Garden Design Magazine-A Good Read

 

Garden Design magazine

Garden Design magazine known for its in-depth articles and awesome images has a clean and easy to read design, free of ads. Over the years, I have started and stopped my subscriptions to different gardening magazines, but I will never give up this one. I don’t review many print publications, but I felt that this one richly deserved to be recognized. Not available at the grocery check out line, it is primarily available by subscription. But if you are interested in nature, ecology, cooking, design, gardening, traveling or simply beautiful images, this would be the magazine for you. With 132 pages, there is plenty of space to cover diverse subjects that would appeal to amateur as well as professional gardeners. Most garden magazines have brief articles and I often crave more. In Garden Design, the articles can run 10 to 12 pages long to really get an in-depth look.

Hydrangea picture from Garden Design magazine by Ngoc Minh Ngo

Plant Portraits

What flower can reach 12″ across and up to 18″ long? That is Hydrangeas’ main claim to fame, according to Garden Design article ‘Old Reliable, New Tricks’. The commonly asked questions of how to prune and change hydrangea color is demystified in this informative article. These two questions are asked by many enthusiastic gardeners as there are so many different varieties and treatments for each particular kind.

 

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is beloved for good reason. Its huge white flower heads—8 to 12 inches across—grace shrubs for 2 months in summer. Zones 3-9 Photo by GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss
A costly one hundred pound bouquet of hydrangeas at a flower shop in London- photo Claire Jones

Using Garden Design magazine as a great design resource, and also for stellar articles on plants, containers, and pollinators, it is always sitting on my desk. More like an add-free soft bound book, I welcome it to my house every season for eye catching photos of gardens, design ideas, and great plant selections. Printed every three months, I am not deluged with monthly issues but instead have a seasonal reference at my fingertips.

Design

The design posts will make your mouth water with all the delicious combinations of plants and good design components. My design of a healing labyrinth made the on-line Garden Design magazine when the magazine went on a brief print hiatus a few years ago. The magazine came back stronger than before chock full of garden inspiration.

My design of a labyrinth made the on-line Garden Design, photo Claire Jones
A beautifully designed water wise courtyard located in Spain is my favorite photo in the current issue of Garden Design, photo by Claire Takacs

And the article by Janet Loughrey, ‘Spanish Lessons’, highlighted three Mediterranean landscapes that show the best of waterwise design.  I drooled over these images!

Garden Travel

Visiting different gardens is also covered and Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens is featured in the latest issue because of the fantastic new fountain show. Perfect timing, as I am visiting it this weekend.

Longwood Gardens new fountain display-photo Longwood Gardens

Another mentioned event that I would love to go to is the Swan Island Annual Dahlia Festival. Located in Oregon, strolling and ogling 40 acres of dahlias in full bloom is my idea of a good day. I’ll make it there someday.

Dahlias come in a huge array of colors and types and are one of my favorite flowers for arranging-photo Claire Jones
A container with Cafe Au Lait dahlias-photo Claire Jones

Ecology

Box Turtles were featured in an article by Doug Tallamy-photo Amy Sparwasser

A find of a box turtle is always happy but all too rare, and the article by Doug Tallamy explained why. Habitat fragmentation  is the main culprit that has placed this species on the Threatened Species list as “vulnerable”. Fulfilling the important job of seed dispersal, Tallamy gave pointers on encouraging these great little natives. Exceeding 100 years old if conditions are right, I learned how to make my property better suited to the colorful turtles.

Tools

Rain wand by Dramm-photo Claire Jones

After doing my post on Watering Like a Pro, reviewing Dramm products like ColorStorm hoses and Rain Wands, the current article about watering tools in Garden Design “elevated this perennial garden task into a real pleasure”.  Quality of your tools makes a huge difference in your garden enjoyment and reaffirmed my watering tool selection.

This laissez-faire beekeeper makes sure his bees have plenty of blooms, photo by Meg Smith

Pollinators

As a beekeeper, I appreciated the article ‘Darwin’s Beekeeper’. Letting nature take its course reflects my policy on beekeeping perfectly. And the foldout on pollinators is pretty enough to be framed. The progression from early to late bloomers is essential information and includes both tree/shrubs, and perennials. Go to my post on Pollinators for more information on what plants to select to attract a wealth of winged beasts to your property- and keep them coming back!

A great reference chart for any gardener-photo Garden Design
Burr comb on one of my bee hives-this is laissez faire beekeeping! photo Claire Jones

 

Great Gardens Across America

A woodsy garden entryway located in Whidbey Island, WA, photo by ClaireTakacs

Probably one of my favorite sections is Great Gardens Across America. Showcasing gardens anywhere in the country, the stories and material and plant selections are always interesting to me as a garden designer.

Front cover of the current issue of Garden Design

No matter what zone or coast you live in and what type of nature lover you are, you will find inspiration from this magazine.

 

Full disclosure: Garden Design magazine is not paying me for this review!

New Patio-Old House

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Old houses are so picturesque and have lots of charm inside, but outside can be a different story. I got a call for a job for an early 1800’s house that had been decorated to the nines inside but lacked the same appeal on the outside.

Stone Work

There were several obstacles-one was the imposing curved brick wall around the sun room with the steep drop down to the lower level (lower blue arrow). The other was the very small exit from the brick surround to the grassy area, only 2 1/2 feet wide (upper blue arrow).

Adding an upper patio and cutting out a new wider entrance
Adding an upper patio and cutting out a new wider entrance

The first order of business was to add a mortared blue stone patio behind the mud room (small off-set room), replacing the old brick pavers next to the house. Adding six or seven large four to five feet wide guillotined steps curving down the slope took care of the steep drop from the patio.

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We filled in the old narrow opening with new brick and removed old brick to create a wider five foot wide opening making for easier access. At the bottom of the steps, large steppers curved around the imposing brick wall.

Large steppers curve around brick wall
Large steppers curve around brick wall

A small water feature was installed on the upper patio.

Placing the base of the water feature
Placing the base of the water feature

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Right outside the mudroom door we built a small entrance patio to the larger patio. A sitting wall encircled the larger patio to give additional seating room. Lighting was installed around the patio and down the steps.

Small entrance patio
Small entrance patio
Sitting wall
Sitting wall

Plantings

The lighting was partial shade and I didn’t have to worry with deer as the house was surrounded by farm fields that interested the deer more. Between the wall and the steps, I planted Serbian Cypress, Microbiota decussata, an evergreen ground cover that stays low to the ground and is quite beautiful. It looks like juniper but has a softer texture and doesn’t have the disease problems that junipers can get.

Serbian Cypress is next to the brick wall
Serbian Cypress is next to the brick wall

 

Serbian Cypress
Serbian Cypress

On the right side of the steps, I planted pink drift roses which bloom all summer long and stay low and mound like. The gold perennial between the steps is ‘Angelina’ Sedum.

Base of the steps plantings
Base of the steps plantings

Around the base of the steps, I planted ‘Guacamole’ Hosta, ‘Patriot’ Hosta, variegated ‘Solomans Seal’, Japanese Painted Fern, and ‘Limelight’ Hydrangea for some height.

Frances Williams Hosta
Frances Williams Hosta

Down on the existing patio there was a foot wide strip of soil that needed plantings and I chose ‘Frances Williams’ Hosta for its spectacular size and leaf markings.

Japanese Painted Fern 'Ghost'
Japanese Painted Fern ‘Ghost’
A tricolor beech brightens up the border next to the house
A tricolor beech brightens up the border next to the house

Additional plantings were added around the house to spruce it up when the rear patio and plantings were completed. A tri-color Beech gives the shady side planting bed a pop of color and and vertical element.

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Kousa Dogwood in full bloom set in the lawn
Kousa Dogwood in full bloom set in the lawn

 

Best of Houzz 2015!!

If Houzz is not on your radar screen and you are decorating or landscaping, sign up and take a look. It is a great resource of ideas, kind of like the pinterest board for interior and exterior design. One of my design/build jobs scored Best of Houzz 2015 which is the pond waterfall installation at Hillside Makeover which came as a total surprise to me! The picture or the completed waterfall was shared to 368 idea books! Check out my blog post to see this incredible once in a lifetime job. The waterfall was just one part of the job. I did the whole property and have attached pics of those also.

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Hillside Makeover-Transforming an Ordinary Slope into a Waterfall Oasis

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Hillside Waterfall, 5 years later
Hillside Waterfall, 5 years later

One of my favorite design jobs landed in my lap about 5 years ago. I really didn’t know what to expect when I first visited the property – a modest home set on a busy road with a huge level back yard. There was a  small steep slope out the back door with some ancient concrete steps. Seeing this slope for the first time with a crumbling deck and  scrubby perennials dotting the hillside, I was struck with the possibilities right away. Turning a liability of a steep slope into an asset of a beautiful waterfall was right up my alley! This was a perfect solution to a problem area.

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Original slope with garage door opening out to a wooden deck and steps

For the slope immediately below the deck, I designed two terraced walls of Western Maryland fieldstone, a native stone that blends in nicely with its colors of greys and tans. Using two lower height walls are preferable to one high wall, and each one ended up being about 2 1/2 feet high and curved around following the natural contour of the hill. After removing the deck, a new stone patio with a curving front face to match the walls was built, covered with the same stone. Carefully excavating around the existing large maple tree and keeping any extra soil away from the trunk was critical to maintain the health of the existing tree during construction.

Sweet Box planted under large tree
Sweet Box planted under large tree

Changing the location of the steps from an awkward area on the left side of the original deck to an uninterrupted pathway that starts in the front yard cleaned up the traffic flow.

View of steps from top of the hill
View of steps from top of the hill

Traffic flow, or the way you move around a property, is critical for pathway layout and convenience. Perennial plantings on either side of the steps gave added interest. This area was deer browsed, so plant selection was critical. Go to http://thegardendiaries.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/deer-combat-using-deer-proof-plants-is-the-best-strategy/ to see a variety of plants that will work.

Installing a pond with liner
Installing a pond with liner

 Installed with a black butyl liner, the pond and waterfall were built of fieldstone to match the walls. River jack, a rounded rock that is good for aquatic life, covered the bottom and hid the liner. Installation of an electrical outlet close by for the filter and pump, and convenient to the lower patio completed the pond set up.

Teak bench with steppable plants
Teak bench with steppable plants

The original lower covered patio area was cracked cement and low concrete block walls. We covered everything in bluestone and Western Maryland stone to match the other walls below the upper patio. The walls became wide sitting walls, perfect for lounging on!

Lower patio area
Lower patio area
Shade container under the lower patio
Shade container under the lower patio

To complete the transformation, the white wood work and supports were painted a fresh coat and the exterior of the house was given a parge coat in a color to match the stone. The finishing touch was installing a ceiling fan for a cooling breeze on a hot day.

Overall view of pond and waterfall
Overall view of pond and waterfall

Now my client can sit comfortably on the upper or lower patio, or the conveniently placed bench and overlook the flowering plants, fish, and other wildlife that the flowers entice to the garden.

Looking down towards the pond area from the upper patio
Looking down towards the pond area from the upper patio

Butterfly Bushes, Iris, Nepeta, Salvias, Creeping Junipers, Creeping Thyme, Geranium, Caryopteris, Ferns, Variegated Boxwood, Dianthus, Chrysogonum, and Hellebores were all used to give multi-season interest as well as being unappetizing to the deer population.

 

Pond area in spring with blooming thyme and Dianthus
Pond area in spring with blooming thyme and Dianthus

I think when the Iris bloom is my favorite time to visit and take pictures.

Iris blooming in the pond
Iris blooming in the pond
'Black Gamecock' Louisiana Iris
‘Black Gamecock’ Louisiana Iris

 

Deer Combat-Using Deer Proof Plants Is the Best Strategy

Electric fence around veggie garden
Electric fence around veggie garden

 

I have done lots of plant portraits on my blog and always mention if it is “deer proof” or not.  As a designer, I am constantly updating – adding and subtracting plants from a mental list in my head that are reliably avoided by deer. I don’t want to plant a perennial or shrub for a client that disappears in a day or a week. I want something that deer won’t even consider including in their daily buffet choices.  Consolidating some of my favorites in one post was my goal, so that someone who is planning a new garden or renovating a “deer torn zone” that they call their garden, will be able to use a variety of plants other than boxwood, daffodils, and plastic!

Most people know that daffodils are immune from deer because they are poisonous
Most people know that daffodils are immune from deer because they are poisonous

Solutions for warding off the Bambi plague are legion. There are deer fences, deer sprays, deer gadgets such as water sprays, repellents, and ultrasonic solutions, which work sometimes, but deer get used to anything. Electric fences are the most effective but impractical for many people. Making the plant choices unappetizing and not on their menu, is really key to combat the deer problem, forcing them to search out greener pastures, like your neighbors!

Don't plant hostas or day lilies  in deer frequented areas
Don’t plant hostas or day lilies in deer frequented areas

Deer tend to beat the same path through properties, so be aware of this and plant really unappetizing selections along these routes, avoiding attractive favorites like hostas, daylilies, and azaleas which attract deer for miles around.

Learn Deer Dislikes

Because of fuzzy leaves, bitter taste, or strong fragrance, there are plants that deer universally will not touch. A few are obvious because of the pungency of the foliage and flowers, like lavender,  catmint, and Big Root geraniums. Brushing against these plants releases a strong pungent odor which is your clue that deer will hate it!

Favorite Deer Proof Perennials

Deer proof for me simply means rarely touched, if ever. I have seen Hellebores nibbled on once or twice, but I think deer tried it and then rejected it as inedible.

Hellebores 

Floating Hellebore blossoms
Floating Hellebore blossoms

One choice that everyone should plant who have deer browsing are Hellebores.  See more info at, What is Deer Resistant, Blooms in the Winter, and is Deer Resistant? . A tough shade loving perennial, a full stand of Hellebores will stop you in your tracks, and wow you with their beautiful blooms that can last for 4 months. A little pricey initially, these stalwart plants will repay you many times over the years for your investment.

collage of helleborus
Collage of Hellebores

Catmint

Catmint or Nepeta is a beautiful choice that I have found universally rejected by deer, but loved by cats. It is a great edger, reliably comes back every year and is drought tolerant. Blooming prolifically for weeks, a cut back in midsummer will begin a new round of fresh blooms until frost. This is an unsung hero of perennials! And don’t worry that hordes of cats will descend on you. I have found my cat visits this plant only occasionally.

 

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Cat in the catmint or nepeta

 

Lambs Ears

Fuzziness or hairy leaves is also a big indicator of a deer repellent plant. Just consider Lambs Ears, the softest wooliest leaf, almost like a cashmere blanket, and deer will spurn this totally. On the other end of the spectrum, deer regularly browse on hollies and roses, the prickliest plants in my garden. Go figure!!

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Lambs ears, Stachys byzantia ‘Helene von Stein’

Salvias

Salvias are my go-to plant for deer infested areas. Another strong fragrance plant that deer disdain, salvias are a diverse group of plants that bloom for weeks and weeks during the summer, so you could plant just salvias in your garden and get bloom all season long in a spectrum of luscious colors. Check out my post on Salvia Amistad to see great selections.

Wide variety of salvias
Wide variety of salvias

 Agastache

Agastache or Anise Hyssops are gaining in popularity because of the staying power of the blooms- about 3 months, and the attractant power for pollinators. Just stand by an Agastache in full bloom and you will notice a cloud of insects covering the blooms. Hybridizers are coming out with a new palette of colors, like yellow, oranges and reds, but I find that the old stand-by ‘Blue Fortune’, is the most reliable.

Agastache or Anise Hyssop
Agastache or Anise Hyssop

Big Root Geraniums

Geranium's autumn color
Geranium’s autumn color

Named because of the large fleshy roots that hold the foliage up, this extremely fragrant ground cover, Geranium macrorhizzum, thrives in all kind of conditions – sun, shade, wet, and dry. It is a very tough plant that blooms with nodding flowers in spring, and turns a russet color in the fall. In mild winters the foliage will remain, shrinking down a bit, but remaining for most of the winter.

Geranium 'Karmina'
Geranium ‘Karmina’

Alliums

Alliums
Alliums

In the onion family, Alliums are perennial bulbs known for their star like flowers that are quite spectacular. Easy to grow as accent plants, the seed heads are useful for dried arrangements.

Dianthus

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Dianthus, Tiny Rubies

Looking for a stellar edging perennial with evergreen blue-green foliage that is covered in bright pink flowers for weeks?  Dianthus is your plant!  Not many perennials have evergreen foliage, and dianthus is one of the best. Easy to grow and easy to split up and move around. Buy just a couple and end up with many.

 

Dianthus
Dianthus

 Iris

Variegated Iris
Variegated Iris

When I am looking for a plant to give some vertical height in a garden, that is tough and attractive even when not in bloom, I turn to the Iris family. The variegated form is a bonus, striking gold-toned foliage!

Iris
Iris

If you are on Pinterest, go to my board of deer resistant plants at http://www.pinterest.com/clairetjones/plants-deer-hate

Here are further examples of beautiful perennials that deer avoid. Take your pick for a beautiful garden!

Fountain Magic-Installing a Fountain in 15 Minutes

How to install a fountain in 15 minutes
How to install a fountain in 15 minutes

Installing a simple re-circulating fountain is a DIY project for anyone. Even with my total lack of mechanical knowledge, it became a snap to set this up.

Fountain with pump inside reservoir
Fountain with pump inside reservoir; there is a built in shelf for marginal water plants to sit

The Set Up

Creating a warm and inviting outdoor living space at the local decorator show house this spring, made it clear how easy and effective a fountain set up can work in the landscape. I bought everything at a local garden center – reservoir, pump, tubing, bamboo fountain, and water plants, and put it together in a few minutes. After I planted shrubs and perennials around it, the fountain looked grounded and like it belonged there.

The faux bamboo cascading fountain came as part of the package with the reservoir, and became a three-tiered cascading waterfall into the reservoir that created a nice relaxing water movement sound.

Fountain in landscape
Fountain in landscape

How-To

  1. Gather your materials –  reservoir, pump, tubing, water plants, extension cord
  2. Place your reservoir on a flat level area; Use a level to make sure it is perfectly level
  3. Fill with water almost to the top
  4. Place pump at the bottom of the reservoir, pulling the cord and inserting it into the notch at the rim of the reservoir
  5. Plug pump cord into outdoor extension cord and bury the cord a couple of inches under the surface of the soil so it is hidden from view (I wrapped the plug with some plastic to waterproof it)
  6. Place bamboo fountain on the inset shelf;  I raised it up slightly with a piece of flat stone
  7. Place water plants on the reservoir shelf and sit floating plants on top; I added a large glass ball to float on top to add interest
  8. Plug in and enjoy!
Set up of bamboo fountain, using a flat piece of stone to raise it up slightly
Set up of bamboo fountain, using a flat piece of stone to raise it up slightly

Maintenance

The only maintenance involved was pulling out fallen leaves occasionally, and topping off the water level once a week lost from evaporation. Cleaning is only necessary once a year. The constant running of the water will eliminate any mosquito breeding. Fish would not be happy in this environment, as there is not enough room to swim.

The cost for the fountain, plants, pump, tubing, etc. came up to about $350, which I consider very reasonable. The water cascading out of the bamboo creates a soothing water trickling sound, which makes any water feature worth its weight in gold.

Water plants in fountain water
Water plants in fountain water

Garden Vignettes – Sweet Gardening

Carefully arranged potting bench and surroundings
Carefully arranged potting bench and surroundings

On my recent trip to San Francisco for the garden bloggers “fling” when we visited Rebecca Sweet’s beautiful garden, what struck me about her design strategy was “garden vignettes”, “design spotlights”, and “skinny spaces”. Rebecca Sweet is an innovative garden designer who lives in northern California and wrote “Garden Up-Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces”.  And she certainly uses every vertical space available!

What makes a garden personal and a reflection of you? Think of decorating your interior space when you put personal collectibles or mementoes from travels on your end tables or shelves. You create little vignettes of items that go together to make a statement and express what you enjoy.

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Well, that is what drew me to Rebecca Sweet’s garden in San Francisco. She had a small to medium garden, but every time you went around a corner or entered a new space, you stopped to look at the small collection of objects that she had arranged to express a feeling, experience, or set the stage. So, even though the square footage wasn’t large, the good use of space, both horizontal and vertical enhanced the garden space and it took a long time to take everything in.

I loved this salvaged mantle with "flames" of sanseveria
I loved this salvaged mantle with “flames” of sanseveria

The visit inspired me to visit my local salvage yard to pursue some “finds” to enhance my outdoor space.

A collection of plant stands and containers
A collection of plant stands and containers
A skinny space artfully done
A skinny space artfully done
The back of Rebecca Sweet's shed is covered with artifacts
The back of Rebecca Sweet’s shed is covered with artifacts

Some people would call it clutter, but each piece looked like it was carefully selected and displayed. Call it a museum of garden “stuff”, in a painterly style.

Sitting area
There were plenty of places to sit to enjoy the garden

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Sea shell vignette
Sea shell vignette

Clustering and collections were used throughout the garden just like you would decorate your house.

Designing vertical space
Designing vertical space

A heavy use of succulents and agaves was very noticeable, but we are in California where these things thrive! I call this kind of design California Fusion, with a layered and lush approach to design.

Sempervirens everywhere
Sempervirens everywhere
Another vertical element was the use of cattle fence as an arbor, a low cost solution to growing vines in a small space
Another vertical element was the use of cattle fence as an arbor, a low cost solution to growing vines in a small space

No space was left untouched.  Even behind the shed, the trash recycling area, and the kids play area, usually neglected areas, was thoughtfully designed.

Collections of found objects
Collections of found objects
Under the play set was an entire miniature world!
Under the play set was an entire miniature world!
Everything had a place, even the recycling
Everything had a place, even the recycling
The outdoor kitchen area which seems to be a requirement for California living
The outdoor kitchen area which seems to be a requirement for California living

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Rebecca Sweet was a very gracious hostess as well as her dog who was a rescue “Borgi”, a cross between a Border Collie and Corgi.

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