Garden Designers Roundtable: “Trees”, an Important Element in Landscape Design!

Garden Designers Roundtable: “Trees”, an Important Element in Landscape Design!

Them that’s got shall get
Them that’s not shall lose

~ Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was talking about money when she wrote “God Bless the Child” with Arthur Herzog in 1939, but it’s a sentiment I find could easily describe trees, and the homeowners lucky enough to have them on their property. Here in the northeast trees are often taken for granted, often being the first things to go when a homeowner wants to make landscape improvements. It seems that most of the marketing for the green industry is aimed at either growing a perfectly manicured lawn or creating a garden full of sun loving perennials. In both cases, trees get in the way.

But if you look past the marketing bias, you’ll find there are many benefits to having trees in your garden. Let’s take a look…

Structure

The most successfully designed gardens are those that provide year round interest. They give something to the visitor long after and well before the showy blooms of spring and summer. A tree in a garden adds complexity during the season and stark beauty during the bleak months.

The blossoms of this Dogwood are beautiful, but the trunk of the Oak tree gives depth to this scene.
The blossoms of this Dogwood are beautiful, but the trunk of the Oak tree gives depth to this scene.
The snow frosted branches of this Hemlock create a pleasing vignette with this White Oak.
The snow frosted branches of this Hemlock create a pleasing vignette with this White Oak.
Deep in winter, this Sugar Maple provides amazing interest.
Deep in winter, this Sugar Maple provides amazing interest.

Definition

Trees give the designer tools to define space in a garden both in vertical plane and horizontal. With upright narrow growth, trees such as Fastigiate Hornbeam and Columnar Blue Spruce act as walls to define the borders of property and garden rooms.

Fastigiate Hornbeam Picture from Sugar Hill Nurseries
Fastigiate Hornbeam Picture from Sugar Hill Nurseries
Columnar Blue Spruce picture from Fossil Creek Nursery
Columnar Blue Spruce picture from Fossil Creek Nursery

Drama

Perhaps the best reason to use trees in a garden is drama. Drama found in the form of fall color, exfoliating bark, high canopy, or amazing blossom.

Beautiful fall color of Sourwood!
Beautiful fall color of Sourwood!
Exfoliating bark on the Heritage River Birch provides year round interest.
Exfoliating bark on the Heritage River Birch provides year round interest (Blue Heron Landscape Design)
These Star Magnolia provide drama in the canopy and on the ground.
These Star Magnolia provide drama in the canopy and on the ground.
The high canopy of this Red Maple creates an amazing sense of scale, especially in the fall!
The high canopy of this Red Maple creates an amazing sense of scale, especially in the fall!

Shade

The beauty, depth, and richness, of a shade garden can only be created when large trees are present, providing canopy to a space. Senses awaken and the connection is visceral.

Rich, full colors of the shade garden
Rich, full colors of the shade garden At O’Brien Nursery
Hosta and Hellebore thrive in the shade garden
Hosta and Hellebore thrive in the shade garden at O’Brien Nursery
A beautiful combination designed by Margaret Roach in her shade garden!
A beautiful combination designed by Margaret Roach in her shade garden!
A Larch anchors this shade garden
A Larch anchors this shade garden, with Hosta and Bugbane (Blue Heron Landscape Design)

When considering your next landscape improvements, please friends, look to the trees as assets, and let them provide the tools to create an amazing space in your garden!

How are the trees in your garden of benefit? I’d love to hear about them, leave me a comment. And, please visit the other blogger’s of the Roundtable with the following links, and see how they value trees.

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

Earth Day 2013!

Earth Day 2013!

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

~ Albert Einstein

2011 05 13_7378

Happy Earth Day Everyone, Love Your Mother!

Garden Designers Roundtable: Designing with Native Plants!

Garden Designers Roundtable: Designing with Native Plants!

Ask a dozen homeowners, or 20 or even 50, if they would like a garden of native plants, and you get a vast array of answers; “Yes I love having pollinators visit!” “Oh, I don’t have the right setting for that…” “My neighbors would never approve.” “What do you mean, like weeds?” It seems that when talking native, plants are automatically relegated to certain predispositions, too bad, because there’s more to native plants than meets the stereotype!

Here to shatter the myth that native plants are just a bunch of weeds loved only by tree huggers and liberal fruitcakes, are some beautiful stars of the garden. Plants that work well in many settings, doing the double duty of feeding the native pollinators, and winning over even the primmest of taste buds.

You may recognize many of these, but did you know they are native plants?

Very few trees can rival the amazing bark of Heritage River Birch. Able to tolerate wet soils, but widely adaptable, this moderate tree will garner many stares when placed near a walk or patio. Fall brings a wonderful yellow glow to the foliage, and the winter silhouette it very striking.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Heritage River Birch (Betula nigra ‘Cully’)

Does anybody not like the cheery aura of Black-eyed Susan. One of the most recognizable flowers of late summer, this native works well in both formal and informal settings, and is a long bloomer!

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Black-eyed Susan (Rubeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’)

Another very recognizable native, is White Flowering Dogwood. It’s clean white bracts will brighten up a shadowy woodland edge, or star in the frame created by window pane. Later in the season bright red berries appear, enticing robins to bring their rhythmic call to the garden.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
White Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Can you imagine a lovelier face staring at you from the middle of the perennial border? Rose Mallow, standing near five feet tall, does just that. At five inches across, the blossoms are visible from great distances in the garden, and are often filled with pollinators.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

There isn’t much color in the garden as autumn turns to winter, unless of course you have a plant that berries like Winterberry Holly. As leaves fall from tree and shrub, it’s just beginning it colorful display. Prized by both birds and floral arrangers alike, Winterberry Holly will put a smile on your face, when the rest of the garden has turned brown.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)

The next three photos, are from the parking lot of Cabella’s Outfitters in East Hartford, Connecticut. Outdoor stores, have long been the place to find native plants. Seems natural to use native plants to recreate the atmosphere their customers prize most, the wild back country.  I wonder how many explorers see the great beauty in these plants and include them in their gardens.

Little Bluestem is a grass found throughout the country. It’s upright habit and bluish-green blades add a wonderful architectural element to the garden. In fall the foliage turns red-orange, echoing the color high in the canopy.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Little Bluestem Grass (Schyizachyrium sscoparium cv.)

You might recognize Eastern Redcedar, from the highway median, or from a hike through a meadow transitioning to forest, but have you ever considered it as a specimen in the garden. These cultivars rival the most handsome specimens of Hinoki Cypress, but will tolerate a wider range of conditions. Not bad for a plant whose berries are used to make Gin!

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana cv.)

Here you can see three of our plants in the same shot.

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Little Bluestem Grass (foreground), Eastern Redcedar and Heritage River Birch (Betula nigra ‘Cully”), in the background.

The picture was taken at “The Holy Land”… Dunkin Doughnuts. Switch Grass is another species found throughout the U.S., and lately has been rising in popularity thanks to new cultivars that produce beautiful foliage. This specimen, which I think is ‘Ruby Ribbons’, is the reddest of the Panicums. It seems to pull the red right from the ordering kiosk, doesn’t it?

"Scott Hokunson" "Blue Heron Landscape Design"
Red Switchgrass (Panicum virginianum cv.)

So, there you have it. Several examples of native plants, and not a weedy sot in the whole bunch. It’s time to consider native pants in your garden, yes for their value to pollinators, yes to preserve native species as global economies bring in more and more exotics, but perhaps more importantly, because they are beautiful!

What do you think, have I convinced you to try more native plants in your garden?

After leaving a comment to tell me your thoughts on native plants, please visit my fellow Roundtable members, to see what they think of “Designing with Native Plants”.

Thomas Rainer : Grounded Design : Washington, D.C.

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT