Archives for May 2009

Other Places

otherplaces4Annual flowers on a terrace do a lot to warm up all the hard surfaces. I pay particular attention to the overall plant height and composition of those pots, as they are usually viewed up close, and while sitting.


I may want a particularly beautiful pot elevated on a stand or pedestal, so as to feature it.  I may plant tall pots in strategic areas to give intimacy to a dining area, or perhaps screen a poor view.  At this moment, I am able to see my neighbor’s discarded Christmas tree quite clearly from my deck. Urban living-it has its challenges.


Small terraces benefit from a cohesive plan. Pots may be organized around a dominant color, or texture, or style.otherplaces88

They may be organized around a collection of containers.


Pots of flowers with every conceivable color, every texture, and in every size are the hallmark of a person whose first and last love is plants, and more plants. Though I appreciate excitement like this, I try to edit.  After all, with annuals there are second chances, so I try not to throw myself at every annual like I have 10 minutes to live.

This terrace is planted in a color palette my clients like.  We keep the color constant, but plant different plants every year.  They do a beautiful job of taking care of it all, no kidding.   My second favorite day of the gardening year, after Mindy prunes my boxwood, is going back to those places I planted in May, in July, and know I handed off the baton to someone who values this as much as I do.  Thanks a million,  Hilary and Stewart.


Made from the Heart


front3All of us know what is spoken, or made from the heart, and what is theatre.  How you landscape your home, how you decide what pots, and what placement, and what flowers, or maybe no flowers-I cannot explain this any better but than to say that what I might see at your home, should convince me it is you, speaking.


front20How a landscape convinces the viewer, how a landscape is a complete world, with its own rules and its own language, is a considerable part of its beauty. The genuine voice behind the landscape brings life to that landscape.  The life that nature empowers is formidable.  The life, and voice, of a person is equally formidable.  How interesting-that relationship.


Rob has photographed many landscapes in Europe, in his 14 years of travel.  Some are on the verge of ruination.  Some are marked by broken pots; some pots are not even planted-they are sculptures.

europe2 Though riddled with blooming weeds, or dead patches of this or that, or blurred with centuries of moss, they are powerfully evocative, and beautiful. The history of those genuine voices evokes memories in those of us who visit those gardens-our own memories.europe

I am sure you can tell I am passionate on the subject of the importance of the voice of the individual-which is unlike every voice which came before you, or any voice which is yet to come. It’s all I have to offer my clients-my voice.front41
front211An authentic voice-you have one, ready and waiting.  Yours is better, you might say. Maybe I only have more practice.


Lets Start with Place

front12On the subject of annuals, you need to decide first where you might want them. Let’s start with your front door. front9

Flowers at the front door say hello, welcome.  They celebrate in whatever fashion pleases you, the entrance to your home. That makes the architecture of your entrance a key design element.  Formal homes ask for formal placement and selection of containers and plants. Very formal homes may have no flowers at the door.  They might have lidded finials, or topiary, or boxwood in containers.

front7How you announce the entrance to your home is not only about the architecture.  It’s your home, so your voice should be evident-clearly, confidently.

If you are shy and reclusive, there is a planting that says so.

If you grew up on, and still adhere to Emily Post, say so.

front18If you are exuberant, and welcoming of friends, neighbors, new people, and your daughter’s softball team, say so. front2a

If relaxed and low key appeals to you, do so.front23

If lots and lots of everything is your style, do lots and lots.

front21If the mid-century modern, or contemporary design of your house makes certain demands that you hear, listen.




If you are of several minds, as often happens, you are free to do differently next season.



Sunday Opinion:The Annual Contribution


I have in store a series of posts for next week on annual plantings, as now is the time to be planning for this. It is my opinion that the contribution annuals make to a landscape and a life, is underrated; see the following. 


 Annual plants, meaning all and any plant not hardy in my zone,  are the organizing metaphor of my professional and personal life for 6 weeks in early summer; this I like.  I stubbornly resist planting annuals until I am convinced the soil and air is warm enough, and then I live eat and breathe them until all my clients are planted.  The whole season drives me crazy, and makes me happy. I shop as many growers and markets as I can.  I have favorite plants custom grown. In a timely year, I am replanting my clients who have had spring plantings in April, from July 1 until July 15.  Looking at the schedule of the full moons to come, I think the warm weather will come early-so I may start planting May 15-20.


 One year, I did not start planting annuals for my clients until June 1.  I spent more time talking about proper timing, and fending off indignant phone calls, than I did planting, but mostly my clients understand that a proper job done at the beginning helps make for season long success. 


 You do need to know up front, that I value annual plants equally to other any other plant in my landscape. In some cases, I value them more than “perennial” plants; here’s why.


 My overall landscape is composed of trees, evergreens, shrubs and perennials that provide substance, volume, partnership, and companionship, in tandem with the seasons, and the weather. The relationship of one plant to another, interests me more than a plant itself. The relationship of the landscape to the weather, and the season interests me even more.  I am definitely not a plant collector; I am a picture maker.

My most favorite thing about annuals is that I commit to them for one season only; I like having an element in my landscape that I can look forward to changing every year.  One year I might fancy hot colors and tropical textures-the next I might organize my whole terrace planting around a pale pink fuchsia on standard whose beauty I cannot get out of my mind. Some things I try, don’t work out as I imagined they would-what a relief that come November, they are gone for good.  This has the sweet ring of freedom to me.  Annuals first and foremost give the gift of second chances.

Annuals work hard in a number of other ways. They are biologically programmed to set seed before they are killed by frost.  Removing the dead flower heads sets in motion the production of new flowers.  Some annuals set no seed.  The end result of this is continuous bloom; they flower willingly from start to finish.  I like this kind of return for my investment, and my effort.


I am especially fond of color; I am ready for a change from the black and white which is my winter. Annual flowers have an incredible color range from which to pick.  As many are native to other parts of the world, I appreciate their leaf forms and habits in contrast to the plants I live with every day.  Beds of large growing annuals can give the look of a beautiful perennial garden-in a smaller space, and over a much longer period of time.But mostly I love how much pleasure they give me, day after day.


Beautiful pots stuffed with flowers, flowers blooming everywhere, are a joy I would not want to do without.