Archive for the ‘Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop’ Category

The Screening Test

Foundation planting at Hayefield with Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' and Vernonia

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

One of the biggest challenges of creating a new garden on a relatively flat, featureless field has been figuring out how to break up the view a bit. Partly, I wanted to create some privacy from the roads that border two sides of my lot. I also wanted to add some screening within the garden, so the whole thing wasn’t visible from one spot, and to create some sheltered sitting areas as well. I needed to find a way to screen the area under the raised porch, too, so the junk-storage space underneath wasn’t visible.

My previous garden was very small, so it wasn’t a big deal to invest in some special trellises and screens, or to have Mom build them. This place is so much larger, though, that even buying enough lumber for Mom-made structures really isn’t an option. Sizeable shrubs and trees are pretty much out of the budget too. So I’ve turned to another option: perennials that are eye-high or taller.

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Name That Garden

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

We all know the “right” way to choose plants for our gardens: figure out how much sun and shade we have, how fertile the soil is, what the drainage is like, what hardiness zone we’re in, which flower and foliage traits we want, yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s all excellent advice, of course, but I know I’m not the only one who quite often ignores all that and chooses plants purely on impulse. Sometimes it’s just because of a really cool flower, or terrific leaf variegation. And sometimes, I buy a plant just because of its name.

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Got Rocks?

Boulder field at Ringing Rocks May 8 08

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Have you ever noticed that other gardeners always have more difficulties than you do? You mention that you have deer/rabbits/voles/Japanese beetles/shade/whatever, and then you hear how the other person has the same problem but much, much worse than you could ever imagine. I’ve noticed that it’s the same with rocks: You grumble about hitting a few rocks when digging a fencepost or trying to plant, and invariably, someone else has more/bigger/harder rocks in their garden. Well, whenever I hear someone complain about rocks in the garden, I have to think that they don’t realize how bad it could be! Continue reading

Not-So-Mellow Yellow

Baptisia sphaerocarpa 'Screaming Yellow' with Nepeta 'Walker's Low', Cornus sericea 'Silver and Gold', and Salvia 'Caradonna'

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

In The Softer Side of Yellow, I trotted out some images of what I thought were relatively tasteful combinations of yellow with green, yellow with yellow, and yellow with blue. As I was choosing those pictures, I also found some combinations that showed a bit more zip, so I figured I’d put those in a separate group. This combination, featuring ‘Screaming Yellow’ false indigo (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) could have gone either way: Paired with the ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta), the effect is rather soft, but the intense purple-blue of the ‘Caradonna’ salvia in the back saves it from being too sweet. Can you imagine this grouping without the catmint? That would definitely be zippy.

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The Softer Side of Yellow

Arc borders at Hayefield

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Of all the color combinations in my garden, yellow with green is one of my favorites. Built around a long row of golden elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Aurea’), the curved borders that evolved along my driveway turned out to be a great place indulge in all sorts of yellow flowers and foliage. It wasn’t until months later, when I took the picture at the top of this post, that I realized the excellent color echo of the road sign in the background. The strong yellow of the ‘Zagreb’ coreopsis in the foreground is almost a perfect match, though I think rudbeckias would be even better.

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Purple Prose – Part 3

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' with Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' and Trifolium rubensPurple foliage lends itself so well to high-contrast plant pairings that it seems almost a waste to try it in quieter combinations. In my garden, this usually happens only by accident: The purple foliage is there waiting for the bright flowers to do their thing, and it ends up looking good with another leafy partner. Well, I’m inclined to enjoy beauty where I find it, and these unplanned pleasures often delight me more than my carefully considered pairings.

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Purple Prose – Part 2

Clematis seedling with Rosa glauca

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Every few months, I start a new list of garden projects I’d like to try. It would be better if I’d keep just one running list, because the many small bits of paper scattered over my desk get used as bookmarks or coasters or end up getting filed with other papers, and I lose track of them. When I do run across an old list, it’s fun to read it over and see what I’d planned and what (if anything) I’ve accomplished. One project that’s appeared on quite a few of my lists is making a black-and-white garden.

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