August

garden in August (1) By the time August comes around, I am ready to take a vacation from the work of my garden, and just enjoy it. In May I might renovate a spot that has gotten a little tired or overgrown. I added a new strip of pachysandra this year in the fountain garden. The yews have grown a lot, and the grass is not happy in their shade. For better or for worse, I make decisions about what to plant in my pots, and get them planted.  In June, the problems generated by the previous winter become obvious.  Replacements go in the ground. 4 all but dead rhododendrons get removed. In the case of my rose garden which finally completely succumbed to the insult of two bitterly cold winters, I decided to do nothing. We not only need a new roof this fall, we need a place to shovel off the old roof.

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When the weather finally warms up in July, I might start watering here and there. I do not run my sprinkler system on a regular program.  I water what I think needs to be watered.  I only rarely run all of the zones at once. Once the water goes on, broken heads, or a need for a change in coverage become obvious. Sprinkler repairs-July work.The seasonal pots begin to settle in, and put down roots.

garden in August (6)Once August comes, I want to take the time to enjoy the garden.  The watering and maintenance of the pots is not a chore.  I enjoy that.  It is a perfect way to wind down from the day. I water. I tinker with this or that leaf that needs to be removed. The maintenance of the pots is about falling in to the pleasure of a garden. I sweep up all of the maple helicopters.  I make the effort to appreciate what is there, and not worry about what should be there.  Fall is a much better time to make changes in a landscape. Mid seventies during the day, and upper fifties at night is not the norm for Michigan in August.  Why not enjoy that? A temperate August in Michigan is a gift that should be treasured. Buck and I visit each garden every day after work. The corgis come along. This August is temperate.  We are eating outdoors every night.  No matter the menu, there is always Michigan grown corn and tomatoes.

garden in August (3)Even the simplest spots that are completely familiar look good to me. Most of the plants have been there a long time, and seem happy.  Those that aren’t will be dealt with some other time.  Right now is for what is good about it. I feel like I am on vacation when I am home, and that seems like a good thing.

garden in August (4)So why is my August garden vacation on my mind?  I met with a client late last week who just days ago moved into a new house.  The house she left was a beautiful turn of the century home on a big piece of property.  She had invested an incredible amount of time in the landscape and gardens. The decision to move was a family decision.  Decisions like this are made by people all the time, including those people who have a passion for, and work the garden. Most people have important obligations and commitments, and that includes gardening people.

garden in August (5)She has only been in her new house for a few days. The property is astonishingly large. There are some old trees, and lawn as far as the eye can see. The house is almost completely obscured by overgrown shrubs. A typical suburban foundation planting had been left to its own devices. In one spot was the largest and tallest stand of Canada thistle I have ever seen. The house had not been occupied for quite some time, and that landscape had been neglected.      garden in August (12)She did tell me quite a bit about the garden she had just left. How she had planted all of the landscape and gardens herself, and how she managed to maintain it, in addition to having a job and family to look after. That discussion was about more than her loss.  It was about helping me to understand what had been important to her. I did not ask her what trees, shrubs and perennials she liked.  I did not ask her about color or style.  I wanted to know why she called me.

DSC_2446She answered without hesitating.  She told me she was a gardener, and not a designer.  What she was looking for from me was a plan.  An outline of how to go about creating a landscape and garden that would make her new house feel like a home. A way of making sense of 2.5 acres of wide open space. She knows as well as I do how much time and effort that will take. She already has a plan to remove all of the overgrown foundation plantings this fall.  Her August will be very different than mine.

garden in August (13)That said, I could sense her resolve. I could tell that she has the energy to take on a project of this size, and see it through. She is a gardener, after all. With some time and thought, I think I can provide her with a place to dig in. She is counting on me for that, and I plan to give it to her.

DSC_2431Her situation is not unknown to me. When I was her age, I had a new house and property.  For years I did nothing to it.  I was too busy getting Detroit Garden Works off the ground, and tending to my landscape practice. But there came a time when I wanted to make time for it.  That was all it took.  If this client wants to make time for it on day two of her possession of the new house, you can rest assured she is serious. She will make something beautiful and interesting of her property.

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When I got home later that day, I was glad I had persisted over a period of years making a landscape and garden.  It was, and is, worth it. On top of this, a new client whose love of the garden is a call I will do my best to answer.

garden in August (14)On my deck today, many shades of green. On my mind, an avid gardener with a new house lacking a landscape.

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Tonight, I have little in the way of obligations. On a Sunday in August, I do my best to enjoy the fruits of all of my work. The deck pots look good to me.

DSC_2410boxes on the north side

DSC_2413bird’s nest ferns

garden in August (15)a  big spike, growing.

DSC_2200the side garden

garden in August (11)hydrangeas coming into bloom

garden in August (16)lantana on standard

garden in August (18)This is the August news from #35.

The Garden Tour

IMG_0820Our garden tour to benefit the Greening of Detroit was a successful event.  We sold 278 tickets, for both the tour, and the tour and reception. We raised close to 13,000.00 for the Greening.  This may not seem like so much, but over the past 8 years, this amounts to 97,000.00. We have been persistent in our support of them, as well we should.  For those of you that are too far away to attend our cruise, there are pictures to follow.  That said, I am so pleased that we had gardeners from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Washington DC attend our tour.  I could not be more pleased about the attendance, the tour-and the fabulous afterglow Rob and his group put on after the tour.  To follow are pictures from our tour day.

IMG_0818These clients have shopped at Detroit Garden Works since the first day we went into business 19 years ago.  Their landscape is all their own.  Their love of color is extraordinary. They have children, to whom they have dedicated a child friendly garden.  I so admire their landscape and garden, as they have expressed themselves with great confidence and care. They have a point of view, and they are unabashed about expressing it. Their garden was the subject of much talk-as it should be.

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DSC_1996This property belongs to a new client.  We rearranged just about every plant they had. We added lots more. Just this spring. We arranged to have a long wall built in the mid ground of the back yard. My crew did an incredible job, making lots of changes.  I so treasure these clients.  Thy were ready for a change. They studied our ideas, and signed up. A change we did-in short order. The new landscape has great bones.  They will decide where they want to go next.

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the landscape in July (14)

July 5 2015 (11)

the landscape in July (6)

July 5 2015 (38)

DSC_1990The relationship with this client dates back 20 years. The landscape features many specimen trees that have grown to great size. Like all of the other gardens on the cruise, the landscape is a mix of formal and informal, and beautifully maintained. Though we have redone a few places recently, it is clear that an older landscape, properly planted, ages well.

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DSC_1964This landscape of our design took two seasons to install. Our client is an avid gardener. Her love of the garden drove the design. This landscape featured unusual trees, shrubs, and espaliers. Every square foot of this property is devoted to the plants.  I was interested that all the plants be part of a beautiful design.

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DSC_1906This landscape belongs to clients who have shopped Detroit Garden Works for the last 20 years. The landscape is all of their design.  They have the most beautiful collection of fine garden urns we know of in one place-all of which came from our shop. We have consulted on the landscape on occasion. But what you see here is by and large of their own invention.  How they invent is extraordinary.  We are so pleased to be associated with them.

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DSC_1898Our garden cruise this year was all I could ask from a garden tour. A diverse group of gardeners who have a passion for the landscape.  Every garden was strikingly different.  But every garden spoke to a love for the landscape.  Oh yes, they did.

The Finished Landscape

landscape 2015 (4)This post is the last in a series of three about the renovation of a landscape. The fences and gates were finished just in time for our garden tour last Sunday. It is remarkable how much they contribute to the landscape. Though I say the landscape is finished, of course there are spots that could be improved.  But for now, the landscape has presence, and is healthy. The back yard feels like a secret garden-which is what my clients sought the most from their landscape renovation.

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lead containers

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landscape 2015 (3)The view from the driveway culminates in a peegee hydrangea on standard.

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landscape 2015 (5)A 12″ tall retaining wall on the far side of the pergola made it possible to level the ground in this area.  The pergola is planted with the climbing rose “John Davis”.

landscape 2015 (6)The view of the yard looking north benefits from the landscapes further up the street.  The long view here is quite lovely, even though the setting is an urban neighborhood.

DSC_1861The south side yard

landscape 2015 (7)The tricolor beech has some companion plantings.

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DSC_1865a small perennial garden

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landscape 2015 (9)The pergola from the front yard has gates and a fence to go with. Planted between the Venus dogwoods-hydrangea “Bobo”, and pachysandra.

landscape 2015 (10)Planted on the fence, sweet autumn clematis. The emerald green arborvitae are planted on the fence line, while the hedge of Venus dogwoods curves forward.  The two hedges overlap in a visually interesting way.

landscape 2015 (12)Emerald green arborvitae provide screening on the driveway side.

landscape 2015 (1)The gates

DSC_1873The generator is not screened from this view, yet.

DSC_1317at the end of the driveway, an old bench flanked by a pair of pots.

DSC_1226The end result – a simple formal landscape in front that makes much of the classic architecture of the house, and three beautiful and mature concolor firs. In the back, a very private landscape and garden that will only get better with time.

 

 

At A Glance: Scenes From The Installation

DSC_4804To follow are some pictures that detail the landscape renovation process for the property I wrote about yesterday. In establishing privacy close up on the terrace, and screening the generator from view, a new home was created for the lead fountain.

DSC_4768a scheme for the garage wall that involved centering the existing trellis, and adding a pair of candelabra style espaliers –  faced down with a double row of boxwood.

DSC_9557a custom made planter box from Branch Studio centered on the trellis

DSC_5022The new home for the lead fountain creates a mid ground layer of privacy up close to the terrace. Though not readily apparent in this picture, the boxwood curves around the back of the fountain.

DSC_5021privacy on the terrace on the south side

October 12 2014 (12)providing for good drainage

DSC_0076setting 11 Venus dogwoods on a curve-well out of the way of the power lines

pergolarestored wood arbor moved from the front yard to the entrance to the rear yard garden

October 12 2014 (18)gravel along the foundation in the front yard

DSC_1266a few favorite perennials

Q landscape (2)the last of the planting.  In this picture you can see that the boxwood backdrop to the lead fountain was planted on a curve that matches the curve of the Venus dogwoods. A few broadly brushed curves can energize a narrow, boxy space.

DSC_1220The existing lead boxes were moved onto the porch where their diminutive size and subtle detail can be better appreciated.  2 new custom boxes were fabricated and placed as “end posts” to the boxwood hedge across the front.  Their size is proportional, and scaled to the size of the porch. The indented, concave corners of the boxes is a traditional detail.

Q landscape (6)A new powder coated steel pergola has the same footprint as the sun room on the opposite side of the house, and features a gothic arch detail taken from the existing windows on the house.  The pergola is set level, true and plumb.  The regrading of the ground would come later.

new yewsNew yews replaced those that had been killed by the previous two winters.

a new lookAn updated design was beginning to emerge. Tomorrow, the finish.