Stunning foliage

No need to “over-winter” potted plants Down Under

Unlike our Northern Hemisphere garden friends we are so lucky here in Perth that we don’t need to over-winter our potted plants, we don’t need to bring all our pot plants in out of the snow and cold weather. In some places, they go to a lot of trouble for garden specimens and potted plants.

Aeonium

Aeonium

My horti friends from the USA describe this as a huge undertaking every year as they gather many of their garden treasures and bag them up or bring them undercover or wrap them in paper and straw to prevent them from freezing. Many are kept indoors to survive the cold winter. For many, It’s a part of their annual gardening programme.

Stunning foliage

Stunning foliage

 

That said, the unseasonal heavy rain we have experienced these past few weeks and the fact that the mornings are getting a little cooler and Autumn not that far away has got me thinking that every year I do change my pots around and bring my succulents under cover so that they don’t get too wet during Autumn and Winter.

Check out these beauties, they're under cover for the winter

Check out these beauties, they’re under cover for the winter

 

This morning I did just that and it was a good opportunity to check out what’s going on with my pots and tidy them up a bit.

Bring out the scissors, this ugly leaf is coming off

Bring out the scissors, this ugly leaf is coming off

 

Some of the leaves underneath were dry and needed to be removed and some were a little damp after the rain. Just a little TLC will reap big rewards.thumb_IMG_3492_1024

It’s really easy, just have a close look at your potted succulents are the leaves a little dry or maybe a little soggy? Give them a tug and they should pull away from the main stem easily.

Looks what's under there...dead leaves ready to be plucked

Looks what’s under there…dead leaves ready to be plucked

 

Stick your finger into the pot. Is it feeling wet in there?

 

Mine were way too wet and so I have brought them in under cover and rearranged my alfresco area to accommodate them. Now we can see them and enjoy the beautiful blooms as well as keep an eye on them to make sure that they are getting just the right amount of water.

This pot is a little to wet how cute is this Crassula Portulacea but it's a bit liek Shrek in the swamp and needs to dry out a bit

This pot is a little too wet. How cute is this Crassula Portulacea but it’s a bit like Shrek in the swamp and needs to dry out a bit

 

Succulents really only need water once every two weeks. I’ve also given mine a little slow-release fertiliser just to show them how much I care.

Pretty from every angle

Pretty from every angle

 

Try the finger test. If it feels cool and wet, hold off on the water.  I’ve also given mine a little slow release fertiliser. They are amazingly resilient plants which will reward you year after year…and yes you can leave them out in the winter rain but it is nice to bring them in a little closer so that you can enjoy them without getting wet!

 

Our neighbours' garden

Our neighbour has a new Head Gardener

We have lived in the same place for generations and it’s unusual but we are very grateful that we have had the same wonderful neighbours for what feels like forever really, they are just like us and speak a bit like us. They enjoy the same TV shows as we do, similar tastes in music, they enjoy art, sport and generally have the same core values as us. They believe in a peaceful life. We have loved living harmoniously with them, they collect our mail when we go on holidays, water our plants and generally they keep an eye out for our kids and we do the same for them.

Recently, though our dear neighbours employed a new Head Gardener. He’s quite different from the old Head Gardener that our neighbours had for eight wonderful years but someone in that family must have seen enough value in him to employ him. So, the neighbourly thing to do is to give him a go, right? That’s what we do on our side of the street. Generally, we are pretty easy-going kind of folk.

Here's the neighbours' new Head Gardener

Here’s the neighbours’ new Head Gardener

So far, The new Head Gardener has been doing an awful lot of deconstruction work but in his haste to weed out the “nasty” weeds that he doesn’t want, he has also pulled out many beautiful flowers and shrubs which had been nurtured by the previous Head Gardener. Apparently, most of his experience has been with golf courses and rooftop gardens in high rise buildings.

Getting down and dirty-The previous Head Gardener at work

Getting down and dirty-The previous Head Gardener at work

It’s a funny thing really, we were hoping that he would wait just a little bit, perhaps give things a light prune and have a good look at everything again, after the winter, when the spring revealed the good work done by the previous gardening team.

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Our neighbours garden in the winter

The previous Head Gardener-he was there for 8 years

The previous Head Gardener-he was there for 8 years

There are many things worthwhile keeping in our neighbours garden, that’s for sure, you see our neighbours have always had a beautiful garden and there are treasures currently buried in the snow. We have enjoyed so many BBQs and gatherings there, swam in their pool, prayed with them as they farewelled their family members who have passed away and helped them when they were sick and needed our support or just a helping hand. We are big on mateship in our neighbourhood and that’s what mates do, they are there for one another in good times and in bad.

Our neighbours garden

Our neighbours garden

The other day, however, a very strange thing happened, Our Head Gardener called and reminded the new Head Gardener across the street, that we had an agreement with the previous gardener to take care of the potted plants which we had been looking after, as they had been disposed of when their previous owner from a neighbouring suburb, moved without a trace. They have no home to be returned to. The new Head Gardener said that he thought this was a really “dumb idea” as he said he has enough potted plants and is scared that the ones we have been looking after may have weeds that he doesn’t want. We offered to check thoroughly for weeds and remove them but he’s still not happy. We hope that he will see reason and honour the agreement. So that we can make a plan to house more pot plants from other neighbourhoods. Our Head Gardener, wishes that the new Head Gardener at our neighbours’ place would be a little more polite, after all, our families have been neighbours for a very long time.

Our Head Gardener

Our Head Gardener called the neighbours’ Head Gardener for a chat the other day

The new Head Gardener is advocating to build a large new walled garden so that we may not be able to wave so easily to our other neighbours across the street, who incidentally have the best Taco and Tequila parties.

We love Taco and Tequila night

We love Taco and Tequila night

While we love a beautiful walled garden especially when it is covered in abundant flowering vines and espaliered fruit trees, we are worried that we might not be able to visit so easily with our neighbours as we have always done in the past.

Walled garden-we love these

Walled garden, we love these!

The new Head Gardener does not seem to want to make friends with any of our other neighbours’ friends either and he has been quite nasty to some of the people who can help him get his new job done better. The people who look after the parks, gardens and national monuments might be able to help him if he was a bit nicer to them. I hear he tried to shut down their communication on Twitter, luckily they found another way.

He has employed two under-gardeners, who seem to do most of the talking, one of whom just can’t seem to get our Head Gardeners’ name right.

The new Head Gardeners' assistant, doesn't seem that into gardening

The new Under-Gardener doesn’t seem that into gardening

Another Under-Gardener-nice sunnies

Another Under-Gardener-nice sunnies

We will keep smiling and being polite to the new Head Gardener, he’s new to the job, after all, and it’s our way. We don’t like to make a fuss.

We are hoping that he won’t chop down any trees at our neighbours’ place, we love those giant oaks and magnolias they have growing there. We respect the history these represent in our neighbours garden.

Side view of our neighbours garden

Side view of our neighbours garden

Apparently, the new Head Gardener has a four-year contract, hopefully if we stay friendly with our neighbours (they have a big family) that the Head Gardener will learn to listen to his employer a bit more and not be so hasty with decisions to throw everything out before checking to see the good things that were planted in the garden by the previous Head Gardener and his sweet wife.

The previous Head Gardener had a very sweet wife who loved to help him out

The previous Head Gardener had a very sweet wife who loved to help him out

We hope that we can still spend time with our neighbours and enjoy their beautiful garden, despite their new Head Gardener. If we show him how friendly we are, he may just come around. You never know, there’s a lot at stake we really need to make this work. It’s our neighbourhood and we want it to be harmonious for our children to play and grow up in as we did and our parents before us. We love our neighbours garden almost as much as we love our own.

Front view of our house and gardens

Front view of our house and gardens

A view of our garden

A view of our garden

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Summertime…and the livin’ is easy

 

It’s mid-Summer here in Perth and while we have had a few crazy hot blasts of heat, it really has been quite a mild season so far.

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During Spring, I bulked up the garden with lots of mature compost and then wood chip mulch, even on herbs and vegies and the rewards have been great. We are only watering the garden through our reticulation system twice a week and topping up with a little hand watering here and there. The lawn is only watered twice a week for 15 minutes each time.

I have grouped plants that have the same water requirements together.

Urns filled with all sorts of goodies and some potted impatiens all require a daily hand water

Urns filled with all sorts of goodies and some potted impatiens all require a daily hand water.

Here's thick mulch around the base of Radermachera Summerscent and Ateranthera dentata 'Little Ruby

Here’s thick mulch around the base of Radermachera ‘Summerscent’ and Alternanthera dentata ‘Little Ruby’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree dahlia is growing like a triffid again and is better protected from the Fremantle Doctor (the wind that blows from the west most Summer afternoons in Perth) now that the Cotinus coggygria ‘Purpureus’ is three years old.

Dahlia imperialis or Bell tree dahlia is an 8-10 metre tall member of the Dahlia genus native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia. The birds love hiding in it to escape the heat. I think it's fascinating that each year I cut it down to ground level and then up she comes again and again

Dahlia imperialis or Bell tree dahlia is an 8-10 metre tall member of the Dahlia genus native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia. The birds love hiding in it to escape the heat. I think it’s fascinating that each year I cut it down to ground level and then up she comes again and again

Cotinus...hard to believe it was a tiny sapling only 3 years ago

Cotinus coggygria so hard to believe it was a tiny 30cm sapling from a friends’ garden only 3 years ago

The agapanthus on the front verge under the Queensland box tree, which has finally stopped dropping those darn brown leaves, are putting on the most magnificent show, some stems are more than 1 metre tall

The agapanthus have done so well this year thanks to lots of mature compost and bark mulch

The agapanthus have done so well this year thanks to lots of mature compost and bark mulch

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut back the Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ quite hard during spring and have created a lovely informal display of deep pink under our Marri and Jarrah trees, that just keeps on flowering

New little bird solar lights shine brightly at night amongst the salvia 'Wendy's Wish'

New little bird solar lights shine brightly at night amongst the Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’

We’ve installed some lovely new hand blown glass birds which are actually solar lights and look so sweet at night-time…as close as I will ever get to owning a Chihuly, I think.

This is potted Copper Spoons or Kalanchoe orgyalis and my cute garden gnome pool ready in her bikini and sunnies IMG_2171

This is Copper Spoons or Kalanchoe orgyalis and ‘Flossie’ my cute garden gnome, she’s pool ready in her bikini and sunnies

 

Everyone needs a new project, right?

Just before Christmas, we dug up some pavers in the centre of a small enclosed courtyard that gets blasted by the rising sun and has a very ugly view of the house next door. I planted a Zelkova ‘Golden Flame’ in the centre and now that the red Plumeria which I have named Plumeria Annaplainsii, because it was taken as a cutting from Anna Plains cattle station in The Kimberley, is in full bloom and the little red vincas are in filling the space under the Zelkova, it’s looking really pretty out there and further the temperature and reflected heat into the house has reduced dramatically.

I took this on 28th November before we cut out the pavers-what a difference 6 weeks makes in the garden

I took this on 28th November before we cut out the pavers-what a difference 6 weeks makes in the garden

One month after planting...Here's the new Zelkova 'Golden Flame'

One month after planting…Here’s the new Zelkova ‘Golden Flame’ eventually it will reach up and provide glorious summer shade for this courtyard and in winter allow light

This is the Plumeria I have named Plumeria annaplainsii. The frangrance is rose like-check out the colours!

This is the Plumeria I have named Plumeria annaplainsii. The fragrance is rose like check out the colours…I wish you could smell it

My roses are all budding up ready for their third flush (yes 3) for the year they have been just glorious and I think it’s been because I pruned them late, deadhead often and fed them with nothing but mature compost and never spray them except with Lime Sulphur immediately after pruning.

This is David Austin 'Jubilee Celebration' and this is the third flush and is now much more peach in colour than the first flush after pruning

This is David Austin ‘Jubilee Celebration’ and this is the third flush and is now much more peach in colour than the first flush after pruning

 

Andrea’s Top 7 tips for keeping your garden looking fabulous through summer

  • Add Mature Compost and Mulch with Marri wood chips in Spring but if you haven’t done it yet, do it now there’s still a lot of hot weather ahead
  • Group plants that have similar water requirements together
  • Deadhead your roses often to encourage more blooms
  • Hand water in the mornings
  • Trim spent blooms from succulents to keep them looking neat and tidy
  • If hedges and shrubs experience sunburn resist the temptation to trim the burnt leaves, leave them to protect the new growth as it emerges
  • Let your Palmetto buffalo lawn grow a little longer, it’s much kinder on the lawn and gives a lovely lush green effect which cools the house down
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The power of being in the moment

 

Have you ever wondered why so many avid gardeners seem calm and smile often? Why they see beauty in a leaf or the petals on a flower, why a bug is of interest to them? Why they derive pleasure from small simple things.My Garden

I was visiting a client this week and she happened to say to me that since they had their new garden installed there was one piece of advice that I gave to her husband after I put the garden in that he really listened to. One, I thought to myself, I said so much at handover, what is the one piece of advice? Reticulation, Fertilising routine, growth habits, seasonal changes….. It took me a while for this “significant” moment to really sink in…what was it that had I said that this highly successful and very busy man had listened to?

Aha, then she said it..”hose in one hand tea or a beer in the other”

Tea Cup, Green, Tea Bag, Teabag, Outdoor

On completion of a new garden, I always say to my clients that each morning they should go out into their new garden with their morning brew in hand  and walk around the garden, sometimes I say to the guys, walk around with a beer or a wine in hand and the hose in the other when you get home from work. Ooh look!

Why do I give this advice?

The time that one takes to “water” your garden, and it need be no more than fifteen minutes is an opportunity for the new garden owner to take a moment out of their busy day and connect with nature.

It’s a twinkle in time when one can see what’s happening in the garden, see what creatures have decided to make it their home too and check out the birds that fly in and out of the garden space.

It’s an occasion to monitor what’s growing vigorously and what has come to a stop for a while. It’s an instant to make a mental note of jobs you might want to undertake on the weekend and prepare to deal with any pests and diseases.

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My view is that this time provides the homeowner a second to reflect upon their garden before they head off to work and  consider what their hard work has rewarded them and re-ignite that spark to get through the stressful day ahead.

It’s also three shakes of a lamb’s tail to just bend down and breathe in the heady fragrance of beautiful, healthy blooms.

take time to sniff a fragrant bloom

take the time to sniff a fragrant bloom

It’s a chance to see the changing seasons before they head out into the world for the day,  but most of all it’s a moment to zone out in a kind of spiritual, meditative sort of way. Yes, I know I’m placing great importance on this part of the day but I really believe in this piece of life advice I’m dishing out for free

.Tea, Tea Cup, Nature, Teapot, Outdoor

Consider the moment, watering pots and plants, perhaps pulling out a weed or two but at the same time just breathing and thinking about nothing except sipping that drink and the beauty of nature at work in the garden.

You are present, you are “in the moment” and that may not happen until tomorrow when you do it all again.

Reflecting upon leaf on a body of water

Reflecting upon a beautiful leaf on a body of water

 

It’s addictive that’s for sure…why not have a think about making this part of your daily routine too and if tea is not your thing, I can vouch for the fact that it works with coffee, wine, champagne or beer or even water if you must and far better for the soul than pounding away on a treadmill or taking a spin class with some uber fit, lycra clad, fake-tanned, protein fuelled bloke yelling at you to go harder, faster, stronger, in a smelly, sweaty gym, I say!

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Stunning succulents at the New York Botanic Garden

Let’s talk about Pots

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In a rush of blood to the head, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, you hop in your car and drive to the nursery and you purchase a new plant for say $20 and you buy some potting mix and a pot-your total investment is say $60….it’s a nice pot…run with me on this.img_2011

Move forward five years and that pot is still sitting in the same spot, the plant is now pretty tired because the soil you purchased 5 years ago is devoid of any nutrients and apart from a splash of water every now and again has not really had much attention.

Imagine this if you will, your beau purchased a stunning bunch of fresh flowers for $60  for you on that same day…5 years later would you still be looking at that bunch wondering why they weren’t looking so hot?

Nothing lasts forever as they say……

Plants represent really good value when it comes to decorating your home both inside and out and there’s an opportunity for us to re-think the way we use containers around our gardens here in Perth.

Stunning succulents at the New York Botanic Garden

Stunning succulents at the New York Botanic Garden

Specimen Plants

Have you ever wanted to grow a plant that will not work in your garden because of the soil you have or the conditions would not support it? Then planting that plant into a container and being able to nurture it more than you would if it were in the ground is a great idea. You can make a stylish statement with a specimen plant. Blueberries work best in pots in Perth and if you are desperate for an Acer (Japanese maple) a pot in a shady spot is what you need to grow one in our hot part of the world.

Check out this Acer in a pot at Coach Vince Dooley's in Athens, Georgia

Check out this Acer in a pot at Coach Vince Dooley’s in Athens, Georgia

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Short on Space?

If you have a small garden then large pots into which you can plant many plants is the way to go. You don’t just have to plant one plant in a pot, try planting say three or four different things into one pot. How about a grass in the centre to give it height, something spilling over the edges,  and something filling the middle section? How about combining some edibles and flowers.

You can easily have more than one plant in a pot

You can easily have more than one plant in a pot

What a wonderful statement in the garden

What a wonderful statement in the garden

 

Seasons change why not your pots?

If you have pots or urns at your front door, they do not have to stay as they were planted in the beginning, consider changing them seasonally. Adding new annuals to an urn will really spruce up the main plant you have in that container.

Check out the colours in this container

Check out the Autumn colours in this container

Trendy Succulents

You probably remember going to visit Nanna and seeing some of the plants that you can find en trend now. Succulents are easy to look after, they require very little water and can be planted out into nearly any type of container, even an old china cup, a boot or any vessel with a hole in the bottom. The trick is not to over love these plants with too much water, water is the enemy for these treasures, treat ’em mean.

Cacti and Succulents in containers always look great

Cacti and Succulents in containers always look great these ones were spotted by me in New York

Add some Magic

One of the hottest trends in the USA right now is the Fairy Garden and I’m not talking just cheap, tacky $2 shop garden gnomes, though that’s available for sure. There are really stylish iron fairies and decorations for your pots, why not check out your local garden centre or gift shop and see what they have.  It’s going to be a hot trend  here before you know it too-be the first of your friends!img_2792

A touch of whimsy makes this container extraordinary

A touch of whimsy makes this container extraordinary

spot the fairy

Spot the fairy

Show ’em some love

If you have plants in containers they will need a little more care than something in the ground.

  • Top up the soil with some mature compost every now and again even just once a year should do it
  • Pop a tray underneath to keep the water at the root zone on hot days
  • Add some Liquid Fertiliser from time to time
  • Don’t overwater-try the finger test first-if the soil is moist-hold off on the water
  • Move them around if you need to-out of the hot sun in summer and into the sun in the winter

Container planting can be really rewarding, fun for kids too so, if you have a small space that needs a splash of colour (and yes green is a colour) get out there this weekend and pot away!

Carefully Clipped Containers

Carefully Clipped Containers

Grouping containers of the same colour together for maximum impact

Grouping containers of the same colour together for maximum impact

 

A place to share with friends

The joy of garden maintenance

One of the elements of my business is garden maintenance. I like to offer this additional service to clients as part of a complete body of work. I don’t maintain a lot of gardens, just a few. I do this for a number of reasons.

  • It keeps me in touch with what’s happening in other people’s gardens, not just my own.
  • I can keep an eye on what pests and diseases are out and about at any given time of the year
  • I like to follow through on gardens that I have renovated or installed from the design stage, it’s important to identify what has worked and what has not-not everything is a success!
  • The garden is an ever evolving expression for me and it needs tweaking and changing from time to time, to be able to do this in other peoples’ gardens is sheer delight
  • I have elderly clients who love their gardens, their garden is what they do each day, it’s part of their daily routine, with a cup of tea in hand, chatting to the birds who stop by for a visit and can’t bear the thought of leaving their home and garden (most importantly) as they age, to “downsize”. Assisting these wonderful people in their gardens allows them to stay in their homes longer.
  • The relationship between the homeowner and their garden is a very personal one, it’s their private space, I feel so thankful and privileged to be allowed into people’s homes to do my work and look after something which gives them such joy….and just like Johnny Appleseed I get to spread my seeds all over the place!

Here’s one of the gardens I look after in Subiaco, Western Australia. I have been taking care of this garden for nearly two years and it’s looking just lovely this spring. The roses are the best they have ever been. I also look after the one next door!

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Roses for all the neighbours to admire

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Who wouldn’t love to share a meal with friends here?

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Mountain Goats not required here…

You don’t have to be called Heidi and own a small herd of goats to successfully garden on a sloping site.  Just ask Rosie Davidson who recently opened her garden to a group of Garden Communicators on tour, as part of the 2016 national conference of GWA in Georgia during September.img_1932

it wouldn't be the South without a bottle tree

It just wouldn’t be the South without a bottle tree

It is always tricky trying to design usable garden spaces on a sloping block. Trying to create interesting areas and accommodate a swimming pool and spots to sit and enjoy the great outdoors without chairs sitting on awkward angles and visitors leaving your place looking slightly more distorted than when they arrived and losing the food you have carefully prepared as it slides off their plates. As a Garden Designer or creative home owner if you’re into DIY, the challenge is to create areas of flat, both big and small within the sloping block. Practically, the garden owner wants to make the most out of every square foot of their land and also avoid completely covering their guests’ clothing in food and wine and losing all of their friends in the process!

Your guests wont lose their lunch to their lap on this flat surface

Your guests won’t lose their lunch to their lap on this flat surface

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Mrs Davidson warmly welcomed us to her property which offers an enchanting garden built into a hillside in a leafy green neighborhood in Atlanta. The gardens have been created over four levels and a combination of rustic steps, brick paving and gravel pathways provide variation of underfoot experiences and easy access by winding into the contours of the garden rather than going straight up (which is enough to exhaust anyone, let alone when you’re carrying plants and bags of fertilizer to tend to your garden).

The garden provides cool tranquility and respite from the heat on a summer afternoon, large canopy trees form a living green baldachin overhead with just a hint of middle-of-the-day sunlight and blue sky penetrating through.img_1948

I could have easily jumped into that deep blue swimming pool clothes and all…if only 50 people weren’t watching, it was very inviting! A large wall of Miscanthus created privacy as well as whimsical movement above the swimming pool area which was also surrounded by a meticulously clipped 7′ high hedge for extra privacy and screening and acts like a living wall additionally providing sheltered habitat for birds. Love that!

The shadowing on the pool created by the trees in the upper story above was almost mirror like on this still afternoon and really quite beautiful.
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Ahh...the stunning branches of the Lagerstroemia (Crepe Myrtle)

Ahh…the stunning branches of the Lagerstroemia (Crepe Myrtle). I love the shadows that form on the wall behind that’s art right there!

Buzzing in unison

Buzzing in unison, check out these two beauties completely engrossed in their work

Lush verdant green areas offer tranquility, sometimes people forget that green is a color and that we need it to rest our eyes from the intensity provided by flowers. Small areas of green ground covers and raised terraced gardens offering depth and shades of brown through the use of beautifully crafted stone retaining walls were a wonderful feature of this garden. I almost felt like I was climbing up into the forest beyond.

A delicious collection of succulents close to the house offered a splash of color, texture and fun by the use of a variety of terracotta and glazed pots.

Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass) provided soft edges to a gravel pathway leading down to the main entertaining terrace.

where will this pathway lead me?

where will this pathway lead me?

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Pots filled with healthy flowering plants and a beautiful potted Acer palmatum provided added interest to this lovely garden.

Specimen Pots filled with healthy plants

Pots filled with healthy plants

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You can  always tell a little about a garden owner by the art that they choose to accent certain spaces in their garden and Mrs Davidsons garden is no exception, she’s a cheerful and very bubbly garden owner which is reflected in the pieces she has chosen for her garden, a little bit of vagary and fun throughout the garden never goes astray.

Hello Froggy

Hello Froggy

Delightful Potting Bench

Delightful Potting Bench

This was a most enjoyable way to conclude a full day of garden visiting, a calm oasis before heading back into the busy city streets of downtown Atlanta.img_1939 img_1935

Thank you, Rosie Davidson for sharing your stunning garden with us.

A little bit of Fairy Fun

A little bit of Fairy Fun to make you smile!

 

 

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Forget Me KNOT

Success in a small garden requires attention to detail.

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There’s a darling small formal garden in Atlanta that I was lucky enough to visit during September, which is filled to the brim with tiny vignettes of carefully manicured and perfectly planned spaces  and then the very special surprise  just when you think you have seen the whole garden, a most enchanting knot garden.

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A folly of carefully clipped balls

A folly of carefully clipped spheres

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This captivating garden owned and generously shared by Mary Wayne Dixon was just superb.  A commitment to establishing a knot garden is significant, I always admire the patience of the Master Gardener who takes care of these features in botanical gardens but to contemplate and then successfully execute creating and maintaining one in your own home garden is quite an undertaking.

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This is not just any knot garden it actually takes up most of the open space in the rear of the property and it is clipped to perfection and oh so delightful. It’s in 3D and very cleverly done using variegated and non-variegated plants all in great health and clipped flawlessly.img_1918

I loved the tree Vitex agnus-castus in the front garden almost as much as the bees did on this late summer afternoon, it was lush and healthy and just covered in blooms.

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The espalier in the walled courtyard was absolutely stunning-check out how well it has been trained…now that’s disciplined gardening.

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Boy oh Boy, they do things well in the USA and styling is one of them, I absolutely loved the styling of the back porch/garden room, everything was just positioned in the most exquisite way. How alluring is this space? Wouldn’t you just love to sit here on a Hotlanta afternoon with a nice cool glass of something and a few cheese straws to nibble on? I know I sure would!
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This neighborhood was absolutely lovely, even the roundabout (which took our coach a very long time to negotiate) had seating for people to enjoy and come together as a community. I love that idea.

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Late season flowering hydrangeas reminded us that Summer was not quite finished yet.

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Have you ever tried to create a knot garden?

Garden Writers on tour

First Class Contemporary Design-Atlanta Style

Over the past few years, many of my landscape designs have involved interpreting garden spaces surrounding Giorgi Exclusive home designs in Perth, Western Australia. I have completed four of these high-end gardens in the past two years and so you can imagine how excited I was to check out a contemporary garden in Atlanta during my trip there in September and I was so pleased to see and confirm that my garden plantings are really ‘bang on’ trend with comparable cutting edge designs in the USA.

I will admit it, I do at times question myself, I suppose it’s natural, there have been times when my clients look at me with that “are you serious?, you want to plant that?!” kind of look because they are too polite to say it out aloud and I go back and think and look and check and read and re-read again…I guess that’s a part of any healthy creative process and the mental torture that anyone designing something puts themselves through…probably pretty normal I expect.

Creating a garden space around a contemporary home can be challenging because the Landscape Designer needs to consider what the Architect had in mind and provide a design that is sympathetic to that design while at the same time offering much needed green space for the family. The garden needs to support the family that is going to live there. It’s a significant investment for the garden owner at the end of their build but I must say that for me the garden is the icing on the cake of a new home (I find it hard to get excited about tiles). The work of the Garden Designer is the finishing touch, when that lawn is down it tells the neighbourhood-This House is finally complete, a family is moving in.

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for creating a Stylish Contemporary Garden

  1. Improve the soil. This is probably the most important aspect fo creating a new garden. It makes no sense trying to plant new plants beautifully nurtured by the wholesale grower into builders sand leftover from the build. New soil enriched with mature compost is an essential foundation for any garden
  2. Invest in Large Trees.  I always try and include as many mature trees into the design as I can, the idea is that the new home sits comfortably back into the landscape in as short as time as possible. Mature trees give you this
  3. Mass Plantings for a bold effect. Large drifts of plants particularly when working with hard landscaped raised beds always looks best. Colour, shape and variations of light through shadows by plants against walls can be achieved through careful selection of mass planted foliage plants
  4. Include Edibles. I always try to include edibles in every garden every client needs at least a few herbs to compliment their cooking
  5. Include Flowers Yes, green is a colour and I love it but I am a sucker for flowers. I follow the same disciplined principle of mass planting whatever I choose for best effect. This does not mean I plant a monoculture, just that there is never one or two of anything in the contemporary gardens I create .

Here’s some images from the Private Garden of Robin and Marc Pollack just outside Atlanta Georgia

Bold and Cobalt Blue Contemporary art to compliment the landscape

Bold and Cobalt Blue Contemporary art to compliment the landscape

Even the birds live a stylish life here

Even the birds live a stylish life here

Attention to detail

Attention to detail a place for everything

Foliage provides a pop of colour

Foliage provides a pop of colour

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Challenging variation in heights-note one of my favourite plants Ficus Pumila on white wall

Challenging variation in heights-note one of my favourite plants self clinging, easy trim, Ficus Pumila on white walls

Imagine standing around here with a nice glass of red on a cold winters night

Imagine standing around here with a nice glass of red on a cold winters night

Who wouldn't want to dine here?

Who wouldn’t want to dine here?

 

Mass planting for a stylish effect

Mass planting for a stylish effect

Love the variations of underfoot hardscaping

Love the variations of underfoot hardscaping

A very stylish way to invite nature into the garden

A very stylish way to invite nature into the garden

Groups of three pots in dark charcoal

Groups of three pots in dark charcoal

Stunning outdoor seating for the whole family

Stunning outdoor seating for the whole family

Always room for Edibles

Always room for edibles

Garden Writers on tour

Garden Writers on tour

Every good painting needs a splash of red

Every good painting needs a splash of red

Plants that provide shadows on white walls-living art

Plants that provide shadows on white walls-living art

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Even the Glasshouse offers contemporary style

Even the Glasshouse offers contemporary style

How did they get those post up there?

How did they get those post up there?

A cool place to sit

A cool place to sit

Check out Giorgi Exclusive Homes at their website http://www.giorgi.co

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Southern Hospitality…it’s not just for the humans

No doubt about it when you visit Georgia, you will experience as I did, what is known as Southern hospitality, there’s the food, of course, Ahh the food, the wonderful service is absolutely everywhere you go (even a homeless guy was friendly and gave us directions) and those accents…OHH, those wonderful accents….though to be sure I think this is may be true of most places in the USA, if the Garden Writers I have met through GWA are anything to go by but I guess it’s in the South that they are really known for it….but here’s something you might not have known, that delightful hospitality …is not just for humans!

Check out these incredible artisan birdhouses, each one tells its’ own story. These pics were taken during my recent trip to Atlanta and Athens, Georgia….and now that I’m back home, I am experiencing serious birdhouse envy…is that a thing?! I think that my husband is hoping that I find a cure quick smart! Then again…this could be his new retirement plan?! He has about 10 years to create them and build up his stocks before we start selling them.img_1811
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Imagine the wonderful bird parties here!

Imagine the wonderful bird parties here!

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There’s the house and then there’s the incredible pole!

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Thank you to Garden Owners Candy Johnson, Robin and Mark Pollock, Carole McWilliams, Lee Dunn, Arthur Blank, Mary Wayne Dixon, Rosie Davidson, Barbara and Vince Dooley, Bonnie and Mike Dirr and Ann and Joe Frierson for providing wonderful habitat spaces for the birds who come visit your gardens and for the southern hospitality shown to people like me who came to visit in September during #GWA16

 

If I come back as a bird in my next life…I know exactly where I’m headed!