Creating Beautiful
Whidbey Island Landscapes


that celebrate the unique history, ecology and character of our island home.

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Finished – almost

The garden now has street-side charm.  In another month, the perennials in front of the fence will start blooming.  Still to plant - Heliopsis 'Summer Sun.'

The garden now has street-side charm. In another month, the perennials in front of the fence will start blooming. Still to plant – Heliopsis ‘Summer Sun.’

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Plants in the box (from Bayview Farm and Garden Nursery) need some time and warmth to start filling in.

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The crew from Art of Soil took special care to plant all the boxwood roots at the proper depth. We will wait to trim foliage to the same height once they’ve had time to settle in and start growing new roots.

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Arborvitae hedge needs some staking just like other trees until the anchor roots get established. And the patio furniture can emerge when it stops raining!

There’s a temptation to keep tweaking to make it perfect.  But what’s really needed is the magic and time that only Mother Nature can provide.  And our patience.

 

 

 

 

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Yes! Try this at home.

Tomorrow I am speaking to the Oak Harbor Garden Club.  The topic is, “Techniques, Tips and Tricks of a Garden Designer,” and will describe the process I use to design a new garden or renovate an older garden.  The intent is to give gardeners some of my tools – some of which they might like to use themselves, some they might want to hire out.

In the process of sprucing up my slide show, I got some recent photos of a garden I worked on several years ago.  It’s so exciting and satisfying to see that the owners took the plans, installed the garden themselves and are making the garden their own.  What a great job they’ve done!  And the best part – actually outdoors spending time with friends and family in the garden.  That’s what it’s all about.

before, path of destruction

before, path of destruction

after, the party route

after, the party route

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DIY Design

My beloved plant group Twilight met last week.  Three fellow garden designers and I led the group through some techniques we use for garden renovation.  One of the techniques utilized what is called a base map – which is a measured, to- scale, bird’s eye view of a garden – sometimes called plan view. (Click on the picture below to get a better idea . .. )  It’s a labor intensive drawing – both to measure and collect all the data onsite AND to create the drawing, even though I have fabulous drawing software (Dynascape).  I was astonished at all the great ideas flying around the room and how much got accomplished by each team of two in just under an hour’s time.  And it seems that everyone had a great time.

If you are interested in doing some of your own design, I’m happy to prepare this document for you and / or to develop a list of suggested plants customized for your garden and your preferences.  There are a number of ways for me to help you DIY.  Just ask.

Plan view drawing – ready for plants!

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Don’t blame the plants

I’m allowing myself four hours of gardening every morning this beautiful fall.    This is what I accomplished this morning:

There was a hellbore in that hole, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Blue Lady’ to be exact.  I had meant to move her for the last three years, as she morphed from 1 gallon perennial to a two and half by three foot garden bully,  shading out both the pieris on the left and the podocarpus on the right, consequently ruining the shapes of both and the  symetry of my entry garden.  It took me the entire morning to take her out.

I first went in with my favorite trusty perennial spade and broke it – admittedly mis-using it like a lever trying to pop the hellebore out of the ground.   While at Ace buying a new spade, I decided to also buy some potting soil so I could repot that lady and think later about where to put her rather than walking around the garden looking for a spot.  Back at home I went back in with the garden fork.  Not even a budge.  I finally decided to use the Mr’s big shovel but had to hunt around for it first since I hardly ever use it, but that did the trick.

The root ball was huge and I decided to divide her into four pots.  I tried the hori-hori, then the two garden forks back-to-back trick and finally resorted to the axe.  As my gardening hours ticked away, I grumbled about  why anyone would want such a difficult plant anyway – one that crowded out her neighbors and refused to be moved or divided?  And then I remembered those beautiful purple flowers in March.  And her evergreen leaves, hardiness, adaptability.

What do I plan to put in the empty spot?  Nothing.  It would have looked  fine with just the pieris and podocarpus, without me cramming one more plant in.  And I’m hopeful that both plants will fill back out into lovely shapes and touch each other ever so gently.   Also that the little Amemone nemerosa “Robinsoniana’ I planted under the hellebore is still alive and will make an appearance next spring.

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