Art in the Garden is certainly not a new idea. It provides a practical purpose as a place for the eye to rest or be drawn to. It can be artsy, a container, a sculpture, a spiritual figure, an arbor, water feature or any type of vessel. It provides structural definition and architecture to the garden. It creates geometry.
This can also be accomplished with clipped shapes or allee’s which emphasize the geometry of your garden. In these instances maybe boxwoods or trees create the geometry and symmetry.
Merge your art into your planting beds. Your plants should be the frosting on the cake!
I spent today pruning shrubs, cleaning up leaves, removing the thick layer of mulch I put down around my roses and tender perennials. Finally I think we may have turned the corner and I took off the burlap coats that I bundled some of my newly transplanted roses and hydrangeas in last fall. I think the Boxwood that I have now transplanted 3 times made it thru as did my new Oakleaf Hydrangeas.
Use garden supports to create winter interest and structure.
Always when planning your garden start with the structure of the property! In reality 20% – 50% of your garden should be evergreen and shrubs. Remember we talked a few weeks ago about planting for winter interest. We need to think of our gardens as a year round canvas. A low maintenance garden might include 40% evergreens, 35% deciduous shrubs and 25% perennials, ground covers and bulbs. Try planting in masses of 9 -50 for broad sweeps of color, texture and pattern.
The goal is to create layers of interest throughout the year. Vertical elements will frame the garden views. Pay attention to the view from your windows. Where do you most often see your garden from inside. Create focal points around these axis points when creating major elements of your landscape, patios and walls.
Pay attention to the traffic flow throughout the garden. Of course, you must remember sun and shade and check your Zone when selecting plants. Create different rooms in your garden so there is always something just around the corner and consider a separation of public and private space. There should be a reason to continue to meander through. Collect pictures that speak to you style, feelings and the light in your space. Dream as big as possible then evaluate your site. If you have an amazing view try to frame it, almost like a photograph!
If you are starting from scratch, I recommend a qualified garden designer. Like any renovation the job is always bigger than we anticipate and a knowledgeable professional can guide you thru the pitfalls. Remember that plants take time to mature. I usually tell people it takes 3 years for perennials to start to reach their full potential. If a plant is really struggling maybe try it in a different spot. Is it getting the correct amount of light and water.
Remember that every property has its assets and limitations created by sun and shade, soil and water. There are always plants that will thrive in each condition. Match the plants to the site and include ornamentals. Instead of all your containers being on the porch move them out into the flower garden where you can add some height and dimension. Plants requiring special needs can find a home here. Don’t forget to mix vegetables into your flower beds. No one says vegetables all need to be in a separate bed! I mix my herbs, especially sage, oregano, rosemary and chives into my beds. Last year I experimented with Kale and loved it! The dark green leaves were an awesome contrast to the surrounding plants and help hide some struggling shrubs that I transplanted, yet again!
Pay attention to the labels. We are all guilty of going to the garden center and falling in love with this and that only to realize we have brought home something that will not work in our landscape. Full sun means sun for the greater part of the day, typically 6 hours or more. Daylilies for example. Shade can be a little challenging. We see full shade, part shade, dappled shade, light shade, so confusing right! Full shade really means full shade for the entire day. Plants that need full shade often get scorched when sunlight fades them out. When considering part shade morning sun is always preferable as it is not as strong. Avoid afternoon sun when possible. Light shade means 2-3 hours of shade during the hottest part of the day. There are literally many, many plants for any given situation. Just like with painting, preparation is key. If you take the time to properly prepare your garden beds you will find success.
Try to get out and visit public gardens to see what combinations they have on display. Note how the plant is growing. Is it in shade, sun, water, very moist conditions. Remember that foliage is truly important as no perennials or shrub blooms all year. Plan your garden with a succession of bloom by selecting plants that bloom at different times of the season and then sit back and enjoy the show!
Public Gardens: NYBG, Fairchild Tropical Botanical, Miami, Morikami Museum and Garden, DelRay Beach, FL, Brooklyn Botanic, Chanticleer, Wayne, PA, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
Public Gardens in Europe: Villa Melzi, Bellagio, Boboli Gardens, Florence, Giardino Bardini, Florence, Queenstown Public Garden, NZ