Monday, February 27, 2012

Garden Designers' Roundtable: First Impressions

In the course of my work as a landscape professional I've logged first-time visits to hundreds and hundreds of properties.  The thing that always strikes me first about a landscape is:  Is it well maintained?  I don't care what design style it's in or how clever it is - after all, that's why I'm there.  But if the existing gardens are overrun with weeds, the shrubs are overgrown and encroaching on "tripper" walkways, and the lawn is unmown and half dead, then I'm pretty sure I'm wasting my time in presenting them with fancy new design ideas.  (Time to switch into garden coach mode!)  So regardless of the size of your house or the zip code it's located in, here is the best way to build "curb appeal" . . .

Step #1 in creating a great first impression:
Show that your property is valuable because it's worthy of your care and attention.  Maintenance first!

Notice how the terraced slopes in the next two examples eliminate hard-to-maintain grass slopes and bring colorful plantings into public view: 

by Jocelyn H Chilvers

Step #2 in creating a first impression:
Show that your house is valuable by creating a landscape structure that complements its architecture and / or eco-region.

A traditional walled courtyard enhances the Southwestern style architecture.

Elegant serpentine walls in native flagstone match the tone of the 1900 era home. Design by Ivy Street Design Group

A xeric garden of diverse plantings is an engaging lawn-free landscape.

Lush, colorful, welcoming and xeric (that's a buffalo grass lawn) - perfect for our region.

Step #3 in creating a great first impression:
Show that your house is a home by creating a landscape that expresses your personality.

Exuberantly colorful!
A colorful cottage garden complements the homeowners' aesthetic. Design by Jocelyn H Chilvers

A crisp, modern design works surprisingly well with an old bungalow.

A more rustic and earthy (yet attractive!) take on the cottage garden style.

Obviously a lover of our native prairie/foothills region!

A big, floriferous, xeric garden sets the scale for a large home. Design by Jocelyn H. Chilvers
I hope these examples have shown you that large or small, simple or complex, there are many ways create a landscape that says, "Welcome!"
For more great ideas on the topic of "First Impressions" please visit the Garden Designers' Roundtable or click through to the following: 
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA

Note:  with a few exceptions, the designers of these landscapes are unknown to me. Please let me know if I can give credit where it is due!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pattern Play #2

 As in the previous post, similar forms at regular spacings appear static until movement is introduced, creating the illusion of change.

These photos are from Berkely Lake, in Denver, which was drained several months ago (for construction improvements) exposing these old pier posts.  I'm looking forward to accessing the walking trails again soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pattern Play #1

Winter brings hardscape and architectural elements to the forefront.  I'm particularly drawn to repetitive  forms that appear to be static at first glance, but that create new combinations of light and shadow, positive and negative space, and shifting shapes as one moves through them / around them / past them.  Today's example: floating docks at Sloan's Lake.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

On the Street . . . Stapelton neighborhood, Denver

Lonicera japonica purpurea
 Today  I spotted this purple-leaf honeysuckle vine thriving - and evergreen - on a south facing house facade.  The deep purple foliage is a welcome blast of winter color. During the growing season the foliage will revert to green, as seen in this old photo from my own garden:

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Witches' Broom

witches' broom in hackberry

Bare winter branches are ideal for hunting down anomalies like witches' broom. These are deformities seen in woody plants in which a pest or disease triggers a disruption in normal cell growth. Witches' broom commonly seen in hackberrys (Celtis occidentalis) is caused by a mite, whereas witch's broom in honeysuckle (Lonicera), another common "victim," is caused by an aphid, and rust fungus can affect pines.

These abnormal growths are not damaging to the plant, merely unsightly. The best remedy, if you're bothered by the appearance, is to prune them out. But they're not always a bad thing!  Several ornamental pine cultivars, such as St. Mary's Broom (Picea pungens 'Saint Mary')  originated as witches' broom.

a smaller witches' broom in the same tree