4.23.2014

GEUMS ARE GEMS

I discovered this flower only a few years ago and now cannot imagine living without it.  In early spring it pops out like orange polka-dots all over my zone 5 sunny perennial border.  The foliage is wide and round giving much needed coarse texture to the garden.  The flowers balance above about 12-18". There are many different cultivars, so I may be creating my own sweet little geum collection soon. Be warned that it does not transplant well.  My greedy side wanted more, so I attempted to divide and move them around, but only lost some in the process. I guess that is a a good reason to go plant binging shopping again.



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4.15.2014

SUCCULENTS ON THE FRONT PORCH

Over the last couple of weeks I've been participating in an online illustration class...Make Art that Sells by Lilla Rogers. I'm always looking for fun ways to improve my graphic communication skills, so am excited about this class and how I can explore additional methods to teach garden design.

The images below highlight our last project using succulents as inspiration. I imagined this being a front porch, with mismatched antiques, surrounded my containers of succulent plants.  Now I just need a glass of iced tea!



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4.05.2014

PLANTING DESIGN TIPS

Though I officially learned planting design in college, I didn't begin my real education until I began creating my own garden. These are a collection of tips I've learned over the last twenty years in both capacities. 


If you'd like more information on some of these tips please check out these posts:

Drawing Tree Forms
Make Your Garden Pop with Texture
Texture in the Garden

I hope to expand on additional tips in the future...so keep a look out for those.

I'd love to hear your planting design tips too. Please share one in the comments below.


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4.01.2014

PLANT BINGE SEASON

Spring brings the urge to plant binge (I'm an admitted plant addict). 

How many times have you entered a nursery center with looking as your only goal, but leaving with handfuls of plants?  The worst case is at the end of the planting season when everything is marked down to pennies.  How could you not purchase a few more goodies for the garden?  I fall into this category often, but I do follow a few personal rules.




1. Try to buy at least three (or more) of one plant.  Though you may not have a destination in mind yet, at least there will be a nice grouping for the final design (and it will look like you planned it).

2. Try something new.  If you're only paying 99 cents, why not try a new plant?  If it doesn't do well, no biggie.  My garden is filled with sale (and even free) plants that no one else wanted or recognized.  I now have some amazing plants that I would have never dreamed up on my own.

3. Is there a season you're lacking great color?  Late summer or fall perhaps?  Try to find plants that fill those gaps.  Don't let the lack of bloom in the nursery distract you - just because it's not blooming at that moment, doesn't mean it's not fabulous. Read the tags and grab the beauties others missed. 

4. Pick up those small, special plants (less than 12" tall).  These itty bitty plants are perfect for the front of your border or tucked in small spaces. Buy as many as you can. It's so much fun spreading these out along the front of a planting bed to pull it all together (what? a sale item creating a cohesive design?).

What other hints do you have?



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3.29.2014

GARDEN INSPIRATION


As you may know, I enjoy exploring garden blogs. I even keep a board of them on Pinterest.  Once in a while I love pulling out a few for extra inspiration. Since it's spring and we're aching to get outside (at least those of us in the cooler parts of the world) I encourage you to start dreaming.  Here are four to get you started:

I not only enjoy finding inspiration from blogs, but also from you. A couple of months ago I shared a survey to get feedback on possible topics I could cover on my blog.  For those that didn't participate, I'd love your thoughts. Here is a link to that survey once again: GARDEN DESIGN SURVEY.


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3.19.2014

DRAWING TREE FORMS

There are three design elements to consider when creating a planting design: form, texture and color.

Each plant you choose encompasses these characteristics in different ways. Though you should consider all of these it is important to know that form is the most consistent, then texture and finally color. 

A good planting design should start with a strong composition of forms in elevation (standing in front and looking straight on). Trees, shrubs, and perennials all have forms. Below are only some examples of tree forms. Additional ones, not included below, are vase-shaped, weeping, and irregular. 

To design in elevation it's helpful to also be able to DRAW in elevation. I've included a video below to show my simple technique, so you can begin the joy of designing right away. 

A design hint: Take a photo of your house, throw on a piece of tracing paper, then try drawing some of these plant forms on top to see what combination might work for your landscape. Don't forget to layer them too (some tall plants in back, then medium and smaller plants in front).  Enjoy!






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3.16.2014

THE GARDEN AS ART

While I'm working on my next tutorial (hopefully out later this week), I'd thought I'd share another surprise. Several of you have asked about whether I planned to sell garden prints in the future...specifically my tutorials.  I've finally pulled some together in both digital and hard-copy format.  These are perfect for tacking up on a studio wall as reference or for a uniquely framed {educational} garden print.  Click on the links below to find out more:
(print these out yourself)

(these are a high quality print that I sign and send to you)


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3.10.2014

THE BEAUTIFUL TRIM

Today was our first warm day this spring and now I have flowers swirling in my head. I thought this was the perfect time to share one of my favorite plants, paired with a planting design hint.

An essential part of the perennial border often not given the deserved attention is the front...the extreme front. Often we jump into plants that are 18" to 24" tall in this location, but what makes this part of the border special is the beautiful trim of really short plants...those 12" or less. I especially love when they spill over onto the sidewalk. 

I've been experimenting with this living trim for a few years and have discovered a few beauties.  One of them is Veronica x 'Waterperry Blue'. This plant only grows 4-6" tall and has an amazing blue flower in the spring (zones 4-5).  The foliage also has a slight burgundy tinge making it extra nice throughout the growing season. Oh, I can't wait until the snow is completely gone!




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3.02.2014

A GARDEN IN A POSTCARD: Allées

My husband and I love antique shopping.  Some of the things I enjoy searching out is anything garden-related: books, tools, fabrics...and even postcards.

Oftentimes the garden image is just a secondary bonus to whatever tourist site the postcard is depicting.  What's fun for me is finding something teachable in those images. Does it show a landscape design principle, a garden term, or a certain plant?


The two postcards below are fabulous examples of allées. An allée is a walkway or road lined with trees or tall shrubs. This term originated from a French word that meant alley.



The second postcard's allée is formed by pepper trees. Being from the Midwest I was not familiar with this plant, so I looked into it a little more and found an intriguing story. This beauty has a slightly shaded past.  If you'd like to read more please jump over to this article


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2.22.2014

HOW TO LABEL PLANTS

When we create a landscape design it's important that we communicate what's on the plan. The plants are one of the most important elements and typically take up most of the design, so an organized system to labeling them is a must. A beautiful design can look messy and unprofessional if plant labels are not laid out well. Below are the rules I use when labeling plants in plan view (looking from the sky down towards the garden).



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