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Archive for food for hummingbirds

Laurelhurst Neighborhood Home Gets a New Backyard

Updated Hardscape With Existing Native Oregon Plants

Laurelhurst home landscape design creates functional space and room for plants.

Beautiful new backyard for this Laurelhurst Home

Clients Wish List

This client is a gardener extraordinaire. She had several beloved existing plants to work into the design, and a list of favorite plants.  The planting plan would be a collaborative design effort that would ensure her garden was colorful and encouraged hummingbirds and pollinators to visit.  The planting plan would be focused on summer and fall with full season interest plants situated for views from important windows.  Everything else would be for enjoying while outdoors.  She wanted her new garden to be a place that she could live in all summer and fall.

Her current backyard was not a friendly place to be in although it had beautiful plantings.  The existing sitting area was a narrow and awkward small deck.  Happily, it was old and rotting, so designing a comfortable sitting area right off the kitchen door didn’t mean removing a deck that still had years of life in it. She also wanted a bit more privacy on that upper deck.

She wanted a patio that could be multi-purpose –  seating or BBQ station or lounging with rooms for colorful plants in pots like Cuphea (Firecracker Plant).  Cuphea attracts hummingbirds like crazy in the summer and she always has a pot or two to enjoy.

Kebony Fence and gate updated teh hardscape for Laurelhurst neighborhood home.

Gate solution – Kebony instead of wood graces this Victor Vencill fence design in Laurelhurst neighborhood.

 

Designers Perspective

We love designing for city proprieties.  One of the challenges of the site is the short distance between the corner of the garage and the corner of the house. This is a classic spacial problem we often encounter with houses in old Portland neighborhoods like Laurelhurst.  It’s tricky for homeowners to figure out how to get a comfortable access path into the back yard without crowding out a useful back porch space.  We needed a ground level gate,  comfortable access to the garage and a big enough upper deck to accommodate a 4-person table.  The solution was a gate that opened out toward the driveway and also relocated the stairs to the house further away from this congested area.

Privacy

To create privacy for the upper deck from the neighbor’s yard, we designed a planter (flush with the deck).  Clumping bamboo will brighten the deck and provide the privacy needed.

Laurelhurst home gets creative and functional backyard landscape design

Before lower deck ate up space for plantings.

The large lower deck was ripped out and we opted for a smaller flagstone patio. The patio is at the same level as the garden and gives more space for plants, which this homeowner is keen on. The two materials also creates visual appeal by providing different colors and textures for different garden “rooms”.

Stairs Matter

Because the sliding glass door is so much higher than the backyard, 6 steps are needed to get down to ground level.  The key to increasing useful space that is more inviting is to stretch out our 6 steps and turn them.

Updated patio hardscape gets creative in Laurelhurst neighborhood, Portland, Oregon

After Design-Flagstone patio and Kebony deck creates functional space for two sitting areas.

While having stairs go straight isn’t wrong, we made a landing to easily access the stone patio on one side and the path for strolling through the lush and colorful hummingbird garden on the other.  Our client liked this simple and unique solution. If you turn right, you get to a lovely stone patio. If you turn left, you get to stroll through the beautiful hummingbird garden.

 

Laurelhurst back yard remodel before new hardscape with patio and fence.

Before – With the old deck removed, it’s easy to see how much space was wasted with the old layout.

Around the corner into the side yard, we opted for a budget friendly  low fence. We selected  Fi Bar cedar chips from Mt Scott Fuel for our path and for around the plants.  A generous helping of cedar chips makes for good weed suppression.  The plantings here will be seen from the dining room.  We used a few larger native shrubs to bring butterflies and other beneficial creatures.

Landscape design creates clients dream garden in Laurelhurst neighborhood with new fence, path and patio hardscape.

After photo-final day of installation. Notice the borrowed view of the neighbors trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plants

The client’s must-have plants included an assortment of salvias,  natives and other pollinator plants.

Salvia Guarantica 'Black and Blue' is just one of the plants kept from the original garden in Laurelhurst neighborhood backyard garden.

One of the Homeowner’s Salvia plants – She loves to share clumps with friends and neighbors.

Her favorite salvias include S. guaranitica, S. microphylla, and S. patens.

Big native shrubs included Red-Flowering Current (Ribes sanguineum) and Dwarf Vine Maple (Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’).

Besides the salvias, we added the Yuletide Camellia (Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’), which is like hummingbird candy in winter. It is positioned perfectly so that the clients can see it through their sliding glass door in the winter where it will flower for months.

Installation

Large curve in path will allow room for Adirondack chairs in Laurelhurst neighborhood backyard.

Designer/Contractor Team Alana Chau, Associate Designer LDIAD with Sam from D & J Landscape Contractors.

We referred the installation of the garden to D&J Landscape Contractors .

Materials

The client introduced us to a product called Kebony – a wood that is grown sustainably and treated with a natural preservative. It is made from pine instead of the more commonly used cedar.

Kebony has been used in Europe for many years and is now available in the US. It starts as a warm brown that will take on silver tones as it ages.  The installation of the product might cost about 25% more but according to their website, it requires no maintenance and has a 30 year warranty!

The railing is stainless steel cabling by Precision Rail of Oregon.

The patios were made using irregular bluestone flagstone and compacted crushed rock.

FiBar cedar chips were used for the side yard path.

Contact us

Would you like to create an inviting backyard to watch the hummingbirds and relax?  We would love to work with you.  Call us at 503-223-2426 or use our contact form.

Colorful Cape Fuchsia Makes Beautiful Summer Memories

Add Cape Fuchsia to Your Modern or Cottage Portland Landscape

NW Portland roof garden with cat Cracker Jack

My cat loved to watch hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds love Cape Fuchsia for the nectar.  I love to use it in designs because it adds so much color, is easy to grow and the new varieties work well with modern and cottage garden styles.  This plant is a crowd pleaser and I use it frequently.

I planted my first Cape Fuchsia, Phygelius x rectus ‘Salmon Leap’ on my roof garden in Portland’s West Hills. It was at 900 feet and we had snow every year.  The house was designed so that the third floor master suite had easy access to and a view of my roof garden.  It had a hot tub that was 20 feet from my bed, a big overstuffed outdoor sofa with an overhead cover and plenty of Cape Fuchsia!  In spite of the colder winters, the Cape Fuchsia (native to South Africa) never flagged or failed in the 12 years I lived there.  I loved my roof garden and the only family members who loved it more were the 4 leggeds, Barley,  Cee Cee and Cracker Jack.  One particular day everyone was curled up on the sofa.  I was reading and pets were napping.  All was peaceful.  I heard a strange whirring noise.  At first I didn’t see anything unusual.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw my pets’ heads were going up and then down and then up, I saw a small blur.  What was happening?

Modern design for Portland roof garden

My roof garden 2006.

Humming Bird Mating Ritual

We were witnessing a hummingbird mating ritual.  The male made a 90 foot oval flight pattern to within an inch of his intended.  She was steadfastly ignoring him and drinking nectar from my Cape Fuchsia.  There wasn’t even a flicker in his direction.  The buzzing sound was made by his high speed downward trajectory.  It abated on the way up.   It was mesmerizing.  It was one of those beautiful summer garden memories that I treasure.    Just us mammals all watching the entertainment together.

Phygelius picture from Joy Creek

Phygelius ‘Salmon Leap’  (Janet Loughrey Photo from Joy Creek Nursery)

Cape Fuchsia Varieties for Hummingbirds

If you would like to have some close encounters with hummingbirds or you just love colorful plants, the Cape Fuchsia is the perfect addition to your garden.  The best hummingbird attractors are the older varieties because they flower in the most intense coral red shades.  My favorites are ‘Devils Tears’, ‘Salmon Leap’ and ‘African Queen’, but they can a bit too rowdy for a small yard.

New Varieties of Cape Fuchsia

The new varieties are more compact and a little tidier in habit.  The flower colors are available in more traditional flower petal shades.  When these new colors first came on the market I was annoyed.  I felt like they had dumbed down a great plant by removing the coral shades…….but then I saw it wasn’t an either or.  I now had more choices and that is always a good thing for a garden designer.

If you love modern landscape design style but don’t want to give up color, these new Cape Fuchsia are perfect  because they are smaller.  They look great in a mass.

2006  2 new varieties from Skagit Gardens:

Full sun easy care yellow sovereign cape fuchsia for modern landscape design.

Skagit Gardens ‘ Yellow Sovereign’

'Croftway Purple Prince' Cape Fuchsia for your modern landscape with intense dusky violet magenta colors

Cape Fuchsia ‘Croftway Purple Prince’ by Skagit Nurseries photo

Skagit Gardens’ Phygelius aequalis ‘Croftway Purple Prince’ has that intense dusky magenta violet color.  I think it looks really good with Black Mondo Grass………Morticia Adams where are you now?  The magenta violet glows in the evening light.  ‘Croftway Purple Prince’ is cold hardy for the Pacific Northwest and listed as zone 6 Yay!

Phygelius Aequalis ‘Croftway Yellow Sovereign’ is 18 to 24 inches tall by 24 inches wide.  Many plants with soft yellow flowers burn in full sun but ‘Yellow Sovereign’ can take the sun and heat.

Barbara Ashmun, Portland garden writer has a great article about Cape Fuchsia’s. It’s an older article but most excellent.

I don’t tend to use the older coral red colored varieties of Cape Fuchsia in front yards as the winter appearance is too ragged without a major trim.  If you love this plant like I do, simply cut it to the ground in mid December for a tidy look.  People who like a very tidy landscape may want to pass.  It will seem too messy for them.

If you’re interested in adding Cape Fuchsia to your landscape or are interested in a colorful modern landscape design, contact me.  

Hummingbirds Favorite Summer Flower

Cape Fuchsia's tubular coral scarlet flower is a hummingbird magnet

Phygelius – Cape Fuchsia ‘Passionate’

Cape Fuchsia, Phygelius, is a colorful, low maintenance long blooming summer flower for the Pacific Northwest.  I use it in landscape designs for clients who love color and watching hummingbirds.  It’s a personal favorite of mine and rates at least 2 blogs.

Cape Fuchsia Practicalities

If you are a person who wants a tidy landscape that looks perfect all year long, this is not your plant.  I consider this plant to be low maintenance but not no maintenance. Clients who love the color and the hummingbird show simply cut it to the ground in December eliminating the messy twigs.

Photo shows Cape Fuschia is tough enough for full sun in a parking lot.

Mass of Cape Fuchsia at local Portland coffee shop

It can spread some.  In the spring if the plant is taking more territory than you want, simply pull on the stem that is straying.  Pull it out of the ground and cut the root off near the mother plant.  It is very easy, I promise.  Give it lots of sun, decent soil and water the first year.  It will need less water the following year.  Some clients water it about once every two weeks.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with needing a calm and low maintenance landscape.  We are all unique and a plant that makes one person feel delight can make another person feel claustrophobic.  I notice clients who grew up in climates where plants tend to be sparser can feel uncomfortable with the full flush of plantings possible here.

Design creates masses of color to offset the swimming pool

Mass planting of strong plant colors including Cape Fuchsia, and a path help to break up the lines of the pool.

Cape Fuchsia used  for Mass Plantings in Swimming Pool Garden Re-Design

The first time I used this plant was for Art and Linda in SW Portland.  They had a 1960’s swimming pool in the backyard that dominated.  It visually ate the backyard.  They wanted a cottage garden style with lots of color.  My design solution successfully put the pool in a subordinate position to the landscape.  I created some great paths and shapes for the planting beds that broke up the lines of the pool visually.  We needed masses of strong plant color in the backyard to offset the powerful aqua rectangle.   I’m not a big color wheel garden designer but colors like coral and salmon are opposite the wheel from aqua. The Cape Fuchsia flowers are perfect for this situation because they flower in these colors and they flower all summer, hitting their stride during hot weather.  My clients enjoy hanging out by the pool and are entertained by the antics of hummingbirds.  Hummingbirds are strongly attracted to the hot coral red tones of the Cape Fuchsia.

Morris before back yard landscape design 1996

Art and Linda’s back yard needed some color to offset the aqua of the pool water.

Fav Planting Combo is  American Switch Grass with Cape Fuchsia

My favorite planting combination for this design was Panicum Virgatum, American Switch Grass ‘Heavy Metal’ with the Phygelius x recta ‘Devils Tears’.   They are a perfect contrast combination! The Switch Grass blade is a fine silvery blue texture.  It contrasts with the Cape Fuchsia’s dark green leaf and hot colored tubular flowers.  The inside of the tube is a mellow lemon yellow but mostly the hummingbirds are the ones who see this.

If you research this plant on the internet, you will read that Cape Fuchsia are not cold hardy here since they are native to South Africa and they need a lot of water.  Not true for Portland, Oregon.  I have grown them at 900 feet on a roof garden and only watered them every two weeks.  They were successful for 12 years and were still there when I moved.

I’m always advocating for low water use so planting Cape Fuchsia with American Switch Grass results in a very low water landscape pairing.

Soft Yellow Cape Fuschia ' Moonraker' is shorter and glows in the garden.New Varieties of Cape Fuchsia

While I love the old fashioned varieties, the new varieties of Cape Fuchsia are shorter and flowers are in softer more traditional colors.  These new Cape Fuchsia are more versatile and can work well for small properties and containers.  But when you select a softer color over the intense coral red, hummingbirds are not nearly as attracted but you still get a great plant.  Check out other great hummingbird plants.

Are you wanting more out of your landscape?  More color, more interactions with nature, more privacy?  Your landscape can be made to suit your lifestyle with a thoughtful landscape design process.  Go to my contact page and let’s talk soon.

 

 

Portland Landscape Design Remodel

A Garden Redesign for Family & Dog

Echo Chamber water feature in NE Portland designed by Landscape Design in a Day and D and J Landscape Contracting for people and family dog.

Freshly installed echo chamber water feature will reduce traffic sound from nearby NE 33rd.

Lynda and Michael live in a sweet old Northeast Portland Grant Neighborhood House.  It’s a classic with a big front porch and several mature large trees including an amazing 40′ tall Japanese Maple.   They raised their kids and more than one wonderful dog in this house. Their landscape adventure began with the loss of their old plum tree – okay kind of sad but it was so big it ate the backyard space.  It also blocked most of the morning light.  Their dining area was crammed up against the hot tub.   Once the plum was gone they realized a golden opportunity had landed in their laps. They wanted a good designer to look at the possibilities and create a landscape design that would utilize every square inch of their small backyard.

Clients Enjoy Gardening

They didn’t want a “perfect” garden.  Lynda and Michael have some gardening chops so the plants didn’t need to be extreme low maintenance but it did need to be simple. The existing landscape was overgrown after 20 plus years.  They were happy to let a lot of the plantings go so they could have a new look. They selected NW Natural and low water landscapes from my list.  A touch of cottage style fit the old house nicely so that was included.

Their Wish List:

Before landscape design in Grant Park: Dining took place next to hot tub. Without dog garden space.

Before: Dining took place next to hot tub.

◊Privacy for dining

◊A separate room for the  hot tub, their current landscape had the dining table next to the hot tub.

◊Plenty of patio space for entertaining

◊ A bit of lawn for their sweet dog Mira.

◊Michael especially wanted a water feature for the sound. The traffic sounds from NE 33rd interrupted conversations and the ability to relax in the back yard.

Installing the patio Grant Park N. E. Portland Landscape Design in a Day in this dog friendly garden.

Sam of D & J Landscape Contractors installing the new plantings.

Water Features:  Over the years I’ve noticed people have  very different experiences with traffic noise and other urban background sounds.  My own family is a good example;  my husband can tune out background noise and carry on a conversation but I often can’t. Some people can have their TV or radio going on in the background and carry on with language based activities.   Some people have filters and some people don’t.

The Benefits of Echo Chambers:

My favorite design element, a water feature solves this problem and adds an elegant visual focal point.  An echo chamber water feature triples the water noise but is safe for kids because there is no need for a pond,  not even a tiny one.   Standing water is dangerous for kids, birds and provides an environment for mosquitoes.  Birds can drown in ponds that they can’t get out of.  The echo chamber is a buried steel box, it is easy to clean and you can control the volume of water.   My sister turns her water volume up so the water leaps from the pot.   This is attractive but results in quite a bit of splash and the evaporation that results uses a lot of water.  Other clients keep the water volume  turned down so it slowly spills from the drilled rock or plumbed  pot.  It still makes that wonderful water sound because first the water noise is produced when water drops onto the rocks around the pot or rock.  Then the water goes through the surface rocks, through the steel grid and into the chamber.  As it hits the rocks that line the chamber the sound is amplified inside the box.  It is so simple.

Landscape Design in a Day creates a garden echo chamber water feature or is it a water bowl for family dog?

Jack Hofmann and his new water bowl

Placing Water Features:

Dog friendly water feature in garden Landscape Design in a Day Portland Oregon

The echo chamber was designed by Lew Smith of Smith Rock on Johnson Creek Blvd.  It creates more sound out of the water available so it’s also environmental. For perfection itself another small plug-in water feature,  something you might pick up at Portland Nursery or Cornell Farms, as a second water sound creates the effect of a water based duet.  We typically locate the 2nd small water feature in another part of the landscape. The sound of water helps people attune to their immediate environment and filter out the background noise.  For the best sound I placed the water feature on the side of the garage wall to add more amplification.   By design it can easily be heard from most areas.

Plantings:  So much of the landscape was overgrown, after all it had served for over 20 years.  We kept the mature Japanese Snowbell Tree, a December blooming Chinese camellia which serves as Lynda’s view from her office.  The overwintering Anna hummingbirds  love this simple 7 petaled deep red camellia flower and together they put on a show for 3 months.  We planted easy care Beesia Deltoides near the bird bath because it will appreciate the splashes of water and has glossy heart shaped leaves that will reflect the light.  Saxifraga ‘London Pride’,  Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ and a mass of Wood Fern will add year round color under the Snowbell Tree.  A sterile variety of Russian Olive, Eleagnus ‘Gilt Edge’ will be trained into a small evergreen tree, giving more  privacy to the hot tub room and fragrance in the fall.

We will show off this garden in a blog next year when the plantings have filled in.  The client, Michael Shay,  is a professional photographer and has promised photos for us. For more information on how I can help you with your garden remodel, contact me for more information on dog friendly and other landscaping.

New Shrubs Expand Designer’s Palette

Add to Your Drought Tolerant Landscape Design

Drought tolerant Ceanothus G. 'Hearts Desire' Picture from Xera

California Lilac Ceanothus Griseus ‘Hearts Desire’   Picture from Xera Plants

I’m excited about these new plants for Portland gardens.

Many of us are familiar with California Lilac and its blue flowers.  Beloved by bees, including our endangered native bumble bees, it’s  also a host plant for Swallow Tail butterflies.  However, it has its problems in a home landscape.  Many varieties are short lived because they receive summer irrigation along with your other plantings.  They need infrequent or no summer water to be a long term plant.  Most of all keeping them a manageable size is difficult for many gardeners. Ceanothus Griseus ‘Hearts Desire’ is different.  It can handle some summer irrigation and unlike all the other varieties of ground cover type California Lilac, it grows to only 4 inches tall and grows slowly to 24 inches wide.  It is easy to tip prune so can be confined.  These new habits make it a very useful plant for smaller landscapes.  It can take a lot of dry so we can plant it in the xeriscape dry tolerant gardens that have no irrigation or it can receive some summer irrigation.   I see this  plant as a major improvement over old varieties like ‘Anchor Bay’ or ‘Points Rey’.  Xera Plants is growing ‘Hearts Desire’ but expect other growers to jump on the plant wagon soon.  I’d use ‘Hearts Desire’ under limbed up fir trees, on SW facing banks or in “hellstrips”.  I will be trialing this new variety of California Lilac in my xeriscape garden.

Manzanita is a shrub or large tree known for its colorful bark and picturesque windswept shapes on the northern California coast. Here in Portland it’s too wet or too cold for most Manzanitas.  News flash!  Some of the California Manzanita species have been hybridized (designed by humans) into cold hardy evergreen ground covers and shrubs.  I love the leaves and the bark color and will be using these two specific varieties of Manzanita in my designs more frequently.   My favorite is ‘St. Helena’ which grows to 24 inches, and can take irrigation if it must.

Hummingbird sitting on manzanita plant

Hummingbird sitting on Manzanita plant

For success with Manzanita don’t feed the soil with compost or fertilizer at all, not even when doing initial soil preparation.  Work with the existing soil.  It needs to be watered through its first summer and then little to no irrigation is best.  This year (2015) my clients will be instructed to water it through its first winter as well since we are expecting a very dry winter but most years this would not be necessary.  Note: hummingbirds love Manzanita flowers.  Pacific Horticulture Society has an in depth article about Manzanita/Arctostaphlylos for the NW; by our revered plants man Paul Bonine.

Callistemon viridiflorus 'Xera Compact' Picture from Xera

Callistemon viridiflorus ‘Xera Compact’ Picture from Xera Plants

Callestemon or Bottle Brush is well known to Californians.  They have many varieties with hot red flowers and they  attract hummingbirds like crazy.  Their loose needles have a tropical feel to them and they can look wild or messy depending on your point of view!  While talking with Greg Shepard at Xera Plants, I got good news about the varieties of this plant that we can grow here in Portland.  A few of these make very attractive  tidy evergreen shrubs.  I’m always looking for soft textured evergreen shrubs with winter good looks that don’t get too big.  Hummingbirds are attracted to all of the Bottle Brush plants but deer are not.  Pretty great huh?

Here are 2 varieties I am most interested in for my clients:

1.  Callistemon Pityoides ‘Corvallis’.  Yes found in Corvallis, Oregon the original plant withstood 20 years of cold and everything an Oregon winter can throw at a plant.  It grows 5’ tall and 3’ wide in ten years.  It can take regular water or can be trained into drought tolerance easily.  It flowers twice in a season with soft yellow bottle brush flowers that remind people of baby ducks.  Deer usually leave it alone unless they are desperate.

2.  Callistemon viridiflorus ‘Xera Compact’ grows to 4 ½’ feet tall.  It is  VERY heavy blooming for 6 weeks.  The flowers are chartreuse and yellow brushes 3 inches long, the leaves are deep green in summer and take on hints of red in winter.

For more information on other drought tolerant landscape plants, go to my contact page.