Many people start their gardens by going out to buy an armful of lovely plants that languish as they try to figure out where to put them. A better approach is to have a plan. I advise people to either browse sans wallet at the nursery or have a list. Some wildcards are OK – but better to know where the plant is going to live before buying it – you have a much better shot at right plant, right place. In fact, plants are almost never my starting point in a design. I look at site conditions/limitations, architecture and client needs/limitations. From that, I build the site plan which allows for pathways, destinations, seating and focal points & functional elements like stairs, walls, irrigation etc. These spaces then dictate bed location & general shape – although beds are always kept generous enough to layer plants yet reasonably accessible for maintenance. Once site planning is complete – I then begin to get detailed about the plants. This approach gives you well designed and functional spaces which are the heart of a successful garden.
Archive for August, 2010
Last week, I flew to LA to do plant layout and oversee installation of my parents new dry garden. I was in heaven buying echeveria the size of dinner plates and salvia that can’t take the winter deluge in Seattle. The hummingbirds were very pleased with our selections and were sampling before we planted. Everything came together beautifully and we had a great time.
The plant palette was not only drought tolerant, but also varied in foliage color, form and texture. Foliage colors tended toward blue, chocolate and cream with floral accents in apricot, violet and claret. Since the area is predominantly viewed from the house looking west over the water, the bed is strongly backlit by that golden late afternoon California sun. The grasses positively glow at this time. Containers were selected to echo the hardscape in color and to complement the existing fountain shape.
As for irrigation, everything will require supplemental water to become established. Then the sprinklers will be shut off near the succulents and these will be given occasional watering by hand (conveniently grouped in one area & near the hose) and the rest of the sprinklers will be able to be dialed down to minimal watering for the remainder of the planting.
A few of the plants we used that I now have a crush on:
Salvia greggii ‘Ultra Violet’ (photo courtesy of High Country Gardens) – Compact size, wonderful color and the hummingbirds went wild for it. For more information, see High Country Gardens website at – www.highcountrygardens.com/catalog/product/84799/. They are a fabulous resource for all things drought tolerant.
Thamnochortus insignis – This elegant restio added height and movement, yet was open enough to not block the view. Gorgeous. So jealous (only hardy to 20-25F).
Echeveria ’Black Prince’ (photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers) – Deep, rich color. The chocolate in the Echeveria and other plants used (Phormium ‘Jack Spratt’ & Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’) was selected to contrast the blue foliage and apricot accents in the rest of the palette. For more information on this Echeveria and other fabulous plants, see San Marcos website at www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=3388. San Marcos is a wholesale grower only.
And for the final before and after: