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

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Entries in ornamental grasses (10)

Sunday
Feb012015

The Flower Garden Style of Piet Oudolf

Image copyrighted by Scott Weber. Used with permission

Scott Weber, of Portland, Oregon, has been designing and planting flowerbeds around his property for several years. Above and below are two of the many stunning photos he shares with readers on his blog Rhone Street Gardens. The images of his mini meadow-like plantings always take my breath away no matter how frequently he posts. Scott once mentioned that Piet Oudolf inspires the spirit and design of his garden.

Image copyrighted by Scott Weber. Used with permission.

For over one hundred years, the English flower garden remained the championed design for colorful gardens in the Western world and I confess that it remains my personal favorite to this day.

Nevertheless, by the time the twentieth century began to overlap with the twenty- first, along came Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf to nudge that traditional style out of its spotlight. Today, when I combine some of his design elements into my English-style projects, the results are quite moving.

Many books and articles have been written about this extraordinarily talented garden designer and I expect that ongoing and well deserved worldwide tributes will continue for some time to come.

Garden design by Piet Oudolf. http://www.pensthorpe.com/norfolk-gardens/ Click on image to visit site.

Piet Oudolf has succeeded in replaced the traditional perennial garden with landscapes inspired by the chaos of wildflowers, the assorted textures of foliage and the ethereal movement of grassy meadows. Yet, there is nothing chaotic or wild about his gardens, even if he does include native perennials in his layouts. In fact, his unique gardens are the results of meticulous, intricately designed planting schemes which, when repeated over vast swaths of land, create mesmerizing rivers of lush plant compositions.

His strategically arranged garden blueprints are realized primarily with robust, broad and small leaved perennials, bulbs, and ornamental grasses - all placed into recurring matrices to create a blissful flow of colors, textures, flower shapes and plant forms. Tall species, as well, are incorporated into some of his flowerbeds so that visitors can feel enveloped as they walk under and through his compositions.

These design elements also include the structural skeletons and seed heads of plants that provide visual interest when gardens are usually dormant and bare in winter. In Mr. Oudolf's gardens, eye-catching details attract and engage visitors all year round.

The High Line, New York City, gardens by Piet Oudolf.

Some of Piet Oudolf’s works are located in private gardens and privately owned parks open to the public. However, his best-known and powerful creations are situated in the public spaces of large cities. These urban projects create stirs of excitement when they first open and leave an enormous positive impression on the public. The result is that he has become an iconic figure in the garden design community.

Salvia beds designed by Piet Oudolf at Lurie Gardens, Chicago

One finds these urban oases in some of the largest and most densely populated areas. Here, juxtaposed among concrete, steel and asphalt, are wild meadow-inspired flower gardens whose soft natural and seemingly random appearances contrast dramatically with the disciplined, sleek and hard surfaces of the city structures that surround. They serve as a therapeutic refuge from the stress of daily life.

Lurie Gardens, Chicago.

As a highly respected designer and mentor, he continues to influence the work of prominent landscape designers on both sides of the Atlantic and his philosophy inspires home gardeners, some of whom live in climatically challenged areas where native plants and grasses work better than other perennials, to create dramatic yet beautiful traffic-stopping gardens.

Oudolf’s designs are synergistic; the compositions are more sublime than the appearance of any one of his chosen plants when grown alone. In his gardens, we experience the exquisite beauty of nature that can transport us from demanding urban existence to a destination overflowing with spirituality and hope.

Admire twenty six completed garden projects by Piet Oudolf at his website http://oudolf.com/

Watch a video of his work for New York Botanical Gardens  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75C6xFCSu-A

Sunday
Jan062013

How to Solve Growing Problems in the Garden Before They Begin

Why Plant That When You Can Grow This? 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants, Andrew Keys, Timber Press.

In our quest to recreate luscious landscapes we have visited, or studied in a book or magazine, we sometimes find our personal gardens filled with plants that make us unhappy due to their disappointing appearance or performance.

Our growing zone may be too hot or cold, the soil on our land too wet or arid, and the sun might be to searing or absent altogether.

Even when the conditions are perfect, surprises still occur. Too much rain or too humid a summer will result in mildew. Pests that we did not expect to attack our plants often arrive out of nowhere.

Some perennials will propagate themselves aggressively, others require more nutrients or irrigation than we can provide. Sometimes we become overwhelmed when we realize that a plant requires more maintenance than we are perpared to undertake.

Our frustration with plants that disappoint is exacerbated by our growing need for predictability and reliability. Many of us have a compromised life style that does not allow the luxury of time to fuss and fiddle over plants.

The solution:- Read this book!

In it, the author suggests we adjust our expectations. Instead of recreating someone else’s landscape, he recommends that we interpret it by using more reliable, less invasive, and easier-to-care-for plants.

Mr. Keys, as his title precisely states, presents 255 user-friendly plants for our consideration. While readers in colder climates are expected to skip over those that are inappropriate for their growing conditions, there remain enough choices for all gardeners, regardless where they are located.

Readers will discover

  •  replacement plants for twenty trees that might be problematic,
  •  substitutions for twenty-five shrubs with specific growing problems,
  •  alternatives for seven vines that may give the gardeners a headache,
  •  options for twenty-two perennials that are challenging to grow or maintain,
  •  better choices for the twelve grasses and ground covers a gardener should avoid.       

To facilitate the reader’s ability to deal with these horticultural issues, Mr. Keys has supplied the names of web sites for supplementary, elaborative information, as well as a list of recommended readings, mail order plant sources for American and Canadian gardeners, and an easy-to-consult conversion table for gardeners who are stymied by either metric or Imperial measurements of plants.

This publication is another in a series of useful garden manuals. Those of us who lead busy live are always happy to be alerted to potential horticultural problem. It is reassuring to know that we can solve them before they become full-blown headaches.

                           

Wednesday
Jun272012

A Master Class in Designing with Ornamental Grasses, an eBook review 

Do you feel that you don’t know enough about ornamental grasses? Were you planning to enroll in a university extension course to learn more about them or, perhaps, buy a book on the subject? Now, from the comfort of your home and the convenience of your favorite electronic appliance, you can download Michael King’s two eBooks, Grasses Book One and Grasses Book Two. Together, these two volumes provide the reader with a master class in designing with ornamental grasses.

Ornamental grasses are essential to modern garden design and to the times in which we live. On one hand, their architectural forms make them ideal plants to enhance modern structures and on the other, they reflect our newfound respect for natural looking landscapes. Of late, we have come to echo this modernism and naturalist philosophy in both our private and public gardens.

Many home gardeners include grasses in the design of their flowerbeds; and public parks have used them as dominant themes in their landscaping. So significant an idiom have they become in contemporary gardening that many public spaces that incorporate them, such as The Lurie Gardens in Chicago and The High Line of New York City, have become internationally respected botanical icons.

To incorporate grasses into both private and public landscaping, fundamental information about both their nature and their potential is required. To plant them helter-skelter, the way some of us treat perennial flowers, will not do. Using grasses correctly and effectively requires prior knowledge. That, of course, is the reason to download Michael King’s two eBooks.

BOOK 1 introduces the reader to ornamental grasses, details their characteristics, and explains how they can be used in garden design. The reader will learn how their lack of bold color and their free flowing shapes help to create an illusion of naturalism in any garden. One discovers how the verticality of these plants provides a visual relief, as the eye of the garden visitor is drawn upwards rather than horizontally. Included, as well, is a survey of the best ornamental grasses for garden designs, classified by height.

BOOK 2 begins with technical information associated with growing, caring for, and sustaining ornamental grasses. The author also provides a frank overview of the drawbacks of using them and suggests how to deal with resulting negative issues. The volume then move on to a valuable demonstration on combining grasses with other plants and provides guidance on their use in designing, on integrating them into lawns, and in the creation of meadows.

With a calibrated precision rarely found in the lectures of the best educators, Michael King effectively teaches us about designing with ornamental grasses, in small, easy increments. The result is that at the end of these sumptuously illustrated two eBooks, one is as well informed on this subject, as any garden designer needs to be.

The eBooks are available online at http://www.perennialmeadows.com/grass-king-e-books/

Tuesday
Mar222011

Designing with Grasses, a book review for bookpleasures.com

Designing with Grasses, Neil Lucas, Timber Press

Ornamental grasses have been slowly influencing the works of garden designers in a stealth manner. At first, we noticed them planted in Mediterranean-style gardens in South West USA, where drought filled summers are common. Then we began to see them in the prairie meadows of the Mid West. Eventually, they were included in revolutionary and boundary-breaking designs of public spaces in the North and North East. In tandem with these developments has been the rise in profile of grass-filled meadow gardens as an optional replacement for resource-depleting lawns.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/largeimage.asp?ID=1552

Today, ornamental grasses are considered as significant as perennials. Several publications have been written about designing with these plants and it is only a coincidence that this one has crossed my path.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/largeimage.asp?ID=1505

The author is a nine-time, award winning ornamental grass specialist, who lectures around the world. He is also the owner of Knoll Gardens, a nursery and show garden, located in Dorset England. The photos that illustrate this review are supplementary to the exquisite and inspirational images that appear in the book. They have been added here to reveal Mr. Lucas’ masterful talent. While many photographers are able to deliver the beauty of individual grasses, Mr. Lucas takes that art to a higher level by capturing the spirituality created by grasses when they are combined in a composition of other plants. Even though it is not a coffee table book, this publication delivers on a smaller scale, the powerful photography fix that most gardeners crave.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/gardendesign1.asp

According to Mr. Lucas, the rising importance of ornamental grasses mirrors contemporary expectations that one ought to be able to create successful gardens with less effort than in the past. These plants are helpful in that regard. Their adaptability to a wide range of climates and growing conditions allows them to contribute more to a garden’s success, using fewer plants and less labor.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/largeimage.asp?ID=1507

In addition, ornamental grasses work to complement other plants as they supply form, structure and movement. Their versatility makes them adaptable to grow in sandy or clay soils, in sun or shade, in dry or wet areas, and under trees.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/largeimage.asp?ID=1553

The author elaborates on the multi-purposeful contribution of grasses to garden design. He discusses how their color and lasting form give a garden year-round continuity and how both their texture and shape add character. We also learn that grasses have the ability to capture the wind, thereby creating movement and sound in the garden.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/largeimage.asp?ID=1607

Mr. Lucas further highlights the effectiveness of grasses as design elements by describing how they influence static foundation plants with their movement and how they help to soften the straight-edge boundaries of hedges and hardscapes. It is fascinating to learn that when grass plumage captures the rising and setting sun, they transform sunlight into a design element.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/largeimage.asp?ID=1571

Also discussed in detail, are the conditions under which grasses will thrive and the varieties that perform best in each of the different growing environments. These include, sun baked, gravel and drought conditions, woodland and shade, wet and waterside positions, pots and containers, erosion control, habitat restoration, green roofs, rain gardens, and native gardens.

http://www.knollgardens.co.uk/largeimage.asp?ID=1504

Specific tools for maintenance are suggested and advice is offered for the care of many classifications of grasses, such as deciduous, summer dormant, evergreen, and semi evergreen. In addition, there are tips for maintaining meadows, lawns, green roofs, container–grown grasses as well as propagation. Finally, the author supplies a beautifully illustrated directory of grasses and grass-like perennials with technical information for no less than 450 plants. Some garden books inspire us with words, others with images. This publication does both.

Note: All photos used in the text of this blog are copyrighted and used with the permision of Neil Lucas and click- link back to Knoll Gardens.

                                            

Wednesday
Oct062010

A Dutch-Influenced Garden: The Millennium at Pensthorpe by Piet Oudolf

Readers who have seen the book review of Designing with Plants, posted here on July 12, 2010, may already know that Piet Oudolf is one of my favorite garden designers. Yet, it is unlikely that I will ever have a landscape-as-canvas vast enough to emulate his work. What he has created can never be duplicated in the urban or suburban flower beds of my clients’ gardens. Oudolf’s work requires parklands, meadows or fields. Fortunately, there are plenty of open spaces around the world, managed or owned by visionaries, who have already invited Mr. Oudolf, a native of the Netherlands, to work his magic on their land.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardeningpicturegalleries/8030687/Ten-of-the-best-Dutch-influenced-gardens.html?image=7

Just the other day, Hermes, who blogs at Gardens of a Golden Afternoon, came across a photo essay of Dutch-influenced gardens; some designed by Oudolf, others inspired by his style. This collection of images was originally posted at the marvelous website of the Telegraph, an online version of The London Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper that supports the garden designs industry in a significant manner. From that collection, I have selected the above photograph, by Alamy, to share with my readers. It is known as the Millennium Garden, spans one acre, and is one of three gardens located in Pensthorpe, a wildlife and nature preserve in Norfolk, England. The parkland is open to the public and sells plants of all flowers that grow there. Orders are also taken for sold out varieties which are shipped to visitors when they become available.

After discovering the pictures posted by Hermes, I stumbled upon additiional images of this same garden. The photos below, taken by Andrew Lawson, have been used to illustrate an article of the Telegraph and the official site of Pensthorpe.com. Readers may click on any of the images on this page to link to the accredited sources.

                                                     http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardenstovisit/3321501/A-glimpse-of-the-future.html

The planting scheme of the Millennium Garden is predominantly maroon, purple and russet. Plants used include Echinacea, Monarda, Astrantia, Bronze Fennel, Astilbe, Aster and Vernonia; intermingled with a variety of golden grasses such as Deschampsia. In all, about 100 different species of perennials and over 20 types of grasses have been used. The plants are set off by tracts of open water, and explored by winding paths.

http://www.pensthorpe.com/

http://www.pensthorpe.com/

Horticultural travelers to the UK now get “more bang for their buck”. In addition to visiting the traditional English gardens, that are challenging to re create in North America, they can also study English based but Dutch-influenced gardens, planted with flowers and grasses more suitable for our climate.