Archive for the 'landscape design' Category

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.

Seasonal Planting Appeal | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_1023.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Seasonal Planting Appeal | Landscape Design Ideas

Working with temporal elements in a garden can be pretty fun and remind people of the natural changes we all experience. This very cool bench and handmade arbor at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA is covered in Celastrus scandens | American Bittersweet, a Virginia native made charming because of it’s relationship to this place to sit. Celastrus scandens has terrific berries in the fall but even in winter, you can see how the vine, seat and abor almst become one (formerly) organic element. Other perennials and bulbs nearby add color in spring. There is only one little lonely evergreen in the vacinity, there to “support” the slightly leaning arbor. A loose stone path and low wall also help. Sitting here you can get really up close and personal with the passing of time.

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Garden Doors and Windows | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8636.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Garden Doors and Windows | Landscape Design Ideas

Look at the fab garden window to the right of Lily, my daughter. This is the entrance to the “aquatic garden” at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The views and light coming through this entrance are so pretty. Matching stone raised beds on inside and out of the entrance provide continuity, but passing under the arbor covered with Ivory Tower Wisteria, gives you the comforting feeling of enclosure and that you are about to enter a secret realm. What a great transition from one space to another. Because the garden wall and wiseria is so substancial, the window adds another avenue for light to welcome you inside. Since the window didn’t have anything to frame, the designer used the white stone as a backdrop for a lovely hanging plant placed exactly in the middle.

Reflection and Energy Water | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8617.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Reflection and Energy with Water | Landscape Design Ideas

WATER AMBIANCE
If you’re lucky enough to incorporate or have already some water in your landscape, then you know the charm of a water feature. But water features can have different qualities dependign on how it incorporated, of course. Moving water is very dynamic and invigigorating, while the still water (like above) is peaceful, dreamy, literally and figuratively reflective. Whatever the feeling you’d like in your landscape, water can be made to enhance it by design.
WATER ORGANIZATION
Water can also provide spacial organizatioin. Curving lines of streams can direct passage; movement of water can urge you on. Water can provide a very formal, stately and dramatic entrace with a sense of granduer. Or on the otherhand, water can sooth you with soft ripples and keep you transfixed in one spot for long periods of time.

A beautiful walkway (at top) at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, both the walkway and the patio (below) seem to float, just like the waterlilies on the water contributing to the dreamy quality of the place. The green water and the evergreen shrubs both have a soft quality and texture which encourages people to amble along slowly.
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In the photo above, you can see both extremes of energy and reflection portrayed with the water fountain in the middle of the lake.

In the photo below, it’s all action, fast water, straight (fast) lines of the allées (an avenue in a park or landscape). The movement takes you right down to the lake water’s edge and then lets you rest.  In this case, water is leading you to water and making an extended connection into the landscape, cool.

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Cottage Garden | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8645.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Cottage Garden | Landscape Design Ideas

I mentioned before that my friends keep telling me they like “cottage gardens”. The analogus colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel, here yellow greens to silver greens to blues) are so peaceful albeit not exactly traditional cottage garden fair. Generally cottage gardens have many more colors than this.  Still I think my friends would be happy to have a similar combination to the spires of delphinium and soft lamb’s ear among the many other textures seen here at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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From the side you can see a different perspective of the small hillside site and how the slope works to make the “cottage garden” blend back into the lawn. Boulders add to the rough natural feel eventhough the lawn is neat and tidy. I think this would be a nice way to give my friends a little of the feeling they want even if they don’t really live in a cottage.

Stream or Drainage? | landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8642.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Stream or Drainage? | landscape Design Ideas

You decide. Here is another great way to design with water in your landscape. Instead of trying to get rid of it in underground plastic pipes that go the wrong way, give water a place to be appreciated. Here at the Chicago Botanic Garden, a drainage stream crosses a crushed stone pea gravel path. Instead of trying to stay dry, my neice preferred to walk right through. The crossroads composition is made even more splendid with the Solmon’s Seal behind (also pictured below) to give the path a woodland native appeal.

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Arbor Shade Repite | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8619.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

I don’t know too many people who disslike arbors but sometimes they can look out of place if they are too large for their surroundings. The one above fits right in, is the right scale and provides terrific shade for a very sunny overlook at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The way the patio is positioned at the top of the slope (grade) above the grass makes the the whole thing appear to be gently floating on top of the lush green folliage below. This idea plays on the relationship the site has to the lake seen from the precipice. The heavier evergreens behind the arbor keep things in balance, though and prevents the arbor from floating out to sea or looking like it might fall over on top of the three gentlemen chatting. That would be a bummer.

Kids Get Their Feet Wet | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_8623.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Kids Get Their Feet Wet | Landscape Design Ideas

Ok, so not everyone can set up their backyard like the Chicago Botanic Garden (pictured here with my kids in it), but I really like the idea of creating a place for kids to have fun. This pebble, boulder and rock oasis is beautiful and cooling. If you are thinking of adding a water feature, a fountain or pond to your back or front yard consider creating a place like this with ornamental grasses along the edge and a nice place to sit. My hyper kids could have sat there facinated by the combination of elements for hours and so could I. Think of the potential for helping with the practical matter of drainage, too. Isn’t this better than your average swale?

Secret Garden | Landscape Design Ideas

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Secret Garden | Landscape Design Ideas

These are my daughters by the little pond in the one of the “Landscape Gardens” at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where we visited the other day. Yes, this blog is focused on the Mid-Atlantic region of the US for plants but good design is everywhere of course. So if you have the chance, please visit. It’s wonderful. The Chicago Botanic Gardens, built on nine different little islands and the mainland near Northwestern University, was inspired by an old water garden (called the “Garden of Perfect Brightness” that served as a retreat for Chinese Emperors in the 18th Century.

Let me talk about this image, though. This spot is a treasure among many. The central feature is the pond of course, but it is the high hedges that make it quiet and special there. Against that dramatic backdrop the informal and tough low maintenance flowers and shrubs can really shine. The Botanic Garden web site says that these plants are great for the Mid-western home gardener, which is wonderful. Still, putting them into a ciricular “room”, a place to stop along a journey, is what makes it “secret”.

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