Garden Designers Roundtable: Bold in the Garden

What is bold? It’s a term that is used often, but what does it mean to be bold? Some of what Mr. Webster says about bold is; showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit, adventurous, standing out prominently. Reading through the definition, the words fearless, daring, adventurous, and prominent, stand out, words also used to describe design, both in the garden and with the arts in general. To me bold is best exemplified through garden design in elements such as; color, scale, and mass.

In an excellent example of how bold works within these elements, take a look at this backyard concert put on by a friend of mine. (As an added bonus, click here to hear the band perform “Shanty”)

The color of the sails is most certainly bold, as is their mass. That’s a large swath of color being used as a backdrop for the band. In regards scale, the sails act as a wonderful transition in size between the concert goers, and the very tall tree line behind the stage. We would have felt very small had they not been there. In all, this very bold use of color, shape, and size, set a very welcoming and pleasing ambiance for the concert. And how about after the sun went down, just stunning!

So, now let’s get back to bold in the garden. How do we use bold to do the same thing in the garden? Let’s take a look.

In this first picture, Japanese Forest Grass is planted in front of Elegans Hosta. Both the color and the massed planting make a bold splash in this shade garden.

Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' and Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ and Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ – Planting by Blue Heron Landscape Design

Here in a winter scene at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston Massachusetts, is Midwinter Fire Blood twig Dogwood. The color, mass, and scale, of the planting, works very well in relation to the size and colors of the surrounding courtyard, creating a wonderfully bold hedge.

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’

Grasses used en mass, can create a very bold look. The grouping here, although not bold in color (except for the Blood Grass in the foreground), create a bold front entrance to this house. The height and mass, work well in relation to the Flowering Pear to the right and the wood line in the background.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus', Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln', Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky', and Imperata cylindrica

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’, and Imperata cylindrica – Planting by Blue Heron Landscape Design

This next picture is from The Guilford Visitors Center in Vermont on route 91 north. I just love the massed Pinky Winky Hydrangeas that greet travelers to the Green Mountain State. A very bold welcome indeed!

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky'

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’

In Burlington Vermont, is the Church Street Marketplace. Several brick paved streets closed off to traffic, and lined with restaurants, shops, and in the evening, street performers. It’s a great place to dine on excellent food and entertain yourself on a warm summer’s eve. On one corner, planted alongside a very architecturally pleasing building, we find our next garden. Clearly influenced by the bold and romantic garden style of Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden, this planting is dripping with boldness. The mass of the plantings of Black-eyed Susan, grasses, daylilies, and sedum, under a low canopy of these under story trees, combine to lessen the size of the building, integrating into the landscape. It’s a great example of using color and mass boldly in a garden. My only issue with it though, is the use of some pretty wimpy annuals along the front of the bed. I’d rather have seen them mass a low growing perennial or grass to set the rest of the bed up. But, it’s mostly likely a different group maintaining it than those who designed it, so…

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm', Sedum x 'Autumn Joy', Miscanthus cvs., Hydrangea cvs., Hemerocallis fulva

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy’, Miscanthus cvs., Hydrangea cvs., Hemerocallis fulva

So that’s how I see Bold in the Garden. What do you think of these examples? See something different? I love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment, then follow the links below to see what my fellow Roundtable designers have to say about Bold in the Garden.

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Jenny Peterson : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin, TX

David Cristiani : It’s A Dry Heat : Albuquerque, NM 

Garden Designers Roundtable: Garden Maintenance!

It’s Roundtable day today! We’re not posting here on Blue Heron Landscapes, but we’re hoping you’ll stop on over to the blog and join in on the discussion.

This month’s topic is “Garden Maintenance”. You know, the stuff we say we don’t like, but essential to every garden. :)

 

Here’s the link – Garden Maintenance

 

Enjoy!

Garden Designers Roundtable: Inspiration!

As I write this, it’s snowing and we’ve got at least eight more weeks of winter before getting back outside and doing what we love best. Yet inspiration is not far off, for these are the months that imagination captivates the mind with thoughts of new plants and new schemes for the garden. They come at us from all angles, born of longing, and the promise of spring’s warmth. But where does one find the seed from which inspiration grows? I find inspiration in landscapes big and small, in nature’s perfect randomness, and in simple vignettes. There is a story and beauty in every scene.

Here are some photos of what has inspired me recently.

Readers of this blog will remember that I love grasses. I am captivated by the look of a meadow, and this view of the grass farm at Sunny Border Nursery always stops me in my tracks. As I look upon this field I dream of the meadow I might be designing soon for that discerning client.

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Stone is another element that gets the blood pumping. This pile of field stone slabs caught my eye at the local supplier and  stayed with me until we used them to create the stairs in the picture below. I can’t imagine a garden without stone.

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Another great use of old stone is this gristmill stone, used in a patio at Hollandia Nurseries in Bethel, CT. The pattern is mesmerizing!

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This vignette is from Hollister House in Washington, CT. It could be a doorway anywhere in the world, which is why I caught myself coming back to it several times. I’m not sure what the stone item is, but its story (which I do not know) still intrigues me. I wonder if I will ever create something so simple and engaging?

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A sense of invitation is nearly irresistible, as set up by these next shots. This Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT. feels like a cave entrance as you move from the sunlight into the cool of the shade garden.

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Weeping Cherries partially obscure the view to the tomb at the top of the hill in a cemetery in Simsbury, CT. The juxtaposition of new life blossoming against the backdrop of life eternal creates an interesting vitality, and opens the imagination to transitions in the garden.

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The endless patterns found in nature are truly inspirational. The stump of this very old yew, also in Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT., was awaiting the backhoe when I came upon it. The spiraling nature of its growth and the energy it projects had me thinking sculpture, fountain, or a contemporary trellis to grow vines on. Intriguing, no?

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One of the great joys in life is to meet local artisans whose talents extend into the garden. These next two inspiring pieces are by local craftsman, and friend Bill Salazar. I pass by this lamp post and arbor many times a week, and never fail to slow down and peek at how they look as the garden changes around them. Beautiful!

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These are just a few of the things that inspire me to create more interest in the garden. What inspires you? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear about it!

Please visit my colleagues also, and see what inspires them. There links are below.

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Jenny Peterson : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin, TX

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Garden Designers Roundtable – It’s okay to sweat the small stuff, details matter!

It has been my experience, that the excitement that arises in beginning a new garden or landscape project, is often overshadows the attention to the process needed to build it and overlooks the details that make it special. Today is Garden Designers Roundtable day, and we’re discussing the focus on details. Here are few things to consider before rushing through your project, and prevent the frustrating outcome, that something about this new garden just doesn’t feel right.

Connect your new space to its location. Known as Genius Loci, or sense of place, there are myriad ways of accomplishing this. Using found items is one of my favorite. Here we have placed a stone next to a set of steps leading to a deck. It stands as a welcome to visitors, but it’s not just any old stone, it was fond onsite, three feet directly below where it stands, forever tying this landscape to the ledge that lay beneath it.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

This “found stone” ties this landscape to it’s subterranean history!

Take care to make certain elements look as natural as possible. We have all seen garden ponds sitting in the middle of a yard with water falling from an unlikely mound, into a pond that is mysteriously surrounded by stones resembling a pearl necklace. Close your eyes for a moment and think of a real pond or stream, now open them. Does this manufactured pond look anything like the real thing? In this photo, our pond installer has created a very natural looking waterfall (on a slope), taking care to hide the liner giving the illusion that it has always been there.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Looking as though it has it has always been there, this stream adds a pleasing visual and soothing sound to the garden!

Choose materials and craftsmen carefully. You know the old saying, anyone can paint, but not everyone can paint well. This holds true for most trades and professions. Taking the time to investigate each contractor’s attention to detail can make the difference in a project being successful or not. Here our decking contractor has done great job with this natural cedar railing. His suggestion to use this system and his attention to detail meshed very well with the natural look of the landscape.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Expert craftsmanship complements any design!

Stay on budget by working with what your conditions. A limited budget, or restrictive (read: ugly), conditions need not ruin the feel of your new exterior space. Taking the time to research more than what your home center offers, and consulting with designers and craftsmen can lead to wonderful solutions, and beautiful elements in the design. Here, when faced with two large ugly concrete foundation walls, we went with the mason’s suggestion to cover with thin stone (real stone), that matched the wall stone used to surround the patio. The transition is seamless, and looks amazing.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Mortared on thin stone matches the walls perfectly!

Fill in the cracks. Sounds funny, but in a garden full of plants sometimes small spaces get overlooked. Usually this omission is noticed later on when weeds take root and fill in these spaces for you. Then, as you frustratingly pull these unwanted “plants”, it dawns on you that if weeds will grow here, maybe something I want will also. Bingo! This beautiful stone work by our landscape contractor on this project, left us, what we like to call, “planting opportunities”. This sedum will, in time, fill in all around the stones, suppress weeds and look great!

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Filling in all planting opportunities, gives the garden depth!

Use pleasing combinations. Once again it’s time to look deeper than the offerings at the home store, or even the local garden center. To find plants to “paint” your new garden space, take a few mini adventures. Search out specialty nurseries, visit public gardens, or attend garden tours and lectures. Opening up your options to purchase, will make it easier to identify plants that meet your style, and help you plant contrasting or complementary combinations. Here, a simple combo of ‘All Gold’ Hakonechloa and ‘Centerglow’ Nine bark, make a pleasing contrast at the base of a set of deck steps.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Contrasting or complementary plant combos, both add pleasing elements to a design!

Consider how and from where each element in the garden will be viewed. The most obvious detail in designing a space is perhaps the most often overlooked. We tend to concentrate so hard on what’s right in front of us, that sometimes we lose track of the greater picture. This tip may seem contrary to focusing on detail, but in fact is crucial to making the details work. Take a moment every now and then to step back and consider what you, and more importantly visitors to your garden, will see from several different angles. How the garden presents itself to, and more importantly how it welcomes visitors in, is extremely important. On this project, we took great care to nestle this shed into the garden, capitalizing on certain views.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Considering every view of the garden can provide wonderful reveals!

Final, personal touches complete the design. After all is said and done, and you’ve finished constructing your new space, all you want to do is to just sit back and enjoy. Not so fast mon ami! Final touches, like the seasonal décor our client used here, are the icing on the cake, so to speak. And as the seasons change, and the garden presents itself accordingly, these personal touches make the garden all your own.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

A client’s personal touches complete this vignette!

These are just some of the elements to consider while you build your new outdoor space. It takes time and patience, and sometimes the grand plan in your head can be overwhelming. But fear not; it’s a process that can be mastered, especially if you remember to focus on the details!

To see how my colleagues on the Roundtable focus on the details, follow the links below, and please feel free to leave me a comment on this post. I’d love to hear about the details you are focusing on.

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

 

Garden Designers Roundtable: Getting from Here to There!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

                                             ~ Robert Frost

Our topic this month for Garden Designers Roundtable “Getting from here to there” can mean so many things, but movement is at the heart of each. The experience of a garden is movement through time, movement through space. A garden is ever revealing, changing perceptions, altering the senses, and for me, a metaphor for the journey taken and the experiences gained as each of us travels the path chosen.

When designing a garden, attention to movement is essential to offering the visitor an experience. Where the path does traverse is so very much more important than the final destination or the materials used. Consider then the following:

Is it warm?

Inviting?

Is it dramatic?

Slow to reveal?

Does it lead you on?

Change your course?

Remind you of the past?

Transforming?

Does it make you wonder?

For me the journey is one I travel everyday, and find inspiration in the simplest of vignettes. How about you? Do the images connect to something more than just a garden path or a set of stairs, or is a cigar, just a cigar? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Please visit by the rest of the Roundtable bloggers this month and see how they are “Getting from Here to There”.

Debra Prinzing & David Perry:  A Fresh Bouquet

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Jenny Peterson : J Peterson Garden Design : Austin TX

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, 

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA


Garden Designers Roundtable: Edibles, Have Your Landscape and Eat It Too!

Today’s post is part of Garden Designers Roundtable, and the topic this month, in honor of our friend and fellow Roundtable blogger Ivette Soler, is “Edibles”. Ivette’s book The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden has just been released from Timber Press.

As a designer, the joy of a client telling me they are thrilled with their new garden is only surpassed by them also telling of how much they enjoy interacting with it. Today’s fast paced lifestyle, and the “suburban sensibility” of what a yard should look like, has changed the way we view our yards. Once a place to play, recreate and supplement the pantry, is now seen as a sofa with a plastic cover, a space to been seen, used with caution, but preserved so as not to affect the home’s value. Worse yet, we not only strive to keep up with the Jones’ but mimic them as well, creating vast tracts of lawn and ornamentals with very little human activity. Edibles (a trendy name for growing food), give the designer another tool in the box to entice the property owner out of the house and into the landscape.

A vegetable garden and property value are not often used in the same sentence. But when approached with a designer’s eye, and mixed with ornamental plants, a wonderful space can be created. Visually stunning, a parterre would surely impress the neighbors and add value, but the maintenance would prove to be prohibitive. So what are the smaller things we can do to introduce edible into the landscape? Let’s find out!

Perennials. Herbs are useful plants, not only in the culinary sense, but aesthetically too. They add texture, form and blossom, and can be used in pots, as ground covers or even hedges. Herbs such as Thyme, Chives and Sage can be added to the perennial border, foundation planting or mixed in with pots on the deck with annuals for a stunning combination.

Garlic Chives have wonderful grass like foliage and pretty white flowers!

Shrubs. High bush Blueberry Vaccinium corybosum is the perfect plant to add both beauty and taste to the landscape. Great bark color in the winter, soft green foliage, incredible red and orange fall color, make this an extremely ornamental shrub. The berries are terrific for attracting birds, and if you get to them first, are one of the healthiest foods you can eat! You can even buy Low Bush Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium as sod, to create a naturalized area or for use as a ground cover.

Blueberry Sod (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Photo from Fred’s Wild Sod in Blue Hill, ME

Trees. Fruit and nut trees are a great way to add edibles to the landscape. Apple, Peach, Plum and Cherry, all have beautiful and fragrant blossoms, great foliage and sweet fruit. Use dwarf varieties for small spaces. Nuts such as Walnut, Butternut, Almond and Filberts are all tasty additions to the landscape, and recent introductions have provided blight resistant Chestnut cultivars, giving hope that this stately North American native will once again populate our landscapes.

 

The delicious fruit of the American Chestnut

Photo from Bioweb

Annuals. Vegetable plants can be added to nearly every landscape, but not all veggies are ornamental enough to be included, so we must choose wisely. In her new book, The Edible Front Yard, Ivette Soler presents four criteria she uses when choosing vegetables for use in the ornamental landscape;

1. The entire plant must have a pleasing form – It cannot stand on the merits of its flowers (or vegetable or fruit) alone.

2. It has to give me at least two reasons to plant it (such as color and form, or texture and seedpods).

3. It’s leaves must hold up for the entire growing season.

4. If you must plant ornamental edible in the front yard because you have no other suitable space, pay extra attention to your hardscape.

By using Ivette’s criteria, we ensure a beautiful garden through out the season. Here are a few of her suggestions for use;

 

The vibrant colors of Swiss Chard will brighten up any garden!

Photo from Uprising Seeds

 

Eggplant adds interest as well as beauty!

Photo from Tiny Farm Blog

 

Lacinato Kale will surely blend into the perennial border!

Photo from Organic Garden Info.com

It’s time we once again look to our yards as productive spaces, instead of something unused that simply adds value. I hope you have seen here that your yard can be a place of respite, recreation and also a place to grow food, and it can be visually stunning as well. What edibles will you add to your landscape? I would love to hear about it, so why not leave a comment or head over to the Facebook page and upload some pictures.

Until next time, may you find nourishment in your garden!

Scott

 

If you’d like to learn more about Edibles see my review of Ivette Soler’s book The Edible Front Yard here, and also please visit the blogs of my fellow Roundtable designers (links below) as they also discuss this tastier side of the garden.


Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA »

Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT »

Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA