Wednesday, August 31, 2011


On my to dos for next year...plant Zinnias with the kids.  Their vibrant colors bring pure happiness when you're in their presence.  I have never grown them but have read that they are fairly easy to start from seed.  This will be our little spring science project!  Nothing is better then planting seeds with kids and watching them grow!
The Zinnias at the Morton Arboretum were spectacular!


I am very interested in growing 'White Wedding' through  They are known for their resistance to powdery mildew and I think they would compliment some of the greenery I have in my sunny beds (which are few and far between).

For some basic growing and care information go to

Fun project....

Try growing beans in an old CD case with your kiddos. Kids love being able to see all the action up close!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

setting the stage of the garden...background and foreground

Let's start from the beginning....We moved into our home around 4 years ago. The old trees and character are what attracted us to the neighborhood.  The backyard had several trees but beyond that was filled with rocks and groovy red pavers that outlined just about anything that was living back there.  This is where, what I like to call the "suburban circumstance" comes into play.  If you're someone who backs up to a park, forest, or you have an ample amount of land this does not apply to you.  For the rest of us the "suburban circumstance" is having houses on all sides of you.  When I walk out in my backyard I want it to be our retreat, a peaceful sanctuary if you will, no matter what your circumstance is.  So I took matters in to my own hands, and have not looked back since.

The First Step...The background-as an art major you learn that the background is just as important as the foreground because it sets the tone for the entire composition.  In the garden when choosing plants for your background it is important to look at all of your factors such as light, soil, and space.  For us we knew that privacy was key but various species of evergreens would be too large in time. So I went with a fairly symmetrical approach across the back and in four years we are making progress.  Diablo Ninebarks, Techney Arborvitae, existing Burning Bush, and a Douglas Fir to anchor the opposite corner.

Hostas are place holders until we widen the bed and continue to see how everything fills in   
The side yard has been a different matter. We have so much shade and my neighbors have beautiful 45 year old White Pines but anything I plant underneath competes for space.  I have planted Canadian Hemlocks (have lost 2 but 2 are going strong) with groupings of Viburnums and an existing White Birch.  

We have pocket shade gardens and a small sloped rock garden where Coreopsis, Geranium, Bee Balm, and various Sedums exist but the fun really begins next year.  This is when the foreground truly begins in our backyard garden and I could not be more excited.  It has taken us 4 years to get here but with planning and patience we are ready to begin the next step. The stage is set with our background let the foreground begin!  Below are some fun design "inspirations"  for the garden foreground.

Great colors and textures

Border ideas for the side yard in front of Hemlocks

Shade inspiration for borders

Great examples of plantings for in front of our Douglas Fir.....Black-Eyed Susans, Coreopsis, Feather Reed Grass, Sedum 'Autumn Joy', name a few

Thursday, August 25, 2011

end of week garden inspiration

kids in the garden

We had an amazing day today with a swallowtail butterfly!  My sweet bean Josie was trying to feed her basil...interestingly enough I don't think the butterfly minded her little hands in its Hibiscus flower one bit!

After being in the classroom as a teacher for many years, I found that many of my students were disconnected from nature.  Several of my kiddos had never had their little hands in soil before. 

This book is a great read for all those out there who are working to help our little people become reconnected!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

grasses to carry us through

We are looking forward to everything fall at our house but with that comes the inevitable end to many of our favorite bloomers.  So at night where does my mind go...ah yes to some of my favorite grasses that will adorn our changing landscape in the next several months.

I think hmm what can I do with them and how can I arrange them to bring more color and life back to our garden.  I start with one of my favorites....purple fountain grass(common but nothing beats its amazingly intense color)

Mass plantings make a dramatic statement paired with colorful annuals.            

Used here as a focal point for garden entrances.

Below are some outstanding gardens from that use grasses instead of shrubs in the landscape.
I LOVE how the smaller grasses line the front of the bed while the Black Eyed Susans add color to the backdrop.

A fearless and fun space which should remind us to never stop 
trying new things and that anything is possible!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A rock in the park...

On a recent trip to Vail Colorado with the fam, I soon realized that Coloradoans were on to something!  Beautiful gardens available for all to experience.  We stumbled across these gardens at a local park and I was blown away by the use of layering as well as the rocks in the gardens.  The park was set up for people to experience the garden by use of inviting stepping stones and paths around the perimeter of the park.

A stunning dry stream bed divides the space and defines the plant groupings....more dry stream bed ideas to reference below