Stuff vs. space in a garden can be a quandary. So what is the stuff? The stuff are the elements you choose to decorate your space. Patio furniture, grills, pots, potted plants, trees, shrubs, you know…..stuff. Once you have filled your space, you no longer have space it becomes stuff. Space is the expanse of an area to look across and wonder “what’s over there?” Space is the freedom to move about without banging your shins or stubbing your toes or walking into a tree or bush. It is simple surface, like grass, or pavers, or the surface of water in a pool.
Space vs. stuff is a primary decorating consideration whether inside or outside. Is there a right or wrong proportion? Not really. The harmony of a yard or a room is simply in the designer’s emotion.
The important thing when decorating a garden is to remember that when you buy a plant it is not going to stay the same size as when you bought it, unlike the couch you bought for your living room. It’s probably the same size now as when you bought it, right? I see this mistake all over the place. Someone buys a Blue Spruce and plants it 4 feet from the corner of their house. You’ve seen that right? Ten years later it looks like someone has hung a house on that tree. Realize that thinning even removing plants from your garden may be necessary to maintain your balance of space and stuff. If your goal is to create a coziness within an outdoor living space plants that end up bumping into each other may not be such a bad thing. But if it’s formality you’re after, carefully plot, plan, and ponder how large each of those hedge plants are going to grow and how close to the checkerboard walkway you want them to encroach.
Beginning with the larger picture of the space you will need/want is probably the easiest place to begin when planning the architectural design of your yard. The geometry, the lines, the curves, the hard elements (garden curbing, patio, pool, deck, etc.) is the necessary skeleton from which to add the rest of the stuff.
And for Heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to remove a shrub that has outgrown itself! If you planted it 12 years ago and it looked good for 11 years, you’ve probably gotten your money’s worth. Rip it out, I say! Leaving everything as it is forever is way too boring for me. It’s like never being able to rearrange your living room furniture. Changing things up a bit keeps life interesting and fun, right?
Gates can either say “welcome” or “keep out”! I love the gates that say “welcome”.
Now just because you may have a gate to keep intruders out of your yard, or to protect the wonderful recreation vehicle parked inside doesn’t mean your gate screams “keep out”. BUT, it’s the gates that have a warm and welcoming feeling that I am thinking of now.
- The gate that begs for you to enter under the arbor and into a garden.
- The gate that is always left ajar so as not to discourage a visitor.
- The gate that is nothing less than an artistic masterpiece.
- The gate that invites the question, “I wonder what’s inside there?”
- The secret garden gate.
- The gate from re-purposed materials.
- The whimsical gate.
As in most decorating whether inside or out, it seems the only hindrance we bear is our imagination. The most beautiful gates I have ever seen are in Hawaii. I love to drive around the island we are visiting and see these beautiful masterpieces. Dolphins, orchids, turtles, birds, suns, waves….wow! I so wish I was there! I dream about having a gate like that, even though my dream would need to shrink in size about two thirds.
I would really like two gates; one to say “welcome”, the other to say, “I would rather you use the other gate.” That’s ok, right?
Perk up the patio with a fresh new floor!
Rock Gardens….and my dad’s aching back!
When I was a little girl my parents loved to go for drives and road trips. One experience that was always included was time spent looking for rocks for my mom’s rock garden. I don’t mean just little ole’ every day run of the mill rocks; I mean large and very beautiful rocks. My dad would stop at mom’s “request” and the two rock hounds would march out into some field or wooded area in search of the rock that would inevitably end up under my feet in the back seat of the car. Fun memories! WOW! Would I love to have some of those rocks now. Included in many were fossils and petrified wood.
Well, we would get home from the trip and next up was (and this still brings a very big smile to my face) mom orchestrating dad around the yard to place the new find in EXACTLY the right spot. It always took no less than 6-7 moves. Keep in mind these were very HEAVY souvenirs! Well anyway, they ended up with a beautiful collection of mini-boulders for a fabulous rock garden.
Unfortunately, however, they planted tams between the rocks rather than beautiful, flowering, creeping ground cover and some well-chosen perennials. Now, don’t get me wrong, tams have their place, but eventually all these beautiful rocks were completely covered with these evergreen shrubs. What a waste! And these bushes claimed many of my tennis balls and badminton birdies as well!
We, too, have some beautiful rocks (which we paid dearly for, by the way, and one reason I would NEVER want to cover them up), and a favorite hobby of mine is to try different flowers/ground covers, etc. to plant in and around these natural sculptures.
Some of my favorites:
- Basket of Gold Alyssum
- Creeping Phlox
- Purple Salvia
- Ice Plant
- Snow in Summer
- Sweet Potato Vine
- Creeping Jenny
- Mother Hen & Chicks
Although it is still early spring and many of our plants are not in bloom, you can get the idea of what we have done in our yard. The Basket of Gold is truly one of the showstoppers this time of year. These are just a few pictures of the rock gardens at my house 🙂
Tulips are a free gift every year!
No matter how tired you are of planting this fall, make sure you create for yourself a tulip garden. They are a wonderful way to celebrate your efforts of yesteryear. And no matter how many springs come and go, I am always surprised by the splendor of these florae!
theflowerexpert.com provides these tips on growing tulips:
- Select the location for planting.
- Prepare the soil by working it well, removing rocks and weeds.
- Mix in plenty of organic material and fertilizer.
- Special bulb formulas and bone meal work best.
- The Tulips will bloom in almost any soil with a good drainage.
- When buying Tulip bulbs, select only the finest quality bulbs. In general the bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom.
- Follow the directions from the supplier for spacing and depth. If no directions are included, plant the bulbs 6-8″ apart and at a depth twice the diameter of the bulb.
- After the Tulips bloom, let the plant continue to grow until it dies off. During the post bloom period, the plant sends energy to the bulb to store for use next spring.
- Tulips require a period of cold while they are dormant and resting between shows.
Some suggest digging up your bulbs after they have bloomed and storing them in a cool dry area for replanting in the fall. NOT ME! I planted these tulips about 9 years ago and this is the sight from my front window today:
Something I have never considered, is planting them in pots and then storing them in the garage to allow them to winter over and then bringing them out in the spring to place them anywhere you want for that splash of springtime color! I love this idea!!
Tulips! A free gift to me every spring.