The Entry Design

Our second assignment for my landscape design class was for a very large spec home. We were tasked with designing the drive, walkways, pool and patio area, three retaining walls and an entry courtyard garden. I tend to over design. Since this was a spec home, I went with less planting in the back and focused on a colorful, formal entry garden for curb appeal. Turns out, I was too skimpy in the back. Unfortunate, but without a budget it is hard to know when to say when!

I repeated a handful of plants throughout the entry for uniformity and to create a sense of calm and instant familiarity in the plan. Boxwoods in a 'X' formation along the entry walk are livened with annual Veronicas, Knock-Out Roses and continuously blooming daylilies.

The rounded extension of the entry is an ideal spot for a grouping of planted pots changed throughout the year for seasonal interest or a curved teak or wrought iron bench with more formally designed pots at each end.

The courtyard garden has an entry designed to look like random stepping stones. The smooth surface ensures safety. As you move towards the interior of the courtyard, random stones are removed and open ground planted with Steppables. The wall features a fountain and small water garden.


Name that Plant!!

Name that plant! I have to ID 40+ evergreen type plants. I have many pictures posted, most with names. Will add more this weekend. Can you ID some I missed??

Click here!!

Best Gardening Blogs 2011 winner - grounded design

In one of my horticulture classes, there has been much discussion about the use of native verses non-native plants in the landscape. I do not presume to have the answer, but I know this much: intelligent conversation about all aspects of gardening and good garden design is always of value.

Myths about Native Plants, a series of posts by Thomas Rainer, the author of grounded design—the latest winner of Horticulture’s Best Gardening Blogs 2011— immediately caught my attention. In the first post of the series, Thomas addresses the myth that native plants are more drought tolerant than their exotic counterparts. He also tackles the myth Native Plants are not as Tough as Exotic Plants and finally myth number three, Native Plants are not as Showy or Ornamental as Exotic Plants.

In his post The Case Against Mulch Rings, Thomas expertly explains why we should bid farewell to the unsightly practice. His photos alone beautifully state the case for nixing mulch rings.

An excerpt from Is Your Planting Evocative or Provocative?:
“Of all my various rants, one point I am consistent: planting design is an art. Planting design needs to be liberated from its traditional role as ornamentation to architecture. For too long, the role of the American planting designer has been to ‘shrub up’ the base of buildings, like placing parsley around a pot roast. Instead, planting can be an expressive and dynamic medium in itself, capable of conveying meaning and emotion.”

Thomas lets his humor and whit shine through in his writings and his what-were-they-thinking department, No They Didn’t: A Gallery of Mockable Landscapes.

Before you head to the garden or nursery, take a bit of time for yourself to enjoy grounded design by Thomas Rainer. It will be time well spent.

Stop by often for more Best Gardening Blogs winners from Horticulture Magazine!


Even though we may garden alone, we never really garden on our own.

Why do we love garden talks, shows and programs so much? The answer is simple, we are a social lot. Even though we may garden alone, we never really garden on our own. We rely heavily on books, magazines, blogs and local garden clubs to share ideas and learn what is new in the gardening world. Read more at Horticulture Magazine.


Garden Library- The Garden in Winter

I am a fan of the winter garden. The winter garden is inspiring with the way its beauty is understated. The winter garden relies on the bones, the structure of the garden to create its beauty. A winter garden is very much, what-you-see-is-what-you-get. And when a garden is designed right, you get a lot of spectacular! If you don’t believe me, perhaps an afternoon with The Garden in Winter by Suzy Bales will have you a believer.

The first lines of the book had me hooked.

“And just for the record, T.S. Elliot got it wrong. January is the cruelest month- dark days amid bone-chilling cold. By April the delights of spring are galloping along. Then spring leapfrogs into summer. Summer cartwheels into fall. Fall, after a blaze of glory, collapse in a heap on home plate. Once fall fizzles out, the trees are denuded, the garden’s bones are bare, and the lost vistas are regained. Winter, the honest season, stands up naked, hiding nothing! Any plant left standing, bare or dressed, is an unsung hero.”

The Garden in Winter is part photo essay, part garden instruction and part personal reflection. Suzy writes as if she is talking with a close friend over coffee on the porch or strolling about her garden. Suzy’s voice, her words, still echo in my mind; a calm, inspiring voice reminding me to embrace the winter garden and to look carefully at what it has to teach me.

“On snowy mornings as I look out from my bedroom window, the beauty of the winter garden always takes me by surprise. The palette is a chiaroscuro of black, white, and gray-a glorious pen and ink drawing.”

Spend enough time with this book and it will seduce you and make you wish for fresh snow so you can explore and evaluate your own garden’s winter interest.

“A winter garden is about possibilities, the relationship you develop with Mother Nature, and the secrets she reveals to you about your garden.”

The Garden in Winter Plant for Beauty and Interest in the Quiet Season
By Suzy Bales


Best Gardening Blogs ~ Growing with Plants

Ice and snow, freezing temperatures; it’s enough to make a gardener cry “Uncle!” One of the best escapes from the winter doldrums is reading garden blogs. That’s what I was doing last night as the freezing rain tapped against my windows. Thankfully, I found an escape in our newest Best Gardening Blogs recipient, Growing with Plants by Matt Mattus.

In his Massachusetts garden and greenhouse, Matt collects and grows rare and unusual plants. A recent post on mini-head lettuce will bring a smile to our many vegetable gardeners. But it was the Jan. 4 post, Sunny Sundays in January, it’s why one keeps a greenhouse, that had me forgetting about the cold and ice just outside my door.

From Thinking big, and small, with mini lettuce: “I have decided to grow a garden of mini-head lettuce. If you wonder why Europeans like mini heads of lettuce, next time you are in your market, buy one of these small heads which we Americans usually pass over for poly bagged mixes (eew…washed in chlorine and tasteless) or for large over fertilized Iceberg heads, and find out why they are so preferred, the nutty taste and sweet flavor might convince you too. It converted me, and I am a classic Iceberg fan and not afraid to admit it!”

To read more, visit Growing with Plants.
Stop by often for more Best Gardening Blogs winners from Horticulture Magazine!