Garden Design Details: Stenciled Concrete

I’m working with a landscape design client who has a limited budget and a concrete patio that will be re-furbished.  Although she opted for paint and a fun outdoor rug, we discussed the option of stenciling an ornamental (read not stone or brick) pattern on the pad instead.

It’s not often that there’s a technique so transformative that it can be a  simple DIY project or an elaborate professionally done detail.  To start–a Before and After from Grace Reed a professional faux painter from Dallas.  Why not set the bar high?

Gracie Reed Porch Before Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

And after.

Stencils Modello Reed after Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

The same pattern was used by artist Ray Redondo as a detail.

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These patterns can be complex or simple, rustic or sophisticated. Some ideas can be easily achieved.  The concrete has to be cleaned and prepped before any stenciling is done, otherwise it won’t last.  There is a great breakdown of the process on Concrete Network and there are YouTube tutorial videos there also.

Road and parking lot symbols are stenciled.  Here’s a take on a word stencil.  A simple hello..

modern entry Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

Simple and elegant organic floral motifs that peak out from the sides of a space…

transparent house concrete art floor 3 Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

…or take the same idea and create an allover pattern.  The one below is from Royal Design Studio.

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Get inspired by street art stencils and graphic patterns.  Banksy uses stencils.  Polish street artist Nespoon uses doilies as inspiration and stencils.

DSC 9408 1024x682 Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

A further interpretation of this idea is a single color stenciled rug.  The one below found on Pinterest and the one above are stenciled on top of concrete paving.

alphonsteravest1xw0 Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

Small medallions can be used to break up a solid block of color or again, used as an all over pattern.  This is probably the simplest of all the stenciling techniques.  The two below are from Design Sponge and the Los Angeles Times Blog.

 Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

 Garden Design Details:  Stenciled Concrete

I really wish that I’d had the opportunity to explore these first hand on a project, but I will with another client on another project!

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LABELS: Gardens, inspiration, patios Leave a comment

Garden Color Inspiration: White

I’ve written about neutral gardens and those inspired by the Belgian Beige movement and right now I’m into white. Maybe I’m attracted to it for external reasons-because summer is almost at an end and knowing the bit about white only being worn between Memorial and Labor Days.  There are warm nights still and white still intrigues me…it’s also an excellent partner with green. There is a lot written about white gardens from a planting perspective, but not much about the rest. This is about the rest.

 Garden Color Inspiration:  WhiteWe know that white  can make a dark space seem lighter.  It can also add drama to an otherwise lackluster space.  Washable materials make this color easy to use outside, fading isn’t an issue obviously.

item6.rendition.slideshowVertical.hosl07 saab Garden Color Inspiration:  White

Image via Architectural Digest 

Simple and geometric this patio is surrounded by green and is restful and stylish.  In fashion, winter is also a time for ‘Winter Whites’, but it would be a simple thing to switch this fabric seasonally if white appears too summery outside.

 Garden Color Inspiration:  White

Image via Trouvais

White can be simple and rustic, and is an easy partner with other neutrals.  It can work in just about any style of garden.  Beyond the classic white fence, white can be carried through in accessories of all kinds on just about any style of patio or deck.

thestylefiles14 Garden Color Inspiration:  White

Just like any other color, there are many variations of white.  Sample of colors as well as what will be adjacent them are important and especially before choosing a white.  White will reflect what’s around it and even the original hue can be pink or blue based yet look like a stark white unless it is  placed in context. 

I’ll be back on the flip side of Labor Day…wearing white of course!

 

 

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LABELS: color, Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories Leave a comment

Garden Style: A Patio Bistro

The term bistro table has been co-oped in landscape design to mean any small table with two chairs. So I thought I’d go back to the source and play with the idea of using a classic French bistro as inspiration for an outdoor space. I’m not saying that I’ll actually do this, although I love some of the details.

86c33c6521fb2ae9e4bc3180711bef06 Garden Style:  A Patio Bistro

photo via Flickr

Let’s break it down. There are some key elements…

A blackboard. Menus are usually posted on some variation of these.

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Image via Cafes et Bistrots de France

There is exterior chalkboard paint. Frame out an area of a wall and use it for a garden to do list or party menu. Chalk boards don’t have to be just for kids outside.

41Wzf9HspiL Garden Style:  A Patio Bistro

Then add some cool rattan chairs. I love these chairs. Ever since I lived in France in my twenties they have been personal favorites. There are so many patterns, colors and styles available it’s hard to choose.

Parisian Bistro Chair Garden Style:  A Patio Bistro
Or maybe a bench. This could be a super interesting garden bench on its own. There are also highchairs for toddlers, bar stoools and side tables in this traditional rattan style.

 

tkcollection bistro bench Garden Style:  A Patio Bistro

Absolutely add some pots of geraniums and lace curtains. The curtains could be hung from a pergola or as a shade element of some kind instead of being in the window. I have a garage window that could use some of these actually.

6aae1900c80908a977bc5cdc5a1a2851 Garden Style:  A Patio Bistro

And then there’s the Bistro table. Typically these have cast iron bottoms with smallish easy to clean round tops.

bistro table Garden Style:  A Patio Bistro
I might personalize it with color…these are from TK Collections. Combine the blue base with the blue rattan chairs above for a strong color statement.tkcollections bistro table bases Garden Style:  A Patio BistroNow where’s that espresso and a pain au chocolate?

espresso cup Garden Style:  A Patio Bistro

 

 

 

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LABELS: Dining al fresco, Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories 2 Comments

Planting Bambi’s Buffet

Twelve years ago I built a garden on what was a deer path in my narrow side yard.  Why? To experiment with plants primarily for deer resistance, but also to know and grow new plants for my landscape designs.  I don’t generally plant things for clients that I haven’t grown.  That means this garden as well as my others are in a constant state of upheaval and change.  The side yard gets almost totally replanted every three to five years; the others which are more public get things tucked in or dug up.

Side yard unplanted Planting Bambis Buffet

This is a replanting year for the side yard.  Many of the previous plant experiments have been removed.  Some of the structural plants or things that I’m attached to for whatever emotional tug they have on me remain.  The space was better designed and built out of entirely found materials when I started it (below), now it’s somewhat of a hodgepodge with a nod to design.

side yard with path 768x1024 Planting Bambis Buffet

The garden faces south and has hot sun in the middle of the day with shade on each end as well damp areas and those that are dry so it suits a wide range of situations.  The soil has been amended in the same way I would have a garden prepared anywhere–with rich organic matter and not much else.

Here are the 5 I’m most excited about from a much more extensive planting list.

Aesculus parvivlora var. serotina ‘Rogers’ – I’ve wanted to grow this for years.  It’s a tough sell to a client though since they usually look like they’re defective in containers in the nursery.  This is a plant for someone with patience…I have that!

Aesculus parviflora var 768x1024 Planting Bambis Buffet

Bouteloua gracillis ‘Blonde Ambition’ -I don’t have a good image from the plants I bought because it looks crappy in the container right now, but I have high hopes for this one.  I love it’s airy qualtiy and that’s hard to find in a small ornamental grass.  Here’s a link.

Helenium x ‘Ruby Tuesday’ – I’ve killed more Heleniums than I have previously admitted to, but I keep trying…

Helenium x Ruby Tuesday Planting Bambis Buffet

Hypericum x ‘Blue Velvet’ – much finer foliage than its cousins.  Grey blue too.  I’ve had great success with every Hypericum I’ve grown and use the groundcover Hypericum calycinum often.  It’s a fantastic and showy semi-evergreen groundcover for a south facing slope which in my mind is akin to planting Hell.

Hypericum Planting Bambis Buffet

Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ (also known as Stachys alpina ‘Hummelo’) – I’m finally getting around to a plant that everyone raves about–it’s not blooming right now but has very beautiful foliage.  We’ll see if it makes the appetizer tray in Bambi’s buffet!

Stachys monieri Hummelo foliage Planting Bambis Buffet

 So in a couple of seasons I’ll let you know what’s been eaten at this buffet since you’ll see them in future designs if they hold up.  In the meantime I’m going to try some in client’s gardens that have sturdy deer fences!

 

 

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LABELS: Gardens, Landscape Design, Planting Design, plants 5 Comments

Garden Design Blogs Raising the Bar

I have another trip planned for the end of September to another place I’ve never been–Atlanta.  I want to see some private gardens as well as the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the High Museum of Art and eat at some local restaurants I’ve wanted to try.  Those aren’t the only reasons I’m going though.

b91bcae3720480c7a5519b974ba50c7b Garden Design Blogs Raising the Bar

image via Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Pinterest

I’ll also get to hear some amazing speakers and learn more about content sharing while I’m there.  For the past six months I’ve been a working member of the Advisory Board for the Garden Blogger’s Conference and have helped behind the scene to find and contact speakers, sponsors and define its content.

GBC 220x220 AttendingButtons Garden Design Blogs Raising the Bar

Why?  Because I believe that landscape and garden design bloggers need to up their games.  Landscape designers who blog are few and far between.  We need to play in the same arena as other design disciplines–interior design, architecture, graphic design and others.  To do that we need more beautiful and informative design blogs about what we do outside. There are very few great garden design blogs and tons of awful ones.  There I said it.

So since I am on the board and if this sounds interesting, take advantage of this discount on registration until August 30th.  Click here and use the code BDCN to get $100 off and meet up with me in Atlanta.

P.S.  I don’t get anything from the offer.  Just a chance to learn something new and useful from everyone who attends and speaks!

 
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LABELS: blogging, blogs, Gardens Leave a comment

Garden Shop: Detroit Garden Works

One of the great garden shops in the United States is in Detroit. Yes. that much maligned and blight filled city has an big upside. Part of that upside is Detroit Garden Works. I’ve wanted to visit for years, and had the chance when I was in Detroit with APLD last week.

Terra cotta and boxwood balls at Detroit Garden Works 764x1024 Garden Shop:  Detroit Garden Works

Carefully chosen new, vintage and antique products from all over the world are merchandised in a way that makes each one seem precious and necessary.

Interior Display at Detroit Garden Works 768x1024 Garden Shop:  Detroit Garden Works

Classic in its outlook, Detroit Garden Works is the brainchild of landscape designer Deborah Silver who originally started the shop eighteen years ago because she couldn’t source what she wanted locally. Map in hand, the store’s manager and buyer Rob Yedinak, drives through Europe annually to handpick new and vintage offerings.

Entry Gates and containers at Detroit Garden Works 1024x768 Garden Shop:  Detroit Garden Works

 There is a wide array of accessories and furniture to really suit any garden style even though the shop has a traditional feel. Terra cotta, steel, stone and concrete predominate and the shop is also local showcase for Branch Studios work.  There is a small area for plants, and there are espalier, planted containers, window boxes and boxwood throughout.

Furniture and Pots at Detroit Garden Works 768x1024 Garden Shop:  Detroit Garden WorksGarlic Topiary forms and Steel Planters at Detroit Garden Works 768x1024 Garden Shop:  Detroit Garden Works

With the onslaught of big box stores and garden centers with little imagination beyond piling on the plants and pots, shops like this one stand out.  Some will gripe about high prices, but you get what you pay for and if you value great design and beautifully made objects this shop is a must.

Steel fiddleheads Detroit Garden Works 768x1024 Garden Shop:  Detroit Garden Works

I bought something which is rare for me.  Handmade steel fiddleheads were totally affordable and a grouping of several in three different sizes of them are going in my new shade garden this fall.  They came beautifully packaged the day after I came home.  The high level of customer service and attention to detail isn’t lost on me either.

Heart Shaped Espalier Detroit Garden Works 768x1024 Garden Shop:  Detroit Garden WorksThis image pretty much sums up how much I liked the shop and it’s not the only reason to visit Detroit as you will see in future posts!

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LABELS: Antiques, Detroit, Gardens, Ironwork, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories, vintage 4 Comments

The Power of Showing Up

Seven years ago, I just showed up in Philadelphia one day.  I didn’t know anyone except the person I was with.  I walked into a room of 200 strangers and sat down.  By lunch time I had introduced myself to a handful of those strangers, all of whom did what I did, many of whom I admired.  I walked with them in the 100+ degree heat throughout Philadelphia chatting and visiting gardens.

APLD Member color white background 877x1024 The Power of Showing UpI asked questions, I listened, I visited gardens and I was welcomed in a way that few other groups of people had ever welcomed me. Philadelphia was my first Association of Professional Landscape Designers conference and  just by showing up I found kindred spirits who spoke my language, laughed at goofy work related jokes and actually listened to my opinions and found value in what I had to say.  All I did was show up.  I was asked at that first conference to help start a New Jersey State Chapter.

From that first experience I worked behind the scenes to help elevate my profession through the only group that represented landscape designers.  Not garden designers or landscape architects, they’re somewhat different, although some also call themselves landscape designers.  Two years later I submitted my (at the time) best built work for APLD’s peer review certification process.

APLD Certified color white background 877x1024 The Power of Showing UpBeing certified upped my game further.  Not only did the process validate my work, my clients all asked what the fancy new letters were after my name in my correspondence with them when I passed the muster.  It was also a way for me to personally and professionally elevate the profile of my profession.  I joined the national association’s Awards Committee. Another year later I was asked to serve as Membership Chair on the National Board of Directors.

In Philadelphia, I just wanted to see what it was like and to visit a few gardens.  I was curious.  I wanted a professional community. Now seven years later, crisscrossing the country, attending APLD’s annual landscape design conferences I have met and talked to hundreds of other designers…all of whom showed up too.

What I now know is how valuable this community is to me personally as well as our profession at large.  In 2014, I will be the President of APLD ushering in what I hope will be changes that will continue to elevate our profession and help it navigate the profound changes that will occur to the land we live and work on as well as how we define landscape design in the 21st century.  I never thought this would be the case–all I did was show up.

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LABELS: Gardens, Landscape Design, landscape designer, Philadelphia 3 Comments

Color: In the Pink

I’ve seen rumblings of an unexpected garden color trend.  We love pink flowers in our beds and borders, but not so much in other areas.  Maybe it’s just too gender charged, maybe it’s just too unexpected, but for whatever reason it we don’t use it.  For those in the know, like Steven Elton of Brown Jordan, who I heard speak in Chicago two weeks ago, pink garden accessories and furniture was an emerging trend in the European markets.  Actually, if you follow trend forecasting, pink has been bandied about for a few years.  So I decided to explore the possibilities…in the pink!

rosa pop Color: In the Pink

Pink walls in bold graphic stripes make a dreary courtyard pop with unexpected color.  The pink is picked up in the table settings.

1 ideas relaxing outdoor living Calming poolside seating Color: In the Pink

The reintroduction of Schiaparelli to the market next season makes a stylish case for pink.

marcel vertes shocking perfume schiaparelli 1 Color: In the Pink

Her famous ‘Shocking Pink’ may seem that way in the garden, but it’s really not.  It can be dreamy and restful also.

1 ideas relaxing outdoor living Pink outdoor area Color: In the Pink

 Or it can make a big energetic and contemporary statement.

Garden with bright pink planters Color: In the Pink

Some pinks to try painting a fence or garden wall.  Left to right:  Farrow and Ball/Cinder Rose No. 246Behr/Fuschia Kiss 100B-6, and Benjamin Moore/Hot Lips 2077-30.

Pink color swatch Color: In the Pink

Here’s a corresponding Pinterest In the Pink inspiration board that just makes me happy!

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LABELS: color, Gardens 1 Comment

Garden Inspiration: Tile Medalions

After a trip, sometimes I don’t see nuggets of ideas until I look at my images.  I chose the shots after all, so there is some vague through line.  So here goes.

When I was in Chicago two weeks ago (was it that long?) some friends and I visited the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens.  The landscape or what’s left of it, is very formal and was designed by Jens Jensen early in his career and didn’t really have his signature prairie style imprint.  What interested me more than that, if you view my images were two flooring patterns.  One inside the house on the second floor and the second on a small balcony off a bedroom.

Cuneo Second Floor Tile Pattern 768x1024 Garden Inspiration:  Tile Medalions

The second floor pattern in the house incorporated varying squares of granite, terra cotta and glazed squares.  It was worn and beautiful.

Cuneo Balcony Tiles 768x1024 Garden Inspiration:  Tile Medalions

A small balcony- in disrepair and shot through the locked screen door–off a guest room  incorporated the same patterned glazed squares and bluestone.  Getting closer to my outside design inspiration.

 A small central medallion or an entire pathway could be created using these tiles…but finding frostproof ones?  That didn’t happen until a few days later in Detroit when I visited Penwabic Pottery.  I bought two stoneware house numbers that are frostproof and meant for outside use to experiment with.

Pewabic House Numbers Garden Inspiration:  Tile Medalions

I’m going to make an address stepping stone or wall piece that combines those numbers with a previous and different trip’s inspiration – the inlayed street markers in New Orleans.  They fascinated me when I was there and have stuck with me in the inspiration memory banks.

New Orleans Street sidewalk number 768x1024 Garden Inspiration:  Tile Medalions

I’m not sure yet  if what I make will be brick (a sub for terra cotta) and bluestone or bluestone and granite–both will go with my early 20th century cottage. Somehow all of this inspiration adds up if I let myself be free enough to connect the dots.  I’m sure there will be a pathway or a medallion in a client’s future garden once I get the technique down in mine.

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LABELS: Antiques, Gardens, inspiration, paths, paving pattern, project 2 Comments

Garden Accessories: A Visit to Branch Studio

I’m still in Detroit and processing everything I’ve seen so far.  I was lucky enough to spend a few days with landscape designer Deborah Silver and her dog and human partners before the 2013 APLD Landscape Design conference started.  One of the highlights was a side trip to Branch Studio where Buck Moffat and his crew of metal workers bend, shape, stamp, laser cut, weld, rivet, galvanize and patina steel into a variety of  extraordinarily beautiful handmade containers and garden accessories–all dreamed up by Deborah. Branch Logo1 1024x995 Garden Accessories:  A Visit to Branch Studio finishing a fountain 1024x768 Garden Accessories:  A Visit to Branch Studio Attention to detail and the care given to each piece marks them as objects of beauty unto themselves.  That we can have them in gardens when there is so much of the opposite out there is in itself a luxury for a designer.  For someone who values fine craftsmanship and classic beauty,  the containers and and architectural features created at Branch are worth their price.

Planters 768x1024 Garden Accessories:  A Visit to Branch StudioPlanters on the workroom floor are above.  Below the same planters designed by Deborah and planted up in downtown Detroit.

Branch planters downtown Detroit 768x1024 Garden Accessories:  A Visit to Branch Studio

I started out my professional life as a metalworker so the melding of landscape and metal in this particular environment was fascinating for me.  It was the best of both worlds.

Planted box planter 768x1024 Garden Accessories:  A Visit to Branch Studio

four square Branch planters 768x1024 Garden Accessories:  A Visit to Branch Studio

Branch pergola 1024x768 Garden Accessories:  A Visit to Branch Studio

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LABELS: Gardens, landscape designer 2 Comments

Garden Travel: Planting Design and Architecture in Chicago

I took a walk very early this morning to The Lurie Garden and Roy Diblick’s new garden at the Chicago Art Institute.  My first observation (actually I walked them yesterday afternoon also) is how distinctly the spatial and planting design of both sits well with and plays off the surrounding architecture.  This is not easy to do.

My second observation is that I preferred the smaller Diblick designed garden to Ouldouf designed one at The Lurie.  It was more intimate, more suited to the residential scale I work in.  It was also unfinished–a second half has been prepped for planting.

The Lurie with surrounding architecture.  I know that most will cringe that I’m not talking about Piet Ouldof’s beautiful plantings.  What I observed isn’t detail, it’s a powerful context and connection to place.

Lurie and Gehry 768x1024 Garden Travel:  Planting Design and Architecture in Chicago

Lurie hedges and skyline 768x1024 Garden Travel:  Planting Design and Architecture in Chicago

lurie and art institute 768x1024 Garden Travel:  Planting Design and Architecture in ChicagoRoy Diblick of Northwind Perennial Farm talks eloquently about creating plant communities and creating symbiotic relationships between plants.  This small garden surprisingly isn’t dominated by the Richardson Romanesque shard of the Stock Exchange, instead both sit comfortably with each other.

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diblick planting scheme 768x1024 Garden Travel:  Planting Design and Architecture in Chicago

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LABELS: American Architecture, Gardens, Landscape Design Leave a comment

Garden Travel: Chicago and Detroit

I’m leaving tomorrow for 11 days of travel visiting friends and attending design conferences in two midwest cities – Chicago and Detroit. I’m excited to visit both places but for different reasons. I’m visiting friends and attending a short conference about building landscapes at the Chicago Botanical Garden.  What do I want to see?  Great contemporary architecture and gardens by Roy Diblick and Piet Ouldolf.  I also want to eat some great food – Chicago has awesome food.

vintage poster chicago 683x1024 Garden Travel: Chicago and Detroit

When that’s over, I’m driving to Detroit to visit more friends and attend the annual APLD Int’l Landscape Design conference.  What do I want to see?  Everything good and bad.  I’m fascinated by Detroit’s possibilities.  I’m super excited to get my retail on at  Detroit Garden Works and spend some time with Debra Silver before the conference starts.

detroit poster Garden Travel: Chicago and Detroit

I’ll be trying to blog from the road, but I will be more reliably posting to my Facebook page and Instagram accounts if you want to follow along.

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LABELS: Chicago, Detroit, Gardens 1 Comment

Garden Design Details: Dwell Studios new Bungalow fabric

I’m always on the lookout for cool outdoor fabrics and try to add them whenever I can to customize furniture for my garden and landscape design clients. I just discovered this new, super fun fabric story ‘Bungalow’ designed by Dwell Studios for Robert Allen.

Robert Allen Bungalow Garden Design Details: Dwell Studios new Bungalow fabric

 

image via Robert Allen

Yes, it’s Sunbrella fabric so it can take the heat and sun and rain, but it’s always best to have easy storage for cushions and pillows. Make sure that cushions are constructed from outdoor foam –which is much more pourous –if you live in an area where it rains.

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LABELS: Gardens, Landscape Design, landscape designer, Outdoor Fabric, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories Leave a comment

New Barn for an Old Farmhouse, Part 2

A few weeks ago I shared two garden design concepts for an updated outdoor room to be built around a new handmade barn. Those initial designs morphed and grew into a new, expanded hybrid idea that now includes a smaller barn, a built-in grilling area, a pergola, a small greenhouse and a potager–all of which were added during the design review meeting.  A fireplace was switched out for a movable firepit.  For continuity, I also added a small orchard adjacent the potager that also acts as a visual screen from the neighbors beyond. Barnyard concept 1024x819 New Barn for an Old Farmhouse, Part 2The overall design still fits within the parameters of the original concept and is inspired by enclosed barnyards that I’ve seen on old estates both here and abroad. All of the original client requests as well as the new ones listed here have been incorporated into a flexible, family entertaining space.  The big bonus is the clients loved it as is, with no changes!

 

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Garden Buntings

I have buntings on the brain.  Not those plastic ones that signal the opening of a new liquor store, deli or car wash.  Pretty ones.  Handmade ones.  Buntings that make any garden space feel happier and more festive than it was before they were hung.

solebich.de summer heaven Garden Buntings

photo via So leb’ ich

Not everything needs to cost a fortune, and buntings are something easily made from a wide range of materials at hand.  Here’s some ideas on a Pinterest board.

 

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Garden Portrait: Appeltern, The Netherlands

It’s hot.  It’s summer.  I’m indulging in a bit of armchair travel inside in the cool.

I am a fan of conceptual gardens.  Why?  They challenge our ideas of what constitutes a garden. There are trial gardens for plants, so it makes sense to me that there should also be trial design gardens. Last year, I visited  two, Cornerstone in Sonoma and Les Jardins des Metis in Quebec. Both made me think about what I do as a landscape designer in new ways. These concept gardens are usually built to last for a season or two, so their creators aren’t inhibited by issues of longevity and maintenance or client demands.

A relative newcomer to the scene, the Festival Gardens at Appletern Gardens in the Netherlands is in its fourth season this year.

Ariel view Garden Portrait: Appeltern, The Netherlands

It’s part of a much larger 22 acre garden park that includes many different types of gardens.  My favorite of the 2013 concept gardens called Balans (Balance) and was designed by Babako.  It is a linear installation reminiscent of Patrick Dougherty’s stickwork.

Festival Garden 1 1024x700 Garden Portrait: Appeltern, The Netherlands

In addition to the annual concept gardens there are 17 other types of gardens loosely organized around a theme or type of outdoor space.  I’m putting it on my ever increasing list of ‘must visit’ gardens.

Gabion Consevatory Garden at Appeltern Garden Portrait: Appeltern, The Netherlands

In interior design, this garden would be called ‘transitional’ as a mix between traditional and contemporary styles.  I’m loving the single pale blue, beach glass tones in the gabions.  Imagine them lit at dusk.  Dreamy.

Modern garden Appletern Garden Portrait: Appeltern, The Netherlands

This garden appeals to the DIYer in me.  I could probably put most of this together in a weekend from stuff I hoard  have in the garage, use it all summer and then switch it up the next.  Why does everything need to be so permanent?

herb garden appletern Garden Portrait: Appeltern, The Netherlands

I was a little disturbed by an image of purple loostrife in full bloom in the Appletern Herb garden and I’m not sure about kidney shaped beds EVER, but I loved the trees and the color story.

All images via Appletern Gardens

 

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Planting Design: A Wet Shady Meadow

I will admit to having to take some time to wrap my head around an addition to a garden that we installed last year.  Although we have improved the overall drainage on the expansive site, there is one pesky area that is still a little bit damp.  It’s walk-able and mow-able, but my client has come around to what I had originally suggested for the spot – a wet, shady meadow.

Meadow style plantings and damp shade don’t have to be mutually exclusive and here are three plants I’m considering to give it multi-season color, drama and texture.  They are all in my experience reasonably deer resistant also.

Rogersia pinnata – a plant I haven’t used in a couple of years since most of the shady spots I’ve been working in have been dry woodlands.  I’m going to try two varieties for their rough texture and difference in foliage and bloom color.  The one I’m most excited about is ‘Chocolate Wings’

Lobelia silphatica – one of my favorite self seeders.  My current client LOVES blue.  It may be the perfect plant for this area.

Juncus inflexus ‘Blue Arrows’ - another choice for color and fine threadlike foliage with a stiff vertical habit

I’m excited about this part of the project because it allows me to flex and stretch in ways that I don’t always have the opportunity to do.

 

 

 

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LABELS: Gardens, native plants, Planting Design, plants Leave a comment

Field Trip: The Glass House

Last week, I went to New Canaan, Connecticut to visit the most iconic modernist residential building in America–Phillip Johnson’s Glass House.  Since I first saw an image of it in a survey of American architecture, I’ve wanted to see it firsthand.

Johnsons Glass House 1024x768 Field Trip:  The Glass House

What surprised me was how much more was there than just the house.  Johnson experimented with buildings, follies, and land forms on 47 acres from 1945 until his death in 2005.  Some, like the Glass House (1945) transcend time and space; others like the Library/Study (1980) and the Lake Pavilion (1962) appear rooted in their time; while still another, the Painting Gallery (1965) foretells the future and conjures up the past.  He borrowed ideas from his travels, history, art and other architects and played with them on his own property.

Brick house glass house and pool 1024x768 Field Trip:  The Glass House

That is not to say that this is not serious architecture, it is, but without anyone but himself to please, these structures are less ponderous and weighty than much of Johnson’s other work.  Sometimes, as in the case of the Lake Pavilion (top image below) whose arches echo those on the Beck House (1964) (bottom image below) which I visited with APLD in Dallas, they are life size scale models of ideas in action.

Phillip johnsons Lake Pavilion cropped 768x1024 Field Trip:  The Glass House

beck house back dallas cropped 768x1024 Field Trip:  The Glass House

It was thrilling to see the juxtaposition of these experiments with existing farm walls, art and pathways.  It gave me insight into Johnson’s creative patterns and ideas.  Close to the original structure, proportions and geometric shapes repeat and reflect themselves, further away they are less relational but no less geometric.

Throughout his life, Johnson collected art and two buildings are galleries for his sculpture and painting collections. Each offer a distinct experience.  The Painting Gallery is a bunker like structure housed under a grass covered mound.  Inside the gallery itself has a series of circular rotating tracks that allow the six pieces of his 42 piece collection to be viewed at a time.

Phillip Johnson Painting Gallery 768x1024 Field Trip:  The Glass House

 The Sculpture Gallery (1970) is a tour de force of light and shadow that eclipses the art inside.  I was mesmerized by it and the way the patterns shifted and changed as the clouds overhead filtered the available light or not.  It gave the building a living, breathing feeling.

Phillip Johnson Sculpture Gallery 768x1024 Field Trip:  The Glass House

The property when viewed as a whole life statement is a masterful celebration of textural interplay, light and shadow, and mass and void that I’ve seen few other places.

Phillip Johnson bridge to the galleries 768x1024 Field Trip:  The Glass House

Phillip Johnson had a profound respect for the land he built on and few of the buildings/follies feel forced.  The land he built on is honored as are the existing field walls that came before him.  Nowhere was this more evident than at the view from a site specific Donald Judd sculpture over a farm wall to the glass house.

Donald Judd Farm Wall The Glass House 1024x768 Field Trip:  The Glass House

His lifelong experiments sit easily on the land even though they are the antithesis of natural.  More than half a century later they still belong.

All images taken and shared by the Susan Cohan, please credit appropriately.
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LABELS: Connecticut, earthworks, Gardens Leave a comment

A Mid-Century Birthday

I have a benchmark birthday tomorrow. You know, one of those decade defining ones.  One I never expected or could even envision–back in the youth driven 1960s and 70s.  I am part of what is still the largest generation in the Western Hemisphere and we are not aging gently or easily.  Sixty is not the new forty.  It is the new sixty. Fifty isn’t the new thirty.  It’s the new fifty. And forty seems to be more angst ridden than the other two for those I know who are reaching it this year.

I strive to be current and  informed, to keep up with trends and ideas.  It is inherent in my curiosity driven personality–I’m still drawn to new ideas, yet in my own work I lean towards the classic.  I’m still evolving as a designer although I feel that I have a defined stylistic lexicon that works for me and my clients.  For the past 10 years I have  been creating landscapes that I hope will last beyond me. I plant trees and build with stone to try to insure their  longevity.

Drystream and barn 768x1024 A Mid Century Birthday

I try and honor the land, the architecture and my client’s dreams.  I know that my work’s stylistic tendencies lean toward the traditional as a reflection of the market that I work in and as much as I love crisp, contemporary style,  I’m okay with that.

It’s ironic that the iconic style in current vogue was in its first heyday when I was in kindergarten.  Modernism screamed ‘This is the Future!”  Today,  Modernist and mid-century designs are sought after as vintage styles and are considered timeless and classic.  So I’m celebrating my benchmark by visiting what I consider to be the most iconic of them all, Phillip Johnson’s Glass House.  Come back next week for the details.  Happy Birthday to me!

glasshouse A Mid Century Birthday

 

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LABELS: American Architecture, Gardens 4 Comments

A Month of Sundays – Cold Beet Salad

A few months back I stated that I would be adding other content to Miss R–exploring things outside of gardens and landscapes. I love food, so this may turn into a once a month seasonal series.  For those of you who follow my Instagram feed, you know that I go to a local Farmer’s Market almost every Sunday morning from May to November.  The image below is a collage of what I bought in June.

month of sundays 1 1024x1024 A Month of Sundays   Cold Beet Salad

I’m a huge supporter of these local, weekly markets and have been going regularly, in season, since they started almost 20 years ago.  I don’t grow my own.  What you may not know is that I also love to cook.  I’m not a recipe follower beyond the first time for something completely new and foreign.  After that I riff and local, organic, fresh ingredients add to that spontaneity.  I started cooking this way when I lived in France where local markets were plentiful and had ingredients that weren’t at that time available in American grocery stores. Here’s what I made from the beets pictured…

Cold Lemony Beet Salad

This is my interpretation of a classic cold beet salad that won out over the cold borscht I was channeling from my great Aunt Julie. This salad is super easy and would make a great addition of ‘red’ to a Fourth of July red, white and blue buffet.

Ingredients

4 medium fresh beets – yellow, red or Chiogga (these are the heirloom ones that are candy striped when you slice them–they are super pretty!)

1 large shallot 2 cloves of garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp of balsamic glaze

1 T lemon zest

1 T best quality extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Boil the beets in about 3″ of water until easily pierced with a fork–about 15 minutes.   (Save the tops to saute later if you want–they’re delicious). Drain and set aside to cool and peel. Slice shallots very thinly. Cut cooled and peeled beets into 3/8″ x 2″ logs (don’t be fussy about this, but this is the best size–trust me). Combine lemon zest, beet logs and shallots in a large bowl. Mince and smash garlic and whisk with lemon juice, balsamic glaze and oil to make the salad dressing–adjust to taste if too tart, but remember the beets are super sweet.  Toss with beet salad and chill.  Makes 4 large servings.

beets in a bowl 1024x1024 A Month of Sundays   Cold Beet Salad

I also post what I make to Instagram, so in a way the series has already started–without the recipes.  This what the beet salad looked like…now you can riff on your own.  Enjoy!

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LABELS: Farmer's Market Leave a comment

A Garden Unexpected…Field of Dreams Redeux

Foxgloves were blooming everywhere when I last visited what I call A Garden Unexpected in New Providence. I wasn’t just driving by this time, but deliberately went to see what was blooming in early summer.  What I found was no less delightful than the first time I stumbled across this field.  I expected coreopsis (there was some mixed in), but the big show was daisies.  Hundreds of thousands of them spread over the five to six acre meadow tucked behind soccer fields and in between corporate headquarters winding around the woodland edge.

Daisy Field 1 768x1024 A Garden Unexpected...Field of Dreams Redeux daisies and coreopsis 768x1024 A Garden Unexpected...Field of Dreams Redeux tree with daisies 768x1024 A Garden Unexpected...Field of Dreams Redeux

The walk through the meadow is an abandoned fitness trail that was probably built in the 90s by Lucent who is the biggest of the corporate neighbors to this space.  It was a totally enjoyable stop that made my day slow down and much, much better than it had been.  The field near the corner of off Mountain Avenue and Diamond Hill Road in New Providence if you’re local and want to visit.

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LABELS: Gardens, New Jersey Leave a comment

Trendspotting: Honeycomb

Bees are in the news, so it’s totally understandable that bees and bee things should emerge as a garden trend. Recently I saw a wonderful hose pot in a garden I was visiting and have tried to no avail to find it.

wisteria+bee Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Image via  Miss Trixies Favorite Things

So that leads to honeycomb.  Artist Laura Kramer’s crystal encrusted wasp combs were on display when I was last at ABC Carpet and Home. Once I saw them, I started seeing honeycomb patterns everywhere.  I don’t think it’s just the power of suggestion…

HC 1249041 C de Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Image via ABC Carpet and Home

Honeycomb patterns have been happening in fashion and interior design for a while so why not gardens?

Gucci hive dress Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

pod 1 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Top image via Gucci , bottom image  via CamPierce

It’s a small idea that can add nature’s geometry to traditional or contemporary garden styles. The pattern can apply to tiles, trellises, fabric and rugs, and even furniture.  A few ideas…

 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Honeycomb wire chair above via Terrain.  Honeycomb modular wall trellis via Flora below. (These are available at  Jungle, BTW)

COMBINATION %C3%BCbersicht 1 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Old is new, and honeycomb hexagonal terracotta tiles are right on trend.  The yellow outdoor fabric sports a variation on the theme.  And the turf tiles in the very bottom image of a small Paris garden via (translated)  The Yellow House on the Beach are an original take on honeycomb.

terra cotta honeycomb tiles Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

honeycombyellow 500x500 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

rue vignon outdoor patio Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

If you want more ideas, I’ve assembled a Pinterest board just for honeycomb inspiration.

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LABELS: Design, Garden Design, Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories, trellises 4 Comments

Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

I had the privilege last week of free and unfettered access to one of America’s great country estates, Nemours. Happy for a working day out in a grand garden I had only heard about, I went.  Nemours, in Delaware, was built by a duPont and the gardens and mansion have just re-opened after a $40 million renovation.

The grand axis at Nemours Mansion 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

Built as a love letter to his second wife (who did not love him back)  in 1907, A. I. duPont had the money and the means to build a European style pleasure garden complete with grand vistas, follies, fountains and enough formality and gold leaf to awe just about any visitor.  The most impressive golden object (they’re 24K gold leaf) at Nemours is a garden sculpture titled ‘Achievement’ in the grand allee.  Self aggrandized irony in that choice?

Formal Parterre at Nemours 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

There are 4.5 miles of clipped hedging including boxwood, privet and barberry in the gardens.  Less invasive and lower maintenance choices were not made as part of the renovation.  There are acres of annuals.  A.I. duPont  had a staff of more than 300 to prune, pinch back, weed and maintain the formal gardens as well as the estate’s farm.  Today the staff is much, much, smaller and reliant on chemical solutions rather than the inexpensive labor-centric, mostly organic practices of 1907.  When labor became too expensive, chemicals became the cheap solution.

greenhouse at Nemours 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

In its heyday, there were orchards and a formal potager, and there were greenhouses, now in a state of abandon, not far from the house.  It was self-sustaining in a way that few large properties are even now.  The original vision for the property included these details – food, cut flowers for arrangements, and homegrown bedding plants.  It was a working integrated estate.  Now, as a garden museum, it’s working core isn’t evident.  The grape arbor from the original potager is being replanted with table grapes, but the rest of it has been paved over for parking.  The pumphouse and root cellar are still there.  The only other remnants of Nemour’s farm are a few old pieces of machinery that were left in a forgotten corner of a barn and are set quaintly out in a field as if they didn’t matter much.  Most of the producing farmland was sold and  is now part of a state park.

These bygone estate gardens, which we should consider museums of our own garden history, are unsustainable without huge, well-trained staffs of gardeners and the working parts that served them.  Their pristine (if somewhat skewed in their reverence) ideal is expensive to maintain.  The pleasure gardens were never meant to be natural to begin with.  I’m sure there are ways to include more sustainable practices, the types employed when the estate was first built, but it takes imagination and not a little bit of knowledge to get them there without legions of low paid workers.  But wait!  Isn’t that who we employ to cut our own lawns and mulch our own beds? Few of them have training or practice organic gardening either.  What’s wrong with us?  Why do we seek to maintain (outside of a garden museum) the pristine yet false ideals of a world long gone when cheap labor needs to be replaced with chemicals who do our earth such great harm?  A little bit of mess is a good thing for all of us and the planet we live on.

For more  thoughts about maintaining gardens from designer/bloggers,just click the links below.

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

 

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LABELS: American Architecture, Gardens, Landscape Preservation, romantic ideal, sustainable landscapes 17 Comments

The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

I live in a densely populated fairly urban-suburban area.  Houses, most built in the 1920s, are close together on 50′ x 100′ lots.  New York City is 25 miles east.  My street starts on our town’s Main Street.  There used to be a gas station there whose ancient tanks sprung a leak and the site was shut down and  ’cleaned up’ to the tune of millions of dollars.  Now there is a Dunkin’ Donuts where the gas station used to be.

Hedges Ave Lot 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the StreetBehind and adjacent that misspelled testament to obesity in America is an abandoned, contaminated lot. Collateral damage.  It used to have a house on it.  Now it has wildflowers (most will call them weeds) and wildlife among the 10+ testing stations for subterranean pollution.  I hope they don’t mow it and allow it to start to heal itself.

Wildflowers and grasses empty lot 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

Feverfew 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

Achillea 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

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LABELS: Gardens, New Jersey, sustainability 6 Comments

New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

I’ve been commissioned to design an outdoor entertaining area for one of the oldest farmhouses around that will also incorporate a new barn/woodshop. We are at the very beginning of a complex project, so I thought I’d share that part of the process.  After meeting with the homeowners I made an Ideabook to help them visualize the project.

My client, who is a passionate and active gardener with a talented woodworking partner, also wants a family entertaining area, easy access to her garden shed and details like stone walls and a possible meadow beyond for grandchildren to explore and play in.

karpinski base copy New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

The first step is to create the placement of a new 16 x 20 barn that will replace and enlarge the old one that was destroyed by a tree falling on it during Hurricane Sandy.  The current garden areas are a patchwork of projects that haven’t had a master plan as you can see from the basemap above.  Existing elements have been connected out of necessity without much thought to the overall scheme of things.

Concept number one creates an outdoor courtyard that has easy access to ground level doors and blocks a view of a subdivision on the street beyond.  It separates the garden shed from the barn and also incorporates a bosc which is a design element I’ve always wanted to try.  Both designs have fire features which will allow the new area’s use to be extended into colder weather on both ends of the season.

Barn Courtyard 1 1024x538 New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

Concept number two requires less work and renovation and keeps the existing wonky brick walk in place.  It also keeps the work areas ie. the barn and shed together creating a casual barnyard effect.

Barn Courtyard 2 New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

Usually, I post color plans, but this is the work that goes on way before I get to that point.  These are where the designs begin–with concepts fleshed out to see if they work spatially and to think about how people will move through a space and use it before a single plant is envisioned.  The concept that we decide on will be refined further after  the and are budgets set, materials for hardscape are chosen and then, at the end, the planting plan will be developed.

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LABELS: Gardens 1 Comment

Art in the Garden : Manolo Valdes

There was an unexpected pleasure added to my visit to NYBG last week – the monumental, garden inspired sculptures of Mario Valdes.  They were supposed to be gone by then and weren’t, so I was thrilled to see them.  Here’s why.  For me, these heads (created specifically for this exhibit) surrounded and sometimes engulfed with leaves, butterflies and garden elements perfectly symbolized exactly what goes on in mine sometimes. Whether that was the artists intent or not it was totally delightful to see them. Enjoy.

palm head 768x1024 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

rusty ferns 1024x768 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

IMG 6064 1024x768 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

Alhambra 1024x768 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

swirling leaves 768x1024 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

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LABELS: Gardens, Manolo Valdes 2 Comments

Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

When a new garden destination opens, I always like to wait a bit and let the crowds simmer down so I can explore it in peace. I need that space to process my ideas and to really see a place. The Oehme, van Sweden designed Native Plant Garden at The New York Botanical Gardens opened in May to gushing and effusive reviews.

Ferns and grasses 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

The hand of ‘The New American’ garden style attributed to OvS is evident throughout the 3.5 acre site that comprises more than 100,000 plants native to the Eastern Seaboard.  It is contemporary and has flashes of genius.  It is, to my eye, a clearly designed space that wants to also be natural. Vignettes abound that never occur so frequently in the wild. Some are painterly and others are dramatic. This is a garden after all and a teaching one at that.  It covers a lot of regional and geographic botanical territory and includes mature and new plantings.  Some areas are so densely planted that they have little room to grow and the maintenance will have to be intensive for garden crews or they’ll look awful in very little time. My favorite places were those in and bordering the woodlands that combined structural punctuation points with soft underplanting.

spent foarm flowers in the woodland 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

penstemon and grasses 768x1024 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

The garden’s central water feature is contemporary and at first I thought it looked too jarring. After exploring the garden and giving it some thought, I understand the design philosophy that clearly places our collective responsibility for these native and wild places in a contemporary context. Sustainable materials, storm water recycling and bio filters are all unseen yet declared parts of this feature. Other areas provide shelter and food for wildlife. Signage indicates and explains natural communities in an engaging way.

central water feature at NYBG native plant garden 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBGwater feature NYBG Native garden 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBGAs a designer, I appreciate the subtlety of another designer’s hand, but wonder how many visitors will notice the details.  In some ways the garden is too natural and I suspect some won’t get it at all.  They’ll think that this is just what’s out there in the real world, when in reality it’s not.  If the garden is to be a success, people have to stop and read and listen and look carefully to see the details.  When viewed as a whole, it could be perceived as just another messy, unmanicured space that so many find threatening because they are so far removed from the wild.

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LABELS: Design, Gardens, Landscape Design, native plants, Planting Design, sustainability 2 Comments

Planting Design: Wave Hedges

As always, I’m primarily interested in how people move through a three dimensional outdoor garden space.  I’m also interested in how to guide the experience–whether it’s an arrival sequence or just a meandering walk.  Lately I’ve been experimenting with what I call wave hedges.  They are short curved hedges of boxwood or other dense evergreen that from one view appear to be continuous, but from another are actually low waves of curved green ‘walls.’

Below are two examples for gardens that are being built this season or early next.

Perennail garden with wave hedge copy Planting Design:  Wave Hedges

 

brubaker wave hedge copy 1024x528 Planting Design:  Wave Hedges

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Garden Details: Stan Bitter Path Tiles

I’ll start by saying I don’t know much about this except that the image of these ceramic tiles for a  garden path has stuck with me for over a week.  I keep going back to it and still liking it a lot! They strike just the right amount of craft and whimsy for me.

Stan Bitters Path Detail Garden Details:  Stan Bitter Path Tiles

Image via Lost in the Landscape

What I do know.  I first saw an image of the tiles on Pinterest.  They were designed by Fresno based sculptor Stan Bitters and were included in an auction of 20th Century pieces a few years ago in Los Angeles.  There’s more about that  and the history of the tiles on James Soe Nyun’s wonderful blog Lost in the Landscape that I traced the image back to.  Boy would I love to have this path!

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LABELS: Art, craftsmanship, Gardens Leave a comment

Native Plants: Cladrastis kentukea – Kentucky Yellowwood

My little town has an unusual collection of street trees.  On my block alone there are red maples, dogwoods, redbuds, oaks, and two native beauties – Cladrastis kentukea all planted in the hell strips.  1′ to 2′ abundant clusters of fragrant white blooms on two side by side trees made me screech the tires on the way home the other day.  This isn’t a common tree around here and it is a stunner in every way.  I have to remember to us this beauty in more landscape designs!

yellowwood bloom up close 768x1024 Native Plants:  Cladrastis kentukea   Kentucky Yellowwood

Yellowwood on hedges avenue 768x1024 Native Plants:  Cladrastis kentukea   Kentucky Yellowwood

Cladrastis kentukea has a loose informal shape suitable to casual settings or as a feature tree in a large landscape.  Its native range is further south – hence the name.  Yellowwood is hardy from zones 4-8, with brilliant yellow fall foliage. It is a large shade tree that can reach 30-50 feet, likes full sun, and has a long taproot so make sure it’s planted where it can stay.

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LABELS: Cladrastis kentuea, Garden Design, Gardens, Landscape Design, Planting Design, plants 8 Comments