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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Living the Good Life Outdoors

You have probably heard the term “outdoor living.” This has been listed as a major landscaping and gardening trend in recent years. But what does it really mean?

>> read “Living the Good Life Outdoors”       #Hardscaping   #Misc
Bridges in the Garden

The most admired image of a garden bridge is the one at Giverny in France, immortalized in paintings by Claude Monet and photographed by scores of visitors intent on capturing Monet’s vision. Gently arching over a narrow part of the lily pond, this Japanese-style bridge has green railings and an arbor that rises above it, entwined with trailing wisteria vines. Looking across the glistening pond filled with waterlilies, the bridge creates a romantic and dreamy background in harmony with the graceful weeping willows and the green lushness of the garden.

Garden bridges can be both purposeful and enchanting. They not only provide access across a pond, a small stream, a ravine or a swale, but can also create a dramatic focal point. Bridges are a symbol of transition and passage, and are often considered a metaphor for life. Crossing a bridge and looking down into a swiftly flowing stream or still pond opens up vistas into and across the water. It also gives you a new perspective as you view the garden from such a vantage point.

>> read “Bridges in the Garden”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
The Thrill of a Threshold

New beginnings are easily born on thresholds. Whether it’s in the garden or in life, this point of transition symbolizes a new beginning. For brides, being carried across the threshold of a new home marks the start of a new phase of life. For my own wedding in 1988, my husband and I were married on the banks of the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Va., on a dock that served as the threshold of our new life together.

A threshold is where one moves from one space to the next – an arbor, a bridge, a gate, a break in the hedge, a set of dramatic steps leading to a level change or even a pair of columns – made of either shrubs or trees, or hardscape materials. They punctuate a space, alerting visitors they are about to experience a change in scenery.

>> read “The Thrill of a Threshold”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
The Art and Science of Concrete

The hardscape of a landscape provides the “bones” of an overall design. Typical hardscape features are patios, pathways, stairways and various garden structures.

Concrete is often used for paved areas, and the number of options available to homeowners is only limited by one’s imagination. The bright white of new concrete is highly reflective and sometimes isn’t the first choice of a finish. Given a little bit of time, any concrete will begin to age and the bright-white tones will mute to a tan, earthen color simply through normal weathering.

>> read “The Art and Science of Concrete”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
Privacy in the Garden

When we are in our gardens, there are times when we may want to separate ourselves from the world outside. Sometimes an enclosed space feels right. Whether we are in a contemplative mood or just under the weather, sitting in the garden serves as a remedy. Other more practical needs, such as sunbathing, having breakfast in a bathrobe, or simply not wanting to engage in conversation with a neighbor, call for screening.

Often we really like our neighbors, but require just enough of a barrier that implies that we enjoy having them next door, but that our yard is not perpetually open for foot traffic. Fence panels and groups of shrubs work well in this situation, rather than continuous fence or hedging. Frequently, being seen in our yards is not a problem – we just do not want to engage in conversation with the neighbor.

>> read “Privacy in the Garden”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
Microclimates in the Landscape

One of the most common topics of conversation between gardeners is the weather. Rain, heat, cold and drought all present challenges to maintaining a good-looking garden and landscape. Together, these environmental factors are referred to as the “climate” for a particular area or region. Since these areas can be rather large, we can call these environmental factors the macroclimate for a given area. The USDA Hardiness Zone map is a resource we use to determine growing conditions over wide areas and regions.

Within the larger macroclimates are smaller areas that have different or modified conditions. These pockets may be warmer or cooler, or wetter or drier than surrounding areas. These areas are termed “microclimates” and can be influenced by buildings, trees, bodies of water or elevation changes.

>> read “Microclimates in the Landscape”       #Environment   #Hardscaping   #Weather
Now You Don’t
Creative ways to hide air conditioners and equipment

Over the past 30 years I have been snapping images of the ways gardeners hide the necessary evils – pool equipment, meters, propane tanks, air conditioners, and electric boxes. Solutions fall into three basic groups – plants, enclosures, and walls/screens. I hope some of these ideas will work for you.

>> read “Now You Don’t”       #Design   #Hardscaping
The Garden Backbone
How hardscape contributed to a good garden design

The Melby home is a two-story house with a screened-in back porch and detached carport. A large swimming pool occupies a strip of land beyond the carport with a lattice fence and landscaped flowerbeds surrounding the pool. It was always a popular spot for outdoor gatherings when their children were teens, but a part-time job in a garden-themed gift shop piqued Terri’s interest and Jeff’s creativity, which started them on a journey that changed their backyard into an exciting landscape.

>> read “The Garden Backbone”       #Design   #Garden Profile   #Hardscaping   #Waterscaping
A Do-It-Yourselfer’s Garden
The garden of Mike and Jane Brown

Most people spend their first weekend in a new home unpacking and settling in, but not Jane Brown. When she and her three boys – ages 8, 14, and 16 – moved into their home in 1999, they spent their first weekend replacing boring, foundation plants. In the weeks before her move, Jane made no decisions on draperies or interior paint colors. Instead, she purchased a myriad of azaleas, hydrangeas, and crapemyrtles. Her first priority was getting them planted.

>> read “A Do-It-Yourselfer’s Garden”       #Design   #Garden Profile   #Hardscaping
Take a Load Off
The four C’s of a great hammock garden

Creating space for grace is truly the dream of every gardener, even if the gardener never verbalizes such a goal. With every vigorous day of digging, building, designing, and planting, the intrinsic goal of the gardener is to have a spot of earth that is beautiful with an element of functionality whether it be a beauty for beauty’s sake or beauty combined with utility as in an edible landscape, or both.

>> read “Take a Load Off”       #Environment   #Hardscaping
How to Build a Dry Stream Bed

Want more structure to your garden? Have a spot where rain water always puddles? Looking for a hardscape project with a Japanese-inspired look? Ever hear of a dry stream bed? Dry stream beds are decorative stone features that can also carry rain water away from foundations and garden beds ...

>> read “How to Build a Dry Stream Bed”       #Hardscaping   #Waterscaping
Zen Gardens
A Place For Harmony And Balance

It seems that now, more than ever, people are trying especially hard to make their busy lives less stressful and more meaningful. Gardening can help in a subtle way that few other activities can manage, and the guiding principles of Zen gardening can lead to the creation of a truly calming, harmonious, and uplifting environment. These gardens are not designed to excite the senses in the way that Western plots do but are places for the spirit to find peace and tranquility in which to grow. Zen Buddhism requires that every task is performed with love – and it is the love and care that is put into them that gives them a serene and kindly atmosphere.

>> read “Zen Gardens”       #Hardscaping   #Themed Gardens
 
 
 

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