Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A garden just like mine was in a magazine!

I was taking a cursory flip through the new issue of Garden Gate that arrived today when I saw a garden that looked exactly like the perennial garden I've been working on! I was amazed to find that this garden had the same shape and layout as the one I've drawn out from my own imagination and begun to plant!

As I settled in to more closely read the article - looking for all kinds of confirmation that I'm awesome and that being a landscape architect is my destiny, I realized something that will prevent my dreams from ever coming into fruition. My brilliant garden, shown in the magazine, was the before photo. Following, was a five-page spread titled, "Too Much Going On", describing the ways that my garden probably could and should be improved.

But not to worry, the article warns me. Per the article, I do not need to rip everything out and start over (a good thing, because I just purchased and tucked in LOTS of new plants). I should follow these tips:

  • Pick a core group of five or six plants and stick with it.
  • Repeat colors and textures to make the garden feel unified.
  • Plant in groups of three to five plants to avoid ending up with dots of color here and there.
  • Expand the garden to accommodate two plants side by side instead of a row of single plants (is my husband reading this?)
  • Consider using something like an urn or vertical element to mark the transition from the driveway.

I enjoy the segment "From the Drawing Board" in the magazine because several different variations on the main theme are shown. After reading the article a little more closely, it seems that I am not completely off base. Perhaps I have a little "too much going on", but I have tried to stick to a color scheme, and generally planted in groups of 3. I have also decided to add some vertical elements to this new garden. Not sure if my garden will ever end up in the after photo, but I guess I can start dreaming about being a landscape architect again.


  1. Hi Wendy~~ Articles like these are so duplicitous. With my two bulging baskets of Fine Gardening back issues, I'm not complaining...but it's really easy to get discouraged with the comparisons and the rules. These are good guidelines and there's always room for improvement but who's to say if your garden has too much going on? I guess we need to find the balance between inspiration and dictation. It's good to get ideas but if your garden is just like the one in the magazine, where's your own stamp? In my early days of gardening back when Abe Lincoln was president, I got SO discouraged by "the experts" telling me exactly how to do this or that. I hate to see any budding gardener have the same experience. That said, in the past few years the biggest challenge for me is the first one--the core group of plants. I'm a plant hoarder. Very little restraint here. And therein lies the challenge, a cohesive design with my plethora of plants? Huh? LOL, Time to dig up more lawn.

  2. And where would we be without our dreams? I love Garden Gate magazine. I have every issue since they first started publishing.

  3. You ARE awesome...confirmed! Garden Gate's one of my favs!

    Funny, I read these articles and enjoy them but when I arrive at nurseries, all that planning escapes me and I just end up buying what i love and find I would NOT make a good landscape designer!
    You, on the other hand, would make an excellent one!

  4. Wendy, you are awesome!
    I tend to limit my garden colours all the time, I do the same thing at the flower shop, I do not like too many colours going on, it just feels too "busy" to me. (We call it a tossed salad at work). My last garden, I had a number of areas, (divided into rooms) and they all had their own colour theme. The black and white garden, the hot border (pink, orange and red) and the blue and yellow border. This way I could always get the plant, because it would fit in one of the three areas.

  5. I have been thinking of rearranging my outdoor containers for some time. Those five tips are going to be really useful for me! TQVM!! Btw, work on your dream and I am sure you are going to be one good landscape architect.

  6. Wendy,
    Repeat after me: we are certified landscape architects
    ...if only in our dreams ;~D
    Gardens are ever changing, to our delight, and at times, to our chagrin. But always, our very own creation.

  7. LOL-Oh no! At least someone out there has the same aesthetic inclinations as you...even if they are "before" inclinations. Besides, every garden is different-different surroundings, different growth rates for different plants, different personal tastes, etc. It sounds like your perennial garden will grow into a wonderful "after" photo!

  8. I'm with Grace here: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."
    In one of my favorite interview responses, a gardener was asked how she came by her brilliant plant combinations. Her reply: "I just plant what I like, and it all seems to work out."

  9. Make your bed the way you want it to be. Having it too busy may be your way and beautiful from your hands. The 'experts' have been to landscape school and know all the rules. You have your creativity that can break any rule. Go for it. On the other hand I usually get ideas from the rules, which I break to fit my own idea.

  10. If everybody's garden was laid out how the so called experts advised, it would be da** boring. Just follow your heart, Wendy!

  11. This was one of those posts where I got involved reading all the comments before me. I had to laugh about your design being in Garden Gate, then finding out it was the before. Which one was it? I buy most of them at the bookstore, but keep meaning to subscribe so I don't miss any.

    I think one of the reasons I call myself a collector and not a landscaper is because I am not organized enough to follow the rules. I feel like if I tried to, I would make a mistake, and look foolish. I like the quote Ricki used, where a woman said she planted what she liked and it all worked out. That's what I do, and if it doesn't work out the way I like it, I change things around. That's part of the fun of gardening.

    I think it would be hard landscaping for others, but I imagine the landscaper finds out how involved in gardening the client wants to be. Don't most people want a few trees and shrubs here and there, and a few perennials, and then want them to take care of themselves for the most part?

    As for me, getting my hands dirty, digging, composting, planting, deadheading, etc. are my hobbies.

  12. I think there are (at least) 2 catagories of gardens you see in front of people's houses. There are those that are "landscaped" - and these are really nice, professionally done, and make me envious, and then those that say, "a plant lover lives here", a garden that is tended regularly by a person who loves to do his/her own work, try different things, move things, etc. I think the article is more of the first look, which is really great, but honestly, I just feel like my yard is so small, and there are sooo many great plants out there, I just couldn't stick with just a few of a certain kind of plant.

  13. Wendy, I think you will become a great lanscape architect one day. My status at the moment is like what you have just mentioned "yard is so small, too many great plants out there..." I still busy trying out and studying the characteristics of plants that catches my fancy. Nothing beats real life experience for me. I think my garden changes according to my whims and fancies. At the moment, I even have some half bald perinwinkle plants because I am trying to raise caterpillars now. My garden is definitely in the 2nd category of your list.

  14. AB - thanks! you're so sweet. I ditto your comments (except for the caterpillars - never to the caterpillars and butterflies!)

  15. Very funny post. Thanks for the laugh. I think my whole house is a before picture. At least you got some good ideas and it's always good to have a dream.

    My favorite landscape architect blog is Dirt Simple. Have you ever run across it. ( I learn so much and just love to see her designs.


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