Showing posts with label garden design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garden design. Show all posts

5.29.2014

ANOTHER BIG (BUT LONG OVERDUE) CHANGE


Oh, how our lives evolve.  My current adventure is finally switching over to a full website.

The biggest reason I felt compelled to make this change was to have the ability to share my illustration portfolio (which is a little limiting on my blog). My double life of garden design and illustration needed to merge a tad bit more...and now I can successfully do that. I'm hoping you'll be able to use my garden design and graphic resources easier too.

For those on my email list, you don't need to do anything.  When I write my next post you'll automatically get that via email from my new site....so just sit back and enjoy.  For those reading my blog through other means, please take note of my address here:


If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know.  I'll continue to tweak it so we can both continue to learn about garden design in fresh ways.

PS. I'm working on a fun, crafty garden design post as we speak (you'll need scissors and color pencils).  I can't wait to share it with you on the new site soon!

If you're stopping by to check out THE LUNCH BOX PROJECT those illustrations begin way back in January 2009.  You can start here.


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5.04.2014

SIZING AN OUTDOOR PATIO

Every year this question ultimately comes up in my landscape design studio: "How large should I make a patio for a certain number of people?" I found a handy document from Concrete Network with their suggestions, then put my own graphic spin on it below. If you also have suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.


UDPATE on 5.17.14: While discussing this on LinkedIn, John Welch of 3G Design brought up some additional important points related to this topic that I wanted to share:

John writes...The dimensions suggested...seem about right as far as accommodating tables and chairs is concerned. This is not necessarily the whole story, however. I always try to be generous and allow for a couple of extra places and I try to make sure there is clear access to and from the house (if the terrace adjoins it) unencumbered by furniture. Ideally you would be able to walk around the table too without stepping off the paved area or being crushed against a wall.

The other factor to consider is that of proportions. Tiny terraces look odd next to wide, high facades and conversely huge expanses of paving can look out of places against more modest dwellings. Clever design can only do so much to ameliorate this. So, there are aesthetic as well as practical considerations. I also like to place at least a narrow band of planting between house and terrace to soften this transition between horizontal and vertical surfaces. There may, of course, be budgetary restraints which can limit how big an area you can pave and what you use as a surface treatment.

Well said John.  Thanks!


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4.23.2014

GEUMS ARE GEMS

I discovered this flower only a few years ago and now cannot imagine living without it.  In early spring it pops out like orange polka-dots all over my zone 5 sunny perennial border.  The foliage is wide and round giving much needed coarse texture to the garden.  The flowers balance above about 12-18". There are many different cultivars, so I may be creating my own sweet little geum collection soon. Be warned that it does not transplant well.  My greedy side wanted more, so I attempted to divide and move them around, but only lost some in the process. I guess that is a a good reason to go plant binging shopping again.



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4.05.2014

PLANTING DESIGN TIPS

Though I officially learned planting design in college, I didn't begin my real education until I began creating my own garden. These are a collection of tips I've learned over the last twenty years in both capacities. 


If you'd like more information on some of these tips please check out these posts:

Drawing Tree Forms
Make Your Garden Pop with Texture
Texture in the Garden

I hope to expand on additional tips in the future...so keep a look out for those.

I'd love to hear your planting design tips too. Please share one in the comments below.


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3.29.2014

GARDEN INSPIRATION


As you may know, I enjoy exploring garden blogs. I even keep a board of them on Pinterest.  Once in a while I love pulling out a few for extra inspiration. Since it's spring and we're aching to get outside (at least those of us in the cooler parts of the world) I encourage you to start dreaming.  Here are four to get you started:

I not only enjoy finding inspiration from blogs, but also from you. A couple of months ago I shared a survey to get feedback on possible topics I could cover on my blog.  For those that didn't participate, I'd love your thoughts. Here is a link to that survey once again: GARDEN DESIGN SURVEY.


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3.19.2014

DRAWING TREE FORMS

There are three design elements to consider when creating a planting design: form, texture and color.

Each plant you choose encompasses these characteristics in different ways. Though you should consider all of these it is important to know that form is the most consistent, then texture and finally color. 

A good planting design should start with a strong composition of forms in elevation (standing in front and looking straight on). Trees, shrubs, and perennials all have forms. Below are only some examples of tree forms. Additional ones, not included below, are vase-shaped, weeping, and irregular. 

To design in elevation it's helpful to also be able to DRAW in elevation. I've included a video below to show my simple technique, so you can begin the joy of designing right away. 

A design hint: Take a photo of your house, throw on a piece of tracing paper, then try drawing some of these plant forms on top to see what combination might work for your landscape. Don't forget to layer them too (some tall plants in back, then medium and smaller plants in front).  Enjoy!






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3.02.2014

A GARDEN IN A POSTCARD: Allées

My husband and I love antique shopping.  Some of the things I enjoy searching out is anything garden-related: books, tools, fabrics...and even postcards.

Oftentimes the garden image is just a secondary bonus to whatever tourist site the postcard is depicting.  What's fun for me is finding something teachable in those images. Does it show a landscape design principle, a garden term, or a certain plant?


The two postcards below are fabulous examples of allées. An allée is a walkway or road lined with trees or tall shrubs. This term originated from a French word that meant alley.



The second postcard's allée is formed by pepper trees. Being from the Midwest I was not familiar with this plant, so I looked into it a little more and found an intriguing story. This beauty has a slightly shaded past.  If you'd like to read more please jump over to this article


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2.22.2014

HOW TO LABEL PLANTS

When we create a landscape design it's important that we communicate what's on the plan. The plants are one of the most important elements and typically take up most of the design, so an organized system to labeling them is a must. A beautiful design can look messy and unprofessional if plant labels are not laid out well. Below are the rules I use when labeling plants in plan view (looking from the sky down towards the garden).



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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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1.19.2014

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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12.12.2013

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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12.03.2013

A GARDEN HOLIDAY GIFT

Over the last few weeks I've made a lot of big decisions in terms of how I want to focus this blog and share my love of garden design.

In celebration of my birthday and the holiday season, I'd like to toss in one more twist...sharing my eBook, The Peanut Butter & Jelly Garden with all of you.  This book focuses on my theme garden development process in a whimsical (yet practical) way.  I've been developing this process for a long time and just want to share it with the world (no need to hide behind a price tag anymore). 


Once you read through this book you'll begin to understand me as a designer and illustrator...and hopefully be inspired along the way. The only thing I ask in return is that you sign up to receive my email updates (which really isn't a lot...typically once a week). That's it!

You can read more about my eBook here or just sign up for your free copy by clicking the blue circle below.

I hope you enjoy this new journey into the magical world of garden design...and happy holidays!


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11.16.2013

TOMATOES TO TOPIARY

In 2009 I began my blogging career with a goal to paint one food illustration a day for an entire year. That adventure was coined THE LUNCH BOX PROJECT.  It was a thrilling joyride to create daily, learn about the ins and outs of food (since I'm not much of a cook), and become part of the welcoming food blogging community.


While I whipped up delectable dishes each night with my paint brush, I continued to work my "full-time job" at a university botanical garden as an educator, planner, and designer, then later teaching in the horticulture department. I loved both parts of my life and continued this parallel activity for four years. I even began another blog for a short time, TOPIARY & TIRAMISU, to help fulfill that need to talk about gardening.


In 2011, when I shifted to teaching landscape design full time in our university's horticulture department, I found the career of my dreams. I was now able to share my love of garden design with talented students everyday. This joy was so powerful that I wanted to start sharing my tips and tricks with gardeners outside the university too...but it was exhausting trying to keep up with both my former garden blog and my food blog. Someone suggested I combine both focuses into one blog, which worked for awhile, but my love of garden design took over.


So this week I finally made the decision to finish THE LUNCH BOX PROJECT (after all, it really is a project that has been successfully completed). I will continue to draw food as it relates to the garden (because my husband is a crazy vegetable gardener and I can't ignore that part of my life), but my new focus will mostly be garden design. Through all of this I am still an illustrator and that will never go away. I hope my illustration background and quirky way of looking at design will pop a breath of fresh air into our beautiful, manipulated, plant-filled outdoor spaces.


Thanks to those that have supported me through THE LUNCH BOX PROJECT and a big welcome to all my new readers that yearn for a new perspective on garden design.


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11.14.2013

ONLINE PLANT DATABASES

People often ask where I search out new plants for my designs. Besides books, I enjoy perusing online plant databases. These are great for narrowing down choices by picking key plant characteristics. For instance I can search for a 24" tall perennial that likes sun, has purple flowers, thrives in zone five, plus has an upright form. A great way to narrow down thousands of plants to two or three.  Note that none of these are inclusive, so you'll have to use a combination of sites to find a good selection of plants.

Here are some of my favorites:

Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder

Midwest Groundcovers Advanced Plant Search

Monrovia Plant Catalog 

Perennial Resource Perennial Encyclopedia

UPDATE:

Here are some additional database suggestions via those on my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ streams:

Bluestone Perennials Plant Finder

Cal Poly Tree Selection Tool

Dave's Garden PlantFiles

Fine Gardening Plant Guide

Great Plant Picks (Pacific Northwest)

Jim Melka Plant Finder

LBJ Wildflower Center Native Plant Database

Learn to Grow Plant Search

Nursery Guide (Oregon)

Online Plant Guide

Plant Lust

Rhode Island Coastal Plant Guide

Royal Horticultural Society Plant Selector

San Marcos Growers

Shoot Plant Search

UConn Plant Database

USDA Plant Finder

Waterwise Database (zones 8-11)

Waterwise Santa Barbara

The database below actually helps you ID plants.  Love it!

New England Wild Flower Society Simple ID Key

This plant database is subscription-based. It has a wealth of plant information from Australia, but has spread into other parts of the world too.

PlantFile

Do you have a favorite online plant database not included above? Happy plant hunting!


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11.10.2013

DETAILS IN THE GARDEN

A couple of months ago I visited a small, yet amazing garden in central Iowa.

I learned something that day: size doesn't matter...it's all in the details.  

That same day we also visited a landscape much larger than the one below. It was beautiful, but lacked the engagement. I saw everything at once, rather than enjoying the thrill of mystery.

Always think about the details of your garden, including furniture, ornamentation, architecture, paint, and sweet plantings.  How can you surprise your visitor rather than just giving away all your views in one sweep?

 

If you'd like to explore this landscape more, here are the last two posts I wrote on the same garden:

A Dog Friendly Garden
Texture in the Garden

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10.13.2013

KEEP IT POSITIVE IN THE GARDEN

Let me tell you a little secret about garden design. It's important to keep your livable spaces positive.

What do I mean? Often we'll lay out beds, think about their shapes meticulously, plop them in our yard, then fill them with plants...creating a negative space for our main livable area. This main area becomes leftover space, even though it should be the main focus of our garden. The main space is often the lawn (though it could be a patio or deck too). This is very similar to rooms in your house.  Each room has a strong shape with walls that reinforce it.
Try designing this way instead...

1. Identify where you would like your main lawn area.
2. Determine what shape it should be...an oval, square, circle, kidney bean, etc.
3. Keep the bed lines clean and/or in broad strokes (not a lot of small wiggles).
4. Place planting beds and plant materials to reinforce your shape (along the outer edge, not in the middle).
5. Now you have an amazing garden where you can place garden furniture, read a book, have a picnic or play a little croquet.
A couple of thoughts...though the positive garden I'm showing you above is formal, your garden does not have to be.  This process works for both formal and informal gardens.  Also, your lawn shapes do not have to be totally surrounded by plants.  You can place them sparingly to still give the idea of a lawn shape, without totally enclosing it.

In the end, I want you to remember that garden design is about creating space.  This space is formed by plants and hardscapes, but you must always remember to create the space first.



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9.20.2013

A DOG FRIENDLY GARDEN

This week I had the privilege of visiting a stunning Iowa garden. When I swung open the ornate wooden gate I was greeted by two sweet little dogs and a third held by this quaint garden's owner. As I walked through, it was such a delight finding all the doggie doo-dads...all done so beautifully.


1. Look at this fabulous set of limestone steps that lead up to a doggie door. You don't see these tiny doors much in the cold winters of Iowa, but it works for the owner well. The plant keeps visitors off the wobbly stairs, while reserving them for those with four legs.

2. Not only is this a beautifully constructed arbor for garden guests, but it also includes little stairs for small furry friends (who should also relax in comfort).

3. One sweet little pup enjoying his favorite garden bench.

4. A serpentine fountain inspired from Welsh travels. Perfect for little paws to hop over while taking a walk along the path.

5. This fence had to be designed twice.  The first row of pickets were installed, then soon after one smart pup slid right through the narrow spaces. The sleek addition of chicken wire and second row of pickets fixed that problem. How could any creature want to escape this garden?

6. Another arbor and gate leading to the back garden. This gate is intended to keep neighborhood kids out (not the dogs). All animals need some privacy.


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