Saturday, March 21, 2009

Diary December 2007 - Designing a townhouse garden

BIG NEWS!!! The newlyweds just bought a house!! My son and his lovely wife purchased a gorgeous townhouse that’s not only great inside but it has a very nice backyard as well. Bonus! There’s already a large wood deck – perfect for relaxing and summer entertaining. The yard is fully fenced but has no landscaping. What an opportunity to design a small garden!
This is a very good exercise for me because I haven’t done any designing in awhile. I used to do it as a hobby business but not for the past 6 years! I needed to check my basic design principles before starting:
1. Determine if there’s to be any Hardscaping – small stone patio? gazebo? shed?
2. Establish a focal point – bench, statue, sundial, bird-bath
3. Select evergreens/broadleaf evergreens
4. Select deciduous trees and shrubs
5. Select perennials and annuals
6. Remember proportion, scale, line and repetition
I estimate the area to be about 20’ wide and 15’ deep. Not a lot of space so I really have to be selective.
Here’s the first idea:
The main plantings would be evergreens. In one corner a blue-green pyramidal Dwarf Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus cembra ‘Nana’), in the other perhaps 3 Emerald cedars (Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald’). In between, there could be some great shrubs like Marie’s Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’),

which have large white flowers in spring on interesting horizontal branches. Some prostrate spreading evergreens in front: Moor-Dense juniper (Juniperus Sabina ‘Moor-Dense’) or Blue Rug Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’). The focal point could be a birdbath, sundial or urn surrounded by daylilies or hydrangea.

A second variation could be a mix of shrubs, perennials, grasses and a wooden bench as the focal point. A common lilac bush (Syringa vulgaris) has lovely, fragrant flowers in the spring as well as good architectural form in winter. Three dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) could be the strong evergreen background in winter with perhaps a Globe Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’) as the additional conifer. Add some Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempirvirens) and some bright raspberry pink geraniums and you’ve got a lovely picture from spring until fall.

The last variation could be a soft picture of green and white during spring and summer, exploding into riotous colour in autumn!
Serviceberries (Amelanchier canadensis) and Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) could provide the backdrop. Both have lovely white flowers in spring and summer and both turn brilliant shades of red, orange and maroon in the fall.

Punctuate the back area with one large Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) or 3 Feather Reed grasses (Calamagrostis acutiflora ’Karl Forester’) Add some ornamental kale and cabbages (annuals) along with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’) That would make a terrific summer/autumn background at the back of the yard.

Regardless of plant material, remember to include a focal point such as an urn or a statue.

Well-designed yards provide pleasure for the owners and visitors as well as undeniable re-sale value. Planning always pays off!

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