Heronwood

Instead of writing about a particular plant or plant group, this week I thought I would talk about one of my favorite horticultural pruning techniques. The first time someone mentioned to me an “aerial hedge,” I envisioned puffy clouds of boxwoods floating through the air. But that would be weird and strange (like this week’s episode of Mad Men – yes, I am a big fan). Then, on a trip to Hampton Court, I saw a screen made from a quadruple cordon of hornbeam trees. A cordon is literally “cable” or “line” in French. It is also a horticultural term for a horizontal line of a topiary. As for these trees at Hampton Court, the hornbeam trees were growing out of a hedgerow of Taxus. The hornbeams were trained into four cordons and then tied together to make a big screen around the parking lot. It was beautiful and precise. Right then and there, I fell in love with the concept.

aerial hedge versailles

Years later, on a visit to France, a group of us visited Versailles. It was there that I saw miles of trees pruned into hedges. In some spots, the trees were limbed up from the ground so you could see across the plane but the tree canopies were pruned into long rectangles. Aha! This was the infamous aerial hedge. If you look at the competition gardens at the Chelsea flower show, one designer always goes for the aerial hedge. Maybe it is a European thing (like the man-purse) but aerial hedges never seem to catch on here in the US. I, for one, really dig aerial hedges (and messenger bags but not man-purses) and wish that more gardens would include them. Yes, they take time and someone has to work for years to prune and shape them but the resulting form is fun and really defines a garden. I can count on one hand, the gardens that I have seen in the United States that feature aerial hedges:

- Longwood Gardens (Tilia or little leaf linden)

- Dumbarton Oaks (Carpinus or hornbeam)

- Old Westbury (Tsuga or hemlock)

- Lotusland (Pittosporum)

- Heronswood (a really awesome, arching display of trained hornbeams)

Living-walls-Pleached-trees-Marianne-Cannon-

There have to be other gardens that I have missed. Are there aerial hedges that you recall seeing here in the States? Why do you think that they have not caught on here as they have in Europe? If ever given the chance to design a Chelsea garden, I would design a satirical garden featuring an assortment of aerial hedges using plants that one would never expect to see grown this way.

-Rodney

Images: The Creative FluxJan Henry, Garden Drum

defining your garden style - plant partners from www.studiogblog.com

As a designer I am not immune to creative dry spells – but the key to maintaining a steady stream of ideas is to know how to re-inspire yourself.   I gather inspiration from nearly every thing in my life; I never know when something is going to strike me in a way that causes new ideas start flowing.  But when I am in a pinch and feeling the need to force the issue…I have to actively go looking and often I find the answers in the art of others.

When I was in design school we had to study plants in depth – and a huge part of that study was learning a way to use them that was not only effective and practical in the garden, but also in a way that was artistically distinctive to each of us as designers.   The idea was that if we could strike on signature groupings, we could begin to define our distinctive styles as well as make the design process easier (by providing ourselves endlessly repeatable templates).

Do you have a signature planting look in your garden?  

If you don’t, it would be an interesting exercise to go through at the very least so that you can re-inspire yourself.  Here is what I do when I am trying to come up with something new and interesting:

  1. Find an inspiration source.  I like art; maybe you might pick something that is already hanging on the walls of your home.
  2. Study the piece for composition, pattern, and notable personality elements and also pull out the colors that appeal to you.
  3. Using these reference points to start, look for plants that reflect the work.  Let the list of possibilities ramble – maybe use a pinterest board to collect the ideas.
  4. Narrow it down.  Once you have a pool of ideas, start refining a plan based on bloom time (if you want your plants to play together – they probably need to bloom together), habitat (they need to be able to survive side by side) and individual characteristics as they meet your needs.

Hallway by Carolyn Swiszcz via www.studiogblog.com  - how to create a planting collection from art. I’ve been playing with the collection above and it started with this painting by Carolyn Swiszcz (if it appeals to you as much as it appeals to me – you can buy it as 20×200).  The Coleus ‘Alligator Tear’s is a unique version of this plant – its feathery leaves reflect the pattern in the rug and the colors of all three plants are inspired by the painting.  I also want the planting to consist of things that are good for cutting and arranging….so that helped me to eliminate other options.   I am still working on this — and I think that I might add something that is the softest shade of peach pink….like perhaps a Verbascum ‘Southern Charm’.  And once I get it planted…perhaps it will be become something that works well and I can use it again elsewhere and in future projects – this is how I grow as a designer and gardener.

This collection is as quirky as the original inspiration and I am pleased that I have captured that.  How about you — have you used art (or anything else) to inspire planting? What image might you use to do the same?

Images:  Images courtesy of proven winners, and my instagram images are from one of my all time favorite design books – The Conran Ocotopus Garden Color Palette.  

Art:  Garden Hallway, Grand Rapids, MI by Carolyn Swiszcz

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Proven Winners.  I am not an employee of Proven Winners and all opinions are my own. See the other posts in this series. 

This little video just knocked my socks off. It is beautifully illustrated and oh so clear….it is based on this poem:

TANT DE FORÊTS…

Tant de forêts arrachées à la terre
Et massacrées
Achevées
Rotativées

Tant de forêts sacrifiées pour la pâte à papier
Des milliards de journaux
attirant annuellement l´attention des lecteurs
sur les dangers du déboisement des bois et des forêts

Jacques PRÉVERT “La pluie et le beau temps”
Éd. Gallimard, 1955

Here is the english (as translated by google translate — and decidedly a little rough…poetry and google translate I suspect are not good friends – if you can do a better translation, by all means, speak up!)

AS FOREST …
So torn earth forests
And massacred
Completed
Rotativées

So sacrificed for pulp forests
Billions of newspapers
attracting the attention of readers annually
the dangers of deforestation woods and forests

I think you get the idea though…a trailer of a short film that is based on a French poem written in 1955 that speaks to the irony of the fact that newspapers warn us about deforestation although they are made of paper themselves…I’d love to see the film.
Tant de Forêts – trailer from Burcu & Geoffrey on Vimeo.

If you have been around here a while, you might remember the daily garden posts that I maintained a few years back (you can check out the whole mess of them in the gallery of gardens).   Ultimately, the pace of ‘daily’ was too much to bear and started to feel that it didn’t allow me take the time to dig a little deeper into each one.   But I miss those posts and so I am thinking to bring them back….perhaps on a weekly pace- allowing a little more opportunity to explore each one more in depth.

This summer I am headed to Belgium for a month and I have started to look for places that I want to explore in the region.  In my searching, I discovered Havetid which is actually beyond the range of my expected travels (being in Silkeborg, Denmark) but were it closer it would certainly have been on the list.

Havetid garden via www.studiogblog.comInger and Jørn have created a beautiful garden that is full of interesting ideas.   Their blog is a treasure trove of images of what appears to be every corner of the garden.  I pulled a few of my favorites that gave me interesting ideas. I am contemplating how I might break a rock such as this so that I too can plant a tiny sedum garden inside.
driveway rock garden via www.studiogblog.com
Why have a solid driveway when you can have something planted down the middle.  And why settle for turf or a singular ground cover when a pretty rock garden is even more interesting?
cotoneaster balls at havetid via www.studiogblog.co
Those gorgeous round balls aren’t boxwood – they are cotoneaster.  I had to double check this too…but yes, they are really cotoneaster.  If you want to know more about how these were created check out this post. 
havetid garden via www.studiogblog.com
This idea charmed me too.  Why not have a raised garden bed filled with box balls, rectilinear boulders, river rock, and a weeping larch (I think that is what that is?).  Who says raised beds are just for vegetable gardens?
havetid garden via www.studiogblog.com
This garden certainly isn’t devoid of flowers, but I am finding that I am increasingly drawn to those places that aren’t too floriferous.  This haven of textures is gorgeous and I am studying every detail for inspiration.
I’d love to hear what you found inspiring in this garden…make sure you checkout Inger and Jørn’s website and report back with any other fantastic discoveries.
-Rochelle
Havetid will be open to visitors on the 24 -25th of May,  the 14th-15th of June and 9th-10th of August 2014 from 10am – 5pm if you are in the area.
images from Havetid

Mortgage Lifter Mobile

Have you noticed that vegetable gardening is hip again? I love this trend that Americans of all ages are experimenting with growing their own food. Whether their vegetables and fruit are being grown to supplement food from the grocery store or if the intent is to eat mostly from the garden, vegetable gardening (and horticulture) is having its day in the sun. Some may argue that this is not true ornamental gardening while I will counter, “Hello! This is what we have been waiting for!” Grow your own is climbing in popularity as the next generation of gardeners wants to see where their food comes from.

Mortgage_Lifter_2005

One of the vegetables that I love (or is it a fruit?) is Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter tomato. Almost every American loves a fresh tomato from the garden in the middle of summer. Better yet, make that tomato an heirloom tomato. Have you ever grown and eaten an heirloom variety? People talk about how it tastes differently and they are correct. In our Pennsylvania vegetable garden, we grew Brandywine tomatoes which were fabulous. The flavors are deep and intense because the fruit have not been overbred for size instead of taste. The Mortgage Lifter tomato is one popular heirloom that combines a big, meaty plant with good taste. The entire story of this tomato can be found here. The notion that one guy, Radiator Charlie, can turn a hobby into a breeding program that pays his mortgage is a remarkable story.

Learning Garden

With the popularity of vegetable gardening and farm to table eating growing exponentially, the more plants with wonderful stories like this tomato, the better. Even here on the coast of Maine, where small cherry and plum tomatoes do better because of their shorter maturity time, we are going to try growing the Mortgage Lifters this summer. They have an 80 day maturity period so we should be able to produce a few substantial fruits. Along with the ripe, plump, Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, one of our friends raises hogs so maybe we can get a few packs of locally raised bacon. Combine with this some of my wife’s homemade bread and I am already dreaming of late summer, farm to table, Mortgage Lifter BLT sandwiches.

What do you think of the vegetable gardening and farm to table movement? Do you think it will still be a big movement in 5 or 10 years? More specifically, what are some of your favorite tomato varieties?

-Rodney

Images: William Cullina, Rutgers, Mobile Botanical Gardens

cherry blossom

I hope you’ve had a great weekend.  Mine was nice, even if it was completely taken over by an elementary school production of Mulan.  We’ve had 4 shows since Friday night and I am just tired.  I’ve done a lot of makeup, handed out programs, stack and un-stacked chairs, and pushed around a ton of large school furniture.  I think I only have the mental capacity to park myself on the sofa in front of an episode of Parks and Rec and wait for my the roast chicken (in the oven) to be ready for dinner.  Ahh…. and it is spring, I’ve got the fever and I am ready to get things done.  These are things that have been hanging around on my desk this week.  I hope you enjoy them!

 xo 

Rochelle

 image by Chris Waits (CC 2.0)

 

 

Unlike last summer where I sweated out writing a book, this summer I intend to enjoy my garden and coddle myself.  I’m feeling deserving and like I’ve earned the right to try and make up for last year’s lost moments.

Our family likes to spend quiet moments in the hammock that stretches between two oak trees in the shady back area of our property.  Inspired by this picture of a similarly quiet area at La Bastide de Marie in France,  I am interested to take the hammock area to a new level.  A serene white garden where I can extend the long day into a casual evening are what I am craving and am gathering the pieces to make it happen.

La bastide de Marie

I bought and hung a new hammock  (the old was falling apart) as well as a few packs of bulbs that I am planting.  The taro root bulbs and the Star Gladiolus will take center stage in containers and provide for that lush green but with elegant white flowers back drop.  (I am starting them now so that they get a jump on the season indoors).  A cast iron plant stand that will be put to use in the winter months as an actual plant stand makes for a perfect outdoor side table in the summer. Add in edison bulb string lights and a few Boston ferns and I pretty sure little else is needed in the setting. cultivating summer serenity www.studiogblog.com

Now all I need is a great new summer drink recipe…..suggestions?

-Rochelle

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes.  This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series. 

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