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

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

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 Landscaping (25)


Tree Tunnels: A Visually Stunning Photo Essay

JACARANDA WALK, PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICAOne doesn’t have to be gardener to appreciate nature’s beauty. I discovered this photo-essay via a friend’s email; she sent it to me after receiving it from a colleague who had copied it from a foreign-language forwarded message received from Europe.

AUTUMN TREE TUNNEL, SMUGGLER'S NOTCH, VERMONT, USAIt is possible that it originated at

BAMBOO PATH, ARASHIYAMA, JAPANThe power of the images is so moving and pervasive, that readers around the world have been downloading this post and eagerly forwarding it to their contacts.

RUA GONCALO DE CARVALHO, PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZILIt has been re posted on countless other websites, including YouTube. Yet, there has been no accreditation to its originator. This reproduction has occurred even though the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects the content of the original source.

GINKO TREE TUNNEL, TOKYO, JAPANThe photo-list impressed me so that I thought to share it with my readers.

WISTERIA TUNNEL, SHIZUOKA, JAPANHowever, as a blogger, I had an obligation to determine its source. 

CHERRY BLOSSOM TUNNEL, BONN, GERMANYThat created an ethical dilemma because this copyrighted material has already been reproduced without accreditation all over the internet and has been forwarded around the world via innumerable personal emails.

YEW TREE TUNNEL, WALES, UKBy now, some may incorrectly assume that it is in the public domain.

TUNNEL OF LOVE, KLEVAN, UKRAINEUsing a Google search, I discovered that, to the best of my knowledge, is the originator.

THE DARK HEDGES, GRACEHILL HOUSE, NORTHERN IRELANDI would be grateful to any reader who can confirm or correct this information. In the meanwhile, I hope that these images generate as much pleasure for you as they have for me and the thousands of readers around the world who have been sharing them with their friends.


The "Gardens of the Bank of Springfield" is a Masterpiece 

(c) Adam Woodruff + Associates Adam Woodruff is an award winning garden designer whose landscaping for the Gardens of the Bank of Springfield, Missouri has been recognized by the Perennial Plant Association, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and featured in Horticulture Magazine.

His remarkable comfort in designing with perennial plants is evident in the eye-catching photos taken of his creation. These images tell us that he is more than a garden and landscape designer. Adam Woodruff is a talented artist who uses colorful plant combinations as his medium. There is originality and vibrancy to his work and the powerfulness of his execution is rarely seen elsewhere.

The image posted above is one of ten sumptuous photographs. They illustrate an article he wrote that was reblogged on April 20, 2012 by Designers on Design, titled Commercial Seasonal Display, Part 1. Although they were intended both for commercial publicity and professional colleagues, the collection of images posted there will amaze and deeply touch all perennial garden lovers. 

In his bio, Mr. Woodruff pays homage to his mentors, Piet Oudilf and Roy Diblik. However, after seeing pictures of his work, I think we should be paying homage to Adam Woodruff himself. Isn’t it admirable when students take what they have learned from talented masters and use it to reach heights that surpass their mentors?

Unusually imaginative planting schemes give his gardens their originality. Using the term garden artisans to describe himself and his associates, the work produced by the team of Adam Woodruff + Associates is pleasurable and engaging. By combining herbaceous plants with woody ones, the resulting landscapes provide visual interest for all seasons.

A hearty Thank You to the team at Designers on Design for raising our awareness of an American treasure.


Grass is Not the Only Option for Your Lawn; a book review for

Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives, Evelyn J. Hadden, Timber Press

There is a controversy about the role of the lawn in our culture. Some cannot imagine having a home or an estate without one, while others can hardly wait to replace theirs with alternative forms of landscaping. Here is a publication that adds realism and practicality to the ongoing dialogue.

On one side of the discussion are those who believe that a green lawn is a sign of refinement, elegance, and that it contributes to the quality of air we breathe. The other side is composed of three sub-groups: first are those who look upon lawn maintenance as a bother- some chore that squanders time, energy, natural resources, and money, and second are those who believe that the excessive nutrients and herbicides, associated with lawn care, harm our environment. The third group reminds us that it is unrealistic to grow green lawns in arid climates.

For homeowners considering alternative forms of landscaping, Ms. Hadden has prepared practical and beautiful options. Some of the ideas she provides are sufficiently attractive to grace the front yards of elegant homes, while others are better suited to a back yard or woodland. Readers who might shudder at the thought of replacing the grass in their front yard with messy and chaotic meadow gardens will be relieved to learn that a meadow is but one of eleven practical, urban-friendly suggestions.

Ms. Hadden’s book is divided into three main sections. In the first, she introduces and discusses in detail the eleven no-mow options. These include groundcover gardens, shade gardens, meadows, rain gardens, patios, play areas, ponds, xerix gardens, edible gardens, stroll gardens, and “smarter” lawns.

Groundcover gardens are low living carpets of plants that never… need mowing, watering, or fertilizer. Shade gardens are soothing woodlands that filter and purify the air and obscure hard walls and floors. Meadow gardens are prairie-like landscapes defined by ornamental grasses and native plants. Rain gardens are living sponges that absorb stormwater, snowmelt, and flood waters into,,, water bodies above and below ground. Patios are places where people can comfortably spend time outdoors.

Play areas refers to natural outdoor environments that supports brain and body development in children. Here, natural spaces are filled with sound, scent, textures, color and movement. A pond garden acts as a way- station for birds, encourages aquatic wildlife, and adds light and movement to the landscape. Xeric gardens are compositions for arid climates where a combination of grasses and succulents create landscapes that can surpass the drama of traditional green landscaping. Edible gardens, while not totally carefree, contain crops that stimulate our sense of taste and smell. Stroll gardens encourage exploring nature throughout the seasons; a smarter lawn, while not as elegant as a traditional one, is an alternative that requires little maintenance.

Part Two of the book is filled with practical and technical advice on how to convert a lawn into one of the above-mentioned options, and on subsequent maintenance of each option. Part Three is rich with information on the various forms of plants that - when combined together - create attractive landscaping for no-mow gardens.

This last section is divided into four classifications of plants: Mounding, Mat-forming, Fill-ins, and Minglers. Carex and Brunnera are two examples of the twenty-six suggested Mounding plants. Among the sixteen Mat-forming plants, we find Lamium and Phlox subulata. Fill-in plants that number twenty-eight include Pachysandra terminalis and Tiarella chordifolia while Callirhoe involucrate and Phlox paniculata are two of the twenty-eight suggested Minglers.

The no-grass lawn is a landscaping alternative that has arisen out of a serious and controversial dialogue. It is to the author's credit that she has graciously avoided wrapping her vision in the ideology and the dogma associated with this subject. Instead, her book makes a practical contribution to the discussion. Enhancing that achievement is an abundance of beautiful and inspiring photos that clearly illustrate all of the author’s suggestions. Readers who are intent on eliminating the traditional lawn will be delighted by the endless possibilities they will find in this timely publication.


Buffalo Style Gardens: an American Phenomenon

Have you noticed the Buffalo style gardens that have been evolving in western Upstate New York? This type of gardening is considered by some to be an original American contribution to urban landscaping. Although the style pays homage to Romantic English gardens, its unique and distinct local flavor sets it apart from other gardening idioms. Cultivated in the northern part of the USA, in an unusually temperate micro-climate, its development has come as a surprise to those who wrongly associate Buffalo with severe winters[ not true] and a short growing season [also not true]. That so many of its residents have successfully embraced this style to make it their own is a phenomenon.

insiders.seeamerica.comFor this online, armchair garden tourist, the following four characteristics identify such a garden:-

1] Front yard lawns are replaced, entirely or partially, with dramatic perennial flowerbeds, and the strip of grass that separates the city road form the public sidewalk is similarly and painstakingly landscaped.

2] In older parts of town where Victorian architecture abounds, the exterior of the homes are painted in vivid shades that disregard the colors of nearby houses and flowers.

3] Gardens are defined by very dense and very lush plantings, a Romantic spirit, a liberal use of foliage, and an intense attention to texture, form, and color.

4] Neighbors design their front yard flowerbeds to compete with each other for attention. Whether they adorn the front of a home or if they are secluded in a side or back yard, the plant compositions represent idealized horticultural visions usually found in the imagination of flower gardeners. We dream about them as goals, one day to be realized. Yet, here they grow on the southern shores of Lake Ontario, where winds sometimes make the occasional winter snowfall feel more severe than it is.

gardenwalkbuffalo.comThe gardeners of this city have created horticultural beauty of such high quality that their work has captured the attention of the rest of America. Admiring camera-equipped tourists arrive from outside the Niagara-Erie area, national magazines place journalists there to write about it, and other cities send delegations to determine if they can emulate Buffalo’s success. When local residents realized that their own personal gardens had become tourist attractions, they came together to designate the last weekend of July as an annual summer festival to celebrate their work. Today 350 private Buffalo gardens make up a free-of-charge, self-guided walking tour that is organized by hundreds of gardener-volunteers, underwritten by thirty sponsors, and attracting about 50,000 tourists over its two-day span. It is the largest garden tour in America.

gardenwalkbuffalo.comThe’s Daily Dish has described this collection of gardens thusly: “There are Japanese gardens, English gardens, Russian gardens (i.e., barely controlled wildernesses) and what I would call Buffalo gardens - eclectic, funky mixes in which found objects and exotic-looking surrounding rooftops figure prominently". While not all of the participating gardens are situated on former front lawns, it is exactly those viewed-from-the street flowerbeds that have captured my attention. Readers who have attempted to replace their front lawns with perennial combinations understand that this project is more challenging than it appears; because a front yard converted into one large perennial flowerbed is prone to be messy and scraggly.

gardenwalkbuffalo.comThis does not appear to happen so much in Buffalo, as one can determine from the uppermost image posted above. Here, a meticulous gardener displays a keen eye for composition and design, a sophisticated understanding how plants perform, and a courageous approach to the use of color.

gardenwalkbuffalo.comOnce, the city of Buffalo was considered the grungy rust belt of America. Now, a community of avid, amateur gardeners is transforming it into what Martha Stewart Living suggests might become the epicenter of American Horticulture. The walking tour of Buffalo's gardens is an example of how successful a grass-roots initiative can be, especially one that is completely independent of government assistance or intervention. Some number crunchers believe that this private two-day event pumps over 3 million dollars annually into the local economy.

Readers interested in planning their vacation to coincide with this event can click onto the tour’s website at http:/


How to Create Beautiful Gardens in Small Spaces; a book review for

Landscaping Solutions for Small Spaces, 10 Smart Plans for Designing & Planting Small Gardens by Ann-Marie Powell, published by Creative Homeowner

Beautiful gardens can be created in small spaces. The trick is not to stuff all of one’s dreams into a tiny garden. Instead, it is about judiciously selecting those design elements that are critical to ones pleasure, and about paring down a plan to its most important features. By following the author’s advice, satisfying, beautiful gardens, even in cramped quarters, can become a reality.

According to Ms. Powell, with careful design the most awkward space can become a garden. When plants, structures, and furniture are used wisely, a homeowner can transform a confined location not only into a thing of beauty, but also into a multifunctional space, with separate areas for relaxing and entertaining.

Her experience in designing allows the author to summarize a range of garden styles suitable for small spaces. These include - Urban, Edible, Romantic, English, Sun, Low-maintenance, Rustic, Night, Terraced, and Minimalist. A comprehensive chapter, dedicated to each style, includes a full sized, easy to read, and very detailed diagram of the garden, accompanied by an additional full-page blueprint-style planting guide.

http://www.ann-mariepowell.comThe recommended ideas can be adapted by the do-it-yourself homeowner or by qualified landscapers. Creative readers may use these plans as a springboard to building a personalized garden by substituting plants and construction materials that reflect ones aesthetic needs and specific growing zones.

http://www.ann-mariepowell.comThe author’s wise advice includes a suggestion to begin with a master plan. This will help in evaluating the allocation of precious space and budget set aside for the garden. Furthermore, the reader is cautioned not to select a design idea from a larger garden and shrink it down to fit, as wide lawns, deep planting borders and tall trees do not adapt well to tiny spaces.

http://www.ann-mariepowell.comOne feature of the book that truly impressed me is the fact that no construction or planting detail, no matter how minute, is omitted or left to chance. In each chapter, the author includes a list of hardscape materials, a plant-shopping list, and a reminder of miscellaneous garden accessories that are required, such as eye screws for window boxes, wood screws, fence clips, and dumpsters for construction waste.

http://www.ann-mariepowell.comThe information is supplemented with a specific to-do list that includes, for example, a caution to measure the garden carefully before ordering raw materials, and a safety tip to have all outdoor lighting installed by a qualified electrician.

http://www.ann-mariepowell.comAs well, there are guidelines for the handling and execution of paving, furniture selection, decking, boundaries, trellis, and lawn, [if there is space for it], vegetation, the construction process, and planting. Each chapter, for any one style of garden, is completed with a twelve-month maintenance plan to help the homeowner sustain in perpetuity both the hardscapes and the plants.

http://www.ann-mariepowell.comThis is a very impressive manual. Of late, publishers have been tapping into the talents of skilled and creative professionals, so that projects available to do-it–yourselfers are moving away from run-of-the-mill to become extraordinary. Although Ms. Powell’s book is intended as a mass-market publication, it is, in fact, an example of landscape mentoring at its best.

Ann-Marie Powell is a garden designer, TV personality, and writer focusing on innovative landscaping. She runs her own landscaping business, contributes to numerous newspapers and magazines, and is the author of two books. Her garden designed for the world-famous 2010 Chelsea Flower Show won a gold medal. All of the photos included in this review are available on her website.