Thursday, October 29, 2009

How does your garden grow??

I haven't posted much about my work outside of my own garden on here. I've been taking some pics of various clients' projects this year and maybe I'll start doing some of that on here over the winter.

This project is in Rehoboth, MA and the clients own a bed and breakfast. I had met them at the Rhode Island Flower Show. They had taken a tree down before they met me and decided they needed to spruce (hah, pun not intended) up the area since it was the first thing you saw as you pulled in the driveway. It was interesting because there was an old foundation of an ancient greenhouse next to the parking lot we had to work around and incorporate into the design. Here's the before -


After working together and developing a landscape plan, the clients planted this area during this spring of 2009. They couldn't have lucked out more with the rain and they said they barely had to water at all! Here are some photos of the garden in June of this year...I think a month or so after the clients had installed it themselves. They even had their garden on the Rehoboth Garden Club Tour! I swung by that day and took these photos.

Later this past summer, their daughter had her wedding on the property so they had filled the holes with annuals and pots. I had popped over this past late September to check in and meet with the garden club about a lecture I was going to give to them.

So you've been able to see how one of my gardens progressed over the course of a season. Granted we had stupid amounts of rain which pushed a lot of growth from perennials this year. But you can also see how I leave space between the plants in order for them to grow (unlike some architects and designers who design for now and not 5 years from now.) I've seen perennials in my designs come into their own around 3 year and shrubs by year 5. The clients installed about 2/3rds of the entire design this year and they have some more to plant around the large pine towards the house and around the outer foundation wall where the walkway stops in the turf. They are excited about what happened in their landscape this year and even more excited to finish it next year!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Late season visit to The Farmer's Daughter

If you know me, you know that I yell from the mountain tops my love for The Farmer's Daughter in South County, Rhode Island. I dare say they are the best (hands down) garden center in the state in my book. Rhode Island Monthly has awarded them that award themselves. I love their creativity with displays, the quality of their plant stock and the variety of plant stock. Oh, this garden center is delightful.

A huge urn full of foliage plants...please note there are no flowers blooming in this pot, and it is still dynamic! They used cabbages, kales, and potato vine. This thing was about as tall as I am.

I love how they used the succulents in this shallow container. So cool! Most of these aren't hardy for a New England winter, but they can be brought inside near a very bright window.

I was down there about a week ago picking up some fall annuals for a garden club lecture I was doing on autumnal interest in the landscape.

Here is the basic fake layout of the container I was going to make for them. I had that upright brown colored plant (which I can't find the tag for and the name is totally escaping me at the moment), Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights', Artemisia absinthium (this is a perennial), Ornamental hot peppers, yellow and green variegated culinary sage, and last but not least - purple asters. I have a personal boycott on mums for fall annuals because I find them insanely overused and therefore, boring.

Their perennials and trees are packing up for the season, but they still had some killer displays. What struck me about the displays I saw was they were loaded with edible plants. The shift in gardening, especially in this recession, has been to people growing their own food. A lot of people will express their desire to grow their own food but have limited space in their yards for both ornamental plantings and functional vegetable, fruit, or herb gardens. I have always thought, why not have both. Both can be stunning if planned correctly.

These photos below are primarily edible leaf veggies, culinary herbs like sage and thyme and some flowering annuals. But it is fantastic nonetheless.

This photo below is near the tool shed and they used mums, big edible cabbages, rosemary, and parsely...and it was beautful! My iphone didn't really catch the wow factor of this bed as it comes across in real life.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Close encounters of the tortured nature kind.

Several weeks ago, I had mentioned that I had a photo of "professional landscaping" which I felt I had to share with my readers. I couldn't find it on my laptop and I was bummed I couldn't discuss the techniques used at this one particular site. Well, I just located it on my external hard drive...bring on the snark!


DEAR GOD!!! I don't even know where to start but I will preface my comments with how I came across this sight. I had pulled into a local McDonalds' drive thru one morning this early summer for a much needed extra large coffee. After fidgeting with the radio a little bit, I turned and saw this to the left of me. It begged me to snap a photo and try to help spread the word of please don't do this to plants.

Maybe I'll start with the horrible orange mulch...something I like to call Gas Station Mulch. There is n
o wood that is naturally that color...anywhere. You know how they get it that color? Orange dye. That's not "cedar" as so many people are lead to believe. I am pleased to see that the popularity of day-glo orange mulch is waning and the major culprits are low grade landscapers and people over the age of 95. When I was doing the retail scene over 10 years ago, it seemed like the older crowd seemed to love that orange mulch. Thank god most of my clients like the more natural colored mulches like dark brown and black which are much more useful for setting off the plants nicely. Day-glo orange mulch doesn't even set off that red wall or those poor, suffering gold thread cypress. **shudder**

That's as good of a segway as any to discuss the pruning. Those cypress in that photo are about 2 feet by 2 feet in a neat, little hockey puck. I can't even call them "muffins" like I like to refer to massive sheared green foundation plants. For my readers who are not familiar with what gold thread cypress looks like in the wild, here you go -

Depending on the variety, these guys can get get anywhere from 4' tall to 10' tall. They aren't meant to stay 2' by 2' in a weird puck shape. It's completely obvious that whoever pruned them didn't give two darns about the natural drooping habit. If they did, they wouldn't shape them into mini-ufo's. It completely boggles my mind why landscape "professionals" think it is perfectly okay to do this to plants. Do they not care, do they not know, or is it a mix of both? One thing I probably can bet that whoever did this were the cheapest company who bid on this job.

Talk about a perfect example of "you get what you pay for."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back to old stomping grounds

I've been a little quiet on there these past two weeks because I did a little traveling the last weekend of September. My trip took me and Lars back to the home land of the Finger Lakes region for a dog show where we were showing in Rally Obedience. Of course I couldn't head out there without going back to where the whole Garden Consultant journey of mine started....

Lars hangin' with Ezra on Cornell's art quad.

Cornell's Plant Science building - the real birth place of The Garden Consultant and my second home from 1991 - 1995.

Outside of the Plant Science building is a display garden called the Minns Garden. It was originally planted by Lua Minns, the first professor of herbaceous plant material and it was named for her after she passed away. When I was there, we had a lot of labs for the ornamental horticulture ID classes in the Minns Gardens. I can't believe how much it has changed over the past 14 years. I discovered the Gardens actually have a blog that you can read and follow what's going on in the gardens - I so bookmarked this one!

This arbor definitely is something new since the last time I was on campus in 2003. I think it is sooooooo cool! Below is the gate on the west side of the garden that opens up to the ag quad.

They have really gone more into the more funky annuals (like that fantastic banana tree in the photo above) and woody plants since I was here. Back in the nineties, it was only perennials, some annuals and a big bulb display in the spring of tulips and daffs. When I was hanging out in the gardens as a student, the selection of plants was still pretty limited when compared to what is available today. The gardens were pretty back when I was in school, but what they are today completely blows away the gardens I remember. I'll have to see if I can locate some of the photos I have of the gardens from the nineties and scan them for you all.

The boy wonder in the garden how I think he should enjoy them...

And this is Lars' idea of how he should enjoy the gardens...with a very vigorous back scratch in their grass. LOL

On to the show results from our weekend - Lars was a working machine both days. Saturday he showed very well for an outdoor show (it was our second one ever) and earned a 96 out of 100, a second place, and a new rally advanced title. Then Sunday, the weather was wicked...cold, windy and rainy. We had never worked in the rain before....ever. But, Lars rose to the occasion and earned a 100 and a first place in rally advanced for an extra qualifying score. He worked like a dream for me and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Lars strutting in the driving rain to the tune of a 100. I knew he was going to be a superstar in the making. This is just the beginning too... :)