Archive for July, 2007

European Style Backyard Patio | dogwood*design #1

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European Style Backyard Patio | dogwood*design project #1

DESIGNER
Adele Medina O’Dowd, principal, dogwood*design, llc
contact me | adele@willowlandscapedesign.net or 202.255.0728
references available upon request


GARDEN CHARACTER
My friends, the owners in Chevy Chase, MD, wanted a relaxing, stylish spot to entertain their friends and family. They wanted their backyard to remind them of the beautiful places they’d visited on European travels. Of course, their patio needed to be a personal space with an intimate scale, but inspired by old world charm. The owners, who are into gardens but not gardening per se, wanted the yard to be easy to care for. My friends were so nice to act as my first guinny pigs and we started from scratch with a narrow yard of compacted red clay soil, just after they completed their new kitchen renovation. The layout of the yard is formal, with a fountain (coming soon) on one end, balanced on both with 5 tall columnar trees each. But, the ambiance is fresh and comfortable with hydrangeas and camellias flowing over short boxwood headges. The new stone patio with a seat wall and a fireplace has become warm outdoor room for them to enjoy.
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PLANTS
Buxus fastigiata | Boxwood (columnar)
Buxus microphylla var. koreana x B. sempervirens ‘Green Mountain’
Buxus microphylla var. koreana x B. sempervirens ‘Green Gem’
Buxus sinica var. insularis ‘Justin Brouwers’ | Boxwood
Camellia x ‘Snow Flurry’ | Hardy Camellia fall bloomer
Carex elata ‘Aurea’ | Bowles Golden Grass
Deutzia gracilis | Slendar Deutzia
Hydrangea panicullata ‘Limelight’
Hypericum calycinum ‘Briggadoon’ | St. John’s Wort
Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ | Sky Pencil Littleleaf Holly
Miscanthus senensis ‘Strictus’ | Porcupine Grass
Prunus yeodensis ‘Yoshino’ | Japanese Cherry Blossom
Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’ | Weeping Cherry
Rose ‘New Dawn’ | Blush Pink hardy climbing rose
Thuja occidentallis ‘Degroot’s Spire’ | Degroot’s Sprire Arborvitae


HARDSCAPE
PA field stone seat wall, 18″ high with topped with copping
PA flagstone patio mixed colors laid in stone dust (for better water perculation)
Irrigation system installed on a timer
4.5′ tall, 5′ wide 2 tiered self-contained fountain
4′ tall fire pit with wrought iron decoration
wrought iron rose trellises.
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NOTES
The style of this garden doesn’t lend itself to easy care. But the owners are fully self-aware of their own capabilities and have weighed their priorities. Regular pruning will be needed, but it is made easy because the owners were interested and ready to commit to a maintenance contract.  On a “green” note, water is not wasted here. We have installed an irrigation system on a timer to direct water exactly to plants that need it, as needed.  In fact, a rain detector, basically a spongey sensor hooked up to the system, automatically adjusts the water flow when irrigation is not needed in periods of rain.  Also, providing just the right amount of water means there is little or no run-off into storm drains.  Last, because the stone patio was set in place with stone dust instead of concrete, water can percolate into the ground through to the earth below it.  The owners travel a lot but know their plants will remain happy and healthy because they have other care systems in place. They feel they have made a terrific investment and will have a lot of fun in the space they created. If you’d like to check out the nitty gritty of process, see it here.


CONTRACTORS
Evergro Landscaping, DC, MD, VA

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[Above: My friend's sister inaugurated the new patio by renewing her wedding vows here the day after planting was complete on her 25th anniversary. White rose petals decorate the patio floor.]

[Below Left : Before | Below Right : After]
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[Below : Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight']

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Ok, so the fireplace ornament still needs to be hung up.

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Model | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8700.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Model | Landscape Design Ideas

Ok, so here is a model I worked on in a recent class. The model is for the front entrance of a Plant nursery, which has a “neighbors” sun/shade display on the left, native plant display on the right (near the parking) with groundcover display in front and sales building with big pots at the back. Hope you enjoy checking it out. It was fun to make. There are lots more pics of the model and (dark) pics of the actual plan in my flickr “model set”.

Repitition | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_1788.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Repitition | Landscape Design Ideas

So the fall color emphasizes the beautiful repetition of understory trees here at Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring, MD. The repetition of the small trees in addition, shows off the repetition of the contrasting tall trees, which maybe you wouldn’t notice so much otherwise. The grouping of small trees and weight of their mass also gives visual weight to the middleground in view coming around a long path. Like curves, repetition suggests movement and something exciting to come.

Refined Journey | Landscape Design Ideas



IMG_8738.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Refined Journey | Landscape Design Ideas

This is another secret garden, sort of, well not really. It’s right between the Smithsonian Castle and the Hirshhorn Museum on the US National Mall. Of course it is a highly stylized victorian garden, barrowing the style of the castle, but it is also a path. It’s quite a contrast to the informal paths I’ve shown before, but it was designed with some of the same design principles, especially the undulating curves that slow you down and give you a chance to appreciate the journey. There are some waste high walls that don’t invite you to sit, rather they also encourage you along and point you in the right direction. Though quite a formal space, it is also very friendly in scale. Shade and cover is another element that puts you at ease in this little oasis between big grand areas of the open hot lawn on the Mall and the extremely busy Independance Avenue. Can you believe there is even a parking lot entrance behind the rear wall?

Funky Fence Made of Doors | Landscape Design Ideas



fence made of doors, originally uploaded by little messes.

Funky Fence Made of Doors | Landscape Design Ideas

My friend, Traci, lives in the very urban neighborhood of Forest Park in Baltimore. Anywhere else and this fence would be out of place but here it’s a welcome surprise, clean (for now) and a much nicer backdrop than the standard stockade fence for her favorite peach tree. We’ve caught Traci in mid transformation. Although you can’t see it here, she’s been working to change the layout for better seating. It’s challanging since she also has a vegatable plot on the sunny side she doesn’t want to move. We’ll check back in with her later, but for now, the fence was an inspired start.

Stone Steps | Landscape Design Ideas

Backyard patio, originally uploaded by redjar.

Stone Steps | Landscape Design Ideas

If you’ve been reading some of the other entries in this blog, maybe you could have guessed how much I like this spot. The wide stone steps make a wonderful descent down into a lush woodland environment. Once you make the transition down you get a nice red chair surprise to sit in. Homeowners think of hills and slopes as problems but they can be great opportunities, too.

Entrance Garden | Landscape Design Ideas

my garden, originally uploaded by intheburg.

Entrance Garden | Landscape Design Ideas

This wonderful entrance belongs to my landscape architect friend who lives in Richmond, VA. The entrance to the house on a shady wooded lot has so many personal touches that you can check out by looking at his flickr set. He has created a beautiful woodland garden to fit.  I love the way it all works together. I know he likes native plants and see a little Lizard’s Tail, featured along with pitcher plant, big leaf magnolia and Carolina Spider Lady.

The water feature is serene and reflect the color of the pots in early spring as well as the plants later on. The colors here in total are very simple cool greens and warm brick reds, softened with moss all over. Ferns are used for groundcover instead of grass. I really like the climbing hydrangea that provides just a little bit of a screen and a lot of flow as you amble down the front walk. Most of the other plants next to the front walk are low so you don’t feel crouded as you make your approach to the front door. But why stop there? The easy going patio table is just a few steps more. You get to pass the soft organic sculpture on the way. All of this is very doable and fits right into the suburban Piedmont environment.

Light on the Patio | Landscape Design Ideas

patio, originally uploaded by cmurtaugh.

Light on the Patio | Landscape Design Ideas

This is a very pleasant place even if it wasn’t so expensive to create. There are some key elements and compositional ideas that make it work for me: opportunity, encloser, level change, lights.

OPPORTUNITY
I like it because the owners took advantage of a good area in their yard even and if it isn’t huge they still made an inviting dining area. The patio is situated under a nice shade tree so in the daytime the owners can feel protected. This patio is just big enough for dinner with friends or family.

ENCLOSURE
The fence is really charming with enough detail and design interest to give this spot some character. It doesn’t overwhelm the space, just warms it up. The curved top makes the spot seem more homey and with the vines creeping over you have sense that time and nature are integrated.

LEVEL CHANGE
Even in this small intimate scale the level change of the landing to the patio is important. The level change is what seperates the dining area from the entryways. Hopefully they plan to connect the landing to the patio, but in any case you have a bit of a sunken patio feeling that is helped by the level change.

LIGHTS
The lights on this patio are really charming. They have a festive appeal whithout becoming kitschy. The incandescent bulbs warm the scene so it doesn’t seem lonely out there. But it’s also not too bright. I think you have to be careful in a small space to get it right and would be worth testing options before investing. The height of the lighting also makes a difference. Too high and too spot lit would make you feel on display and too much glare. These lights also seem to reflect a bit off the overhead tree canopy. These lights fill the space, but don’t overwhelm it.

Circular Seating | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_6888.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Circular Seating | Landscape Design Ideas

The warm circular seating shown here is great for this restful spot here along a path to somewhere else at Green Springs Garden in Fairfax, VA. Green Springs is a public garden and so should accomodate small families and groups of people. The seats positioned on either side of the path could allow 2 seperate groups to have their own moment of relaxation. Evenso, the patio is small enough to make it comfortable to be there alone. The circular pattern in the paving adds a ittle bit of a focal point without impeeding passing foot traffic. If you look closely you can see the on the left, the circle isn’t quite round. Instead there is a little memorial plaque that gets noticed because of the more organic curve on which it sits. The plaque is nicely spied from the vantage point of the benches. The rounded shape of the benches and patio make this place liveable, if it were square I wonder how many people would stop here on their way down the path.

Informal Path | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8626.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Informal Path | Landscape Design Ideas

Here’s another example of an informal path that is so attractive and pleasing. The curve really draws you through the space and just at the corner larger rocks as well as the pea gravel spill into a little pond on the left edge. The path banks around the right hand pond as well. Both of the ponds are more reflective while the curve of the path peacefullly moving. The dappled light on this path also contributes to the texture of the place slowing us down to appreciate the moment. The waist high plantings on the right creates a low barrier and also invite you to enjoy the view on the left of the lake about 50 feet away. The little brick edge you can see just at the bottom of the picture subtly reminds us that this isn’t an entirely natural space even though it is quite informal. Those little bricks give us a sense of structure.

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