2.13.2014

BOOK LOVE


Since it's the week of love I thought I'd share some books that have impacted my love of design.  These are not all traditional garden books, but they have all inspired me in my love of landscape design. I always encourage you to look for inspiration within the gardening world, but also look outside on the fringe.  You never know what will spark that new idea.


My favorite book of all time.  This is such a special collection of illustrations and garden fables.  I'm still infatuated with it as much today as I was when I received it as a gift over 20 years ago. It taught me that we can communicate our ideas in so many beautiful ways.

Back in the 1990s I visited an amazing garden in Vermont by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterowd .  I was a young designer grasping for formulas on how to create an amazing garden. This book began to break it down for me and I kept it a close resource for many years. It's simple and easy to read, plus it brings back memories of that wonderful visit to North Hill.

THE VICTORIAN GARDEN by Allison Kyle Leopold
I read this book many years ago when a local group asked me to present on Victorian gardens.  The amazing thing I learned was how much our society impacts landscape design....including such things as religion, technology, and politics.  This book sparked my love of garden history.

Gardens are never mentioned in this book, but the author does an amazing job discussing how to create space...which directly relates back to landscape design. This book has a refreshingly simple way to look at design which has lured me through it's pages over and over again.


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2.04.2014

THE WELLIE RAIN GARDEN

Last week I wrote a post on rain gardens and thought it would be fun to use my theme garden design process to add a little more punch to this type of landscape.  I've been thinking about using Wellington rain boots as a theme for months and this was the perfect opportunity.


I followed my theme garden design process to whip up my Wellie Rain Garden Plan:

1. PICK A THEME. Wellington rain boots!

2. BRAINSTORM. These are the words that pop into my head then when I think about rain boots: colorful, fun patterns, rubber, polka dots, red, yellow, rain coat, puddles, umbrellas, storms, wet, showers, wellies, Britain

3. RESEARCH. To find out a little bit more about Wellie rain boots, I dove into the internet.  This is what I found:
  • The Wellington boot was invented by the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, in the early 1800s in Britain.
  • Wellesley was considered one of the greatest defensive commanders of all time.  He beat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
  • This time period was also the height of the English landscape style.  This style broke away from the formal gardens of the Renaissance into expansive informal landscapes with large lawns and curving paths.













4. TRANSLATE TO PHYSICAL FORM. After looking at my brainstorming and research lists my plan evolved this way:
  • Colors: bright, mostly warm colors that make me think of fun rain boots.  I threw a little bit of purple/blue in there to signify rain, but focused more on the reds, oranges and yellows.
  • Shapes: The circles are inspired by umbrellas and polka dots, plus the rectangle and rows of plants symbolize the Duke of Wellington's marching army. Though these are both strong, geometric shapes they are placed informally like the English landscape style (yes, I know I'm stretching it here on the English landscape style, but decided to just focus on the informal/asymmetrical aspect of it).
  • Furniture: Of course, I included a bright colored umbrella. Wouldn't it be nice to sit under the umbrella during a spring shower and watch the rain garden do it's magic?
  • Plants: All of my plants are recommended for rain gardens in US zone 5.  When designing your own rain garden, just Google rain garden plants for zone # and a myriad of sources will pop up for you. Think about height, textures and colors.  I kept mine to 3' or less.
5. CREATE THE PLAN.  See above.


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1.25.2014

WHAT IS A RAIN GARDEN?


A rain garden is a planting area that captures runoff from rain that falls on roofs, driveways or yards. They help create landscapes that are both beautiful and hydrologically functional. These types of landscapes hold and infiltrate water, rather than generating runoff that causes water quality problems and contributes to flooding.
  • It is a depression or shallow bowl made in the landscape that is level from side to side and end to end.
  • Runoff that travels to your rain garden is temporarily ponded (the water does not stay long).
  • The captured runoff in a rain garden allows water to infiltrate into the soil, rather than running into streets and storm drains.
  • Relies on soils with good percolation rates (clay, not so good).
  • Location is critical. It must be located so runoff goes towards it. Look for low spots, but soils must have good percolation rates. Water should not stand in an area for more than twelve hours.
  • Rain gardens should not be located upslope from a house or closer than ten feet from a foundation.
  • Native plants are recommended for rain gardens. These will develop deep root systems that generate high organic matter and porosity, plus the right choices can tolerate temporary flooding and extended periods of dry weather. These also don't need fertilizer...in fact, it's important that you do not fertilize.
I've gently borrowed all this wonderful information from the Iowa Rain Garden Design and Installation Manual.  I encourage you to take a peek at this resource for more detailed information on plant choices (for zone 5), soil percolation rates, plus how to install and size a rain garden.

I've also created a Rain Garden Pinterest board to show you more wonderful examples.

For those that would like a print of this rain garden diagram you can purchase a digital version here or a hard copy here.

In my next post I'll show you how to create a rain garden with a fun theme (I can't wait!).


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1.19.2014

HOW TO GROUP PLANT SYMBOLS

For those that enjoyed my How to Draw a Plant Symbol tutorial, here is the next step...grouping plant symbols.  A general rule of thumb for planting design is to group plants in odd numbers (though once you've exceeded eight in a group you can drop this rule). I've included some steps below, plus a short video on how to draw these plant groups.


HOW TO GROUP PLANT SYMBOLS 
1. Using a circle template, draw your plants using circles. Don't be afraid to overlap the circles a bit (so in real life your plants form a mass).
2. Use a felt tip marker to outline the outside edge of the group (with whatever plant edge you'd like...see some examples above). Don't ink the lines that overlap. This technique emphasizes the plant group (rather than the individual plants). Graphically, it's also easier to read. It's okay if your pencil lines show, since the ink will dominate.
3. Use a gray chisel tip marker to add ground shadows (all on the same side...typically the bottom right or bottom left).
4. Note that cross-hairs in the middle of the plant indicate it's proposed, while a dot indicates existing.
5. Only group plants graphically that are all the same species.

If this is too difficult to visualize, please visit my short video here:



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1.09.2014

A GINGHAM GARDEN

I was poking around my previous garden blog and came across this little ditty I wrote in 2011. I just love designing around patterns and hope it will inspire you to look for design ideas in all beautiful things.


Something I love to do is pick a fun image, color scheme or object to inspire me in designing a garden. It's a great way to generate ideas, yet help narrow down your plant choices.



I found this gingham image above several months ago and have been aching to design a perennial bed based on it. This is a simple border that you can place along a sunny wall or fence. The peak bloom time is June to July. I'm in zone 4 so have planned it accordingly, but you can take the same principles and design something with plants in your area. Oh, and I chose all my perennials through a fabulous plant database found on the Midwest Groundcovers website.



Now that we're over the holiday hump, it's time to start garden planning!


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1.01.2014

A PEEK BACK AND FORWARD


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I can't believe the whirlwind I've been through the past year.

At the beginning of 2013 I was uncertain about which direction I should head with my writing and illustrations. I ended 2013 with a wave of unexpected accomplishments that ironically steered me in a new direction.  It's a direction towards merging my divergent talents into a focus that creates energy and hopefully breathes a fresh perspective into something I adore: garden design.

Though I am still trying to figure out where all this is leading, I truly appreciate so many of you jumping on this crazy garden bandwagon. It has been such a joy meeting so many passionate gardeners.

Some things I accomplished in 2013:
  • Made a big decision to combine both my food and garden blog, then...(only a few months later)...
  • Decided to just focus on my garden blog (jeez, was that a relief).
  • Finished my theme garden eBook (and eventually made the even bigger decision to give it away, which has been worth every copy).

What do I want to accomplish in 2014? Besides continue sharing garden design tips in my own illustrative way, I'd like to focus on a short, important list:
  • Figure out where am I going with all of this. I've made some big shifts this past year, but I'm not quite there yet.  I love teaching, drawing and garden design, so will continue to explore that combination to hopefully educate you, while also filling both our hearts with sunshine.
  • Identify that next big book idea (something is brewing inside me right now).
  • Find out what you'd like me to share and explore with you. If you have a moment, would you mind taking this short survey (only four questions), to help me get started on this last goal?


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12.30.2013

DREAMING OF BEDLINES

How do I stop the madness of crazy bedlines? These are the lines that slither through the lawn without a care in the world. Those new to landscape design often follow this approach: place plants in the ground, then outline each plant on the edge with a bedline, which results in a wiggly array of chaos (see below).

I encourage you to take a step back and think about how landscape design is about creating space.  We create the space first (the lawn or patio, for instance), then use the plants to reinforce that space.  You can read more about this idea in my Keep it Positive in the Garden post. The bedline is the edge of that space, so it needs to be purposeful to reinforce whatever shape you are creating for the lawn or patio.


Catherine from Garden Drum has a great way to think about this concept. She describes the garden space we are creating as the doughnut hole, while the actual doughnut is the planting bed reinforcing it. The bedline would be the outer edge of the doughnut hole.

There is another benefit to stronger bedlines...less maintenance and easier mowing.  Imaging trying to edge all those wiggly curves with a spade, or worse, trying to mow into those tight little crevices. Eek.


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12.20.2013

SOME GARDEN READING


I always love finding fun garden blogs.  As you take a break for the holidays, sit back, relax and do some garden dreaming.



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12.12.2013

COLOR CONTRAST IN THE GARDEN

A great way to add pop to your garden is through contrast. Contrast is an art principle that refers to placing opposing elements together (light/dark, black/white, smooth/rough, etc.) to create visual interest.

In the garden this can be achieved in many ways, but I thought it would be fun to show it simply using a bench tucked into a small planting. A bench can be a great focal point if you heighten it's contrast to the surrounding landscape. Using complimentary colors is a good way to get high contrast. Complimentary colors are those opposite on the color wheel and include these combinations: green and red, orange and blue, plus purple and yellow.
There are times when you might also want low contrast in your garden. Maybe you'd like your bench hidden, so you can slide away to read in quiet or your goal might be a calm, soothing color scheme where everything blends in a tranquil way.

Below I've attempted to show high to low contrast combinations so you can decide what might work best in your garden (yes, I got a little crazy with the mysterious purple plants, but I had to prove my point somehow!). Oh, and the bench design was gently borrowed from Belle Escape.



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12.08.2013

POPPY: WHAT A SWEET NAME

Recently, a friend of mine had a sweet little girl named Poppy.  She asked me kindly to create an illustration for her room, so I created the one below.  My friend is a horticulturist, so her other daughter is aptly named Violet. What a beautiful pair.


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