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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in garden planning (2)


Fran Sorin's Inspirational Garden Guide Has Been Reissued.

Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening,  Fran Sorin,   Braided Worlds Publishing.             

There is one book in my library that I can never part with: Fran Sorin’s Digging Deep. When it was published ten years ago, it validated the personal creativity I discovered when I first began to garden. On its pages, I also found a lifetime mentor in the author’s warm, inspiring voice and I return to her words whenever I need to refresh my creativity.

Recently, the book was republished in a revised tenth anniversary edition with a forward by the esteemed author and Mind/Body/Spirit/ thinker and practitioner, Larry Dossey, M.D. It is well worth reading again.

Gardening is more than simply growing plants. It is a creative, rewarding and spiritual experience. However, not all potential gardeners feel they have the skill to identify their needs, to express themselves or to find fulfillment. They do! Just ask Fran.

Ms. Sorin demonstrates that by digging deep into our souls all of us can find the garden of our dreams - an idyllic setting that generates personal happiness; a place to reconnect with nature to help make our lives feel complete.   

With a background in landscape design, psychology, communications and healing, the author built a successful career assisting clients to imagine and realize their buried wishes. On occasion, the process would prove challenging because some clients thought they were uncreative and expressed helplessness in articulating a personal vision.

To overcome that mindset, the author introduced them to self-awareness, an introspection of sorts that helps one find innate creativity stored within. Digging deep within oneself allows one to discover hidden dreams that translate into a meaningful garden. It also represents the first of seven steps that guide the reader to acheive that goal namely: imagining, envisioning, planning, planting, tending, enjoying, and completing.

The new edition includes revisions that reflect the evolution in lifestyle and conventional wisdom over the past ten years with a corresponding deletion of information from the original that is now superfluous or outdated. Its re-publication is also prescient.

Our society has become so technologically obsessed and increasingly nature deprived that many of us are spiritually and physically detached from the world we were intended to inhabit. The reissuing of this book is an inspiration to re build our bonds with nature to help us create richer, more joyful lives.

Readers will be so charmed by the author's intimate style of writing they will want her for a friend. Seasoned gardeners will recognize themselves on her pages and will delight in the affirmation she brings them. Novice gardeners will be inspired.



How to Paint a Masterpiece in The Garden, Part Two.

Photo courtesy of Judy Glattstein, BelleWood Gardens. Click on the image to visit her site.Ten aspects of garden planning are introduced in this, the second of three chapters on designing a garden that is not a hodge podge. With a background established and a color scheme chosen, the gardener now needs to decide where plants will be placed in order to create a beautiful garden.

Rhythm: Plant several of the same perennials through out the garden. This will create a pattern that leads the eye through the flower beds and at the same time pulls the composition together. When planting multiples of any one perennial or any one color, it is best to work in odd numbers. Use three or five of the same plant or color and avoid planting even numbers of anything. The above photo of Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia demonstrates how the pink flowers tie the composition together by rhythmic repetition.

Height: Tall perennials work best in the back of the border, short plants show best in the front and medium height plants do well in the middle.  Do not deviate from this plan until the garden is complete. On the other hand, if one is designing an island garden, plant tall flowers in the center, short flowers at the perimeter and medium height plants in-between.

Bulbs: Plant bulbs in groups of 5 or more of the same kind. If assorted bulbs are preferred, plant them in drifts of 7, 9 or 13.

Borders: Some garden beds are enormously enhanced when they are trimmed at the edges with short perennials planted in rhythmic repetition. The more disciplined the edging perennials, the more elegant and controlled the garden will appear.

Flowering Period: The assortment of perennials planted in the garden should ensure flowers all season long. This is where the hard word begins. Researching bloom time is more difficult than digging planting holes.

Neatness: Whenever possible, opt for neat easy-care plants. Stake flowers that tend to flop over. Cut down spent blooms on a regular basis.

Variety: Don’t restrict the garden to flowers only. Select some plants for the texture of their foliage. Include new varieties of miniature ornamental shrubs and ornamental grasses. Consider easy-care and Hardy roses.

High Impact Plants: Nothing helps more to create a powerful garden display better than a tall, dramatic, high-impact plant. See posting of November 25, 2009 for more information.

Trick the Eye: Plant disciplined perennials and miniature shrubs up close to living spaces such as patios, pools, decks and windows. This gives structure to the immediate view of the garden. Place larger, floppier and otherwise less disciplined plants farther away. The placement of plants should be inversely proportionate to their scragliness. The messier they are, the farther away they should be planted.

Always Edit: Avoid plants that look cute up close but mediocre when planted. Don't get too attached to any plant. If it does nothing to enhance the garden, get rid of it. All plants need to be team players. The garden in its entirety has to be more beautiful than any one plant.

Click here to continue reading Part Three that deals with gardening on a budget. Yes, it can be done!

Click here to read Part One