March 30, 2012

Garden Design.....part 2. Three homes, Six plants.

In the continuation of our series, I want to guide you on honing in on your homes architectural elements and what plants and garden style will be compatible. Let's keep it easy and examine the same six plants for each. Our styles will be "Cottage/informal", Semi-formal, and Formal

The six plants will be, Boxwood, Hydrangeas, Roses, a Crab Apple Tree, Lavender, and Ornamental Grasses. OK, onto the first house...........
     Cottage Style
In this case study is a shingle styled home, think beach, cottage, Cape Cod, a bungalow........very informal. So using our six plants here, let's begin with boxwood;

No rows here but placed sporadically, they offer a sense of continuity without demanding attention. And importantly they offer winter interest. Have to honestly say one of my top favorite plants

Can't you just see it, spilling mounds, collected together for the perfect cottage scene.

Roses, climbing, entwining, intermingling. When I was studying in England I loved the concept of two vines are better than one. You would see a glorious climber like this one above clambering towards the sun while in a deep passionate "hug" with a morning glory vine.......can't you just picture that?

Ornamental Crabs or fruit bearing apple trees would be best as 'one with the garden' with a mosaic inspired plant cluster at it's feet

Does it get any better than this? What better garden than a cottage garden? The sun, the fragrance, the sound of bumble bees (they will never hurt you unless you attack)
The textural contrast of ornamental grasses is again intermingled as are most plants in an informal garden creating little exclamation points of interest

This is a style that is compatible with almost any architecture. It's the middle of the road, the perfect blend of formal and informal. Let's study the use of our six plants within this framework. Our chosen house is a classic American farmhouse with an asymmetrical design

The boxwood here has become a more prominent player containing the riotous color and free-flowering nature of the perennials
 This layout has a touch of formality however the loose structure of the hydrangeas again relaxes the structured layout of the boxwood
Roses, framing a door but look again at it's partner, yes boxwood. This composition is the classic middle of the road style.
TIP:  Want to surround your door or window in roses without a trellis? Easy, put globs of clear bathroom silicone caulk just where you want the stem. While wet, insert a garden twisty tie encasing it entirely in the caulk, allow to dry, repeat every 12". When thoroughly dry add your stalk, twist and go to the next one.Want to remove the caulk ever? Again easy, slip a screw driver under it and pop them off.
Source: via Debra on Pinterest

Diminutive crab apples, a favorite is 'Lollipop'. This placement can be formal which is expected in this style, but to a degree. The looseness of the hydrangeas tones down the symmetry

A free formed plant such as the lavender above can single-handedly pull together the desired style when planted in a straight line

Can you see it here? Where is the formality? In the strong rectangle of ornamental grasses which is inherently informal but teamed with the giant allium......Viola!

And in this case French architecture. To me, there are two types of French homes; the formal as above and the French country rustic, which could go with any of the styled gardens previously mentioned. This could also be an English home, Tudor, Greek Revival, ............

This is what we think of as formal boxwood; severely pruned into a pattern, and here lining the walkway with a boxwood sentinel flanking the entrances

Trees in a topiary form is pure formal. How is this for the use of Hydrangea?!

Ahhhhh, yes! Are we in Versailles? This is a la Claude Monet, the alee of roses on multiple trellis forms creating the long view of lusciousness! The supporting cast of boxwood and a pea gravel path, define the style.

Source: via Debra on Pinterest

The perfect crab or fruit bearing apple is the 'espalier', (s  pal yeah) creates a living fence, a tight formation of simple and elegant manipulation
Remember the haphazard layout of the lavender in the cottage style? This is anything but. Patterned gardens are particularly lovely viewed from above.

Did you ever think there was such a beautiful way to formalize ornamental grasses? This is the best example I have ever seen

So to recap, hone in on the architecture and the complimentary landscape style. And "see" your chosen plants in a form that fits in with your scheme. Did this help you? Do you feel better informed when visiting the garden center? Any questions? Yes I used to teach landscape design and am used to asking at the end, "any questions?" But I am serious, ask away!

Next in the series:  choosing the "floor" of the garden. Wishing everyone a lovely weekend and as always, thank you for visiting!

March 22, 2012

GARDEN DESIGN......Master Course Introduction

Having been in the design business; garden/exterior/interior...and what-ever-else-i-can-put-on-my-plate, .... for 23 years, I thought it would be fun to take you through garden design process.
 I will be guiding you as I would a client. Principles can be gleaned from this series wether you are re-doing your grounds, starting from scratch or dressing up a bed or two.

Here is my Geneva, Il. shop, Scentimental Gardens, as we found it. I had to have driven past this building thousands of times, really.......but, I never "saw" it. 
Dark, overgrown yews, blah.

All the lawn and all the yews were removed, walkways were added, fencing, flowers.......Oh yes, and painted. Please note I would never recommend this color scheme to a client, but to gain attention on a busy street, it does the trick!

So where do we begin?
Always with the exterior of the home, always.
Potential clients are surprised when they call and one of my first questions is "What is the architectural style of your home?"
It matters. It sets a tone for the direction of the design. It's existing colors matter and certain architectural elements matter. And that is the key; the home and the garden should blend and compliment one another.

The home above does not have a defining architectural, we can give it one. This home and garden could go Cottage, Nantucket, Arts & Crafts, Tudor, to name a few.
Being "Exterior Stylists", we can explore how shutters, lighting, new windows, a door, and such, can transform a home, should that be desired. Let's look at some distinct styles and their complimentary gardens

Shingle. Originating in mid coastal New England. The grounds say beach. There may not be a beach but the gardens reflect the typical setting

French. The lamps, the stone, and the colors are reflected in the containers and the plantings. Always keeping in mind that this is a more feminine style. In other words......NO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES!
Cottage. The grounds are informal and seemingly haphazard, multiple containers, and the path to the door is equally informal and color appropriate
Pueblo. Indigenous plants found in the southwest, including deep colors, otherwise the home would fade. The crunch of gravel, the steppers blend with the stucco. Nothing formal should be present here. 
Southern Colonial. Colorful, the sound of water, the lighting is appropriately sized, formality and informality. Another example is studying the lines of the home. See the elliptical curves on the windows? Those curves are repeated in the hardscape and planting lines
An excellent example of a well done design;
-the front door is the symmetrical focal point.
-the bit players are perfect; shutters and containers match.
-back to the containers; their style replicates the door. The boxwoods repeats what is in the ground
-the lanterns are again perfect in size
-the brick......and the mortar, yes even that small detail, blend with the homes colors.
 What garden style do you like? Here is an example of tailored informal.


Source: via Debra on Pinterest

A blend; formally sheared boxwood and a relaxed style of flowers

Colors? All one colored flowers

An all green garden

Riots of color
You are mad about pruning? Then I could plan this for you! Take a look at the shutters and door, they exemplify the varying shades of green. The pea gravel path goes with the brick

List your favorite plants. Shrubs, trees, flowers, groundcover.........
When is the bloom time? If everything blooms in mid-summer only, there is a problem.
Source: via Debra on Pinterest

Grasses.......And think about your hardscape choices. What do you like? What would compliment your home by repeating a stone or color on the ground?
In the rear garden how will you use your space? Would you envision decking? Entertain frequently?
Seeking an intimate conversation area

Do you envision your space to be a "living" area?

Containers......oh the possibilities! Again, the size, color & style and the type of plants should be complimentary. If a container worked at your last home, it may not in your new home.
Multiple containers? (say yes) Where can we place them? The possibilities are fun and creative

And lastly, the accessories, those items that reinforce the style, that reflect your personality, that sets your garden apart...........stay tuned.........

If I can ever be of assistance, we can come to your home, irregardless of where you live (New Zealand would be lovely!) and/or we can provide a design and assistance on line.
Want to come? We would love to have you join us. Click the link below for information


March 18, 2012

SPRING Forward!

Next week, already........

Source: via Debra on Pinterest

It has been summer like in Chicago and here I am wishing for the cool weather of the season. For cool breezes, rain for the plants and high in anticipation for the beauty of Spring

Source: via Debra on Pinterest

Source: via Debra on Pinterest

Can't help but love the crisp white eggs set on the counter. How about all of you? Getting ready for Spring break? Going anywhere? Anxious to get in the garden?.............
Clients are calling for their gardens and containers in rapid succession. Want winter to go fast? Enter the landscaping business! I swear, it roars by...... 

Source: via Debra on Pinterest

It's so close I can taste it!

And taste this!  Suddenly I want to make a sandwich cake, but then I would need to have a party......hmmm (i can hear my friends saying, S U R E)
A huge thank you to a blogging friend, Kathysue of The Good life of Design , who so graciously has assisted me in uploading Pinterest images. Technically inclined, I am not...........


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