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Author/Landscape Designer Susan Morrison

I’ve long admired the wit and wisdom of Bay Area landscape designer Susan Morrison, whom I see at garden events and follow on Facebook. So when I found out she’d authored The Less is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard (Timber Press, 2018), I knew I had to have it.

Enter to win a copy of The Less is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard, simply by leaving a comment below. (To qualify, you must be 18 or older and have a mailing address in the US or Canada.) The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email Sat., Feb. 10. I’ll also put the winner’s name at the top of this post. Best of luck! 

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to attend presentations by Susan Morrison and myself during the 2018 Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I’m presenting on Designing with Succulents Wed., Feb. 7 at 11:15 and Thurs., Feb. 8 at 12:30. Morrison is presenting Thurs., Feb. 8. at 2:15; Sat., Feb. 10 at 3:00, and doing “Container Wars” Sat, Feb. 11 at 11:30. 

Here’s Morrison’s “less is more philosophy” of garden design:

— Less space, more enjoyment
— Less effort, more beauty
— Less maintenance, more relaxation
— Less gardening-by-the-numbers, more YOU.

In The Less is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard, Morrison’s practical, readable style expands on key points via case studies and illustrations anyone can relate to. The book is full of light-bulb moments. You find yourself thinking, “Why, yes, of course,” while wondering why such terrific insights on gardens, design, and outdoor enhancements hadn’t dawned on you before.

Susan Morrison owns Creative Exteriors Landscape Design, located in the East Bay near San Francisco.

Some Morrison gems

Every page and caption in the book contains kernels of wisdom that can be put to practical use. For example:

— “Just as the kitchen is the heart of the home, the patio is the center of the backyard.”

— “Avoid hard benches, undersized seating, or essentially anything that makes the backyard less comfortable to be in.”

— “A table for dining on one side and a lounge chair for relaxing on the other establish two garden destinations in a relatively small area.”

— “Create one strong or meandering curve as a counterpoint to the more rigid shapes elsewhere in the yard.”

— “Angular stone [gravel] compacts more efficiently [than rounded gravel] and therefore makes for a more stable walking surface.”

Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment and you’re automatically entered to win a copy of The Less is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard. See you in Seattle? Say yes! 

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I learned to garden as an adult by poring over gardening magazines and watching shows on HGTV, like “Gardening by the Yard.” Remember that one? Sadly, none of the instructional and inspirational shows that taught me to garden are still on the air, since HGTV replaced them with shows about outdoor decorating. Furniture, fabric and fireplaces galore, but not much that grows.

A few regional gardening shows are still aired on public television, but for most of the U.S., there’s nothing for people who learn best by watching, like I do. And what’s more visual than gardening, anyway? It’s even more visual than cooking, which is all over television.

Lucky for people wanting to learn to garden, now there’s Youtube, the number two search engine (after Google) and number one source of how-to instruction, whether it’s cooking, setting up your new Fitbit, or gardening.

Which is great, but have you ever looked for gardening help on Youtube only to find conflicting information or really bad advice? I sure have. Or I’ve found how-to advice from someone somewhere in England, where I’m unfamiliar with the climate and don’t know how to adjust the advice for where I garden. (Videos of Alan Titschmash pop up often in search results but what are his growing conditions? I haven’t a clue.)

So I started a project called Good Gardening Videos to find and promote good videos, the ones that can be trusted to teach viewers to succeed at gardening (by providing information that’s accurate) and are watchable (no shaky cameras or traffic noise, please).

To help with this nonprofit project I asked a bunch of smart garden communicators and scientists for their advice and am proud that they include GGW’s own Fran Sorin, along with two members of the famous Garden Professors bloggers and a few more actual experts. We are all unpaid except for horticulturist Charlie Nardozzi, whom we’ve recently hired to curate videos about growing edibles, a subject about which I know literally nothing.

The almost 600 good videos selected so far were made by 18 state Extension universities and a variety of garden communicators, like GGW’s very own Debra Lee Baldwin. (We’ve chosen six of her videos to feature so far.) Some of the plant world’s most reputable companies are also making instructional videos, and we’re happy to promote the best of them, as long as they’re truly instructional, not infomercials.

So how do we provide useful information for gardeners across the drastically different growing regions in the U.S. and Canada, our target audience? By prominently revealing each expert’s location, no matter how difficult it was to find that bit of vital information, and letting viewers make any necessary adjustments for where they garden.

You can find our curated videos on the website or the Youtube channel by searching or browsing the topics. And to help people find the videos they need when they need them, we’re creating Seasonal Guides, collections of the best videos on such timely topics as lawn care, seed-starting and bulb-planting.

Admittedly, you can’t learn everything from videos, so we’ve compiled a list of websites and books we find ourselves recommending over and over – in “How to Find More Accurate Gardening Information.”  That includes how to find research-based information using good old Google.

GGVideos is pro-science, pro-environment, ad-free and nonprofit.

How to Video Your Own Garden

It didn’t take long to discover that more good gardening videos are needed! To help gardeners share their gardens, their plant collections or their make-over projects, our website includes tips on “How to Make Videos Yourself.” One take-away is that making a good-enough video is easier than you think – especially if you compile still photos into a slide show with captions or your own narration. No budget for videos? There are free editing programs, and good-enough videos can be made with point-and-shoot cameras or even smart phones.

We’re also nudging gardening companies, public gardens and anyone who’ll listen to make more good gardening videos. In the 21st Century, video marketing is widely recommended because it’s very effective.

_______________________________________________

Guest Post Author Bio:

Susan Harris pursued her passion for helping people succeed as gardeners through writing and garden-coaching before her recent retirement. Online, she co-founded and contributes to the team blog GardenRant and promotes public gardens and gardening in the Washington, D.C. area at DC Gardens.

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There are several elements that make up a well thought out landscape: they include structure, shape, texture, scent, and movement. But for the majority of us home gardeners, the first element we take into consideration when designing our own personal paradise is color.

Thanks to renowned garden authors like Penelope Hobhouse, who wrote Color In Your Garden,  Rosemary Verey, author of Making of A Garden, and Christopher Lloyd’s Gardening Year, (just to name a few), I became enthralled with color in the garden when I first became a passionate gardener in the late 80s. Although I had worked with design and colors for several years in other arenas, learning how to use it effectively in the landscape was something all together different.

Below are 12 Tips About Color Design that I’ve learned over the years.

1. Color is one of the easiest ways of setting a tone and expressing your personality in the garden.

2. Before buying, hold plants up against each other at nursery, lay pots out on the ground prior to planting, do the exercise from my book, Digging Deep, called Playing with Flowers, or pick up a slew of paint swatches from a paint store and experiment with different combinations at home.

3. Know the basic principles of color design.

Primary Colors are red, yellow, and blue
Secondary Colors are created by mixing two primary colors together: orange (red and yellow), green (yellow and blue) and purple (red and blue)
Intermediate or Tertiary Colors are colors that are created by mixing a primary and a secondary color, for example, blue-green
Neutral Colors – black, white, and brown

4. Warm vs. Cool Colors

Bright colors (reds, oranges, and yellows) jump out at you and look best when used in a sunny location.

Photo above: a smattering of dark and bright colored tulips at Tennis Court Garden at Chanticleer in Wayne, Pa.

Cool colors (blues, purples, and greens) recede into the background and are most effective when used in a partially shady location or in a climate that experiences a lot of grey skies.

Pale colors, yellows, and whites reflect light and brighten shady spots.

Cool colors and pale shades create a sense of depth in the garden while bright colors make a garden look closer.

Pastels fade in bright sunlight while very warm colors sizzle and come alive.

5. Red infuses a garden with excitement and excitement. Unless creating a ‘hot’ cottage garden, use it sparingly.

Photo Above: Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and red poppies in Sorin Garden, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

6. Keep in mind that, like musical notes, how colors are perceived change depending on the context in which they are used.

A color’s intensity will decrease when placed next to a complementary color but will increase when planted next to a contrasting color.

7. When designing a garden, use the same color repeatedly throughout the border to create a cohesive tapestry.

8. Use dark colors sparingly on a light background to create a powerful combination. The opposite is also true: By using a smattering of light colors on a dark background, the intensity of the design will be heightened.

Photo Above: Primula Japonica at Chanticleer Gardens

9. Remember that your color palette changes throughout the season. Be mindful of what plants bloom at the same time to make sure that they work well together.

10. The colors of leaves can make as powerful of a statement as flower blossoms. Include them in the equation when you are deciding what to plant where.

Photo above: Strobilanthes dyerianus (Persian shield), pink salvia, and carex sp. in Sorin Garden, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

11. Don’t think of green as a boring color. You can create an outstanding composition by using silver, light, dark, deep, and chartreuse leaved plants. Keep in mind that the texture of the foliage of the plants has an effect on the design.

*Photo above:  Cotinus coggygria ‘Ancot’ GOLDEN SPIRIT creates a magnificent contrast against the grass.

12. Discard what the doyennes of taste or experts advise when deciding how much and what colors to use in your garden. Follow your instincts and create a color palette that pleases your eye!

Now it’s your turn! Share a color combination that you’ve used in your garden and love.

Please note: A source for some of the information for the above article is from NYBG’S Color Theory In The Garden.

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Want to buy that special person who happens to be a gardener, a lover of flowers, or just a creative soul at heart an extraordinary Mother’s Day Gift?

Well, guess what? This year I’ve come up with a two part present that will knock the socks off of the “Mom” in your life.

All you have to do is follow my directions below so that whomever you choose to give this special Mother’s Day gift to will not just receive a bouquet of arranged flowers: Rather, she will be given the opportunity to have an experience to play, create, connect and experience a profound sense of well-being and joy.

This first part of the gift is the following:

1. Take a trip to the nearest street vendor, farmer’s market, grocery store or florist that sells locally sustainable flowers, fair trade, or organic. Whole Food Market has a Whole Trade Guarantee for fair and ethical trade. Slow Flowers is a constantly expanding site that lists American grown flower sources.

2. Pick out a slew of flowers. My rule of thumb is to buy at least 6-12 of one variety. Just let your eye go to what it likes and add them to your bunch.

3. Ideally you want at least three different varieties of flowers, in a range of colors. If you want to add some greenery or flowered branches, feel free to do so.

4. In order to be successful, take your time selecting the flowers. By the time the salesperson is wrapping these beauties up in cellophane with a bow around them, you should feel thrilled that the flowers are so glorious and that you personally chose them.

The second part of the gift is to buy a copy of my book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.

It’s filled with simple and fun exercises on how to use gardening as a tool for unearthing your creativity. Plus it offers user friendly steps on how to design your garden from the inside-out.

I just got online and saw that the distributor or Amazon is listing the paper book at a discounted price of $10.66. I have never seen it sold that inexpensively: So my suggestion is to order it ASAP before the priced is marked back up to$15.95.

In Digging Deep, I’ve created an exercise called Playing with Flowers. Readers and folks who come to my talks or workshops absolutely love it. It’s listed in the Table of Contents.

It’s important when you give her the gift that you explain that she needs to set aside an hour of quiet of time for herself in order to get the most out of this exercise.

And if you are at a loss for words about the profound impact that flowers make on our lives, I’ve added a few quotes that you are welcome to use if you are writing a card to go along with this special gift.

“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.” Walt Whitman

“Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature. ” Eckhart Tolle

Wishing you and yours a Mother’s Day filled with much love, blessings, and a slew of magnificent flowers!! xo –  Fran

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Julie Moir Messervy is a renowned and beloved garden designer, author and lecturer. She has now become the creator of an app, Home Outside, that enables any gardener to get first rate garden design help at a reasonable price. I’m delighted to have Julie as a guest contributor at GGW. Please welcome her to our community!

Wish you had an outdoor room for living or dining out under the stars?  Need guidance on where to locate a shade tree, a veggie garden or perennial borders?  Want to give your property a face-lift or some curb appeal?

No matter what your needs, Home Outside® makes it easy and fun to get expert landscape design help at a price you can afford. With the online service, Home Outside design experts stand ready to work with you, step by step, to create the home outside you’ve always longed for.

A family landscape

Take the example a young family in a Boston suburb who sought the help of Home Outside designers for their small backyard landscape. The couple wanted to create a space that enabled their young children to play, included lots of colorful plantings along with their small cobble terrace for outdoor eating, and allowed clients to be seen in their charming little cottage/office that sat in the backyard behind the house. The whole family filled out their Home Outside workbook; then our designers created two different designs to share, getting enough feedback to create one final conceptual design the family then approved. We continued to work with them as they selected the plantings and gave them pointers on how to prepare the beds and edge them for maximum effect. The result is amazing—a complete transformation from a bland backyard to a one-of-a-kind Home Outside design that the family loves.

When you have a plan that complements your home and your lifestyle, you can install it in phases or all at once, secure in the knowledge that you have a design that works.

How can we create a personalized landscape design without ever setting foot on your property?

Here’s how:

1. Share Your Dreams

Our easy online workbook walks you through how to submit your property information, photos, ideas, goals, style and preferences., Your designer creates a base plan, studies your workbook, and creates a draft plan and image board for your review.

2. Get the Design You Love

Based on your feedback, your designer creates a colorfully-rendered final design that suits your site, style, and needs. You also receive notes and an image board that explain the elements you’ll need to build your design.

3.  Make It Happen!

Build your landscape yourself or give the design to your contractor to install.  And then enjoy the Home Outside you’ve created!

The Home Outside App

We believe everyone should have the tools to create beautiful landscapes.

So we created the Home Outside app—a mobile landscape design app with functions that enable landscape professionals like ourselves to create on the go and share ideas with clients, yet simple and user-friendly enough for homeowners to mock up their property and try out new ideas.

Home Outside is the only free app that offers users these features:

  • Mock up an entire property in plan view
  • Import map images or property plans as backgrounds
  • Select from over 700 hand-drawn elements to tap and drag into place
  • Sketch tools, notes, and layers
  • Share and edit designs back and forth between users and devices

Tap-and-drag functionality lets you mock up your entire property, not just your veggie garden, with hundreds of useful and fun elements, from trees to pools to paths to chicken coops.

Unlike garden apps that limit users to specific garden shapes and sizes, Home Outside lets you personalize your design to match your real-life yard or the landscape of your dreams. Map your property, import your property base plan background, add descriptive notes, and share your designs with friends. Design for fun, or get more precise with rulers, snap-to-grid, and sketch tools.

Julie Moir Messervy is the CEO of JMMDS, a landscape architecture and design firm in Saxtons River, Vt., creators of parks and residential gardens around the country. She is a distinguished lecturer and the author of eight books on landscape design. Julie has a mission to use digital technologies to bring great design to everyone. She created the Home Outside® online design service and Home Outside® landscape design app to do just that. For more information, please visit www.jmmds.com.

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AND THE WINNER IS: BECKY KIRTS! Becky was chosen at random and has been notified. (If I don’t hear from Becky in 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.) Thank you all for participating. I have more giveaways in mind, so stay tuned!

“Gardening with Foliage First” by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz is a book I wish I’d had when I began gardening 25 years ago. I think most of us start out wanting flowers. I had a thing for roses and cannas, but whenever I’d see a new flowering perennial, I had to have it.  After several years, my mish-mash of a garden just looked like a salad, except in spring.

I don’t know about you, but one glorious month out of 12 just isn’t good enough. (I’ve made numerous changes since, and now I pretty much like how it looks year-round. You can see it on YouTube.) I’ve not stopped cultivating flowers—foliage, after all, comes with them (all plants bloom, even moss and trees). However, from a garden design standpoint, I think that flowers are mainly icing on the cake.

When I speak to gardening groups, I often say (partly because I like the alliteration): “Flowers are ephemeral, they flash and fade, and then you’re left with…” (pause for dramatic effect) “foliage!” My specialty is succulents, but they’re not the only plants with highly structural leaves and dramatic forms, as “Gardening with Foliage First” abundantly illustrates.

This book belongs in every gardener’s library, so I asked publisher Timber Press if I could offer a copy to you, dear GGW readers. To enter to win it, simply leave a comment below. (To qualify, you must be 18 or older and have a mailing address in the US or Canada.) The winner will be chosen at random and notified March 31. 

To further entice you, here are a few photos from the book. Most feature succulents, many include seasonal flowers, and all show textural combos that don’t need flowers to be fabulous.

I often quote one of the book’s authors, Christina Salwitz, who quipped on Facebook, “Angelina will go home with anyone,” referring to this stonecrop’s multizone versatility. Here it’s shown with Diascia barberae ‘Darla Orange’, but that’s not all that’s going on; note the contrasting forms and textures of bulb foliage and boulder.

This stonecrop (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’) isn’t in bloom yet, but it doesn’t matter; its broccoli-like flower heads and glossy green foliage look stunning with a feathery artemisia that suggests Spanish moss.

When Christina’s co-author Karen Chapman visited me here in southern California, she shot this vignette of an acacia, agave, and variegated myrtle, a plant I grow for its dainty foliage and the witch hazel scent of its leaves.

Karen also photographed my neighbor’s front garden for the book. The pencil-like stems of Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ (lower left) keep their orange color year-round. I love how they contrast with the blue and green agaves and black aeoniums, don’t you?

Stipa tenuissima reseeds invasively in some regions, so I hesitate to recommend it, yet it’s one of my favorite plants for texture. According to the caption, “…the real surprise lies in the way the bleached Mexican feather grass echoes the color of those stiff spines, drawing attention to a detail that would otherwise be overlooked.” Yes!

OK, now it’s your turn! To enter to win a copy of “Foliage First”, leave a comment below. (To qualify, you must be 18 or older and have a mailing address in the US or Canada.) The winner will be chosen at random and notified March 31. I’ll also post their name here, at the top of this post. Best of luck! 

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Freshly Bought Flowers In Sink of Cool Water

I’m re-publishing this article in honor of Valentine’s Day. I can think of no greater gift than buying a slew of flowers for someone you love and spending a few hours together (with no interruptions) creating some playful arrangements. Directions and benefits are listed below.

If you think that buying fresh cut local flowers and creating stunning floral arrangements for your home is a luxury, think again.

Research has shown that being in the presence of flowers increases your level of optimism and sense of security, helps to decrease stress, and can have a significant effect on your ‘happiness’ factor.

So a suggestion this Valentine’s Day.

Rather than grabbing whatever flowers you can find at the florist or grocery store, why not slow down and transform the act of creating floral arrangements into both a playful and meditative practice…..while designing something beautiful?

Ten Steps For ‘Playing with Flowers’

1. If possible, locate a sustainable local flower grower in your area. Very often you can find them at your farmer’s market. If not, check out Debra Prinzing’s  Slow Flowers directory to see if there is a grower or florist close to you that carries locally grown flowers.

2. Buy at least a few dozen flowers. My strategy is to purchase larger numbers of one variety–similar to what I do in the garden so that I end up with at least 6 of one type of flower.

Don’t rush. Take your time and decide what pleases your eye. Often what we’re initially drawn to is our instincts saying “This is what I desire.” Remember, it’s only flowers you’re buying. If you’re unsure about what you like, experiment and try something new.

3. Bring flowers home and place in a cool sink of water. Using a sharp pruner, remove all foliage near the bottom of the stem and cut an inch off of the bottom of the stem.

My rule of thumb is to cut less than more from the stems. Until you start placing them in vases, you probably won’t know what height you’ll want them to be.

Flowers Cooling in Sink

4.  Treat this 30-45 minutes as a meditative, silent experience. Make a pact with yourself that you will have no cell phones, TV, computers, or kids running around.

5. Experiment with how different colors, shapes, and sizes of flowers look together. What combinations are you drawn to? There’s no need for you to have an immediate response. Playing with flowers is a great opportunity to begin to familiarize yourself with what you like.

Soft pink ranunculus with purple/magenta anemones and faded whitish/pink gerbera daisies

Magenta anemones, purple tulips, purple asters and pink ranunculus

Notice how different the composition looks when the whitish pink gerber daisies are removed and replaced with purple tulips and asters.

Butterscotch ranunculus with purple tulips, asters and anemones

Adding a splash of the butterscotch colored ranunculus adds an entirely different feel to the composition. Do you like the contrasting colors or is it too much color for you?

6. Do have water in the vases before putting flowers in to keep them fresh. I fill my vases about 1/3 of the way up.

7. Start placing flowers in vase. I often put several flowers in a few different vases concurrently. I rarely have an idea of what I want the composition to look like. I just start adding flowers to vases to see how it looks and cutting stems to appropriate lengths.

Strawberry pink gerbera, purple anemones and tulips

8. Even during the colder months, I forage in my garden to bring in branches, evergreens, or veggie leaves, In the photo above, I’ve used large leaves of burgundy chard to add an extra dimension of color, shape and texture.

9. If you don’t like something, no problem. That’s part of the fun of Playing with Flowers. You can experiment, try a flower combination for a day or two and if you keep on passing by it and thinking “I don’t love this”, then take flowers from a few different vases and play again!

Strawberry gerbera daisies with butterscotch, pink, and burgundy ranunculus and  silver leaved sage from the garden

10. The purpose of this exercise is for you to let go of control, to play purely for the sake of play, and to train yourself in mindfulness. Trust me, the more you work on letting go and playing, the more you will unleash your creativity and design beautiful floral arrangements. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of time!

If after time spent doing this, you return to your day feeling more relaxed, with a sense of well-being and happiness, then I’d say you gained a lot from Playing With Flowers.

What do you think?

The exercise Playing With Flowers can be found in the recently updated edition of my book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening on Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble and independent book sellers.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with others on social media. It will help get the word out on how to have an extraordinarily special Valentine’s Day and it’s good karma. With gratitude..xo-Fran

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On a visit last week and again yesterday to Dilworth Park,  Philadelphia’s outstanding green space abutting City Hall, I was delighted to discover a newly constructed pop-up garden.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Bryant Park in New York City and have written a few articles about it: You can check them out here and here.

Dilworth Park, renovated in 2014, is a 120,557 square foot space that has become a multi-faceted public meeting place: It consists of well executed perennial plantings with tree groves, colorful seating areas, and a seasonal ice skating rink.

When it first opened in 2014, after a major renovation that cost $155 million, it was met with less than stellar reviews as written about in Philadelphia Magazine (September 2014):

Architecture critic Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer weighed in with an analysis of the park, a park which she says really isn’t a park at all:

“They’ve reconstructed the space in front of Philadelphia’s palatial City Hall, furnished it with a cafe, a high-tech spray fountain and movable chairs, and rebranded it Dilworth Park. But the vast granite prairie is still very much a plaza, with all the weaknesses the word implies.”

In the end, Saffron declares that the “aesthetic is all wrong for a city eager to remake itself for an expanding creative class.” Dilworth Park is, she writes, “a suit in a jeans-and-t-shirt world.”

 Stu Bykofsky of The Daily News had this to say on his FB account:

“Visited today and was underwhelmed. If it was “barren” before the $55 million makeover, that nice (in good weather) fountain takes up most of the space in front of City Hall. There’s a cafe? I didn’t see it. All the trees are relegated to the perimeter. You can walk through the fountain, which is neat, and the kids loved it, but I have a feeling most of that $55 [million] was on construction, not on appearances. Yes, it’s a bit better, but if it is supposed to be the new town “gathering place” it might have had more “wow” factor.”

Perhaps it was the addition of this year’s newest addition, The Capital Garden Maze, that transformed the park from what was described above to what I would now describe as festive and playful.

The America’s Garden Capital Maze took over the patch of grass at Dilworth Park during the winter season as part of a $300,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation. It was designed by Groundswell Design Group, the same firm behind other iconic pop-up public spaces like Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. The maze is festooned with willow-branch archways and well chosen and colorful plantings, all in raised beds.

The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, featuring 35 local vendors, is still in the process of being constructed. There is even a lovely old fashioned  merry-go-round on one side of the courtyard. Like the Christmas Village, which will be located in City Hall’s inner courtyard this year, the holiday market will remain open until Christmas Eve.

Is this Philadelphia’s answer to Bryant Park? Not quite. But contrary to what the critics have written, I feel strongly that Dilworth Park is a positive addition to the outdoor spaces in the City of Brotherly Love.

After all, it was no easy feat to build an appealing public space around the elaborately ornate, city block long, Philadelphia City Hall, built in the late 19th century.

Whether you’re a Philadelphian who is looking for something to do with the kids on a weekend or an out-of-town visitor, I highly recommend a visit to Dilworth Park!

If you enjoyed this article, please share with friends and colleagues on social media: it’s important to get the word out and it’s good karma!

Also, you only have a few more week to take advantage of my 1000 FREE Book and Course Giveaway. We are almost sold out!!  To take advantage of receiving a free copy of my book, Digging Deep:Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening and my 3 part online course, click on HERE.

And in honor of Thanksgiving, I’ve priced the e-book version of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening on Kindle for only .99. The price will never be this low again so grab it while you can!!

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A garden club at which I’ll be speaking later this month asked if I’d donate “an arrangement for the raffle.” Sure, why not?

I have several self-imposed criteria: It has to be a “wow” so attendees will buy tickets; it needs to be innovative and incorporate succulents; and it should be autumn-themed. Inspired by numerous colorful succulents in my garden, I decided to make a succulent wreath featuring fall colors.

I filled a shallow box with cuttings of orange coppertone stonecrop (Sedum nussbaumerianum), red crassulas, and yellow Sedum adolphii…

…and another with blue-gray succulents such as Kalanchoe tomentosa (which has slender, fuzzy leaves), small echeveria rosettes, and Lampranthus deltoides (a type of ice plant).

For the wreath base I used a thin, flat, donut-shaped wood circle from a craft store. I hot-glued sphagnum moss to it, wrapped it with florist’s wire to better secure the moss…

…then glued cuttings onto it. First I created a corsage-like cluster at 7:00…

…then I overlapped cuttings to complete the circle, tucking each one’s stem beneath the previous rosette. I used enough glue to make sure cuttings were firmly attached to the wood beneath the moss.

Remarkably, succulents aren’t harmed by hot glue, in fact, stems will send roots through dried glue into the moss.

The wreath needs a few hours of morning sun, then bright shade for the remainder of the day. Sun is necessary to keep it colorful; in too little light, the orange and yellow cuttings will revert to green. In too little light, growth will be stretched and spindly. However, too much sun may scorch the plants. The cuttings I selected will need frost protection. If you live where temps drop below freezing, use hardy succulents such as sempervivums, fine-leaved sedums, and ice plants.

To keep new little roots hydrated, the wreath should be spritzed twice a week to moisten the moss. As cuttings grow, the wreath will gradually deconstruct. Older succulent wreaths tend to look like they’re exploding. This one is about a year old:

When this happens (or for that matter, at any time) the wreath can be planted intact in a pot or garden bed, enabling cuttings to root into soil. Or it can be pulled apart and the cuttings replanted.

Ideally, the person who takes it home has a garden gate, wall, or front door on which to display it. Regardless, it also looks good as a table centerpiece. (Any wood surfaces should be protected from moisture.) To transition it into the holidays, they might add a few red, gold and green glass balls.

I’ll soon release a video showing how I made it. Watch for it on my YouTube channel!

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Over 2 months ago, I received a notice about the Gold Awards given to 4 landscape designers/ and or design companies for this year’s American Professional Landscape Designer (APLD) Awards.

As I perused over the names and projects, my eyes were drawn to:

Charles Hess, Lansdale, PA, won THREE Gold awards, two in the Residential category and one in the Specialty Projects category.

Although my focus is on naturalistic plantings and designs, when I laid eyes on what Chuck had created on this Bryn Mawr estate, I felt compelled to share it with you.

Unfortunately because of my wild traveling and work schedule this summer, I didn’t have time to interview Chuck; but he sent on plenty of information that will offer you a robust understanding of the ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ of this outstanding project.*

*Please see PDF at end of article.

Chuck’s design and his use of stone work are both elegant and sumptuous.

For so many of us gardeners who are focused on plantings themselves, we tend to forget that the bones of a garden is the first step that we need to pay attention to when creating our own personal paradise.

Here is a description of the garden:

“The design of this residential property incorporates an all new exterior program to compliment the newly constructed estate home. Traditional materials are used with modern twists, to create a property that appears timeless but also lively. A diverse selection of plant material creates rich tapestries for the outdoor rooms placed into the landscape.

Plantings at the front of the home are traditional in form to create a tailored appearance, featuring a greater reliance on evergreen material for four season structure. Containers are used here to provide seasonal color, and are changed out with seasonally appropriate materials throughout the year.”

“In back areas where outdoor living is more frequent, plantings were selected to provide long periods of sequential bloom, and to provide a looser, textured character. Flowering Cherry trees jump-start the spring season, and are followed by Winter King Hawthorns, Dogwoods, and Crape Myrtles. Improved varieties of Hydrangea such as Endless Summer® and ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ offer prolonged seasons of bloom. Full sun area blends of perennials include Montauk Daisy, Salvia, Iris, Nepeta, Perovskia, Amsonia, and Achillea. ”

“Shadier spots incorporate blends of Astilbe, several different varieties of Heuchera, variegated Solomon’s Seal, Hakone Grass, and Hellebore. Herbaceous foliage texture and color plays an important role through these areas, augmenting the garden’s appearance during times when plants are out of bloom. A vegetable garden was also provided per the client’s wishes, to provide fresh produce for the family during the growing season.”

*Written Brief of Bryn Mawr, Pa garden designed by Chuck Hess

1. This residential project is located in USDA Hardiness zone 7-A.

2. A historic residence located on this site had fallen into disrepair to the point of being unsalvageable. The client made the difficult decision of removing the structure completely in order to create habitable dwelling space on the site. Deed restrictions limited the availability of building sites and impervious coverage. Most of the site was mown lawn, and only a few large trees remained.

3. The client needed a home and grounds suitable for raising their young family. Their preferences included amply-sized outdoor recreation spaces for children play areas, as well as purpose-built spaces for outdoor entertaining. Their favored style involved less formal structure, with the incorporation of layers of loose plantings bordering spaces.

4. The intent of the design was to meet as many of the client’s program requirements as feasible, while creating a beautiful garden which the users would move through and interact with.

5. The new dwelling was positioned to take advantage of existing views, to establish privacy from neighbors, and to preserve important natural features. Distinct areas were created outside the new home for entertaining and gathering, including a formal arrival motor=court, a main terrace with outdoor kitchen, a soccer field for the client’s children, and a Koi pond. Centered on the new swimming pool are other new features such as a spa, a fire pit, and a separate pool house structure. The backdrop for all spaces includes many different types of plants, which have been selected and used in specific combinations to provide a succession of seasonal bloom and attractive textures. Remnants of the former home on site were preserved where feasible, such as the lower wall, Wisteria arbor, and grand stairway. An existing rock outcrop was planted as a garden feature, with its own unique palette of plantings.

6. Portions of the existing historic structure’s garden were retained and associated with the garden spaces. The pergola and retaining wall bordering the main terrace spaces were refurbished, with some materials being replaced to match the new home’s vernacular. Storm-water runoff was all retained and infiltrated back into the ground on site. A vegetable garden was created, since the client’s eco-friendly ambitions included raising their own household vegetables and culinary herbs.

7. The role of the designer included all landscape design services. After conducting an initial site inventory and assisting with the positioning of the new home on the site, a master plan was created which addressed all program elements required by the client. Construction documents were prepared to guide contractor work. Planting plans which delineated all plant species, sizes, and locations were developed. The significant trees were selected by the designer at nearby nurseries. On-site supervision of plant installation assured the plans were followed closely. Follow up with the maintenance contractor was critical, and ensured the garden’s elaborate appearance was preserved.

To receive a copy of the plant list for this award-winning garden, click on this link:

bryn-mawr-residence_master-plant-list-1

On another note: if you haven’t heard yet, My 1000 FREE Digging Deep Book and Course Giveaway is open. To receive your free copy and to sign up for my course (and gain immediate access), click on HERE.

This is a one time only offer that is selling out quickly! So take advantage of it immediately and share the link with family and friends so that they can get a free copy of  Digging Deep and take the 3 part online course with you!!

As always, if you enjoyed this article, please share with friends and colleagues on social media. It’s good karma to share things that inspire you with others in the world. With love, Fran

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