Archive for curb appeal

Portland Landscape Designer loves Purple Flowers

Portland Landscape Designer uses Purple Monkshood in Eastmoreland Garden

Monkshood with Japanese Forest Grass and Hardy Fuchsia

Portland Landscape Designer loves purple flowers of Monkshood

Portland landscape designer loves purple flowers of Monkshood.  My clients have unique likes and dislikes when it comes to plants.  When they love something specific, like purple flowers, one of my favorites is purple flowered Monkshood.  Other clients are focused on a purpose such as native plants or the lowest of low maintenance plants and not on specific colors.  My job is to find the plant palette that satisfies each client’s needs.

Purple flowers

I love tall columns of  purple flowers in my Portland landscape designs.  I often use them at the back of  planting beds to break up a bare wall or visually soften a fence. It’s an easy care perennial plant with no pest problems. It flowers a long time, provides great contrast with bright green or gold foliage and adds drama to the garden scene.

Aconitum 'Tall Blue' Portland Landscape Designer plant

Aconitum Carmichaelii ‘Tall Blue’ – Monkshood at Joy Creek Nursery

I only use varieties that don’t flop.  There is no need to stake the plants if you select the right varieties and water correctly. Staking plants is a hassle and not low maintenance so I don’t use plants that require staking in my designs.

Here are the Monkshood varieties I use in my Portland landscape designer practice.

Aconitim x napellus ‘Newry Blue’ -Flowers June and July, 4′ tall and an intense purple blue

Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Tall Blue’ – Flowers late August and September at 6′ to 8′

Portland Landscape Designer loves purple flowers of Monkshood

Aconitum Carmichaelii ‘Late Crop’ – Monkshood at Joy Creek

Aconitim x napellus 'Newry Blue' - Monkshood 'Newry Blue'

Aconitim x napellus ‘Newry Blue’ – Monkshood

Aconitum carmichaelii  ‘Late Crop’- Flowers into October, is a dark rich purple at 5′ to 6′ tall

Monkshood was used for poisoned arrows

This plant has a checkered past.  In medieval times Monkshood was also called Wolfbane and was the source for poisoned arrows.  Applied to a cut, Monkshood can be deadly and all parts of the plant are toxic.  Yet in modern times it is commonly used by florists and sold by garden centers and nurseries.  In 25 years I have no first hand knowledge of anyone being poisoned by monkshood but I don’t use it in my Portland landscape designs for young families or in parking strips.

How to kill this plant: 

Plant it in full sun and never water it, (or just as bad) water every day in the summer.  Plant in a low place where winter water will soak the roots for days at a time.

Best practice:

Most resources say part shade but I have found they thrive in half day sun to nearly full day sun with a few hours of dappled or light shade. Deeply irrigate Monkshood in full sun and less in part shade.  In time most Monkshood will become low water needs.   In too much shade it will flop and will not have as many flowers. Plant in well-draining soil, water established plants deeply once a week.  Don’t fertilize beyond adding a  compost or mulch around the crown twice a year.  Fertilizer may cause the plant to grow too lushly and make the stems flop. Cut it back to the ground in winter or when the leaves have gone yellow.  Learning how to water properly  creates confidence and makes maintaining your landscape less stressful.

 

 

Portland Rain Garden Fixes Front Yard Lake

edited-mccann-after-front-yard

Winter view after drainage and landscape design was installed.

Portland Rain Garden Fixes Front Yard Lake

Cindy and Chris were house shopping in Eastmoreland Portland, Oregon.  Chris found the house and brought Cindy to take a look.  The curb appeal was so bad she gave it the thumbs down and would not even go in the house. After looking at several other houses which just didn’t work for them, her husband talked her into going back.  She went inside and fell in love with everything but the front yard.  There was edited-mccann-before-front-yardone big problem which wasn’t apparent at the time of purchase and might not have been bothersome if the house was in Arizona.  Water!!! Water in the basement, and large puddles of winter rain water in the front yard drowned plants and lawn alike.  As the years passed the problem worsened.

I’m married to a designer/remodeler and while he is a creative and competent professional, he can get a little pale talking about the complexities of finding a water leak.  It can be very tricky even when you have solved these types of problem in many different situations for years.  Its nothing one should ever be arrogant about.

Rain garden clears away winter water from entry patio. My client and I were so pleased to be rid of the muddy winter lake - she built it herself!

Rain garden clears away winter water from entry patio in Wilsonville.  I used Dwarf Red Twig Dogwood in this design as well as Cindy’s.

Rain Garden Solution

Cindy is a figure it out, research the heck out of it kind of person. She talked to lots of different contractors, asked great questions and decided that a rain garden was going to be part of the solution for the water problems in her home.  She took classes from the City of Portland and researched rain gardens.  She determined the volume of water her roof and downspouts needed to handle using the formulas she learned in the class.  Her solution was to install larger gutters and downspouts and have a dry well dug and installed to handle the overflow.

Front Yard Make Over

Cindy was not prepared to take on the front yard alone.  She decided to hire a landscape designer she could collaborate with.  I am not licensed to design drainage solutions.  Cindy knew that.  I was hired to create a landscape plan with her that would create beauty and curb appeal and hide all views of the mechanical water solutions.

How I did it

I design for beauty of the landscape and to enhance the appearance and the welcoming energy of the home.  I don’t like seeing irrigation valve boxes, irrigation heads and tubing, or drainage hardware.  It’s ugly.

I started by creating a beautiful natural shaped berm in the front landscape:

  1. It would create a second level which helps to add drama and contrast to the      otherwise flat yard.
  2. We used the excess soil we would dig up to do the dry well.  It’s a terrible thing to waste good top soil so we didn’t!!
edited-monrovia-bloodgood

Upright dark purple ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese Maple. Photo courtesy of Monrovia Nursery

3. They wanted a Japanese Maple.  Cindy and Chris loved the up right (not the weeping form) of dark purple leafed ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese Maple.  Japanese Maples, Acer Palmatum, are much healthier here in the Pacific Northwest when they are planted up on a berm.  The raised soil keeps their roots from getting soaked in our winter rains.  Dryer roots helps to avoid the dreaded verticillium wilt which kills so many of our beautiful maples here. Plantings on the berm under the Japanese Maple would be highlighted because they are on a higher grade in the lawn.

We tucked a few boulders in the berm.  We added multi sized river rock over the top of the dry well and made it look like an attractive dry stream bed that fit into the berm nicely and as per Cindy’s plan would direct water to the dry well.

Cindy loves the evergreen Ink Berry shrub. It's great for wet areas.

Cindy loves the  Inkberry shrub. It’s great for wet areas.

Plantings for Wet Areas

We still had a wet area near the dry well that needed plants. Cindy loved the evergreen Inkberry and Kelsey’s Dwarf Red-Twig, Cornus Sericea ‘Kelseyi’ shrubs I used.  She had never seen the Inkberry, Ilex Glabra ‘Shamrock’  before. It’s the only evergreen shrub I use for low wet areas. Other typical small evergreen shrubs like Azaleas and Pieris get root rot and cannot be used in wet area applications.

Drought tolerant evergreen arbutus unedo

Strawberry tree, Arbutus Unedo adds a little touch of Italia to the stucco house.  Photo courtesy of Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

We selected classic foundation plants to frame the house, added a large pot and Strawberry Tree, Arbutus Unedo ‘Compacta’  to pick up a little Italian style on the south side and we were finished!

Mission Accomplished

I talked with Cindy recently.  “The front yard is thriving.  I’m so happy every time I look at it.”  The design has stood the test of time.  It’s been 10 years since we installed the design. The only thing she changed was replacing her Johnny Jump Ups Violas for Black Mondo Grass. Mission accomplished, she loves her front yard!

Cindy and I created the design together in a day.  It was a simple design meant to be low maintenance with full season interest.  Her landscape contractors installed the design, I came by and placed the plant material for the contractors and it was done.  Voila!

 

Collaborative Landscape Design for Portland Bungalow

After Landscape Design in a Day Front yard

The new plantings complement and enhance the house colors which was my clients top request.

I recently got this great email from my client Cathy.  She said “Hi Carol,  People stop on a regular basis and ply Greg and I for info on who did the landscape design.  We both often blank on your name but Greg did remember your company name today.  Anyway, the inquiries are frequent enough I feel I should have your business cards on hand to pass out.  So please feel free to send me some.”

Classic NE Portland bungalow needs thoughtful no lawn landscape plan.

Classic NE Portland bungalow needs thoughtful no lawn landscape plan.

Garden designers love to be asked for our cards, especially under these  happy circumstances.

I had created a design for the back yard a few years prior.  Cathy was so pleased with the results she called me back to design the front.  She had a list of priorities for me and at the top was her concern about selecting plant colors to work with the dark plum brown foundation.  Cathy had put a lot of effort into paint color selection for her bungalow including historic research.  The plum brown was a very powerful color and I was excited to work with it.

Mail carrier flagstone path

Friends and family and the postal carrier love using the new path to the side door.

Another unusual feature of the house is that it has two front doors.  The family tended to use the side front door and so did the friendly neighborhood mail carrier.  When we made a beautiful stone path to the side front door there was a lot of joking about how much the mail carrier would like his new path.

With me it’s always a collaborative process.  I wanted to add drama to the front walk so when I suggested we offset the front steps Cathy thought about it and vetoed that idea.  So to add interest I brought in boulders, set them back from the walk so there would be room to place interesting plants as companions to the boulders.

Rock garden plants

Here is an example of the colors we used to complement the plum brown foundation.

 

This made the design even better.   I loved Cathy’s existing rock garden and selected a similar style of plantings around the public sidewalk.  So this helped integrate what was left of the old garden into the new design.  The best thing about the design is how beautiful it makes the house look.

 

Cathy used my plant broker, Homescaper, to purchase her plants.  He worked closely with Cathy’s contractor, Tellurian Gardens who installed the landscape.  Now my only job is to drive by and deliver a nice stack of business cards and ooh and aah.

Curb Appeal Garden Design

Palmore front yard after Carrie is a real estate agent and understands the importance of curb appeal.  She wanted some for her own home.  She hoped for colorful easy care plants, low water needs and a good winter look as well as the other seasons.

The low rock wall next to the driveway was supposed to add interest to the front entry area, instead it blocked the flow to the front door,  it had to go!

Keeping some existing mature plants helped keep costs down and made the new landscape look mature right away.  We were able to use them beautifully.

Palmore after front yardBy the end of our design day we were both happy and exhausted.

We added a Crape Myrtle,  (Lagerstromia ‘Natchez’)  which has 4 season beauty; beautiful bark in winter, nice leaves in spring, summer flowers and hot fall color. Ornamental fountain grasses were combined with my favorite Echinacea (Coneflower) ‘Kim’s Knee Hi Red’,  Heather,  dwarf creeping ferns, and several evergreen ground covers.

We kept the Japanese Maple, weeping blue conifer, two gold Mexican Orange shrubs,  Hellebores and Daphne.

“I’ve worked with Carol Lindsay and Landscape Design in a Day before on my back yard and it was a great experience.  When it was time to take on my front yard I knew we were in good hands.  There was no way I was going to hire someone else.  I’m so happy I invested in this plan – the fact that I can divvy up the sections and work on it in pieces makes it perfect for me.   I highly recommend working with a professional to get a plan.”  Carrie Palmore 

Before Landscape Design in a Day

Before Landscape Design in a Day

Planting Day

Planting day

New Portlander Loves Colorful Garden

Janet loves sitting out in her patio garden and also seeing the color explosion from her dining nook.

Joanne loves sitting out in her patio garden and also seeing the color explosion from her dining nook.

Joanne Diehl found her perfect home in Portland.  I met her in the early spring.  Her new home showed the results of careful attention to color, the interior was full of soft hues, contrasted with a deep red, a favorite color.  Mostly Joanne felt there were no problems.  She just wanted a colorful landscape.  But we designers tend to see things differently.  I get very excited about color or plants but I could see many problems that needed to be solved first.  As Joanne and I talked, we made a tidy list of issues.  Her view out of her kitchen and dining area was not attractive and not private.  She was constantly catching  AEC “accidental eye contact” from the neighborhood walkers while drinking her morning coffee.

Tricky property in a neighborhood just off busy Boones Ferry.

Tricky property in a neighborhood just off busy Boones Ferry.

The view out included the cyclone fence, a rough gravel parking area adjacent to the road, the neighbor’s lavender garage doors and the intersection.  The house had no door to the back yard and it was dark due to the neighbors overgrown trees.  She had a small porch off the kitchen opening to the front yard.  She wanted to step out of her kitchen into the perfect summer patio.  It would be for her and her new granddaughter so they could enjoy the flowers and each other.  Joanne had faith from day one that we would make magic and together with Donna Burdick of D & J Landscape Contracting we did just that.

What a great summer garden, this is just months after the installation.

After corner garden.  What a great summer garden!

Joanne is “all gardener” and I confess I had to gently convince her to have some winter bones in the design.  This front patio was also her curb appeal.  She didn’t want to give up the summer floral explosion that is important to her.  She is right to be concerned, doing too many evergreens can rob space for the full billow of summer color and flowers if one is not astute and adequate patio furnishings also.  Her front yard was very small and it had a lot of big dreams to fulfill.

During construction. it was a friendly neighborhood so everyone came by to watch the transformation.

Before corner garden.

So here’s our list:  Create private summer patio room.  Make room for lots of flowers.  Curb Appeal.  Attractive from sitting area inside the house.  Small, only 15 feet deep. Privacy from street and intersection.  So yes we needed magic. And together we found plenty!

We saved one existing plant Seiryu Japanese maple, it created wonderful privacy.  All the rest of the plants were new.  Joanne and I designed her planting plan together.  

We designed Spring of 2014.  Her stone patio, new fencing, soil prep and plantings were installed that summer.  I drove by the fall of 2015, a full year after her garden was installed.  I was delighted to see how mature and colorful her garden looked and I left her a note that I had been there.  Here’s her reply:  “Sorry I missed you.  You came by just before my big fall clean up.  I read your last newsletter about pruning lavender in the fall.  I got after my lavender which lead to all kinds of cleaning up.  My new front garden is a great way to meet my new neighbors as they walk by and stop to chat.  I’d like to say the garden is cheaper than therapy, but it is definitely therapeutic for me!”