The Colorized Version

thecolorizedversion3This is stage 3 of the schematic plan.  By schematic, I mean a plan that details only the big gestures and spaces.  It does not tell you which pots to buy, or which cultivar of daylily to plant.  That comes later.  The big decisions get made first.  Where do I want my grill, and my terrace?  Where can my kids play?  Could I host a large party in that spot?  Where do I need shade?  Where can I plant my vegetables?

The colorized version has another purpose besides just being fun to do.  I color every plant that is the same, the same color.  This will tell me instantly if I have too much going on, or not enough. Do I have more landscape than I can take care of? Grass is relatively easy to take care of-if it is a beautiful shape, that grass becomes landscape; the French call it a “tapis vert”.  I can see the shapes of the spaces better in color; are they beautiful, as well as utilitarian, shapes?  Does it look like my house sits in the middle of something bigger that it is? Does my house look like a home now?  Could I imagine that the landscape came first, and the house was set down into it-rather than the other way around?  Can I walk through the landscape, rather than on the edge of it?These are all good questions to ask in advance. You will then be ready for all of nature’s surprises, yet to come.

Ready to Plan?

readytoplan11readytoplan21What is it the right time for?  That’s simple-make plans.  People are good at planning.  We are actually much better at planning, than dealing with what we didn’t plan for-so make use of what you are good at.  We’ve all made grocery lists, given birthday parties, hosted holiday dinners, decided to have families, gone back to school, moved on. A landscape by design, which is a fancy way of saying, by plan, is planning-don’t be afraid.

I am a professional landscape designer, and I think I have my place.  Designing and outfitting the outdoors is no less expensive than designing the inside of a house-with the added headache that things grow up differently than we think they will, and they do poorly, or die, more often than we think they will. But even people who hire landscape designers need to add their skill at planning to the mix- its always the relationship between an designer and a client that makes for really beautiful landscapes. Ready to plan?

Green Structure

greenstructure1greenstructure2The numbers of articles addressing the need for, and the satisfaction of structure in a landscape must number in the thousands. My take is that the number one  function of evergreens in Michigan landscapes is to bridge, and celebrate the seasons.
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Only a Gardener

only-a-gardenerOnly a gardener, obsessed for the first sign of spring, would in their next breath complain about inordinately warm temperatures!  71 degrees in Michigan, March 17, is too very warm.  Daffodils and crocus shoot up as though shocked by a bolt of electricity.  An unknown dwarf magnolia in my yard has every fuzzy hair on every bud, standing at attention. This makes me cringe-I am well aware that Michigan has snow and very cold temperatures well into April.  Devastating-the sight of frost-browned spring flowers.

only-a-gardener2March, and into April, is the worst part of our gardening year.  Meaning, this time of year features the best of the worst that can be.  You can spend a weekend raking, and in four days there is no trace you were ever there. Brown is still the dominant feature.  Unless you have designed your landscape to bridge the seasons, all that brown can beat you down.

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