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!
Focal Point Trees April 29, 2012
My tiny back yard has recently undergone a massive makeover this spring. I’m still finishing up a few details before I share it with all of you. But, I wanted to make a point about Focal Points and Focal Point Trees in particular. A small or large-scale tree placed strategically in the landscape for its shape, texture, color can add an immeasurable amount of artistic flair and drama with very little effort.
This brand new Larix pendula, ‘Weeping Larch’ does just that here at the end of my path as it opens into the main yard. In fall when the needles turn a warm gold and drop, then I will have that incredible weeping structure to look at all winter. WIN WIN!
Frequently, I have customers and clients who are SO bloom focused for the few weeks of a flowering tree or shrubs blooms in the year that they forget the rest of the season. I’m all for flowers, but don’t forget that a focal point plant of any type needs to bring more to the party than a pretty hat.
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.
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!
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!
Ice as Garden Art in the Landscape January 26, 2012
Recently our La Nina winter proved its muscle in a move that took many of us by surprise. We went from utterly spring weather with the landscape feeling as if it is about to burst to life, to snow, power outages, an amazing ice storm that no one saw coming and then a wind storm.
Below is a sampling of some of the best images I captured over the three-day period. There are a few neat before and after shots so you can see the morphing of the landscape the way I did. I saw the ice as such beautiful nature made art. I hope you enjoy these shots as much as I had fun getting them!
If you saw the garden today, with a few exceptions, it’s as if the whole storm never happened. Isn’t Mother Nature grand?
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!
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!
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!