details that are SO crafty and creative. It will make you want to go find some treasure of your own to upcycle! Follow Nancy Claire Guth’s Artistic Garden Concepts page on Facebook too!

For more ideas, photos and general ogling of ALL of the details at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, follow me on Facebook at The Personal Garden Coach. I will be covering the WHOLE show!

 

Gardening With Confidence – Book Review February 14, 2013

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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!!

 

Deep In the Green of the Moss Garden February 5, 2013

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Yesterday, I went and took a long therapeutic walk through the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The flowers were just barely starting to peek up, mostly the earliest Hellebores. But, today the truest star was the moss in all its myriad of textures and colors. Being a native here, you would think that it would be boring and tiresome to see this all the time, but I never get bored with it. Just look at the sculpture that Mother Nature left us to admire.

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I tried to give you some good detail to admire, but trust me, whatever device you are looking at this on could not possibly do justice to the depth of color and texture here.

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I loved how this rick sat all by itself, ENGULFED.

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A view down into the fern gully ravine from the trestle bridge above.

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I decided there was no other word than the made up one that I thought of for this that fit it nearly as well- “Entwangled”.

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Just look at the diversity in this one small space positively TEEMING with life!!

An very old Flowering Cherry tree, most expertly pruned.

A very old Flowering Cherry tree, most expertly pruned.

Now you understand why Seattleites love their coffee SO much, if we stand still long enough in one place here this is what happens!  :-)

For more great information about all things MOSS- this is a fabulous place to visit! http://www.mossandstonegardens.com/blog/

Be sure to join me on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thepersonalgardencoach and look for my new book Fine Foliage, co- authored with Karen Chapman coming out March 1st!!

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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

 

Snippets of Foliage and Winter Garden Art January 15, 2013

Making good use of January indoor time is important to me as a gardener. I like the creative momentum that builds up after the fall garden clean up is over, the holiday distractions are finished and I’m really ready to get going on something nature oriented. Ogling the seed catalogs and various juicy pictorial based websites are the creative outlets I rely when digging or designing are not a palatable option. But, it’s still not actively DOING something, or CREATING and THAT is what energizes me.

So, I went out into the garden and took little snippets and bits of plants that were looking lovely and decided to have fun with them. I played Portrait Studio! I did this once a few years back when I entered the Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest and learned an invaluable little photo trick from David Perry, one of my photography idols.

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I had loads of fun creating these foliage based shots (no blooms here just yet). I hope YOU enjoy them too! :-)

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This was a sampling of one style of the artwork I created over the weekend, I’m saving the rest for later. Now, to figure out what  else is going to keep me busy for a while…. Oh ya, I have a book coming out soon!!! :-)

 

Wordless Wednesday: When Seasons Collide October 31, 2012

 

 
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