The White Party

Looking for a crisp, clean alternative to traditional holiday decor? Consider white, symbolizing peace, harmony and clarity. It’s hard to go wrong with white for the winter season, inside or out (unless you use cotton-candy-like fake snow, but we won’t go there).

How does this relate to landscape design? In garden design, white is also a distinctive choice. White is popular for themed gardens and for what are called moonlight gardens (with lighting, and silver and grey foliage). Moonlight gardens radiate from dusk until late, and are particularly striking on starry summer nights when skies are clear. Viewing from a deck or patio is a moving experience.

If you are looking for variety in your garden, try using white annuals and other plants with white flowers for a year or two. White is also a good rotational color for seasonal annuals and potted gardens. Consider the subtle peaceful garden that relies on shades and textures of green with small white flowers and white variegation for a clean and simple look.

A garden experiment

Several years ago, when I moved into a new house, I demolished the existing backyard garden. In its place I envisioned a serenity garden that also provided privacy from neighbors. I zealously designed a landscape featuring white annuals, white rhododendrons, white hydrangeas and, of course, white spring-blooming bulbs. But my dedication didn’t last. After the second season, I lost interest, realizing I could not be limited by an all-white palette. I missed color, so my white garden involved into a warm jeweled-tone palette vaguely reminiscent of a Mediterranean-style landscape, using plants that thrive in the Pacific Northwest’s micro-climates. But I enjoyed the experiment and I still drool over a friend’s ever-changing, white-themed small city garden — especially the well-established sheets of white floribunda climbing roses and clematis draped over classical trellises and arbors.

If you are not ready for an all-white garden, consider the impact that white flowers can add to your landscaping, whether you love color or embrace a more reserved palette. For instance, the pure white flowers of the compact and reliable hybrid ‘Gumpo White’ Azalea and demure perennials like white astilbe and helleborus lend themselves to accent hues like blue, violet, soft yellow and light purple. Not sure where to start? Consider working with a designer. An experienced landscape designer is well trained in color theory and knows how colors relate. They can talk with you about the impact of color and give you some options to consider.

Call us for a consultation to discuss design options for garden enhancements, landscape renovations and sustainable gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape Design and Spring Blooming Bulbs

Planting bulbs and gathering grand bouquets of colored leaves are the hallmarks of fall and the changing season.  Choosing and planting bulbs can be anything from a simple family activity to an extensive plan for an open garden space.  Bulbs come in many varieties ranging from tiny Crocus, which are less than 3 inches tall to Parrot Tulips, which are over 3 feet high. Color palettes can be bright with primary colors, or softer with pastels.

For smaller gardens, I plant clumps of  like varieties and complimentary combinations with varying heights.  For gardens with larger areas, a drift of all one type of bulb  – in a single color – is stunning.   If the terrain is more open, such as hillsides or woodland gardens, bulbs can be used in bands to replicate the flow of a stream or other patterns.

Bulbs provide a non-stop show from late winter through late spring, depending on how you sequence them.  Snow Drops bloom as early as late January and some varieties of Tulips bloom as late as May.   Some of my favorite bulbs include: early-blooming ‘Lake of Fire’ Tulip, mid-blooming ‘Naturalizing Dream’ Narcissus and late-blooming ‘Merlin’ Narcissus.   The honorable, late blooming ‘Queen of the Night’  Tulip in an aubergine purple is always stunning.  Bulbs are extremely hearty and they don’t require a complicated process to plant in an existing garden.  If you have young people in the family, involving them in bulb planting  is an excellent way to expose them to outdoor education.  Write a note of what they planted and watch their realization when the sprigs of green start coming up.

I hope these tips keep you active and motivated to be in your garden space.  Feel free to contact me for a consultation if you have questions or need help developing a plan.