Blue Heron landscape Design | Design tips
219
archive,category,category-design-tips,category-219,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-6.2.1

Design tips

08 Feb Anticipation


We need the sweet pain of anticipation to tell us we are really alive. 
Albert Camus

DSC00093_2262

Every year about this time I begin to think ahead to spring. My mind imagines those warm morning breezes with a faint a scent of earthiness that come as each day reveals new surprises in the garden. But alas, February, a brief month with short days, is long with anticipation. Snowy, cold, and devoid of vegetation, it’s beauty lies in a crisp, stark, landscape covered in snow and ice, a contrast of light and dark, of snow and structure.

It’s easy to overlook the beauty of winter in the garden, but it’s just as easy to overlook the insight winter provides. A walk in the garden in winter, reveals useful information as we look ahead to and begin planning the coming garden season. Our friend Christine Darnell touched on this nicely in a recent article she wrote for The Shoreline Times. You can read Christine’s article here, and after you do, make sure to come back and tell us what plans you have for your landscape this year, and how the winter landscape inspired you.

Yes, February is filled with the sweet pain of anticipation, as Mr. Camus states. But, remember to thank February for the gifts it brings to those of us that will venture out into the drifts and gain insight. Spring will come, but today is full of opportunity.

And on that note, I will leave you with these lyrics from Carly Simon, who gave us some very memorable thoughts on Anticipation.

I’m no prophet, I don’t know nature’s way
So I’ll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.

All the best my friends, stay warm!

Read More

27 Aug Garden Designers Roundtable: Bold in the Garden

What is bold? It’s a term that is used often, but what does it mean to be bold? Some of what Mr. Webster says about bold is; showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit, adventurous, standing out prominently. Reading through the definition, the words fearless, daring, adventurous, and prominent, stand out, words also used to describe design, both in the garden and with the arts in general. To me bold is best exemplified through garden design in elements such as; color, scale, and mass.

In an excellent example of how bold works within these elements, take a look at this backyard concert put on by a friend of mine. (As an added bonus, click here to hear the band perform “Shanty”)

The color of the sails is most certainly bold, as is their mass. That’s a large swath of color being used as a backdrop for the band. In regards scale, the sails act as a wonderful transition in size between the concert goers, and the very tall tree line behind the stage. We would have felt very small had they not been there. In all, this very bold use of color, shape, and size, set a very welcoming and pleasing ambiance for the concert. And how about after the sun went down, just stunning!

So, now let’s get back to bold in the garden. How do we use bold to do the same thing in the garden? Let’s take a look.

In this first picture, Japanese Forest Grass is planted in front of Elegans Hosta. Both the color and the massed planting make a bold splash in this shade garden.

Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' and Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ and Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ – Planting by Blue Heron Landscape Design

Here in a winter scene at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston Massachusetts, is Midwinter Fire Blood twig Dogwood. The color, mass, and scale, of the planting, works very well in relation to the size and colors of the surrounding courtyard, creating a wonderfully bold hedge.

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’

Grasses used en mass, can create a very bold look. The grouping here, although not bold in color (except for the Blood Grass in the foreground), create a bold front entrance to this house. The height and mass, work well in relation to the Flowering Pear to the right and the wood line in the background.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus', Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln', Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky', and Imperata cylindrica

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’, and Imperata cylindrica – Planting by Blue Heron Landscape Design

This next picture is from The Guilford Visitors Center in Vermont on route 91 north. I just love the massed Pinky Winky Hydrangeas that greet travelers to the Green Mountain State. A very bold welcome indeed!

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky'

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’

In Burlington Vermont, is the Church Street Marketplace. Several brick paved streets closed off to traffic, and lined with restaurants, shops, and in the evening, street performers. It’s a great place to dine on excellent food and entertain yourself on a warm summer’s eve. On one corner, planted alongside a very architecturally pleasing building, we find our next garden. Clearly influenced by the bold and romantic garden style of Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden, this planting is dripping with boldness. The mass of the plantings of Black-eyed Susan, grasses, daylilies, and sedum, under a low canopy of these under story trees, combine to lessen the size of the building, integrating into the landscape. It’s a great example of using color and mass boldly in a garden. My only issue with it though, is the use of some pretty wimpy annuals along the front of the bed. I’d rather have seen them mass a low growing perennial or grass to set the rest of the bed up. But, it’s mostly likely a different group maintaining it than those who designed it, so…

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm', Sedum x 'Autumn Joy', Miscanthus cvs., Hydrangea cvs., Hemerocallis fulva

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy’, Miscanthus cvs., Hydrangea cvs., Hemerocallis fulva

So that’s how I see Bold in the Garden. What do you think of these examples? See something different? I love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment, then follow the links below to see what my fellow Roundtable designers have to say about Bold in the Garden.

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Jenny Peterson : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin, TX

David Cristiani : It’s A Dry Heat : Albuquerque, NM 

Read More

23 Apr Garden Designers Roundtable – Transitions…

How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.

~ Elizabeth Lesser  Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

I find it inspiring how often life quotes mirror those of the garden. The cycle of life is never so apparent as in a garden, and perhaps that is why as humans, we see in the garden, a reflection of our failures and triumphs, our most brilliant blossoms and our deepest roots.

For garden Designers Roundtable this month, we are discussing “Transitions”. Merriam-Webster defines transition as; passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another, or a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another. Once again the metaphor for life that is the garden is clear.

Gardens like life, are rife with transition. The designer has many different elements between which he must draw the visitor. With a keen eye and a little imagination, a simple change of space becomes a journey, and time may pass with elegant grace.

Let’s take a look at some examples of these “Transitions”, in the form of journeys, boundaries and time.

In journey ~

2009 04 02_1085

A woodland path takes its time to lead us around points of interest.

Move between elevations can be done simply, or in grand style.

The depth of this view of the garden seems to tell us there will be interest along the way!

In boundary ~

A fence section both frames and divides this planting, seemingly holding the Miscanthus at bay.

This boundary wall is a wonderfully rural transition between the wild of the wood and the civility of the lawn.

A median is not only boundary between directions of traffic, but a welcoming transition into the world of retail.

In time ~

As the blossom of this Little Lime hydrangea transtions from lime-green to white to pink, we mark the seasons in the garden.

A Hosta leaf also marks the passage of time.

A favorite of mine, the beautiful straw foliage of this Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass will stand all winter until the new growth of next season begins to sprout completing its cycle of transition.

And…

As the morning fog burns off the valley floor, revealing the Heublein Tower, life transitions from it's sleepy start into the vibrant bustle of the day.

How do you mark transition in your garden? I love to hear about it, please leave a comment!

And please stop by and visit with my fellow Rountable bloggers today as they give their impressions of “Transition”.

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

 

Read More

25 Sep Garden Designers Roundtable – It’s okay to sweat the small stuff, details matter!

It has been my experience, that the excitement that arises in beginning a new garden or landscape project, is often overshadows the attention to the process needed to build it and overlooks the details that make it special. Today is Garden Designers Roundtable day, and we’re discussing the focus on details. Here are few things to consider before rushing through your project, and prevent the frustrating outcome, that something about this new garden just doesn’t feel right.

Connect your new space to its location. Known as Genius Loci, or sense of place, there are myriad ways of accomplishing this. Using found items is one of my favorite. Here we have placed a stone next to a set of steps leading to a deck. It stands as a welcome to visitors, but it’s not just any old stone, it was fond onsite, three feet directly below where it stands, forever tying this landscape to the ledge that lay beneath it.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

This “found stone” ties this landscape to it’s subterranean history!

Take care to make certain elements look as natural as possible. We have all seen garden ponds sitting in the middle of a yard with water falling from an unlikely mound, into a pond that is mysteriously surrounded by stones resembling a pearl necklace. Close your eyes for a moment and think of a real pond or stream, now open them. Does this manufactured pond look anything like the real thing? In this photo, our pond installer has created a very natural looking waterfall (on a slope), taking care to hide the liner giving the illusion that it has always been there.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Looking as though it has it has always been there, this stream adds a pleasing visual and soothing sound to the garden!

Choose materials and craftsmen carefully. You know the old saying, anyone can paint, but not everyone can paint well. This holds true for most trades and professions. Taking the time to investigate each contractor’s attention to detail can make the difference in a project being successful or not. Here our decking contractor has done great job with this natural cedar railing. His suggestion to use this system and his attention to detail meshed very well with the natural look of the landscape.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Expert craftsmanship complements any design!

Stay on budget by working with what your conditions. A limited budget, or restrictive (read: ugly), conditions need not ruin the feel of your new exterior space. Taking the time to research more than what your home center offers, and consulting with designers and craftsmen can lead to wonderful solutions, and beautiful elements in the design. Here, when faced with two large ugly concrete foundation walls, we went with the mason’s suggestion to cover with thin stone (real stone), that matched the wall stone used to surround the patio. The transition is seamless, and looks amazing.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Mortared on thin stone matches the walls perfectly!

Fill in the cracks. Sounds funny, but in a garden full of plants sometimes small spaces get overlooked. Usually this omission is noticed later on when weeds take root and fill in these spaces for you. Then, as you frustratingly pull these unwanted “plants”, it dawns on you that if weeds will grow here, maybe something I want will also. Bingo! This beautiful stone work by our landscape contractor on this project, left us, what we like to call, “planting opportunities”. This sedum will, in time, fill in all around the stones, suppress weeds and look great!

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Filling in all planting opportunities, gives the garden depth!

Use pleasing combinations. Once again it’s time to look deeper than the offerings at the home store, or even the local garden center. To find plants to “paint” your new garden space, take a few mini adventures. Search out specialty nurseries, visit public gardens, or attend garden tours and lectures. Opening up your options to purchase, will make it easier to identify plants that meet your style, and help you plant contrasting or complementary combinations. Here, a simple combo of ‘All Gold’ Hakonechloa and ‘Centerglow’ Nine bark, make a pleasing contrast at the base of a set of deck steps.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Contrasting or complementary plant combos, both add pleasing elements to a design!

Consider how and from where each element in the garden will be viewed. The most obvious detail in designing a space is perhaps the most often overlooked. We tend to concentrate so hard on what’s right in front of us, that sometimes we lose track of the greater picture. This tip may seem contrary to focusing on detail, but in fact is crucial to making the details work. Take a moment every now and then to step back and consider what you, and more importantly visitors to your garden, will see from several different angles. How the garden presents itself to, and more importantly how it welcomes visitors in, is extremely important. On this project, we took great care to nestle this shed into the garden, capitalizing on certain views.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

Considering every view of the garden can provide wonderful reveals!

Final, personal touches complete the design. After all is said and done, and you’ve finished constructing your new space, all you want to do is to just sit back and enjoy. Not so fast mon ami! Final touches, like the seasonal décor our client used here, are the icing on the cake, so to speak. And as the seasons change, and the garden presents itself accordingly, these personal touches make the garden all your own.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"

A client’s personal touches complete this vignette!

These are just some of the elements to consider while you build your new outdoor space. It takes time and patience, and sometimes the grand plan in your head can be overwhelming. But fear not; it’s a process that can be mastered, especially if you remember to focus on the details!

To see how my colleagues on the Roundtable focus on the details, follow the links below, and please feel free to leave me a comment on this post. I’d love to hear about the details you are focusing on.

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

 

Read More