Monday, January 23, 2012

Garden Designers' Round Table: Reality Check!

I've had Georgia on my mind . . .
. . . Georgia O'Keefe, that is!  Georgia O'Keefe was an important American Modernist who created lush, colorful paintings of flowers, landscapes, and found objects. Her large canvases are often an ode to just one small detail of the subject matter - which is fine for a piece of art - but doesn't work at all in the garden.  The reality is that a successful landscape is the sum of its parts.  It's easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement of creating a new landscape or garden - the colors! the textures! the fragrance! - and get distracted by these "shiny things" without enough thought or planning given to the big picture. A successful landscape depends on a logical series of steps that are important in and of themselves, and that build upon one another to create a cohesive whole.  How does one achieve that perfect whole, that successful landscape that complements your lifestyle and expresses your personal aesthetic?  The reality is that gardens take time and money.  

Spend the time and money necessary to create a comprehensive plan for your landscape:
  • Know your budget - what are you willing and able to spend now and in the future?
  • Know your site - what are the opportunities and challenges presented?
  • Know your lifestyle - how will you use your outdoor space?
  • Know your capabilities - what are you willing and able to physically do - or pay others to do - to implement and maintain your landscape?
  • Pay for the professional services necessary to make your dream an action oriented goal.  A plat survey, landscape design, soil or water testing, etc.

Spend the time and money necessary to implement the design for your landscape:
  • Know the correct sequence of events that is necessary to build a solid and sustainable project. Don't omit or leap-frog around them.
  • Know that proper preparation - often unseen in the finished project - is essential to the finished outcome.
  • Pay for the best quality materials that you can afford.
  • Pay for the best professional craftsmanship that you can afford.

Spend the time and money necessary to maintain your landscape:
  • Know that your plantings will take time to mature and to reach their full potential.
  • Know that your hardscape will weather and deteriorate with time.
  • Pay to keep your plants vigorous and healthy. 
  • Pay to keep your hardscape beautiful, safe and functional.

The reality is that gardens take time and money and attention to detail.  Thanks for the reminder, Georgia!

Join my fellow members of the Garden Designers' Roundtable for more discussions and insights on today's topic: Reality Check!

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : Easy Bay, CA
Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

Monday, January 16, 2012

Foliage Follow-Up 1.16.2012

Perfect timing for Foliage Follow-Up this month as I've been astounded to see the lovely lush greens of . . .

. . . string algae!  Although the water temperature is so cold that the koi are in hibernation mode, the algae is thriving. Did you know that giant sea kelp is also a form of multicellular algae? 

 Unicellular algae is what creates the "pea soup" conditions that our pond commonly suffers through in the spring.

Lots of winter sunshine here allows the algae to photosynthesize and grow, grow, grow!

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up each month! Read more here.

Monday, January 09, 2012

More from Sloan's Lake

The new jetty project at Denver's Sloan's Lake Park includes an observation/picnic area at the end of the promenade. I like the shade structures that were selected for this small space:

The scale is appropriate to the size of the area

The sail-like material and shape of the canopy is appropriate to the setting

The form of the support structures echo the branching of nearby trees and the wings of the ubiquitous Canada geese.

I predict that this new space will become a very popular asset for the park and its visitors!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Shocking! Or at least a bit disappointing...

A few weeks ago I wrote about American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, here and noted that it isn't a particularly good tree choice for this region.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that London Plane TreePlatanus  x acerifolia (a cross between P. occidentalis and P. orientalis) has been planted en masse at the newly constructed Sloan's Lake jetty.  According to "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs", this is the most widely planted shade tree in cities worldwide. However, in his earlier (1977 edition) "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" he opines that the landscape value is "limited" and that he would "hesitate to recommend this tree for anything."  My guess? This planting was designed by a landscape architect with little horticultural knowledge or understanding of the climate/growing conditions of the Denver area. But, hey, if they survive this could become a beautiful, shady promenade. 
multi-colored, peeling bark, characteristic of Platanus, is evident even on these young trees
 double fruit was key to the identification of this tree (the fruit of P. occidentalis is single)
 I'll keep my fingers crossed!