How am I doing?

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

I just finished a bed I started on last year. Some of you that frequent the water garden forum may remember the installation of the water garden. It's on the end of my house right next to the driveway, so everyone that comes over pulls right up in front of it. I got it planted up back in the fall, but didn't get around to mulching.... BIG MISTAKE!! So for the past week, I've been on my hands and knees crawling around pulling weeds, and I've FINALLY got it DONE!!

I've still got a couple of things to plant in there, like a couple of purple fountain grasses, that will go on each end of the bench (I think.... still not sure, that's why they're still in the pots! LOL)

Anyway, here we go!
Gail
p.s. My 6mo old puppy is cute, isn't she?

Thumbnail by gardenergail
Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

And another....

Thumbnail by gardenergail
Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

and another.....

(a few pots by the bench left to plant)

This message was edited Apr 28, 2006 9:23 AM

Thumbnail by gardenergail
Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

another....

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Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

and.....

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Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

This will go on the wall between the windows.....
(see photo #1)

This message was edited Apr 28, 2006 9:30 AM

Thumbnail by gardenergail
Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

And looking out toward the street..... I deliberately left an open pathway through the center, so I could walk through to tend it and sit on the bench in front of the water garden.....

So..... garden designers (formerly curb appealers... LOL), how did I do???
Gail

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Fairmont, WV(Zone 6a)

Very nice!! Is it mostly in the shade? Looks cool and relaxing! :)

And your puppy is adorable. Smooch. :)

pam

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

Thanks! My house faces NW and it's on the west side, so it's "kinda" southwest, so it's shaded all morning but then gets a good blast of sun early afternoon and is then shaded again by the trees on the other side of the driveway. It is a nice place to sit, especially now that I've got the girl fountain and the waterfall going again!

I adopted Jetta from an animal shelter. She's 1/2 black lab and 1/2 shepard of some kind (but not German, I'm sure). She's my garden buddy! She's going to be BIG..... gained 18 pounds last month alone!

Gail

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

The puppy is adorable and the garden isn't bad either.

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

Thanks, zenpotter. Of course, it will look LOADS better next year. The daylilies in there are nice ones, though, so I hope when they bloom it will look a little more full. And, of course, the cannas along the wall will really add some punch when they get up good. They're only about 18" so far. There's a flowering almond in there, a 'Goldflame' spirea... it will mature nicely I think. I will have to resist the temptation to pack it full, as I am known to do, because then I'd be having to thin it out sooner. I have really good dirt!! NO RECOMMENDATIONS is what the extension office's soil test said, and I don't add a thing. Don't fertilize AT ALL. Here's a pic of the canna garden I did last year in the back yard, and it was only a few months old!!!

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Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

It will grow up fast - and you have a nice list of plants. Those daylilies and cannas will grow up fast. I love flowering almond. It won't get big too fast.

And you are right about daylilies - they will spread if they are the right cultivars and you have good soil. Lucky you.

I can see that you've put a lot of thought into it. I'll bet everyone, including the people on the street will really enjoy it!

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

Thank you, doss! I do like to have a nice view from the street! I did another big bed last year around the trunk of a tree we cut down. It has 4 hybrid teas, daylilies all around them, and mini roses all around the outer perimeter. It's really looking good this year! Right behind it is the arch my bosses at work got me for Christmas 2004... let me see if I've got a new pic (... of COURSE I've got a new pic... what am I thinking? LOL). I took this pic a week ago, and it's already WAY more bloomed out than this. I'll have to take some new pics tomorrow. One of these days, I'm going to go through my duplicate pics and just save a beginning, a mid-maturity, and a fully mature shot of each bed.... one of these days when I'm so old I can't do anything else! LMAO
Gail

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Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

The roses on each side of the arch are 'Aloha' and it is my FAVORITE rose.... the smell is intoxicating and the blooms are just gorgeous! This is the best pic of it I've ever taken..... I have 2 more in the back yard on a homemade arch and this is from back there.....

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Novato, CA

Gardenergail,
Upon your request, I can deliver platitude or provide a thoughtful professional critique.
Which would you prefer ?

From my point of view a well crafted critique has the ability to educate, provide guidance , inform and broaden the scope of your understanding as well as widen the depth of intellectual banter within the forum .

your choice.

Michelle.

" critique " ~ an analysis or evaluation of a subject that leads to a better understanding of how to improve upon or view with a fresh perspective

a critique is not a mean spirited demeaning lecture that 'cuts down' ones work product.
It is an educational tool to broaden ones perspective.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Gardenergail-The roses are beautiful. I am waiting to hear you answer to Michelle before I say more.

Pauline

Thornton, IL

I think stepping stones to your bench would be nice.

And I love that arch, your bosses must think very highly of you! The most I've ever received was a tiny potted rose. ;-)

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

Well, d_d.... by all means, lets have the critique!! I didn't ask how I was doing to get platitude although I must confess being guilty of providing it on occasion. Compliments are always nice, but I am openminded enough to consider another gardener's perspective on the appearance of my work. Of course, my own pleasure will always take precedence above any other, you can certainly understand that, yes? So would you like to critique the water garden bed, the canna garden, the front yard view, or my garden style in general?

zen... thank you for the compliment on the roses! I only built that bed last year, but I've got a good load of composted horse "stuff" under there and they sure seem to like it! (Now I've posted on another thread that I don't fertilize ANYTHING but I do add amendments when building a new bed, so I hope I am not construed as a fibber!)

PrairieGirl... I have had that suggestion from a neighbor (flagstones to be precise). I am still considering it but I'm afraid it would be too much, visually, and start to look cluttered. But like I said, I'm still considering it.... My bosses are great! I'd had a particularly difficult semester, so their gift meant that much more and I sat down and cried when I got home and saw it. My main boss, brought it down in his truck and it was here when I got home from work, big red bows and all. I'm the secretary for the speech pathology program at Arkansas State and was having to do billing and scheduling for our clinical facility on top of that (a job which no other secretary on campus had to do) for the same pay as the other sec's. Filing insurance claims for speech path is like a dog jumping through hoops at the circus! Luckily, the university decided we could become a free facility, so I'm much happier now with less work and this year got upgraded to sec II and got more money! Can't beat that with a stick!

Thanks y'all!!
Gail
As always, I can't resist posting a pic.... let's see..... this is back in the canna garden. I'm going to have to build or get a stronger arch for that climbing blaze! My hollyhock are looking good, and I just love that bronze fennel!

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Thornton, IL

Well congratulations on your promotion! Nice to get a little recognition, for all that extra effort. See now, I like that last picture you posted, see how the logs direct you where to go? Even something like that in that other bed is what I meant, so you are drawn to the bench, which I had to look for when you posted it.

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

I can see what you mean. I put the bench in the middle so I could sit in front of the pond. I started to offset it or put it to one side, but I just kept getting drawn back to that spot. I'm hoping once the plants fill in the path will be more pronounced. If I'd offset the bench I could have made another entrance there where the bench is now and I may wish I had done that at some point.... I also thought of something like variegated monkey grass lining the path, too. That garden in the back is so much larger than this one, though. I guess I just think this one is too small for all that, I don't know.

I planted a couple more things in there today (did I say I was going to refrain from overstuffing it... I'm not succeeding at that am I? LOL). I found a guara in full bloom in the bed on one side of my porch and I barely caught it behind some mums and dianthus, so I moved it and another one from that bed to this bed around the water garden. They will not be happy about that for a while (being moved) but they'll get over it. And I got a gorgeous grass (sweet flag-variegated yellow with green) that I divided into 5 pieces (!!!) and put one on each side right next to the bench, each side of the pond, and I potted one and put IN the pond on one of the shelves. I planted the two purple fountain grasses in an open spot in the front sections on each side of the bench, and I stuck a few petunias along the front edge on each side. I'd still like to get some kind of stones or something to hide the rim of the base of the girl fountain (on the back left side of the water garden with dahlias around the base-pics #2 and 3 on the far left of photo). I've got some water hyacinths coming in a trade that I'll put in there and the "pond" so I'm hoping they'll hide the rim some.

Novato, CA

Gardengail,

Glad to hear that you are open to the art of critique.
I have found that over the 25 years that I have been participating in critiques that they have made me a stronger designer.

First I’d like to address The Context of the scene that you posted : The faux rock fountain kit in front of the house with the white concrete bench.

The fountain kit , with its upper rock water spout makes no sense in being positioned up against a wooden shingled house.
In nature a single rock with a trickle of water would never be found protruding from the side of wood sided house with a square pond at its base.

These type of kits look better when integrated into the landscape by means of mounding the soil from behind as to give the impression that the rock(s) are naturally coming up out of the soil.
Also because of the plastic that the pond kit is made from is less than convincing that it is really rock, the kit should be heavily planted so that it is camouflaged and recessed into a thicket of greenscaping.

The way you have your pond kit sited into its surrounding location is set up on a Formal Axis
The symmetry is formal yet the style of the pond kit is naturalistic informal.
The formality of the set up is reinforced by the way you have placed the two main anchoring shrubs : Two shrubs centered on the windows with the pond kit centered between the two shrubs and the bench centered on the pond.

If you like symmetry and you like ponds, a more formal looking pond would work better in your current set up.
Because the pond is basically square, you could recycle the pond back into a new scheme without the single unrealistic protruding rock and have it work effectively on your current formal symmetrical layout.
I would recommend pulling the square pond basin out away from the house so that you can plant behind it OR keep it in place but use a formal wall plaque water spout mounted on the side of your house to get that recycling water effect.


The bench - I’m going to interject a little bit of humor here for levity. The way it is positioned looking straight back at the house wall reminds me of it being “ Go to Your Naughty Chair for your 5 minute Time Out”. “Go stare at the wall for 5 minutes then come back and tell Mommy you are sorry for what you have done”.

I know that you have the bench positioned on central viewing axis to the pond that erupts from the side of the house but because of scale issues ( the bench holding hierarchy ) , your set up is not an inviting place to go to .

To make this work the back of the wall either needs to be screened with greenery or a wall spouting plaque ( eye level focal point ) is required to take that “ naughty chair” look away.

At this step in the critique I would be asking you if you prefer a formal symmetrical set up (which is what you have set up by plant and hardscape materials ) OR do you want a naturalistic set up ?

Fulton, MO

Can a amateur gardener add something? I think a seating area seems to work better if there is some sense of shelter. Maybe behind, to the side, or overhead.

BTW, good for you in accepting critique. SB

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Gardengail,

Now that you gave your ok, I do have to admit that I thought the water feature was waiting to be put in. Now going back and reading I see it was put in last fall. I am guessing that it is in and not easily moved so I would suggest taller plantings that would basically cover most of the back and lower ones around the sides and front to help give it a look of belonging where it is. Maybe some taller grasses in the back. Ferns would be nice, but you have too much sun.

Thornton, IL

Gail,

I'm a blonde! ;-) I have to admit, I didn't even realize that "the pond" was the water garden you were referring to, I thought it was something you were going to add plants to, I'm sorry. .

I see now what dez is referring to, is it two pieces that can be separated? If you could put a wall fountain instead, it would fit right into that spot. I pulled a picture off the web for you.

If you're interested, I could post the link. But you can probably find one at a garden center.
I know I would want to see it personally, since they're expensive. But since it's a permanent fixture, it would be worth it.

I'll try to post again, without the words on the picture.


This message was edited Apr 30, 2006 5:02 PM

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Thornton, IL

Here we go again!

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Thornton, IL

Now Gail, it looks like you have lots of room around your place, you could always use that fake stone pond in another spot, like coming out of a berm with a lot of river rocks piled up around it, lots of water plants and such. I saw one near us that even had a lighthouse, it was real cute. But I carefully re-read this, and now I'm pretty sure, tell me if I'm wrong, this is the front of your house?? Or the side? My bad. Anyway, the columns are pretty formal, and the white wrought iron, so I wouldn't change the whole style. It would be far easier to change the fountain. Plus it sounds like you prefer more of the cottage garden style flowers, as opposed to water or tropicals, which makes sense for where it is. Hope this helps. Luv ya!

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

All of that makes great sense, and I appreciate the thought you have given to my little piece of dirt. The thing is, the water garden kit was given to me by my BIL, hence, FREE. I needed SOMETHING on that end of the house and that's what I had, so that's where it went. I do lean towards symetry but am trying to overcome that somewhat. The architectural style of my house, however, demands it. The front porch pediment, 4 big white columns, half-round window centered in the pediment, dentil woodwork along the base of the soffit, large decorative molding around the front door with faux columns on each side, etc., make a symetrical statement. My plant selections, however, vary outside the formal garden genre. So, I am stuck between the two and that's how my gardens end up.... straddling the fence between formal and rustic. What's funny is, that's exactly the kind of person I am. I can sit straight backed with my legs squeezed together, slightly turned to one side, feet side by side, holding my pinkie up as I sip tea, or I can throw on some camo, grab my 30-06, and sit on a deer stand from sunup to sundown (and I can shoot!). So it's no surprise that my flower beds do the same.

As for the bench, well.... I just couldn't decide where else to put it. DH and I sit there and watch the fish and talk, and it's not like a "time out" seat at all to us. The plant material will take a while to fill in, and I think it will look much better when it does. The waterfall piece IS removeable but the birds and my DH like it. I have thought many times about that large area of wall over the back piece between the windows, and just can't put my finger on what should be there, but (no offense, PrairieGirl) I do not care for the wall fountain thing. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous, just not my kind of thing. I don't want to feel like I have to sit up straight and hold my pinkie out in my own yard! I've tried to keep the front yard more formal, but the side and back I want to have a more casual feel. Moving the whole thing is not something I want to do anytime soon. Access to electricity to run the pump would be something to consider, as well. I have water hyacinths and water lettuce on the way in a trade to go with the water lilies and a couple of other water plants in there. There are tropicanna and tropicanna gold cannas on each side of the waterfall piece and running ee's (that don't get as tall as regular ones) in front of the cannas, so the back piece will be softened by those when they get up bigger and add some tropical feel to it.

I am one of those "do what you can with what you've got" kind of girls, and while the conflict between symetrical/formal and casual/rustic may not be all that appealing to some, there's not a lot I can do about it with what I've got. DH works in a factory and I'm a secretary and we live in Bay Arkansas. I like to run around barefoot (but not pregnant) and I love flowers of (almost) any kind... and it shows. So tell me now, which one of us is the MOST "deviant"...? LOL
Gail

This message was edited May 1, 2006 12:07 AM

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Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Gail-it sounds like you like what you have and that it is what you want, so stay with it! When those flowers grow you will have that little informal spot in a formal setting.

No matter how much "we" think that we want a true critique they can be more than we want. I am an artist so have learned to value a true critique, but at first it was a bit much to take.

Pauline

Thornton, IL

Gail - ROFL! Especially the part about sitting there with your pinky in the air in your own yard. Gasp. So it is out front, as I suspected. Well, free is free in my book, as I'm currently a stay-at-home mom, and we don't have any disposable income. And it would probably hurt your BIL's feelings, which is not worth all the tea in China, even you did prefer a wall fountain, so it's good that you don't! Plus, you actually get your husband to sit and talk to you. What kind of fish are in there? Those cannas will grow up and give height to that wall, and the plaque you selected has that same formal feeling to it, and matches the other side. So how are you doing? Just peachy. Enjoy. ;-)

Novato, CA

Gail,
I didn't expect you to change your landscape based on my critique.
The excersize of the critique was to get you think and expand upon your perspective in how to make it work in a more harmonious way that is more appealing aesthetically and in step with your surrounding context.


Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

You are a real Canna girl, I can tell. I love them too.

Michelle's suggestions were wonderful and I hope that you look back to what she said for future plantings and planning.

In the meantime though you have designed a garden that you really love and enjoy. That's what really counts. I would say that giving your water feature some context would make it a lot more enjoyable. That just means planting around it so that you soften the edges. Carex, grasses, annuals, perhaps gaura. How about gaura 'Passionate Rainbow'. It's a butterfly attractor which might be fun.
http://flowervillefarms.safeshopper.com/57/1325.htm?287
behind the fountain to cover some of the backing. I'm a little out of my zone for this one. Maybe somebody with more low zone experience could suggest something.

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

d_d, I truly appreciate your suggestions, and agree with some of them. And while I make attempts to create an enjoyable, harmonious, and aethetically pleasing garden, sometimes it takes several years for the "plan" to make itself known to me... LOL. It's in, now, and I can tweak it over the next couple of years and will absolutely keep your ideas in mind when I do, so thanks! I hope my reply didn't sound like I didn't appreciate your input, but I am limited in time and funds to do much more at the moment.

PrairieGirl... looking at the last pic I posted of the front of my house, the bed in question is on the far end, around on the SIDE of the house. The driveway is over there and most people that come over park in the driveway right in front of this bed and come to the back door. It's not exactly in "front" but EVERYONE that comes to my house sees it. I think it's the first bed I've done that DH will actually come and sit in with me. He sure does like the water garden, especially since we got the fish. I didn't put fish in it last year (it wasn't installed until August) and my 3yr old granddaughter INSISTED this year that we HAD to have some, so I started off with five 2-3" goldfish and they've only been in there a couple of weeks. The guy at the pet store where I got them said I should get the cheap ones (these were 5 for $6) and if they make it a week then I could get the shubunkins and be fairly sure the birds and whatnot didn't get them, so I'll probably get a couple of those now.

doss, I did put a couple of guara's in that bed but not around the water garden. I will definitely think about the plantings around it some more. I've got a lorapetalum 'Burgundy' on each side, too, but they are still so small you can barely see them (but guaras would look good with those wouldn't they?). I need to look around the yard and find some stuff to move there that would at least somewhat camoflage the fake stone and make it not seem so out of place.

I thought some more about removing the waterfall piece and planting stuff behind the base. We set it out far enough from the house to leave room for the back waterfall piece so there's about 2 - 2 & 1/2 ft between the back edge of the base and the wall. I have a turtle spitter that I did have hooked up too, but I needed the pump for my birdbath fountain so I undid it. If I remove the back piece and just use the turtle for water circulation, I thought about putting a climbing rose or another flowering vine in the center to come up in that open wall area, taking the metal scrolly thing down, and putting something else on each side of the climbing rose that would fill in enough to cover the back edge of the base. AArrrrggghhhh! WHAT TO DO!! Wait! I know what would look good there! .... an espalier! I've been wanting to try one of those.... Candelabra espalier! Now THAT would be something to look at! Formal looking, but not too much so, ya think? If I was going to do that, I think I would want to go ahead and put something around the edges of the base that would keep it relatively hidden even in winter. Anybody got any plant suggestions? Creeping phlox? Variegated monkey grass? I'm in z7a so it would either have to be evergreen or something that doesn't die completely back in winter........ and if it's something I don't have somebody may have to send me some, as I am broke! LOL One of my renters still owes me for APRIL! (I set my ring tone for her to "The Hustle"... LMAO)
Gail

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I love the idea of the lorapetalum. That's a great low, spreading shrub that can be easily maintained the size you want it to be. Good choice. Pretty too. It deserves it's popularity.

I have an espalliered apple tree that I love. It's pretty easy to keep and it flowers in the spring. Apples too. You could watch them grow!

As far as evergreen in zone 7 though, I just don't know. I've just struggled though an evergreen shade garden in zone 9! Some things just aren't that easy.

And you're right - landscaping is a process. This doesn't have to be changed right now. Go to the library and look at some books and magazines on ponds or landscaping design. Go to the bookstore and just hang out looking through books. Make this as fun as you can. It has sometimes taken me six months to pick plant materials for even a small strip of space. I'll bet that it will come to you earlier than that.

And enjoy what you've created along the way.

Bay, AR(Zone 7a)

Oh, doss.... if you knew how many gardening books I have on the shelf behind my desk at home you wouldn't say that! LOL It's finding the time to look at them that I have trouble with. I also have magazines out the wazoo with a myriad of ideas. Another problem is that I go to the nursery, Lowe's, W-mart, etc., and can't resist buying stuff. Then I come home and have to find a place to put it! I'm not used to deciding exactly what should be where and then going and buying THAT..... I buy what I like and make it fit somewhere. I guess that's one of the reasons my gardens have no "reason"!! LMAO
Gail

Thornton, IL

doss - O great one, you are so wise. I love that you made an evergreen garden in zone 9! Are you up for a separate thread on that topic? Evergreen garden ideas I mean. Then all zones could chime in! I think all of us struggle with the winter blahs. I know I need to address this same subject ie nothing to look at in winter but bare ground and a few twigs. I would so love to grow lorepetalum. I live vicariously here, green with zonal envy. LOL

gail - I love the idea of a climbing rose! Columns would be pretty too, echo the front of the house. See, I finally get the layout, hee hee. Of course, smaller in diameter than out front. I like the small goldfish, matches the scale of your garden. Did you know they come in pink? And if they don't make it, Whoosh! Expensive fish are over-rated.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Sounds as if you are that kind of Gardener, Gail.

In terms of how you've done, you've enjoyed the process which is the first rule of gardening. You love what you've done which is the second rule of gardening. And you are open to learn which is the third rule of gardening. In terms of the process, Perfect!!! Just keep learning and enjoying.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I'm happy to talk about an evergreen shade garden but Wow! Zone 5. The thing that you have that we don't is access to all of the wonderful evergreens with needles. We have very few that really like it here. And most of them, like juniper, are difficult to work with. You should start that thread definitely!!!

Thornton, IL

Me?? What not to do: take out your old overgrown foundation planting and replace with grasses and perennials, for nearly zero winter interest!

Hey, maybe...you've given me the idea...What NOT to Do in the Garden. LOL

It's so much easier telling gail what she should do. Hahahahaha

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Ah, see. Live and learn. But if your foundation plantings were overgrown you did the right thing to take them out and you haven't wasted money because grasses and perennials are easily moved. Just redesign!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

PrairieGirl - I like your idea for a new thread. We could all tell of our own errors.

Doss - Inherited landscaping can be a horror to make look attractive and there are so many worthwhile shrubs on the market now that it's more fun than ever before.

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