Showing posts with label Axis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Axis. Show all posts

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Binary Thinking is Not For Garden Design

Anatomy of designing a garden first for winter, below.
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Through the year, let Nature take its course or play with seasonal plantings in the urns on plinths, below.
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Perhaps lighting in the pond/pool, below, shining in a direction you wish to see wavy watery shadows in the evening.  A fountain for sound?
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Maybe flowers/candles floating in the water for a party.
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Get the point?  More than a garden, below, it's a proscenium for your life.

FAMOUS FOLK AT HOME: India Hicks and her mother Lady Pamela at the Hicks family home in Oxfordshire, England:
Pic, above, here
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Binary thinking does not lend itself to Garden Design.  
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"No truly great thinker is siloed in a small territory."  And, that is the mind, a truly great thinker, creating the garden, above.
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"Quantitative thinking is knowing the dose makes the poison."  Just enough, above, any more, and the Garden Design is poisoned.  Had a super talented assistant manager when I worked at a nursery for several years.  Alas, he always poisoned his talent, Garden Design, in the last 5 minutes.  He put in too much.  We would wait for him to leave, and take away the poison, leaving the true beauty of his work.  Never, did he get angry with us.  Instead it was always a great smile, after his initial questioning gaze.
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Binary thinking is a fixed mindset.  Garden Design is a growth mindset.  "Blame is a big part of the fixed mindset."  Garden Design receives the blame, too often, and erroneously, of "I can't afford it.".
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No time to go there at the moment.  Another day.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT
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Quotes pulled from, Creating A Growth Mindset, by Carol Dweck.
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I didn't save her quotes for Garden Design, though they fit.  Instead, been taken to my last nerve dealing with binary thinking from....  And, happy to get this lens of thinking to up my own game, when my game is stalled.  A growth mindset, for sure.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Play a Bigger Game: Focal Points

Well placed urn focal point, below, at the end of the path.  The Garden Design for the urn is playing a Bigger Game.  Do you already see?
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The more directions a focal point is a focal point from, the better the focal point.  It's playing the Bigger Game.

Peter Fudge:
Pic, above, here.
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Looking at the urns, above, from the side direction, they are placed as an asymmetrical pair leading into the covered porch.
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Very nice.  No thought of the ubiquitous pairing each side of the opening.  More, the wider asymmetrical placement creates the illusion of a wider entry into the covered porch.
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Wish I could see the entire garden, I'm sure there's more to these urns we're not seeing here.
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Adore being in gardens playing the Bigger Game.  Even better, designing a garden on paper, putting in a focal point on main axis, then immediately seeing were 2 or more axis belong with it too.  Muse has quite the humor.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Control Amongst Chaos

A scintilla of control, below, amongst the rusticities.  Perfect.
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Does the scintilla jump out at you too?

Discover the beautiful Twickenham home of Lady Wakefield – the carefully collected artworks, fascinating stories and the rich history on HOUSE by House & Garden.
Pic, above, here.
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Formally clipped boxwood, above, without ego, no fear, total matriarchs, framing perennials, climbers, flowering shrubs for their turn owning the stage.
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Take this vignette into winter, and a dusting of snow.  Oh my, those matriarchs know what they are doing.
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Gardens must be designed for winter, before the ease of late spring/early summer.
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More good design in this garden, above, but won't take that path at present.  Photographer perfectly captured the scintilla of control over chaos so brilliantly.
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Have you already figured out the percentage of control to chaos, above?  No?  Hmm.  Get to it.
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These matriarchs, above, teaching a pertinent tale.  Wild chaos can reign, in beauty, with a hint of control.
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Adore the temporality of this particular moment.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pot Cluster Double Axis

Moving backward thru these blog pages you'll discover several posts dedicated to the Pot Cluster.  Studying historic gardens across Europe for decades, this American was smitten by the Pot Cluster.  Often at a front door, often at a back door, often sprinkled somewhere in the garden.  Pot Cluster, I got the memo.
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There is a common thread with Pot Clusters, they are classic or interesting pots, with a choice array of plantings.  Occasionally the Pot Cluster is on a plinth, aka table.
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Whether studying in a historic garden attached to a modest cottage or 2nd3rd5th10th... home/castle of a monarch, there you'll find the Pot Cluster.
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What else to call it?  What would you name it?  Me?  The Pot Cluster.
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Last weekend, Cote de Texas sent me a personalized post, seemed that way anyway.  Within, she posted a double axis with a Pot Cluster, and didn't even know it.
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I adore a Garden Design class in a single photo.  Pot Cluster Garden Design class, below.  More, the home, below, is huge-historic, and the garden space, minuscule.  More than a Pot Cluster Garden Design Class you are also taking a lesson in creating a lush garden in a small amount of space.  How many layers do you see, creating a lush garden in a tiny realm?  Name those layers, describe them in winter.
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If you take a garden tour in Europe always pay extra for the tea/scones.  Most often, served inside.  A Garden Design study is nothing without seeing inside the house, discovering the axis into the garden, site lines, usage for interior, and exterior.  Flow must be entirely around a garden, and from house to garden, and garden to house.  Effortless, beautiful, seamless, no matter the necessities of hvac, water/hoses, etc....
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Enough, let's go inside.



Notice the lamp inside, above?  Same lamp, below.



Different time of day, below, and the lamp staged differently.



Prepared for a dinner party, below, sofa removed and table on axis with French doors into garden.




Interior & exterior of this home are a Garden Design class of Vanishing Threshold.
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No matter your price point, this is your Garden Design class.
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A friend I met at church lived in a welfare apartment.  She is a gardener.  98% found plants/pots/furnishings on her 2nd story balcony.  I had a blast designing her balcony with what she had, using every Garden Design layer used in the home, above.  Rearranged a few things inside too.
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That's the thing with me, I don't except the excuse, 'I don't have the money......'.  My story is backwards in postings, if you know a bit you know I did it without money.
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Excuse the vulgarity, mentioning money.  Perhaps it's because I remember well, in the 80's after college when my gardening began, and the Smith/Hawken garden catalogs arrived in the mailbox, I assumed those beautiful gardens were not for the likes of me, they were shot in gorgeous estates blah-blah how ridiculous those thoughts.  They slowed me down, and I don't want anyone else to be slowed by that, I've proven the money thing to be wrong.
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There's another thing the garden does for the house, above.  Will show it in next post.  Do you already know what it is, and in shock I've been able to refrain from putting it in this post?
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T  
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Why are there so few good gardens?  Why is it so difficult to create our own beautiful garden, at the front end?  Several layers, at the beginning.  Ignorance, we don't have the knowledge.  After beginning with ignorance we enter the phase of ineptitude.  Knowledge gained but applied incorrectly, typically using a fragment to expound the whole, with a strong bias towards understanding the map but not the territory.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Masters Class: Adding Subsidiary Focal Points to a Focal Point

Focal points in your garden must be so wonderful they are fought over at your estate sale.
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One focal point per garden room, subsidiary focal points allowed.
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Pots in your garden must be so marvelous they never have to be planted.
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Tara's Trinity of focal points, above.
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The best focal points are placed on axis seen from myriad directions, and better, if each of those axis is not visible from the others.
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Focal points must have a focal point view in their opposite direction.
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No matter the slope of your land, focal points must be level.
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You must know these focal point tips within your DNA.
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A delight, below, seeing this pot recently.  Pretty all year, even when the herbacious plantings are dormant.
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What did you think, first seeing the pot, below?  Did the plantings, and their year-round essence enter into contemplation?

garden with pinks & purples:
Pic, above, here.

Moving on. More details about siting and living with a focal point.  Contemplating a single focal point's effect upon your life, a Providential gift, using my focal point, below.
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Up front, seeing the urn & plinth, below, at a wholesale nursery, I was there buying items for a job, not to get myself a pot/plinth.  After making the purchase for the client job, in a hurry, my feet moved me over to the pot/plinth, you knew they would.  My DNA knew more than my lizard brain which kept saying, You're in a hurry, no time for this, and certainly no money.
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Wholesale pot/plinth were expensive, and wildly heavy.  Had 4 men put it into my pick-up truck.
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Into my garden, below, direct axis from the large bay window fronting my home, my previous 30 year home.



With the urn/plinth at my back, below, this is the view into that bay window.  Now you're entering the realm of Living with your focal point.  Not merely having your focal point.  Huge difference.  Huge.

TARA DILLARD: Looking into my living room from the garden, chinese snow ball, lamps on, blue + white:

Inside the bay window, below.  Living more deeply with the pot/plinth, having meals at the table, bringing my laptop to the table and working, putting together more journal pages at this table.

my bay window, drop-leaf table, chairs with cane seats, drapes, garden views, vanishing threshold, heart of pine wood floors:

With the focal point urn/plinth at my back, below, turned to a different axis view, a subsidiary focal point.  Ironically a subsidiary focal point, within a subsidiary focal point.  Go me !  Know what I am talking about here?  Hope so.  The blooms of wisteria 'Amethyst Falls' are owning the day, once finished the dovecote recovers its dominance.

TARA DILLARD: A PEAK AT MY GARDEN:

Turning to another axis, below, with the urn/plinth at my back, is another subsidiary focal point.  A planting designed to greet me as I enter/leave my driveway.

TARA DILLARD: Driveway Planting:

Another axis view, below, with the urn/plinth at my back, Laura watching me, totally acting as if I'm not there.

Laura, backdrop to my garden today.:

Another axis view, below, with the urn/plinth at my back.  This view another subsidiary focal point within a subsidiary focal point.  Who can deny the Chinese snowball is dominant?  After flowering the pair of adirondack chairs take their rightful place as subsidiary focal point.  And, destination.  When the snows of spring are this pretty, not about to walk to the chairs, harming the petals on the ground, or sit in the chairs, harming the petals in the chair.  Instead, swimming for days in the intoxicating beauty of the petals.

My front yard today.  Lawn?:
Bottom 7 pictures, shot in my garden.
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More fabulousity with this urn/plinth, above, the house is at the street with 7 neighbor's homes crowding in.  Do you see them?  Do they exist?  Not in my realm.
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This is garden design as Garden Design, capitals for the same reason as using it with Providence.
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Creating a focal point with the Garden Design 'rules' above creates Sacred space.  A moat of grace around your home, and life.
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Today, and for the past 14 months, my urn/plinth have been lying in the materials yard, on their side on a pallet, awaiting placement in our ca. 1900 American farmhouse.  Clearing invasives, renovating garden sheds, building new outbuildings, grading, drilling a well, renovations to the house, have all come ahead of starting the Garden.  Before moving I tried to tell Beloved what my Garden meant to me.  No words existed.  I have those words now, having been without my Garden for so long.  My Garden was my best Friend, unconditional love.
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Missing my Friend.
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Today, I'll do something I've only done 3-4x's.  I discovered it by accident, at present it's the most potent feel good drug I know.  I will sit in my materials yard for lunch, with accoutrements from my previous garden, about 10 pallets, Friends awaiting placement in my new Garden.  Sacred made Palpable.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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At the opposite of creating a Sacred space, I was on the phone yesterday with a client who had to remove an odd/ugly covered porch addition the previous homeowner had added.  More than ugly, more than unusable, the space felt 'evil'.  Didn't want to be in it or walk thru it to get to the back yard, or even see it.  The owner felt it, and her friend, a client who referred me, felt it too.  The 'evil' room is  now gone, a new space built, with subsidiary gifts.  All the 'evil'?  Gone !

Thursday, October 6, 2016

When Front Door & Back Door are Aligned

This morning I'm expecting a couple of pics to arrive by text.  An out-of-state client sent pics of her interior & exterior via Dropbox.
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An axis of interior views wasn't directly shot, but it seems her front door is on axis with her back door.  Of course I called her, wanting to know if it's true.  'Mostly', she said.  Good enough for me !
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Cannot wait for those pics.  Drawing focal points on axis, at back door and front door, each to be seen from along that central axis, inside, of front door to back door.  From several windows too.

Roger Vivier, Toulouse France:
Pic, above, here.

I don't know what the 'power' is behind creating a double axis of focal points off a front door and a back door, but it's palpable.

tumblr_na42334fee1rvnhllo1_1280:
Pic, above, here.
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Her land is suitable at front door & back door for creating a double axis, more, beyond the front yard is a road, and beyond the back yard is a neighbor's home.  I get to make them disappear.  In beauty, no less.  Not hide them, but, they will be gone.
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When cellulose = protein                                                       …:
Pic, above, here.
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This is so fun.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T

Friday, September 30, 2016

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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.


flore-de-brantes-french-chateau-ad-2016-habituallychic-001:
Pic, above, here.
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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.
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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.
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Best part, and proof for this garden, above?  Looks good, above, and would look good at a 1959 3b/1b ranchburger.

Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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A few more from Zorba:

  • As I watched the seagulls, I thought: "That's the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust."

  • Tell me what you do with the food you eat, and I'll tell you what you are. Some turn their food into fat and manure, some into work and good humor, and others, I'm told, intoGod.

  • Is it possible to talk by dancing? And yet I dare swear that's how the gods and devils must talk to one another.

  • How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else. And all that is required to feelthat here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.

  • You must sometimes rejoice that the dark forces of destruction are so numerous and invincible: for thus your aim to live almost without hope becomes more heroic and yoursoul acquires a more tragic greatness.

  • In religions which have lost their creative spark, the gods eventually become no more than poetic motifs or ornaments for decorating human solitude and walls.

  • Action, dear inactive master, action: there is no other salvation
    

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Garden Design Class in a Pair of Pics

Attracted to the marvelous sliding doors, below, the wood stoop and small planters had me send this fabulous home & garden to my Pinterest Changes board.  Lastly, a 3rd issue from garden to kitchen for the Changes board.  Especially a home with young'ish children and these gorgeous interior wood floors.  
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A mini Garden Design course in 2 photos.
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Do you see all 3 changes immediately?
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I'll give you a moment to look at both pics carefully.  There is an easy inexpensive solution for the stoop, and a better, not inexpensive solution for the stoop.  At the open sliding door threshold is a minor 4th issue.  See the easy fix for issue 4?
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Classic mistakes, below.  Human nature !  At the front end, before getting a Horticulture degree, then traipsing Europe for 2+ decades studying historic gardens I made the same mistakes too.  Once you know what the Garden Design mistakes are, your eye is trained to see them, correct them, easily, every time.
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Of course there may be zero mistakes, below, solutions could already be designed, just not installed.  A likely scenario if you take a tour of the interior, here.
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Look at the pair of pics, below, again.  Got your Garden Design solutions?

Custom double sliding doors


Beautiful 1920s House Tour 00004
Pics, above, here.
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Change #4, the door mats inside & outside should match.  The tight space will enlarge, flow, and become more of a 'foyer' between inside/outside instead of the current abrupt divide.  My choice would be a pair of door mats, large, similar in looks to the existing mat inside the home already.
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Change #3, transition from beautiful stone terrace to gravel to wood stoop to interior of home.  This change makes me smile, I made the same mistake as a garden designer in my 20's.  Matching stone from the terrace should be installed into the gravel transitioning to the wood stoop.  Why?  Significantly reduces amount of gravel stuck in shoes, or paws, to be tracked inside, and gouging/scratching that beautiful wood floor.
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Change #2, Dinky is Stinky, need much larger pots at those sliding doors, and wider apart, setting them left/right off the wood stoop.  Remove 2 bushes at right of wood stoop, replace their planting bed with more gravel.
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Change #1, will start with cheap/easy do it today.  Stain the wood stoop same color as sliding doors.  The house is much too elegant for this wood stoop left over from the set of F Troop.  A more expensive change to the wood stoop, replace it with a single slab of stone, custom cut the same or a bit deeper.  Wood stoop vs. stone landing.  Already the verbage is a nicer story.
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Again, seeing the interior of this home, I think the 'Change' layers I've mentioned are already on their to-do list.  Their attention to detail quite wonderful.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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Put that green extension cord under the gravel.  I know you already thought that.  A funny thing about gardening, the small victories.  Just getting the cord buried is a big deal, having the door mats match.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Classic Garden Design: For Every Price Point

They got the memo, below, siting urns on plinths.  Sitings, below, work equally well at gate keeper's cottage, head gardener's home, mid-century brick ranch burger, a new Spitzmiller & Norris.

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Pic, above, here, Stoke Edith House.

Never think elements of garden design are not for your home, counterintuitively, classic Garden Design works at every style & price point.
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Needed a huge stone plinth with ball finial at a client's project, to match existing.  Huge.  There was no budget for it.  Got it anyway, and with great age.  Built exact replica, to scale, using wire mesh meant for concrete road paving, used a glass ball from a light fixture, planted English ivy.  No one the wiser, OUR stone plinth, not stone.
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Garden Design rules work everywhere.  It works if you work it.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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It is gift & curse knowing what to do in gardens.  Driving thru any neighborhood, my 'eye' fixes everything.  No shutting it off.  Excepting rustic, farm, Nature, the beach, Stone Mountain, wide open prairie.  Already perfect.  The 'eye' is content.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Anna Wintour has Tara Turf?

Age 8, saw my 1st garden like this, below, in Augusta, GA.  The adults were content to stay inside & chat.  I did the rude child thing, and begged to go outside.  They were glad to get rid of me.  Had to be, I was more than glad to be gone from them.  Not until I saw the movie, Beetlejuice, did anything describe how I felt, going outside that house, that day, into the garden.  Another world.
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The garden was entirely green, wild, mischievously wild.  Looking ahead, left, right, the garden was telling me to go everywhere, all a fabulous mystery, yet speaking to me in a language I knew.  And, that feeling of being alone, in this adventure, perhaps explains more fully, in adulthood, studying historic landscapes across Europe for decades.  And creating the garden for myself.
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Few ask for. or understand, this type garden, up front, in USA.  I design as much of them into the ubiquitous requests, as I can.  A tiny handful, across 3 decades, have asked for the full monty.
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I was caught by this garden, below, being presumptuous.  It's owner, in the public eye for decades with an international successful career, and public persona so Cruella Deville, Meryl Streep played her in a movie.  The garden, below, takes her mask off.  Anna Wintour's garden, below.    












Pics, above, here.
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Full article from NYTimes, here.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT

Friday, July 8, 2016

Picture: Garden Design Course

Pulling the gate/columns forward, below, welcomes you from the wide world into their private world, elongates the entry, and adds a foyer to the front door.  Painting the columns same as the house adds them to the footprint of the home, enlarging the home's territory.
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Painting the columns a different color, or if they were stone, still adds good features, excepting they become part of the garden, not the house.
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Great wisdom leaving the tops of the columns empty.
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Front door & light fixtures chosen well, they make the house seem taller.
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Note the gutters, below.  Copper color, not the brick color.  Well done.
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Roof, below, is like jewelry for the house.
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Repetition of square shapes, below, highlights the fabulousity of the tall round urns at the windows.  Super contrast.
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This garden design has been done for centuries.  Have seen it on several continents, and at all price points.  Done it myself, more than once.  Looks fresh & new with each reincarnation.
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Even the front door handle was chosen with care.  Drapes vs. blinds, again, well done.

/\ /\ . D. Keeley:

Pic, above, here.
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Copy, enfilade, axis, cross-axis, color, contrast, repetition, flow, welcome, focal points, ceiling, walls, floor, simplicity, has all the right Garden Design rules checked.
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I have a weakness for Garden- Design- Course in a single picture.
Garden & Be Well,   XOT

Monday, June 20, 2016

Design: House Meets Patio

Commercial, mostly interiors shop, March, below, better at garden design than most garden centers.
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Not a lot here, excepting there is a lot.  Each layer, perfect.
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Color, flow, plants, staging, texture, contrast, plants, still life, heights, focal points, axis, seasonal, lighting, vanishing threshold, multi-functional, over-dose-theme, easy maintenance.
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At this phase, below, personally.  Have purchased a harvest table made from wood of a century old tobacco barn.  What's the phase?  Choosing chairs.  Looking at galvanized metal.  Time is a luxury, the table won't fit in my van, Beloved's trucks are at a jobsite for another few weeks.  Need 10 chairs.  Don't want all of them to match, perhaps they will.  That is the fun of the hunt.
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march-1

Pic, above, here.
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Color trinity, above, great for my zone, tail end of Piedmont swallowed by Coastal Plain, in depths of summer's miseries heat-humidity-bugs, gives the illusion of 'cool' viewed from interiors.
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Alone, this pic is a, Design: House Meets Patio, course.
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Ironically, my horticulture degree included zero about this zone.  Zero
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Notice the stone at the open door?  Very nice.

Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Go into the typical box store garden center, and be greeted by zillions of colorful greenhouse annuals, chemicals to annihilate bees-butterflies-man, finish off with fertilizers to poison groundwater, and kill earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.  With zero irony the same garden centers sell annual flowers to attract butterflies, planted in soil with systemic insecticides, all with banner marketing.  Aka, killing the same butterflies you're trying to attract.
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Made a mistake at the seed store early this month, bought a small bag of 'organic' fertilizer for our lone tomato plant.  Reading the label at home, after opening, it's N-P-K, ugh, kills earthworms/fungi.  At least the tomato is in a pot.    

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Make it Easy on Yourself: Garden Design Equation

Karen asked a great question about her backyard.  Once their old deck comes off the house, she wants to replace it with steps down to a stone terrace.
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After that, she doesn't know what to do.
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Garden Design is not voodoo, or, I-think-I'll-try-that.  It's a science thousands of years old.
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First, she needs to write a mission statement for what she wants from, and for, her backyard.  Nothing complicated, no more than 2-3 sentences.  If you aren't a mission statement type of person, describe the elements of your completed garden.
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Once seeing a pic of her space, reading her mission statement, and seeing the inside of her home, and how the window views, and doors interact with the backyard, it's time to use my Garden Design equation and draw her garden.
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Garden Design Equation?
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How could I not see an equation?  Studying historic gardens across Europe & USA for decades, there is a template to what lasts & what works.
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With my Garden Design Equation you'll never be 'stuck'.
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There is an order to designing a garden.
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Design your trees.  They are the ceiling of your garden, and will give shade in summer, sun in winter, adding more than pleasure to your garden, yearly HVAC savings.  Canopy trees, and understory trees.  At my last home, tiny garden, I 'stole' canopy trees from several neighbors, they were my view too, and designed in understory trees solely.  Many people are lucky, their trees already exist.
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Design your paths.  How will you get around your garden?  Lawns are paths.  Flagstone or gravel terraces, are paths.  Beware trying to have lawn if you are shady.  Shade wins, and groundcovers will have to suffice.  Have sunny areas and shady areas?  Nice to have paths of stone, or gravel in sunny/part sun areas, and wood chip paths/edged with tree limbs 3" diameter, in the shade.
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Focal points.  Place focal points on axis from main views of the house.  The best focal points are a focal point from several axis.  Often I have put a bench into a backyard, seen from every window at the back of the home upstairs/downstairs.  Often I've put a pair of benches into a backyard, opposite from each other, on axis with each other and window views at the back of the home.  Remember the Tara Rule for buying a focal point, "Is this focal point so wonderful it will be fought over at my estate sale?"
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Evergreen shrubs.  They are the walls of your garden, you'll want tall/medium/short.  Backdrop to focal points, and screens against the dreaded reality of eyesores, and perhaps a neighbor's view into all you do.  At this phase of designing your garden have zero concern for which evergreen shrubs.  Merely know their height, and that groupings of shrubs should contrast with each other, big leaves next to small leaves, dark green next to light green, you get the idea.  More, you want little diversity.  Simple gardens are potent gardens.
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Deciduous shrubs.  Design shrubs that go naked in winter, after you've put in evergreen shrubs.  Otherwise you will have a naked winter.  Muck better having naked sticks backed with evergreens.  Add daffodils to the base of your deciduous shrubs, once they leaf out the daffodil foliage will be going yellow, and hidden.
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Groundcovers.  Beware what you 'like'.  Choose, instead, what does the job with minimal care.  Often I've put in 'dreaded' groundcovers because they are tough & easy to take care of and my client turns their nose up until I describe how much caretaking their favored choices are or they go away entirely in winter.  Consider plant choices to be hiring choices.  Set the job requirements, and stick to them.  Be tough.  You'll enjoy your new employees, if they make life easier, make your world beautiful, make you money monthly with HVAC savings, and make property value increase with better curb appeal.
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Annuals & perennials.  If you must.  I use only self seeding annuals, and only tough low care perennials.
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Bottom line, I want to enjoy my life.  Anyone who knows my day-to-day life knows my garden is a place of filling the spiritual well, not a place to work.  A garden that needs working in more than enjoying in, 20% work to 80% pleasure should be about right, until the garden ages to maturity, and the work is 10% to 90% pleasure.  Yet, that 'work' is blessed in grace to me.  My relationship to Nature.  Living biblical metaphors.  Tending my garden is washing-the-servants-feet to my soul.  Work I'm honored to be given, and perform.  Gratitude.

Collage of Life:

Story of a beloved garden, above, here.
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With my Garden Design Equation, it's impossible to get 'stuck'.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO Tara
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Each section of the Garden Design Equation has allied narrative, hence, why this blog is so easy to write, gardens are never dull.  At the front end of learning about gardens I rebelled against 'rules'.  Using the Garden Design Equation, or perhaps you're able to copy a beautiful garden entirely, you will always create a garden that is unique, and deeply your personality.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Touch of Black

Every garden needs an exterior color trinity.  Subsidiary colors allowed.  Green-brown-white the classic for centuries.  Black, below, boldly, tossed in instead of green.  Yet the green is there, in plantings hung on the black, and in the garden.  Blue/white, below, subsidiary to the main color trinity.
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Tell me you noticed, below, the enfilade !

outdoor dining at its best:

Pic, above, here.
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Quick glance, appreciate the porch enfilade, with closer attention, garden enfilade travels much deeper.  Well done.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO Tara

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Vanishing Threshold: House & Garden

Vanishing Threshold, below.  Interior & exterior, married.  The full monty.

The Devoted Classicist:

When a client hires me for the garden, if needed & it's within my scope, I design interior spaces too.  What does that mean?  I know my scope.  Outside, my scope has no restrictions.  Inside, my scope is sourced off-the-shelf, antique shops, thrift stores.  Inside, if special order stone, textiles, furnishings, removing/adding walls, are the playing field, I have an incredible interior decorator on my team.
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Yesterday's jobsite, 60 of the most beautiful acres, streams, meadows, woodlands, gracious sloping views, in the last of the Piedmont before turning into Coastal Plain, are not a challenge in the least to Garden Design.  Thorn on the acreage?  The house.  A ca. 1980's ode the Bee Gee's named aptly, Stayin Alive.  Who wants to merely stay alive?  Thriving is the choice.
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Working with the interior decorator on this project and the homeowner has been quite a team.  There was an obvious wall removed inside, then magic, the interior decorator added a wall to an area I would have never 'seen', yet once designed, of-course-the-wall-must-be-added.  In return, I knew the front porch had to wrap the house, creating a new heart to the home.  Interior decorator never 'saw' wrapping the porch.  Indeed, we are a happy team of cheerleaders for each other.  In addition to giving/teaching each other a new 'eye'.
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Drawing, above, sums up having a home.  Vanishing threshold.  House & Garden.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Pic, above, drawn by John Tackett.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Front Door: A Course in Beautifully Scaled Details

Off the edge of perfect, below, beyond perfect.
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Have never understood the predilection for oversized lights at a front door.  Studying historic gardens across Europe for decades, diminutive lighting, compared to USA, is the memo.
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Tara Turf, below, to the foundation.  Alone, enough to instigate a nastygram from any HOA.  Here's the deal with Tara Turf, it's a rich way to live, according to Providence.  And me.
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Opulent patina, not pressure washed away, on the walls, below.



Pic, above, here.
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Who knew I would ever think a collection of little green meatballs was charming?  Indeed, these are.  Here, they are a whimsical pun.  You already thought the same thing, right?
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The pair of small spheres.  Swoon.  Their plinths, double swoon.
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Notice the climbing roses?  Not the physical plant but what they do for the design.  Taking very little space, espaliered, they give maximum lush.
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Tiny gravel, above, color of the house, drifting into most-of-a-circle tiny flagstone, again colored to the house, terrace.  With no edging between gravel/plants or gravel/flagstones.  Your already picked up on this huge detail, edging, right?
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Enfilade, above, is something we have at our ca. 1900 American farmhouse.  Ours, 80' long, with heart of pine floor, I'll have to figure out how to get the shot, we even have the trees in back, but our pond is behind the trees.
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Our house, now, has a small gravel parking court in front, we kept the previous owner's half-round of bricks at the front steps.  Unbelievable, the vernacular language is the same, this home, above, and ours.
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This front door, above, says the most important thing, "Welcome."  And, "You want to come inside, this house is interesting, the people who live here I want to know and see more, the garden, and....."
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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Beloved is a pressure washing fool.  One of these days, at present I leave the premises when he pressure washes, I will stand my ground, and instead of crime scene tape outlining a body on the ground, Beloved will pressure wash around my body on the wall of our home.  If this were our home, above, I know his pressure washer would have something 'wrong' with it each time he tries to use it.  Buy a new one?  It would have something 'wrong', always, too.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Washington Post: Richard Arentz Home & Garden

My construction team laughs at my proclivity for garden designing French doors from windows, adding retractable screen doors too.
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From the French doors, below, site a focal point on axis, add a path to the focal point, plant an allee of understory trees with flying buttresses of canopy trees, underplant with an evergreen groundcover, finish this garden room with its walls, an evergreen hedge.  Put in a cross axis just behind the evergreen hedge.
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This garden design, written, above, pictured, below, is a classic 1,000's of years old.  It sites beautifully along the sides of a home too.


Running Cedar, landscape architect Richard Arentz’s home. Winter King hawthorn allee. The ground cover is lenten rose, an evergreen perennial.:

Notice, potted plants each side of the French doors, above, become interior floral arrangements.
Choosing a rounded bowl for the orchids was no accident, nor choosing the arching/caning habit in contrast to the exterior understory trees.
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Staging this shot, they've used both house/garden as 1 proscenium.
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In addition to describing how to design this house/garden, above, the verbage is correct.  Most often, clients know what they want, have a pinterest board, yet do not have a vocabulary for what's in their pictures.
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Garden, above, is also little maintenance, and with the right plants, deer proof/drought tolerant/no chemicals/pollinator habitat.  If the house, above, is facing western sun, the allee of trees is shading the house in summer, dropping its leaves allowing the winter sun to help heat the house, lowering HVAC costs.  And, raising property value, while increasing the joy of living here.
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Pic, above, from Richard Arentz's Washington Post article, by Adrian Higgins.
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Biggest take away?  House & garden are a single proscenium.  Site the garden from inside your home.

Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Focal Point: Design Both Ends

If you are looking at a beautiful focal point (bench, urn, front door, &tc), you must be able to be at that focal point, turn, look opposite, and have a beautiful view.
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This front porch, below, intriguing on its own, owns a great view in the opposite direction.
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Detail.

An allee, below, of conifers.  Pruned into an arching view.

6 The Firs, ca. 1900, Library of Congress

From the street view, below, the same conifers retain their full exterior silhouette, with no hint of the surprise allee within.

3 The Firs, ca. 1900, Library of Congress

And, the gap in the hedge, above, is permission and invitation to enter.
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Big impact plantings, balancing scale to the house, and a welcome.  More importantly, low maintenance, drought tolerant and deer resistant.
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Ca. 1900, these pics, from Enclosure Take Refuge, who found them from,  *Photos by Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, made me smile at recreating, their garden design.  My previous garden had the exact hedge, except it was cleyera punctuated with tea olive.  They were 'plant of the week' at $1.97 from my local family owned nursery.  My hunt was for evergreen, full sun, size.
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Garden & Be Well,     XO Tara
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Adore those front steps, adore.  Though totally not to code in our era.  And the darkly stained wood.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Best Garden Design Rule for 'Eyesores'

Yesterday's surprise, below.
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We didn't know the wedding tent would have 2 sides filled with equipment.  Southern summer wedding, air conditioning happily wanted.  
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3 hay bales had been sourced for power box/satellite dish.  Those 'eyesores' no longer mattered, once a/c was set up.
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Game changer.
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Early in the day my contractor said there was no reason for me to stop by the jobsite, he could site the hay.  You know I was coming to the site.  Once there, I knew he wasn't about to let me leave, or site the hay himself.  Adore this type of horticultural humor.  180, not needing me to needing me, oh so rich.
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What you must know about eyesores in a landscape and focal points.  Easy garden design rule.  Basic.  One of the first I learned in college.
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If you have an eyesore, place a focal point nearby to draw the eye.



Every wedding guest will look at this view, above/below, walking from ceremony at the lake, to the barn.


Great serendipity, the hay bales are round, greater contrast with straight lines of tent/barn.


 More than hiding eyesore of a/c, I had the good fortune of pretending the hay bales had been left in the field, as they are across several counties at present.  Timing was good.


Seen from the barn, above, another axis for the hay bales to look 'natural'.


Contractor, above, leaving field after siting last hay bale, happily thinking, If mother of the bride is unhappy with hay placement, Tara gets-the-talkin'-to.  Better, he only had to site each bale once.
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Take away? If you have an eyesore in the garden, put a focal point nearby to draw the eye.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
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Pics taken at jobsite yesterday.  Could not get out of the field fast enough, and it wasn't because of heat/humidity.  With each step, looking down, making sure no fire ants or timber rattler !

Monday, May 11, 2015

We Want What We Say We Don't Want

Few have a language to convey what they want for/from/within their landscape.  Doctors must think the same when a patient has symptoms, and no vocabulary to describe them.  My stomach hurts.
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I want those white flowers.
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I don't want to spend a lot of money, and don't want anything high maintenance, nothing formal.
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Nothing formal.
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Perhaps the most abused request, "Nothing formal."
Followed by pictures of gardens they like, 100% with formal lines, and high maintenance filler plantings, aka expensive.

Sandhill Farm House and garden, Sussex



All of this I thought of seeing the sweet garden, above.

Every element of good garden design for the last several centuries is in this garden. (Copied, repetition, contrasting foliage textures, evergreen structure all year, movement of eye/pollinators/foot, axis, cross axis, change thru the seasons, framing the sky, framing the home, hi density/low density attracting widest variety of pollinators.)
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This garden, above, could have a lovely 'modernist' overlay by removing all perennials/flowering shrubs and replacing solely with low evergreen groundcover.  Expense goes down, fun choices arrive.  Site hardscape focal points, or a line of pots, to be planted, or not.
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Another direction to take this garden, above, take away all perennials and replace with a variety of hydrangea, mophead/oakleaf/paniculata.
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Oddly, I know I've entered a new chapter.  Instead of wanting hydrangeas, for 2 decades, groundcovers have become the delight.  Perhaps 6 large pots of hydrangeas.  Line them up in 2 rows?  Perhaps anchor an enfilade with 3 pairs?  Where would a pair of benches go?  Where to place a double axis of vintage urns/plinths?   A proscenium is born.
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Delighting in this simplicity, a fun challenge, and exercise in continual refinements.  Hodge podge lodge was fun too, the years simplified into a new game.
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When a client has full time job, kids in elementary school, pets, and no means for maintenance beyond basic mow/blow/go, and asks for this garden, above, I sell it minus the perennials, adding groundcovers & focal points.  Describing the maintenance, and skilled labor/expense, sells the simplicity.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO Tara
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Pic by © Nicola Stocken Tomkins. Countryside April 2012, here.