Aconitum is a bright blue perennial that stands up on its own for great late fall color. It is highly poisonous but otherwise has no down side. My dogs stay away from it – but it is not so good if you have a leaf-eating youngster or pet.
These features show up other times of year but seem more striking as landscapes are stripped of leaves and flowers.
Pyracantha- This picture shows one which we have espaliered correctly, so it doesn’t take over or fall off the wall.
Viburnum- You might mistake this for a butterfly bush. It lovely waxy berries make it one of my favorite viburnum, but I can’t find the cultivar! Go to this link and try to help me out!
Japanese beautyberry or callicarpa loves shade. The deer have left mine alone.
Red fall leaves are not the only feature of these cool Snake Bark Maple and Paper bark Maple. It is like bark for modern art!
When this long time friend told me he had a project for me, I never suspected it would interweave so many practical and artistic components simultaneously. He had recovered beautifully from 2 knee replacements, but he and his wife both thought it would be prudent to reconfigure the steep access to often-used side door entrance.
He suggested we cut steps into the gravel driveway to meet the grade at the bottom step of his side porch. I asked them what they thought of no stairs at all? I explained how we could build over the existing landing and stairs so there was a direct and level path to his side door. They were both thrilled at the prospect.
When we met at the stone yard, they picked a unique violet Pennsylvania fieldstone for the stonewalls, and an Old Town Cobble Autumn Blend paver. The paver has red and purple tones to blend with the brick foundation and match the fieldstone.
After any great idea and concept sketch, there is always the more important execution of the job in real space. After we ripped out the 20 year old shrubbery, we saw clearly how the bed grade was going to be 2′ lower than the walkway!
What we constructed is a space that holds 2 sunken gardens with interlocking curves for the walls and seat walls. The terrace is fan shaped and big!
There is even a step built to easily access one of the sunken gardens. The cool thing is that you look at the back of the wall as you sit at the kitchen table. It is a freestanding design with 2 sides that you see. No need to cover up the stonework with plants, right? Wherever you drive or walk around the space, close up, or from the road, the design shifts.
A Sango kaku specimen tree with bright orange seasonal color and bright red bark fills up the space in the smaller garden. Abelia, heather, ajuga , fragrant viburnum and crape myrtle are other plants in the larger size bed. The ground cover, ajuga in both gardens will do away with any need for future mulch.
Another aspect of the project included redirecting the drainage. We also power washed the front brick on the house, and cleared a long bank full of 15-year-old shrubbery along the community road. The client and our company chipped in and planted 200 daffodils on the bank, so the whole neighbor hood can enjoy bright yellow flowers in the cold March weather.
Today when my client-friend called me to discuss watering needs for the winter, his first comment was, ” Well m’dear, I have to say…Every time I walk out my door, I am tickled right up to my earlobes! ”
I couldn’t ask for a better compliment.
Cary Street Road in Windsor Farms
This was a traditional home with old azaleas and hollies in the front. This client, however, is anything but traditional, and after 30 years was ready for a change.
Together we decided to go with a conifer / oriental look and blend it with sturdy flowering shrubs of roses, abelia, and sambucus in the beds.
Three hornbeam trees mark the entrance behind a brick wall and give the space vertical structural height.
The compliments have been terrific and mostly because it is so different than the usual look for the neighborhood. One of her dear friends even said, “I envy you!” Wow!
Indian paintbrush is my favorite cutting flower. A year and a half ago Kevin and I followed all the rules for planting a wildflower mix of bi-annuals and perennials. We killed our underlying meadow lawn by staking down black plastic. After a few weeks, we raked out the dead thatch and roto-tilled the 20′ by 20’ area. We sowed about twice as much seed as the label instructed because we wanted a thick crop of color.
Last spring nothing happened. We got some spotty flowers that lasted a few weeks at most. I gave a cynical shake of my head as I drove past the ugly square of ground for 15 months, wondering why we had put so much energy into the space.
But look now! Ka -boom! This mass of flowers at the end of our country driveway greets us every time we drive by.
Foxglove- this biannual reseeds itself in large masses or in other fertile areas…like trees stumps.
The seeds dropping from the flower of the yellow Wood Poppy create bigger plants each year. Seeds are carried by the wind or birds to random parts of the yard. I love how this one is tucked into the rocks.
Columbine will cultivate easily elsewhere if you cut off the pods that stand on a single spiky stem. Break open the pod and empty the seeds on bare dirt in a part shade spot.
I love helping in gardens where the client wants to use all Nature’s elements of stone, water, wood, and plants. Our skilled workers and their diversity allow easy project shifts that can impact grading, drainage, or stonework, when the client or I change our mind!
We ripped out the rotted old deck and changed the shape to allow more seating room. Two sets of stairs were widened and one set at an angle for a dramatic effect. The sunrise motifs in the railing are like hanging pictures on the deck.
We directed water that poured off the roof away from the new terrace and planting bed. A French drain that ran underneath and far away from our dry lay captured any water that headed toward the terrace.
There was nothing but lawn here before. The stone is a Golden Sunset flagstone. The seat wall is Heather Gray thin stone. The seat capstone is a bull nosed limestone.
My son, the geologist, described the formation of the terrace’s mica schist stone. It is develops underground where warm stone bends upon itself over and over again. I will spare you any more details except to say he was pretty impressed that we were using it in a terrace. It is the most beautiful after a rain, as seen here, when the green, gold, and browns glisten.
Notice the play in the square shaped terrace edge, which creates visual movement. Also for visual movement is the mesmerizing re-circulating fountain set in a circle of stones and then in a square of stone.
The vegetable garden includes a custom made, 2 drawer potting bench and 3 vegetable boxes. Pictures of that follow next month.
Plantings go in next week. Stay tuned!
When this client offered to pay me in full before the plan was even drawn, I knew she was ready to go and a little desperate for help!
We couldn’t have had a better time of year to develop the new site, which would include 4 retaining walls, a recirculating fountain, a stone ‘sofa’ and plantings of 16 trees, 12 large shrubs, and a load of perennials.
Cleaning out the unwanted plants and regrading the steep slope came first. We next installed an extensive draining system for the huge volume of water, which ran off a golf course down their back slope. Then came moving and heeling in a number of shrubs and perennials that she had bought over the years.
We created a large garden ‘room’. The long row of hornbeams on the upper tier provides a tall, stable backdrop. Twelve evergreen Nellie Steven hollies edge the other side of the garden shield her from golfers. The garden features of the millstone fountain, stone ‘sofa”, and stone steppers are placed far enough apart so they are not competing.
Luckily the cool weather and lost of rain allowed her perennials to leaf out and her sod to take hold quickly. What a garden creation.. just in the nick of time!
Early this month my stalwart husband, Kevin joined our son Colin for an adventure hike in the Andes near Choquequirao.
Here are a few pictures, which tell just some of the adventures.
First – Heading toward the Colca canyon beyond
Second- Traversing the Apurmac River in a metal pull cart (The swinging rope bridge had washed away in last year’s flood.)
Third- A view of the switch back paths they would hike in the Choquequiero Region
Lastly- Kevin resting on day 4 , of the 5-day hike.
One of Kevin’s fondest memory was seeing a shooting star on the 2nd night of the trip and whispering the prayer, “Please God, let me get out of this canyon alive.”
My new theory on vegetable gardens is to grow what is easy and what you will use, that will not interfere with pretty parts of a landscaped and yard.
Pick these greens for your smoothie in the morning!
In my ever-continuing quest for improved health, this is what works for my family and me.
I have created converts with my 21-year-old son, who usually heads out the door in the morning with nothing in his stomach, and my husband, who knows he has to eat more greens.
I hope to influence anyone to create this green smoothie for parents in their twilight years, all the way down to the the meticulous 2 year old. Just get organic greens into their body at some point in the day and you are good for the day!
Here is the layering
… all you taste it the fruit!
Put it in the vitamix, blender, or food processor and mix well.
That is it!