3 Gardens: What Changes Would You Make?

Three Garden Design ‘changes’, below.  Each gorgeous home/garden, snagged the attention of Muse at first glance, below.
Scroll thru, below, does your Garden Design ‘eye’ see instant changes to be made?  Never meant to bash a Garden Design, simply to make living better, or accentuate architecture with Garden Design as the tipping point.



Top pic, above, incredible quality, gate, pierced brick wall, plantings, urns.  Site urns a bit wider, their scale demands more space, once moved the gate/columns appear more generous, not so tight.

Bottom pic, above, a tightly packed neighborhood, yet the porch is mostly private.  Go team.  To add the illusion of a larger garden, stain the fence 2 tones darker than the kaki from the porch floor.  I would also espalier sasanqua next to the fence.

What did you see?  What changes did your eye want to make?

Changes mentioned were merely the basics.  Making further changes I must know the owners, and see inside their homes.  Excepting the middle pic, it would be ‘done’.  Did you notice the urns in the middle pic?  Reminds me of a recent client, her husband started pressure washing in their garden, and she caught him, and stopped him, before he removed the patina off every focal point.  Funny story now, only because everyone knows it was not funny in the moment, poor husband.

Furniture in the Garden: Choosing to Make it Recede

A trinity of furniture-in-the-garden pics, below, chosen for style, and to recede.  Beyond melding into the backdrop, these choices make each of the garden spaces feel/live larger.






Putting together your garden is not the flippancy of oh-I-like-that, it’s waking up, choosing to move forward, turning the page to a new chapter, accepting the historic layers of wiser minds, they’re there to work with you, their Muse waiting for your epiphany, it’s all for you too, sure, you’ll have myriad headwinds, you aren’t special in that, everyone does, some things will have to go materially/metaphorically, enjoy the light some bridges are best burned, warning you’ll lose some people in your life, but you’ll understand, in Truth, the deeper you go inward the more you outwardly connect to the people you’ve always needed in your life, perhaps deepest of all, if you are brave enough to truly create the garden in your heart the epiphany will arrive, you will understand, why G*d Almighty first created a garden.

Hidden Layer of Design in Plain View

In plain view all pics, below, the Garden Design affecting each photo.  A layer I’ve never read about in a Garden Design book nor heard spoken of in a Garden Design lecture, not mentioned in a garden show on TV.  I have written of it in past postings maybe 1-2 times.
Designing my previous garden I had no awareness I was creating this ‘unknown’ layer of Garden Design seen in all of the pics, below.
Living in my previous garden 30 years, beginning with bare Earth, this ‘unknown’ layer had to grow, perhaps 20 years worth.  Once arrived, I knew immediately it had been there much longer than my date of awareness.
Do you see this unspoken layer of Garden Design, below?  Do you have it in your home?
Enjoy the pics, below.  I’m a firm believer in epiphanies.  If you don’t know this layer of Garden Design I’m focusing upon, below, hopefully you will see it with your eyes/heart and be able to give it a name.








Rose Uniacke's home in London

Dovecote or Catcote

Dovecote, below, with a few adjustments I see something different.
Slightly larger, deeper, and sited at about 8′, with a chicken coop ladder.  Voila.  A perch for cats.


I can see my youngest, Laura, loving this.  She was conceived/born in my previous garden.  Her parents left by neighbors who moved away.
Until it’s made, a long while from today, it’s just another thing on the list, I get to decide if it goes onto the house, my conservatory or the coop.  Maybe by the time the carpenter is called, I’ll have convinced myself I ‘need’ 3 !


Simple is the Most Complicated

Centuries of story, below, in this French home/garden, wars, plagues, art, architecture, transportation, taxes, riches, poverty, gain, desire, love, grief, loss.  What remains?  Formality with agrarian.  The former, easily located, can you outline the agrarian parameters, and label them, below?
Two things, below, never mentioned in my measly USA horticulture degree.  If you’re a Garden Whisperer, they don’t whisper, below, they shout, in tears of joy or Wendell Berry poetry.
First, below, is the magic of Tara Turf.  Meadow with a mix of what the wind blows, choices that are planted, herbs, bulbs, etc.  Mowed at 1-4 heights creating formality, paths, guilds.  Just meadow, it has no name.  It’s literally biblical.  Earth as Provider.  Pastures & meadows, hallowed ground for pollinators, increasing crop yields by 80% with zero extra effort.  Tara Turf is unique to each site.  There should be myriad Tara Turf’s for sale.  Tara Turf Gulf Coast, Tara Turf Mid-Tennessee, Tara Turf North Georgia you get the idea.
Back to the agrarian parameters, below.  They are, expanse of meadow, feeding both pollinators & livestock.  Tallish meadow lapping the tightly controlled pruning of the topiaries?  Pure metaphor.  I adore this phase of maintaining a historic garden, rich in stories.  Tallish meadow lapping the topiaries cannot stay as a permanent feature, it would defoliate the base of the topiaries.
Second, the Poverty Cycle.  The landscape below is not a conceit designed in, it’s organically evolved.  A thread the worlds best historic gardens each has, eras of deep poverty, due to wars or disease.  Touring those gardens I learned to design using elements of the Poverty Cycle.  With zero Poverty Cycle, below, the garden would be entire shrub beds in various forms/shapes with intricate pruning, paths, bulbs, annuals, a morass of boredom, expensively maintained.


Before studying historic gardens across Europe, I thought the gardens, above, seen on TV or in books were a bore-bore-bore.  Amusing to look back at that ‘me’.  Those days were the 80’s and I certainly had every perennial and gee-gaw.  As Zorba the Greek so well said, The full catastrophe.
Where are you on the pendulum of the garden, above?  What do you see?  Do you like it?  Does the house intrigue you more than the grounds?  What is the metaphor of this garden, above, to you?  Why is this agrarian landscape better than HOA rules/restrictions subdivision?  Oops, a little book club question section.
Best part, and proof for this garden, above?  Looks good, above, and would look good at a 1959 3b/1b ranchburger.

Contrast Makes Your Garden Pop

Contrast is the basic ingredient of Garden design.  Both pics, below, use the same type of contrast.  Can you label it?
I grew up, as most Americans, without a vocabulary for gardens.  Worse, after receiving a horticulture degree, I still had no proper, historic, of the ages, vocabulary for Garden Design.  Garden Design and horticulture are 2 different professions.  Toss in Agriculture, and you have 3 professions.
That’s another rabbit hole of conversation, so, back to labeling the contrast technique used in the pics, below.
I’ve taught horticulture and Garden Design for over 20 years at a local college, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  One of my favorite teaching tools is adding proper vocabulary to Garden Design photos.  Name it to claim it.  Never more be moved by beautiful garden photos, yet unaware how to describe them in detail.
Of course there is an entire TV industry of garden shows thriving on viewers lack of knowledge.  Most often the ambush garden show, with fast before/after, are comedies of the wrong sort, dark comedy.  If you know horticulture, aka plant care/culture/habit, you know how quickly the ‘after’ garden will fail.  Discussing merit of those Garden Designs, mostly what I learned in college, incurves and outcurves, planting beds, drifts, accent plants, landscaping, all well represented.  If you want any of that stuff, don’t hire me.  I won’t do it.  Historic, of  the ages, that’s my venue.
Beyond beautiful, below, it’s historic Garden Design, and the plantings show deep knowledge of planting materials, aka horticulture.  What is the contrast, below?  The main contrast is spikey with rounded, followed with contrasting color of foliage, and contrasting foliage sizes, and contrasting layers of height.  Four more elements, huge, below.  You know horticulture well if you have already labeled the last 4 elements.
Drought tolerant plantings, below.  Deer proof plantings, below.  Disease resistant plantings, below.  Insect resistant plantings, below.  The last asset, below?  All year interest, plenty of structure left for winter interest.

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Same Garden Design conceit, above, but the plantings, aka horticulture, could be either fabulous or problematic depending upon your location/zone/elevation.  Peonies & foxglove, classic spike/round combination.
In the deep south peonies can do well, but not the lush abundance of northern climates, and a dry, hot, southern spring/summer, will invite spider mites to the foxglove, and irrigation will be needed.  Also, above, this section of the garden will be bare, empty, with so many herbaceous plantings during winter.
A lot to consider, above, about Garden Design, and personal choices of what you wish to look at in winter.  And, excellent examples of using spike/round contrast.

Good Looking Green Meatballs

This exception, below, was too many years arriving.  Good looking, year round interest, not too much maintenance.
What’s the exception?  These are green meatballs that look great, have an intellect, and finally proved me wrong about how horrible green meatballs are.
Most often green meatballs evolve in default.  Perhaps you have some now, maybe you can look at them thru this prism, below.  Poof, voila, create good green meatballs from bad.


Harbinger of Autumn

Bulbs planted in spring, come up in August, after a rain. Harbingers of change, late summer into the earliest autumn. Their stalks arise, almost entire, overnite, crowned with buds, and quickly the flowers. Delicate in looks, tough in reality, Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, have ordered from them for years. Telling stories, mystery tales. Lots of them, they are in the oddest places, erratically, and some geometric. I know I want more. First order of bulbs for my new garden, daffodils, blue grape hyacinths. Several types of each. Here’s what I know about bulb orders, when you are ordering tough, long lived bulbs. Scare yourself, a bit, order more than you should. Go over budget. You won’t regret it, unless it’s regretting not having spent more.


Footprint: Power of Color

Without the matching column, below, the house ends at the corner.  With the column’s matching brick color, the house ends at the column.
There should be a technical term, a word, describing this phenomenon.  It doesn’t have to be matching materials, merely color.  The power of color.
Using color to expand the footprint of the home, the shutters, front door, siding/trim, are all fair game choices.  Each situation dictates a more-correct choice from the trinity of choices.


Brick column, above, seems newer than the home, the brick is smoother than brick on the home.
Perfect choice for stone step, above, its color melding into the garden, and rough hewn edge adding welcome/warmth verses a saw cut edge, in this situation.

Inspiration for Front Door Color

Yes, your front door matters.  Whether you think so, or not.  Your front door can tell me who you are, or tell me you don’t care, or more likely, I care but it’s on the to-do list.
Had to smile at this front door, below.  It’s the most often color choice I make for front doors, and I don’t mean the blue.  I search interiors for a recurring color in the house, important but not boastful.  Typically, it’s found in several pieces of art on the walls.  Clients will say, “I didn’t realize I had that color in all my art.”  Of course the door color must work with exterior colors already chosen, it’s rare not to have it work.
When clients have a dark foyer, I like to put in the glass door, below.  Literally.  We buy a panel door, and have our carpenter replace the panels with glass.
Ironically, a year in our ca. 1900 American farmhouse, I’ve not painted the front door, it remains the seller’s blood red color.  Up front, total arrogance, I thought it must be painted quickly, MY color.  It’s on the list.  Oddly, the arrogance has disappeared.  The blood red is working for me, until the time arrives and its list number has been reached.


Look around your home, what color is ‘popping’ from the art?
Does it scare you a bit, and excite you too, wanting to put it on the front door?  It’s probably your color.