Archive for Parking Strips

Diversity of Dogwoods Part II

Venus dogwood from Heritage Seedlings

The flowers of  ‘Venus’  dogwood compared to a typical dogwood flower. See Diversity of Dogwoods Part I.  Photo courtesy of Heritage Seedlings

Continued from Diversity of Dogwoods Part I

The diversity of dogwoods is well illustrated by these two trees:  Cornus Kousa ‘Summer Gold’ and Cornus Controversa ‘June Snow’.

Summer Gold dogwood

Bright cream flowers are backed by colorful variegation of  ‘Summer Gold’ dogwood. Photo courtesy of Heritage Seedlings

I love ‘Summer Gold’ partially because it’s so different from other dogwoods.  Typical dogwoods have a wide oval green leaf and a round wide canopy.  ‘Summer Gold’ has narrow bright green and gold leaves and has an upright narrow shape.  This means it fits into urban settings much better than a typical dogwood.  It was created by  local grower Crispin Silva who is a delight.  His curiosity and enthusiasm about plants has certainly inspired me.  People in the industry refer to his plants as “Crispin’s Creations”.

‘June Snow’ dogwood is also different from most dogwoods.  She matures at 30′ tall and spreads to 40′ wide.  I use her for light shade for medium to smaller landscapes.  She is too big for your typical row house back yard that is only 20′ wide, but in landscapes with a little more room she can be the single tree.  This is because she has it all.  Her branch structure is incredibly graceful and open.  When she flowers in June these flat topped clusters (which often exceed 6 inches) seem to float above the foliage.

Cornus 'June Snow'

‘June Snow’ dogwood at Portland’s Legacy-Emanuel Hospital in The Children’s Garden.

 

 

The fall color can compete with any dogwood starting with orange yellows and moving into purple red and deep purple as fall deepens.  The fruit that develops from the flower clusters are tiny and not messy.  The local birds will eat them.

 

Diversity of Dogwoods Part I

Cornus Kousa 'Satomi' at Joy Creek Nursery.

Cornus Kousa ‘Satomi‘ at Joy Creek Nursery.

Diversity of Dogwoods – Part I

Dogwoods are a very large family.  There are twiggy shrub dogwoods whose hot colored stems light up the winter landscape.  There is a dogwood who blooms in March with yellow flowers and makes an edible fruit.  There are semi evergreen dogwoods we are experimenting with here in Portland.  This is the kind of knowledge homeowners need their designers to be up to date on.  When a client asks me for a dogwood I know its the visual and emotional impact of the flowers they are thinking of.  Designers think through the details to find the right variety for the clients size of yard and environment so our clients don’t have to.  Landscapes come in all different sizes and environments and now so do Dogwoods.

Plant designers have been busy improving our old-fashioned dogwood tree into a garden designers dream tree. Our old dogwood varieties have problems that plant designers have been working on for 40 years.

Cornus-Kousa 'Satomi' Intense pink flowers. Photo by Randall C. Smith, courtesy of Great Plant Picks

Cornus Kousa ‘Satomi’  Intense pink flowers.  New on the scene, ‘Little Ruby’  is a deeper pink. Photo by Randall C. Smith, courtesy of Great Plant Picks

They are improving drought tolerance, disease resistance (okay not sexy but important!)  and cold hardiness.  They’ve created new shapes that fit better into the urban environment.

What is sexy or desirable are the improvements made to the flowers.  Let’s admit it, where dogwoods are concerned,  we want even pinker flowers.   Everyone wants more color than nature supplies on her own. There are darker shades of more intense pink red.

Cornus Kousa 'Venus' has large dogwood flowers

Cornus Kousa ‘Venus’ has large white flowers which are 6 to 7 inches across.

Varieties such as ‘Little Ruby’  showcase the new strong colors.   ‘Little Ruby’ is wider than tall.  She is  plump and round headed and can be used in the landscape as a shrub or small tree.

Another new variety is called ‘Starlight’.  This cross is from our own native Pacific Northwest Dogwood;  the shape is upright and more narrow.  It works for your small yard or as a street tree. There’s a beautiful ‘Starlight’ in the courtyard of the Edith Green federal building in downtown Portland as an example of a tree perfect for urban life.

Cornus Kousa 'Starlight' dogwood

‘Starlight’ dogwood is a cross from our Pacific Northwest native dogwood. The narrow shape is perfect for urban life. http://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/cornus-starlight

 

‘Venus’ features ginormus white flowers which are 6″-7″ across.  Like ‘Starlight’ they produce little to no  fruit unlike the many Korean dogwoods hybridized and sold in the last 15 years.  In fact even Friends of Trees offer messy Korean dogwoods.  I confess I make a TSKK TSKK when I see the huge mess they make on the sidewalks. In the fall they drop a large raspberry colored fruit.  Friends of Trees is a fabulous organization and many clients have been happy to purchase an inexpensive tree and learn how to care for their tree.  I would use the fruitless varieties near walkways and for small yards and save the old fashioned fruiting types for large properties.

 

Garden Designer Brings Integration and Function To “Mismatched” Landscape

The new deck feels like an outdoor living room and makes the garden feel part of the house.

The new deck feels like an outdoor living room and makes the garden feel like part of the house.

“My garden adventures with Carol, Design in a Day, began in 2010.  Carol took my “mismatched” garden and pulled it together by incorporating a variety of plants which added interesting leaf shapes, texture, and color.  With the addition of stone paths and walls, art pieces, and a deck with planter boxes, she created a garden that blends continuity, interest, and beauty.

The old deck seemed small and cut off from the garden area.

The old deck was too small, felt cut off from the garden, and made an unattractive view.

Since a garden is an ever-changing palate, I have continued to work with Carol as my garden coach so my garden space will continue to thrive.

Carol is professional, knowledgeable, and talented.  She’s a good listener and will collaborate with a team of experienced and creative contractors as well as resources for plants.  With Carol’s style of landscape design one can select from a wide menu of options – from a garden design only where the client does the work, to a design and consultation, up to supervision of the project.”

August in the garden: Hakonechloa Macra 'Albostriata' - Japanese Forest Grass; Aconitum 'Tall Blue' - Monkshood; Hardy Fuchsia

August in the garden: Hakonechloa Macra ‘Albostriata’ – Japanese Forest Grass; Aconitum ‘Tall Blue’ – Monkshood; Hardy Fuchsia

When I work with an established garden, I strive to bring an experienced eye that can see exciting new possibilities with the removal of plants and features that no longer work (or missed by a mile simply because no one knew what could be).  It’s hard for clients to do this on their own.  For many years some plants were wonderful and were loved.  I have been hired to help my clients have their best garden. Telling them a plant  is great just because they love it is not earning my pay.  I try to do this gently when it needs to be done.

We (Lois and I) made so many amazing changes in our design process but I will speak of a few.  This garden already had a mature dogwood tree.  Its location was perfect but it had been damaged by the pruning of a well intentioned “mow, blow and go” gardener.  It took 3 years of light but precise pruning to correct damage and now it is the long term focal point of the back garden.

The new deck feels more like an outdoor living room and is an extension of the great room. What had been a dark interior room now feels significantly bigger and airy.  We used planters instead of railing and they bring the garden (including year round flowering plantings) up into the view from inside.  Before our design, the garden was obscured and felt cut off from the house, now it feels like part of the great room.  We created a kitchen window view with plantings that look good year round and bring the Anna hummingbirds into close view in winter.  This had previously been a forgotten area and the client had no expectations for it.  To her it was just a side yard.  Now it is one of her favorite views.

Driveway pic 1 plants tempOur adventures do continue.  Here are photos of our latest improvement, a retaining wall and plantings that dresses her driveway beautifully.Driveway pic 2 temp

Low Water Landscape Design for Young Family

Test after

After: New design includes drought tolerant plants and street tree.

TJ and Lori contacted me via Plant Native. They had a new house and were in the process of growing their family.  I love to design the landscape where my client’s children will grow up.  Its so satisfying!  We are creating the places where important moments, family traditions and their memories will be made.  During the interview, I asked about edibles.  They laughed and said in unison “Beans”!  Green beans were important and there was clearly some family joke about them.  Their wish list was extensive  but the top 5 were curb appeal, low water use, Rain Garden for disconnected down spouts, no lawn, four season plantings and a screen to define their property form their  neighbors without resorting to a fence…….and a place for green beans.

Test before

Before Landscape Design in a Day

We solved the curb appeal issue by designing the parking strip as if it were part of the front yard.  This added needed depth and gave the large front facade of the house the feel of a much larger front yard.  The rain gardens had boulders with interesting plantings that added drama to the scene.

Test parking strip

True Dwarf Pines and herbs brighten parking strip.

parking strip stepables anderson

Elfin Pink Thyme acts as stepables for flagstone path.

The parking strip was 8′ wide so was treated as an extension of the front yard, and we need that 8′!  The house with such a tiny front yard floated.  The new design integrated the parking strip into the front yard and “planted” the house visually.

Typically no designer would select the driveway for family quality time.  As we worked together it became clear that the deep spacious driveway was the perfect place for the edibles garden and play space.  The driveway got a privacy treatment,  a large arbor set within a stone planter.    The planter acts as art, adds curb appeal, and visually softens the size of the driveway .  It’s a functional divide between the properties and it can be seen from inside the house, replacing the view of the neighbors side yard and house wall.  Guess what they grow on the curved iron trellis – Green Beans.  People tall and short sit on the planter cap to garden and talk or play.

photo (82)

Stone planter with an arbor.  Click here to see more stone planter options.

My Top 5 Stepable Plants for Paths

Thymus Praecox 'Coccineus' in North Portland parking strip

Creeping Thyme (Thymus Praecox ‘Coccineus’) in Portland parking strip

I pick plants for my clients very carefully and especially stepable plants for growing between flagstone.   There are so many plants called stepables and it is easy to select the wrong one, a plant that will cause problems.

Most people don’t want to trial and error plants. They want to know it will the first time so they consult someone like me for guidance.

Here’s how I think about selecting stepable plants.

Hernaria Glabra 'Green Carpet'

Step on those ground covers! That’s why they call them stepables.

I want a plant that doesn’t grow higher than 1″ tall so people won’t  trip over the plant. To keep the plants low they should be stepped on frequently as it will keep them more dense and shorter.  What you don’t want is for them to mound up to a 3″ hill and many of the stepables will do this so good selection is important.  What do I mean by frequently?  Walking on them daily is fine, but at least once or twice a month be sure to step firmly onto the plant.  My grandson Rain helped me plant my flagstone patio.  I went in the house briefly and his friend came running in and said “I keep telling him they’re stepables not stompables.”  I looked up to see my grandson stomping on the freshly planted ground covers.  The plants did survive but I don’t recommend stomping on them.

Leptinella 'Platt's Black'

‘Brass Buttons’ is the mauve toned ferny ground cover.

I want a plant that doesn’t spread too fast and grow over the flagstone quickly.  If you plant a type of stepable that grows too vigorously you will have to be constantly cutting the plant off of the flagstone.  Untended it will completely cover your flagstone.

 Azorella Trifurcata 'Nana'

Cushion Bolax is one of my favorites.

Most of these plants require good drainage in order to grow thickly and repel weeds.  If they don’t grow thickly weed seeds will thrive.  I only use a few varieties of stepables for light shade or morning sun and afternoon shade.

 

Here is my favorites list:

Leptinella with star creeper

Here’s a close up of  ‘Platt’s Black’ Brass Buttons with Star Creeper.

Part shade/part sun:  Leptinella squalida –  New Zealand Brass Buttons.   The variety I prefer is ‘Platt’s Black’.  The other variety of Brass Buttons I like, ‘LePrinella P. Verdigris’ is a bit fast.

Mentha requienii –  Corsican Mint  This is a crowd pleaser because it smells good when you step on them.  This plant does need good drainage, shade and soil that is too wet in the winter will kill this plant.

Plants for sun:

Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ or ‘Elfin Pink’  – I love this plant and it is truly a flat mat if you step on it.  It does get weeds growing into the middle so it’s not maintenance free, but only garden magazines talk about maintenance free landscapes.

Thymus Serphyllum 'Elfin' or 'Elfin Pink' is a crowd pleaser for hot sunny areas.

Thymus Serphyllum ‘Elfin’ or ‘Elfin Pink’ is a crowd pleaser for hot sunny areas.

Stachys Densiflora ‘Alba’ – Alba Lambs Ear   First of all this plant looks nothing like silvery furry lambs ear.  The leaves are fully evergreen, dark green and leathery.  I love this plant because it doesn’t let weed seeds in.  Plant it on the edges of your path unless you plan to step on it every day, otherwise it will mound up.  It takes full sun easily and the flowering period is fantastic!

Azorella Trifurcata ‘Nana’ – Cushion Bolax   I have this plant at my vacation house.  It occasionally has a dandelion sprout in the middle, but rarely any other kind of weed and I find it to be very low maintenance.

My dog Barley looking at freshly planted Cushion Bolax ground cover.

My dog Barley looking at freshly planted Cushion Bolax ground cover.

I love the texture.  It goes through a change where the little needles feel like a plastic carpet (which sounds bad but is fun) and then it softens into a pettable surface.  The yellow flowers are tiny and cute.

There are a bazillion plants that are called stepables.  I have not trialed them all. Read more…