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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Garden Design - Part 2

Sometimes when you are designing a garden you come across unsurmountable obstacles. In my own garden it's an area filled with jugulone poisoned soil from black walnut trees. Maple trees and other trees with large, shallow roots can make it almost impossible to plant a garden. This can be very frustrating if you don't have many spaces to choose from for your garden.

One solution would be to mass a bunch of containers in that area and fill them with all kinds of plant material. I really liked this solution in the top photo, cover the ground with mulch and put something there that will make you smile.

Accessories are an important part in garden design. Perhaps you just need a spot of color in an area that is waiting for seasonal bloom. Maybe you just inherited a cool bowling ball and want to show it off!

It's important to take into consideration the style of your house and gardens when you choose accessories. Since my garden is named "Old Country Gardens" and my house is an older colonial style, I like accessories that are old or appear old.

Seating is another important consideration. You might want to sit in your garden, or sit looking at your garden. But, one thing is for sure, there is going to be a time that you are out there working in your garden and you are going to want to sit down. Why not make the experience pleasant?

Nature plays a huge role in a gardeners life and should be a priority when designing a garden. If you plan on inviting creatures of the earth to your garden, you have to choose plants that they will appreciate. Many bird species need specific homes so you have to do a bit of homework to find out what is needed. Having lots of birds around is a good thing, especially here on Long Island where mosquitoes carry West Nile disease. I'd rather have something eating those mosquitoes than have them eating me.

Don't forget a drink of water for those lovely creatures. I find that many larger birds actually prefer this bird bath at ground level. They will line up in the area and wait their turn to take a mini spa treatment.

Having butterflies fly around in your garden is like having the blooms take wing and float around you in the air. Yet, so many people don't want those darn caterpillars chewing up their foliage. Well that's how it is, you need to feed those caterpillars if you want to enjoy the butterflies.

Pests abound and you are sure to find a few of them in your garden. Plan in advance so you have enough plant material for all. Another option is to find companion plants that will deter the pests. In my garden I have a large clump of Hellebores. The rabbits never nibble on the bulbs that grow at the edge of that clump.

Lots and lots of plants means that your chances of having something left for you to enjoy is going to be much greater. It also means diversity, the key to a healthy garden.

Plants such as Achillea (yarrow) actually invite tiny insects called minute pirate bugs. The larvae of those bugs eat thrips. So what? Well, thrips make holes in my daylilies and I don't want to spray any deadly chemicals so I grow yarrow by my daylilies.

Besides, don't they look nice together? The orange yarrow two photos above was 'Terra Cotta' and the yellow one in this photo is 'Moonshine'. As for this spectacular daylily, it's name is 'Big George' and it will stop you in your tracks.

Thats it for this part on garden design. Next I'll finally get around to things you need to consider when choosing your plant material.

Till then, stay safe my gardening friends.



Ferne said...

thanks for visiting my blog! I am so glad you did because it brought me to yours and I love your blog!!!! The first thing to catch my eye of course was your Pot Guy...years ago I made several of these on a smaller scale and sold a few and gave some as gifts. They were a very fun project. Mine however, were faceless...I love the face on yours. I just might have to make a new one for myself.

Ewa said...

yarrow and daylilies - that's a good combination. I didn't know the bug story - will try in my garden :)

Frances, said...

Melanie, I love your parting line to stay safe my gardening friends. Your garden looks wonderful. Please take a photo of the birds standing in line for use of the spa bird bath. Our birds are not very polite and attack each other over every little thing, especially the cardinals! We struggle with walnut trees just over the property line, but our slope is so step, sitting there is not an option. I am still looking for the right evergreen shrub to plant there that will tolerate the dry hill and shade. Any ideas?

Frances at Faire Garden

Yolanda Elizabet said...

What a lovely post and so informative and full of excellent ideas.

I must admit that I wouldn't mind having that sweet little wabbit in my garden. ;-)

GardenJoy4Me said...

Great post and I didn't know about the yarrow with Day lilies .. so I will keep that in mind.
That is a major point of my "plant ZOO" .. diversity .. mainly because I love collecting different plants .. and I don't have room to plant in "drifts" of the same plant ..
Good infomration here !!

Gail said...


Loved your post and the bunny is adorable.

I can see you love daylilies...they were my first big order from a catalog=. I bought 37 different ones from Gilbert Wild & Sons....15 years ago. Still have most of them, but I have lost the tags they came with! My favorite and easily recognizable one is Kindly Light, oh yeah, there is July Gold....


Melanie said...

Ferne, that photo of a pot person was actually taken up in Boston. I have a pot person here too but my daughter used a pencil to put a face on the pot. I'm dying to find a pot with a face on it!

ewa, I'm guessing that thrips bother lots of other plants too so yes, yarrow is a good plant to have in the garden, even if you don't grow daylilies.

Frances, the wind was so loud last night when I wrote that post. My daughters were both away and my husband out on the roads and I thought of all my friends and really hoped everybody was safe.

Yolanda Elizabet, my daughter Emily hates when I show that photo now but I just adore it and wish I had taken more that day.

Joy, I've been singing that "diversity" song forever. It's so much better than a mono-culture than needs to be sprayed with chemicals.

Viooltje said...

Just like Ferne said, I'm so glad your comment has lead me to this wonderful blog, there's so much to see and learn, and I just love your photos and tips. It surely makes the world of garden blogs a richer place. A part of my back garden is stuck in the shade of some old walnut trees, and no other plants virtually have the chance to thrive there and some of them even tend to yellow, wilt and die. I'd never want to get rid of the magnificent shade they offer during the boiling summer days, and I admire them for their age and their majestic posture. And although I'm picky about removing all of the fallen leaves, I see obvious marks of juglone presence. I'm trying to renew the lawn beneath them which was severely destroyed by Bobcats and construction workers but am having a hard time finding the type of grass that'll be as enduring as the old one used to be. Looking forward to your next posts and ideas. Best wishes from Europe

lintys said...

Melanie, your garden makes me drool!

Wicked Gardener said...

Hi Melanie -
Garden art is pretty, especially when they highlight your plants. And all I can see are those georgous white ferns in the second picture. Do you have any more info on these?

Wicked Gardener said...

Hi Melanie -
Garden art is pretty, especially when they highlight your plants. And all I can see are those georgous white ferns in the second picture. Do you have any more info on these?

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to ask you---what do you do, to ammend your soil ever year to keep it all so healthy looking? I'm going to go write about that--so wait till you see my post for it--then give me the scoop. I love your post today. I'm gobbling up all I can right now to get prepared for my new gardens. I get so many good ideas from you!! Thanks a ton.

Ross said...

Beautiful gardens! I really like your mix of flowering perennials next to the path/driveway and around the barrow.

Melanie said...

Viooltje, thanks for visiting, I've been enjoying your blog too! That jugulone really is making my plants unhappy, I think I'll have lots of containers in that area instead.

lintys, I wish I could get out there and do some drooling today, hopefully in another week or two I can begin some serious work.

Wicked, those white ferns are Japanese painted ferns. The full botanical name is Athyrium niponicum pictum and the variety is 'Ghost'. Hmmm, Ghost would be perfect for a wicked garden...but I don't know if it would grow in Florida.

Anna, composted horse manure and lots of leaf mulch are the best for my garden. I left you a full description on your blog.

Ross, those plantings look very natural but really took years of experimentation to get to look like that!

Nan Ondra said...

Holy cow, Melanie: I thought *I* had rabbit problems. You sure grow 'em big up there! (Poor Emily; she'll never feel safe around a camera again.) I've really enjoyed reading this series: You have great ideas and terrific photos, too.

Ki said...

We wanted to put up some purple martin houses but were discouraged when I found out you need to place it in an open field. We had swallows descend on our neighborhood several years ago. I never did find out what they were eating. Some flying insect must have emerged and took to wing but I saw no evidence of them. You have a beautiful garden and thanks for the welcome to Blotanical.