Learning From The Masters….of Landscape Design

Bloom n gardens garden inspirationMuch the same way an Artist must study the Masters to hone their art; a Garden Designer must do the same.  As it is spring, I have had two such opportunities to view the work of others.

Last year, I purchased a season pass at the Biltmore Estates.  Although the house is quite lovely, it is the gardens that draw me back season after season.  The gardens were originally designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead whose most notable garden, Central Park, lies in the center of New York City.  [Read more…]

How to use a color wheel

Flower Color WheelFrom the most experienced plantsman to the rankest amateur, the one thing everyone wants in their outdoor space is COLOR!  But how do you effectively use color in your garden?  First, remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to color in the garden.  Color choices are a matter of personal taste.  For some, a riot of color is just the ticket.  Others prefer to work with a single hue.

 

A basic understanding of color theory can help your figure out combinations that work for you, allowing you to combine blooms, foliage and other elements in ways that you will find pleasing.  Let’s start with a simple color wheel which is essentially the colors of the rainbow arranged around a circle.  Note that on one side of the wheel are what we call warm colors — yellows, oranges and reds. On the other side of the wheel are the cool colors — greens, blues and purples. [Read more…]

No “Bones” About It

Belgard paversThere is a very common old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Which we all take to mean it’s what a person has on the inside that counts not the overall outward appearance.  What makes each of us unique is the combination of flesh, bones, and soul that all combines to make us who we are, Individuals.   This same concept can be translated to your homes landscape, as well. I know it might seem like a stretch, but hear me out on this.  Of course, when we first look at a landscape, we hope to see pretty plants, clean beds, and freshly laid straw, these items are known as the “Softscape”. This outward appearance can be fussy, or as low maintenance as you like.  The important thing in making a good first impression is clean and neat, but all the fluff is what takes a landscape from good to great. Think about your morning routine, does it take a little or a lot of effort to create your unique look.  Do you make a good first impression? Let’s hope so. [Read more…]

Focus on “Special Effects” for Your Garden.

Bloom n gardens fat lambNow that March has come in like a lamb, the most exciting (and frustrating) time of the year begins for garden folks.  Every day it seems that something is exploding into bloom, tempting us to put out the summer annuals and tomatoes that are starting to show up in garden centers.  Even though it doesn’t seem possible sometimes, there is always the danger of frost.  So what’s a gardener to do?  Channel that spring energy into inspirations for landscape “special effects”.  Is there a cherry tree right outside your window?  Make it pop by planting some dark evergreens behind.  Are your hellebores blooming beautifully?  Encourage visitors to discover them by adding one of the many fragrant early spring flowering plants nearby.  Looking for ways to accent your garden is also a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather!

LISTEN! to what your garden has to say

Bloom n gardens sound in the gardenDaffodils and cherries are starting to bloom, peepers are singing, and soon lightning bugs will be floating on the breeze.  The warm rays of the sun, the colors and scents of flowers, and the taste of fresh berries readily come to mind when we think of gardens in spring and summer, but what about sound?  When it comes to the landscape, the sense of hearing is usually ignored, unless, of course, there is noise to buffer.  But what about using sound to enhance your outdoor space, instead of just block out the drone of traffic? [Read more…]

Location, Location, Location……….

Perennial Bed_FotorBelieve it or not, we will be changing pansies for petunias very soon!  Annual color is a great accent, but the twice a year change-out can get old.  Perennials can be a great solution, but they can be higher maintenance.  Now, I know you are scratching your head, saying “But perennials are LOW maintenance!”  And you would be right.  Most commonly available perennials are tough, drought tolerant, long blooming, and don’t require a lot of fuss to thrive.  BUT in the wrong spot, perennials might require a lot of care.  How is this possible?  Well, you have to understand the qualities of perennials vs annuals. 

Annual/Perennial…What’s the DIfference

Annual plants put most of their energy into blooms.  They have to set as much seed as possible all through the season so that the species can continue.  Annual varieties are bred for more abundant and more rapid bloom cycles than they would have if left to the hand of Mother Nature, and cultivars that have larger flowers and that easily shed old blooms make a constant show of uniform color.  Perennials, on the other hand, have to live through multiple seasons.  They have to put some of the energy they “earn” from the sun into a “savings account” to get them through the winter, which means that their bloom cycles are more distinct.  Regardless of how healthy or well located the plant, there WILL be times when perennials look messy or tired.  Which brings us to maintenance.

How to Use Perennials Effectively

In general, for an area that is seen up close all the time, perennials need to be frequently groomed to keep them looking their best.  Otherwise, they are less “lush English garden” and more “weed patch”.  (By the way, those lush English gardens usually had a full time staff!)  BUT, if you need color on the far side of a wide lawn, or somewhere that will be typically seen from a moving car, you can use the “plant and forget” method.  Garden phlox and coreopsis are ideal for this type of situation.   Like real estate values, perennial maintenance requirements are about 3 things: location, location, location!

Every (Snow) Cloud Has a Silver Lining…..

bloomngardenslandscape snow framingThe Great Snowtastrophe certainly caused a lot of headaches and woe, but believe it or not, all that white stuff can be a boon to the landscape.  Besides insulating from extreme temperatures and soaking moisture into the soil to prep for spring, it is a great design tool! What the heck does a snowfall have to do with landscape design, you ask?  Well, it covers up potentially distracting details and creates a perfect opportunity to look at the big picture in your outdoor space. 

A white blanket of snow allows you to clearly see the lines of the landscape, areas of dramatically different texture, and masses of trees and shrubbery that frame views.  Next snowfall (IN FIVE YEARS!!!!!), suit yourself up till you can’t lower your arms, put on your cleats, go out into your yard and look around. 

Look at areas you see every day, paying special attention to entrances and exits.  Without traffic, you can safely walk in the road and see what visitors see as they arrive at your house!  Look for the landscape lines.  What do they point to?  Look for masses of vegetation at the edges of open areas.  What’s the picture in that frame?  If there is not anything to interest or excite you, go inside, make yourself some cocoa, and get settled in with books, magazines, or the good old internet! 

 Now how’s that for a silver lining to the snow clouds?

An English Garden Oasis

The English garden has been a staple of home decorating and style magazines for years. Something about the sprawling trees, idyllic wildflowers, and perfectly placed garden ornaments reminds us to let go of our carefully manicured everything and let nature take its course. The perfect blend of unkempt and tended, the English garden is the perfect landscaping style for recovering perfectionists, free spirit gardeners, and anyone who loves a splash of color.

The Rise of the English Garden

We may all dream of creating a “secret garden” of overgrown flowers and artfully crooked cobblestones, but the English garden (or simply “landscape garden” in the United Kingdom) wasn’t an accepted gardening style until the 19th century. Landscapers developed this freeform gardening method to balance the clean symmetry and intensive details of the 18th century French style garden. It’s no surprise that English style gardens gained quick popularity, both in Europe and across the pond in America. English gardens strongly influenced the development of public parks and estate landscapes.

Characteristics of an English Garden

Parks and estate grounds offer expansive examples of English gardens. Ponds, grassy knolls, and artfully aged rotundas serve as a backdrop to bright, barely tamed flowers and shrubs. Smaller homes display stone statues, architectural touches on benches and pavilions, and seemingly forgotten florals that add a touch of whimsy to the landscape.

Creating an Idyllic Oasis

garden urnIncorporating touches of English-style gardens to your landscape adds a pastoral atmosphere to your backyard. Plant flowering shrubs and thick bushes along fences and pathways. Place classic garden ornaments like birdbaths, Hellenistic statues, and stone sundials. Plant-life grows into wooden elements like woven trellises, creating a sense of structure while maintaining the careful disarray of the style. When pruning trees and shrubs in an English garden, avoid creating crisp, groomed shapes. Meld the English style with Southern attention to detail by balancing wild blooms with manicured grass.

Call Bloom’n Gardens Landscapes for expert advice on choosing a garden style that suits your Vinings home.

Mark the Years With Changes to Your Landscape

From Drab to Fab

From Drab to Fab

As this month comes to a close, we realize soon January 2014 will be a thing of the past. WOW where did the time go; seems to have flown right out the window. No matter, I always thought that January was a funny month anyway. Why, Oh I don’t know, somehow it makes us reflect on what went right and what went wrong in the past and in the end it makes us want to institute changes in our lives (are we really ready?). As we move on from year to year, many things happen, first and foremost we get older, tiny lines and wrinkles begin to appear, we might get a little thicker around the waist, a grey hair becomes two, three….. Many of these things we would like to forget or at least ignore but in the end it really does no good they keep happening.

What is your landscapes current state?

It is important to remember that our landscapes change as well. Changing with the season is nothing new, but I am talking about BIG change. Areas that were once very sunny are now shading as trees get bigger. The opposite can happen if a large tree needs to be removed due to disease. Plants that may have once looked great may have outgrown their space. Grass that was once green and lush may now look thin and bare. Good news, many of these problems are easily solved with a little redirection and redesign. The solution may be a simple fix like changing out some shrubs or now might be the time to install a patio that has been on the “to do” list for quite some time eliminating a problem area all together. Either way can really invigorate a tired landscape.

Freshen up your landscape in Winter

Winter can be an exciting time of year because it gives you the opportunity to look at the “bare bones” of your outdoor space in order to solve these ever present issues. Taking the time to address the basic structure in your yard is important in how it will look, and function, come spring and summer. Ignoring the tell tale signs of a dull landscape could force you to remain on the inside looking out for yet another year.

Need help rediscovering the beauty in your landscape. Call Bloom’n Gardens Landscape, our Registered Architect can help you take your landscape from Drab to Fab this winter.

 

 

Outdoor Entertaining: Lighting the Perfect Al Fresco Dining Space

I don’t know about yours, but with all the rain we have had this spring, utilizing my patio has not been on the forefront of my mind. I typically love to entertain and dine al fresco; one of the cornerstones of my garden is a a wonderful outdoor kitchen that my family loves to utilize just about every night. Hopefully, the constant rain showers will soon come to a close and we can again enjoy our patio regularly. To help welcome the sunshine back, I’m making some changes and upgrades to the space to make it more appealing and functional.

patio lighting in Georgia

Creating a welcoming, functional space with the proper lighting for your outdoor area.

Add ambiance and functionality through proper lighting

One element that I will be adding this year in order to extend the use of my outdoor space is landscape lighting. You might see this a frivolous add on, but it can really help to get the most out of the investment you make in your landscape.

I have friends that drag out a multitude of tiny strings of white lights (think Christmas lights) every time they want to throw a big party. This is a great way to get started lighting the landscape, but setting up the lights each time can be very time consuming, not to mention that these types of lights seem to wear out quickly and, in the long run, can be very expensive.

Understand your patio lighting options

When looking at landscape lighting, think beyond the flood lamps that are installed for security.  There are uplights, downlights, and lanterns offering you the perfect option for any situation. All you need to get started is an electrical receptacle, transformer, wire and few fixtures.

Tips from the team

When designing your outdoor lightscape, a few tips will help you achieve professional results:

  1. Make sure to maintain proper voltages. Improper voltage amounts will shorten the life of your fixtures and transformer.
  2. Use enough variety in your fixture types to make things interesting.
  3. Avoid too much symmetry; this is especially important when utilizing path lights. Straight lines can be reminiscent of a landing strip, and can be avoided by staggering lights.
  4. Balance your lighting across your space to avoid dividing your garden up.

If you want a more intricate landscape lighting design, or aren’t too sure of yourself when it comes to electricity in an outdoor space, it is always best to seek the assistance of a professional. In the end, a properly done lightscape can increase your overall enjoyment of your outdoor space, thus maximizing the investment you have made into your home.