Creating Ambiance With Gardens

During his 40-year career as a garden writer and photographer, Derek Fell has designed numerous garden spaces, many involving his wife Carolyn. The best example of their work can be seen at their home, historic Cedaridge Farm, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There, they have designed more than twenty theme areas, including shade gardens, sunny perennial borders, tapestry gardens involving trees and shrubs, a cottage garden, herb garden, cutting garden and an ambitious water garden.

Derek worked as a consultant on garden design to the White House during the Gerald Ford Administration. Derek designed Ford’s ‘Win’ garden, following his ‘Win Speech’, advising the nation ten ways to fight inflation.

Many garden designs by Derek Fell have been implemented without inspecting the site. The great late architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed beautiful homes for his clients, entirely from photographs without the need for a site inspection.

Fell’s garden spaces have been featured in newspapers, magazines, books and also on television, including Architectural Digest, Gardens Illustrated, The Garden (the magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society), Country Gardens, HGTV, QVC and PBS.

Derek has authored more than sixty books and garden calendars, including 550 Home Landscaping Ideas (Simon & Schuster), The Encyclopedia of Garden Design (Firefly Books), The Complete Garden Planning Manual (Friedman), Garden Accents (Henry Holt) and Home Landscaping (Simon & Schuster).

Curb appeal and ambiance are important to brighten up your propoerty or prepare it for sale. Feel free to ask Derek any garden related questions regardless of how big or small.

SOME GARDEN TYPES

Water Garden. Water is the music of nature. It can be tricked over stones, cascaded from a great height so its crashes onto rocks. It can fall in a solid sheet or as silver threads. A beautiful water garden with waterfalls and stepping stones can be located in sunlight or shade. The water garden shown here is located at Cedaridge Farm. It includes a pool for dipping, and it features both a collection of koi and hardy water lilies. A popular water garden design features a koi pool fed by a series of waterfalls, and the water re-circulated through filters to keep the water clear.

Sunny Perennial Border. This can be formal or informal, square, rectangular, round and kidney shaped, in the form of an island bed or backed against a decorative hedge, wall or fence. Plants can be chosen to produce a parade of color through all the seasons, or concentrated for a particular season. Color themes can be polychromatic like a rainbow, monochromatic (for example all white – perfect for a wedding), or it can feature an Impressionist color harmony, such as yellow and purple; orange and blue; red, pink and silver; blue, pink and white; even black and white or black and orange (one of Monet’s favorites). A popular perennial garden design is two parallel border with a grass path leading to a focal point such as a sculpture or gazebo.

Tropical Garden. You do not need to live in a frost-free area to have a beautiful tropical garden. At Cedaridge Farm we have two – one is a tribute to the design philosophy of the late Roberto Burle Marx, who designed dramatic tropical gardens around Rio. It is in a lightly shaded area and features plants that are hardy (like ‘Sum & Substance’ hosta) but look tropical and tender plants that are tender (like banana trees and tree ferns) that either need moving indoors during winter or can be discarded like annuals at the end of the season. Our second tropical space is a patio with tropical plants grown in containers.

Shade Gardens. We design two kinds of shade gardens – one where the plants provide mostly foliage interest (like ferns, hostas, heuchera and hakone grass), and plants that flower well (like impatiens, coleus, and lilies), or a combination of the two.

Valuable Tips for Creating Beautiful Garden Landscapes

When you bring a new plant from a nursery to plant in your garden you become a designer who designs the garden landscape that you have. If you want to be a great designer, you need to be aware of certain aspects so that you can have the best landscape.

You may have noticed that some gardens have an organized look while others, having the finest plant collection, look haphazard. The basic reason for this is because the owner or the landscape designer has not planned the future of the garden properly. The following tips will help you to have among the best garden landscapes that can be had.

The following good tips will help you to have a garden which will stand out from other gardens and will also keep you from the headache of knowing what to do.

Plan the garden properly

The landscape of the garden must be planned in such a manner that it looks beautiful now while also having the future in mind. You will find it is best to plant your precious collection of plants in such a manner that there is enough space when in future you require a mower, or the stump grinder, to enter for building projects for your porch or the patio..

If this planning is not done now, then in future you may have to throw away your precious plants in order to have space for allowing movement of such equipment.

Have a focal point

The focal point of your garden must be such that it attracts people and engages their attention when roaming in your garden. It should be different than others but not out-of-place. You can have an antique garden bench as the focal point but don’t use an object which is not related to the garden. A water body or an oak tree can be a great focal point which will give the garden landscape a new dimension.

Curves must be checked

It is good to have curved pathways or flower beds in a garden, but you must not overdo them. It must be kept simple so that the geometric design that you have incorporated in the landscaping stands out. If you use those shapes too often it will become common and no one will notice them.

Have movement in the garden

A garden landscape that does not have movement is like a painting. Paintings are good on the walls but in a garden, you must have movement so that you can bring life and create interest in your garden.

You may be wondering how to have movement. It is quite easy to have such movement in your garden by adding swaying ornamental grass or flowers which attract birds and butterflies and this will help to have the desired movement in your garden.

Highlight your house

The landscaping design that you have in your garden must match with the house that you have. If you have a house that does not have much architectural designs, then you can benefit by having the edges softened by the garden that you have.

You must keep in mind while matching your garden with the house is that you must not overdo it. It must not be such that your house is completely hidden by the garden trees that you have. The best of garden landscaping is that which will help to highlight the smallest of architectural features that your house has.

Think completely differently

When you are designing the landscaping of your garden you must think completely differently from the one that you now have. For example, if you have overgrown shrubbery don’t think that you have to keep it like that. By removing it you may be astonished to find a sunny sport which can be ideal for a rose bed. So, don’t plan your landscaping according to the present situation but think differently and you will find new possibilities to have an even better landscape.

Choose plants according to locations

When you select a plant base for a particular spot in your garden, consider the growth rate and the final size it will be. If you do not base your plant selection on these considerations, then the money you spend will not lead to overall beautification but, in the end, you will have to spend more money for adjustments.

If you think that having a cheap plant which grows fast you are gaining much you are thinking wrongly. The money you will spend later for pruning and other maintenance will eat up your initial savings. So, have a purposeful selection of garden trees and place them properly.

Let the garden show the way

The design of the garden should lead visitors to your house. You don’t want visitors losing their way so the garden must show the way to the house. The curved pathway or the big pots that you place need to say, “Hi, this is the way that you need to go.”

Designs For the Perfect Garden Sheds

Gardens are not only for lawns and household play fields, but can also be perfect locations for storage sheds wherein one can just basically stock unused household stuffs in the shed. As part of the entire house exterior, it is only but proper that garden sheds will also look presentable and in-relative to the house’s design.

In order not to be a total complete eyesore, garden shed designs should be well-planned. Shed plans should be in harmony with the available space in the garden as well as the design befitting the house’s style. Furthermore, garden shed designs should serve its purpose to the owners in general.

The following are some basic tips on how to build your garden shed:

  • Space. Before one make his/her own storage building plans, one has already the estimate of the space where the garden shed will be placed. Aside from the space available, decide also which part of the garden it will be located. Make sure that it will not be located somewhere near the main road so as to avoid blockage of the pathway in the future.
  • Layout. On a piece of paper, have a layout of your garden shed designs. One needs not to be an architect or engineer for this matter; a basic design of the garden shed – such as how it looks like – will do since this will only serve as a guide to the carpenter or designer in building the shed. If one is really very intricate about it, he/she can hire a designer or architect to make the storage shed plan.
  • Materials. In the storage building plans, also include the kind of materials which you like for your garden storage shed. Most of which are made out of wood as woods are deemed as perfect materials for a garden storage shed. Aside from the fact that woods are cheaper, it can also blend well in the environment of a garden wherein shades of green and earth colors fill the area. It is advisable, however, to put wood treatments in certain parts of the garden storage shed. This is to prevent pests or house bugs in getting into the woods.

If you cannot do it on your own, find someone who is learned and skillful in carpentry and designing storage sheds. Look for highly qualified individuals who can construct your garden storage shed. This does not only entail a sturdy garden storage shed output, but also a saving from time and materials used.

Basic Garden Shed Designs

Common garden shed designs today include the A-frame type and barn-style sheds. There are also many other styles such as pet barns, saltbox greenhouse, playhouses, cottages, pool cabanas, or a miniature version of your own house. Outdoor storage may be fitted with a porch and other accessories. When looking at garden shed designs, check what each manufacturer has to offer.

For a garage shed where you intend to park toy vehicles, bikes, motorcycles, and even cars, there are shed kits that come in various sizes available. In choosing, you would of course have to tally the number of vehicles in the household. Usually, garage sheds are also designed to house auto repair tools, parts, supplies, and cleaning equipment. Since garage sheds are valued for their interior quality, exterior designs are usually minimal and simplistic.

Outdoor garden shed designs for vehicles need to have strong foundation. You may choose from concrete, concrete block, pressure-treated lumber, brick, or plywood sheets to support the entire structure. The roof height must give adequate room for people to move in and out while the doors may be single, double, or roll-ups. Garden shed designs may include windows to encourage proper ventilation inside the shed. Another of the most popular garden shed designs are those for constructing potting or greenhouse sheds. Just like garage sheds, outdoor structures for plants need good ventilation because of sprays, fertilizers, insects, and soil. It is a good idea to erect a potting shed near a water source for better plumbing capabilities and maintenance. Greenhouse sheds may include a work bench, hooks for which to hang garden tools, and shelves.

If you are planning a shed to serve as a nursery for seedlings and young plants, as well as a greenhouse for orchids and foliage, you might want to look at larger garden shed designs. You can have the roof be made of either plastic or glass. The best flooring for a custom greenhouse is concrete. Hooks may also come in handy for baskets and ladders. Electricity is also a must for potting sheds as well as plumbing fixtures.

Designing Your Garden – What Makes a Good Garden?

Garden design is a very personal thing and is often an expression of your personality. What I like you, you may not and vise versa. Some people like neat and tidy gardens where there are no surprises, others love the thrill of windy paths, lots of different plant material and not knowing what is around the corner. There are three main styles of gardens formal, semi formal and informal. They can then be divided into many types of gardens and that depends on what you would like. Garden design can be intimately tidied to the style of your house as in example of the grand french chateaux where the geometric patterns of the garden mimic the geometric construction of the house or it can have no connection to your house at all.

Some people are lucky and have this innate gift of knowing how to design space, making it a pleasing place to be in. Others don’t have this gene and find it very difficult to visualise how the space will work. To create a good design it is important you understand that design is about managing space and people moving around it. The core of good garden design centres round patterns and the space within these patterns. By using geometrical shapes, circles, triangles, rectangles etc. you can achieve a unified feel to your garden. So you need to think about ground patterns and movement around your garden. Where would you like people to go? Ground patterns can be achieved with the use of bricks, paving and plant material such as cut grass etc.

Formal gardens are symmetrical and geometrical and are strict in terms of repeating patterns and plant materials on either side. It is very controlled, plants are clipped, shaped, manipulated regularly and today is often suitable for small gardens like court yards. Urns, balustrades, stone, gravel paths, parterres, formal pools and framed views are all part of the formal garden. There are no surprises, you know what to expect.

Informal designs are asymmetrical and not as regimented. Plant material is allowed to spill over the structural elements such as walls, steps and paths. Plant material is allowed to self-seed and wander around the garden. Informal garden design is softer, full of surprises thus you don’t know what to expect.

And semi formal is the combination of the above two. Usually it is the built structures such as retaining walls, paths and steps that are formal and the informal element is the plant material which is allowed to spill over them, softening their hard outlines.

Within these three types, there are many different styles of gardens to choose from such as contemporary, Japanese, Mediterranean, cottage, courtyard, kitchen garden or secret garden.

Contemporary is a modern style that likes to reflect the surrounding but also use a wide range of plant material. Form and texture of foliage are as important as flowers. Hard landscaping is woven into geometrical shaped buildings; all of which flow into the wider landscape. Plants are used as focal points to highlight the architectural forms.

Cottage was a late nineteenth-century ideal to return to the simple cottages of the country. They were planted with hardy bulbs, flowers, fruit bushes and herbs and vegetables. They were geometric, colours were harmonised and luxurious as plants grew well as they were heavily manured regularly.

Mediterranean is not limited to one particular area but are defined according to hot summers and low rainfall. They encompass entertaining areas, shade, good views and dramatic shadows. Hot colourful plants are used and lots of lush green foliage plants to create a cool atmosphere. Plants need to be drought tolerant. Evergreen plants are popular because they cast shade on hot days. Walls are white washed to reflect the sun, pergolas built to create shade and use terracotta pots. There is often a water feature and water provides cooling vibes.

Japanese gardens encompasses religion and Japan’s cultural history. Japanese gardens are very symbolic often the symbols relate to nature. Plants are ‘tamed’ and there is an emphasis on evergreen trees and shrubs. They are very controlled and often minimalist. True Japanese gardens are contemplative a place of meditation and great calm.

Planning

If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start when designing your garden, I suggest you break it up into areas called rooms thus dividing one big space into several smaller spaces. For example: there is the front garden, the side garden and the back garden. Once you have decided where they begin and end you can then divide each of those areas up again. For example in the back garden you could have the entertaining area, the grass/children’s area, the utilities area (includes the compost heap and shed), the pool area and the vegetable/orchard area. Once you have defined the areas/rooms you can tackle one at a time, thus making a huge project into several smaller projects.

The Basics of Japanese Gardening

Things to keep in mind for a beautiful garden

Main principles on the garden’s design

Bring the Japanese feeling into your garden with these basic steps. First of all, embrace the ideal of nature. That means, keep things in your garden as natural as possible, avoiding to include things that could disrupt this natural appearance.

For example, don’t include square ponds in your design as square ponds are nowhere to be found in nature. Also, a waterfall would be something closer to what exists in nature if we compare it to a fountain. So you also have to consider the Japanese concept of sumi or balance. Because one of Japanese gardening design main purposes is to recreate large landscapes even in the smallest place. Be careful when choosing the elements for your garden, because you don’t want to end up filling your ten by ten courtyard with huge rocks.

As a miniaturized landscape, the rocks in the garden would represent mountains and the ponds would represent lakes. A space filled with sand would represent an ocean. By that we assume that garden masters were looking to achieve a minimalistic approach, best represented by the phrase “less is more”.

The elements of time and space

One of the things westerners notice at first are the many portions of empty space in the garden. In fact, these spaces are an important feature in Japanese gardening. This space called ma, relates to the elements around it and that also surround it. The concepts of in and yo are of vital importance here, they are best known to the Western civilization by the Chinese names yin and yang. If you want to have something you have to start with having nothing. This is an idea quite difficult to understand, but it is a rule of thumb in Japanese gardening.

An important clue in the development of a garden is the concept of wabi and sabi. There’s no literal English translation for those words. Wabi is about uniqueness, or the essence of something; a close literal translation is solitary. Sabi deals with the definition of time or the ideal image of something; the closest definition might be time strengthened character. Given the case, a cement lantern that might appear unique, would lack of that ideal image. Or an old rock covered in lichens would have no wabi if it’s just a round boulder. That’s why it is important to find that balance.

Ma and wabi/sabi are connected to the concepts of space and time. When it comes to seasons, the garden must show the special character of each one. Japanese garden lovers dedicate time to their gardens every season, unlike the western gardener who deserts in fall just to be seen again in spring.

A very relaxing view in spring is given by the bright green of new buds and the blossoms of the azaleas. In summer, the lush foliage in combination with the pond offer a powerful and fresh image. The vivid spectacle of the brilliant colors of dying leaves in fall are a prelude for the arrival of winter and its white shroud of snow.

The two most important gardening seasons in Japan are spring and winter. Japanese refer to the snow accumulated on braches as Sekku or snow blossoms. Yukimi, or the snow viewing lantern, is another typical element of the Japanese garden in winter. The sleep of the garden in winter is an important episode for our Japanese gardener, while for the western gardener spring is the beginning of the work at the garden. Maybe because of the eastern point of view as death like part of the life cycle, or perhaps the western fear to death.

About garden enclosures
Let’s see the garden as a microcosm of nature. If we’re looking for the garden to be a true retreat, we have to ‘set it apart’ from the outside world. Because of that, fences and gates are important components of the Japanese garden.

The fence and the gates have both symbolism and functionality. The worries and concerns of our daily life have to stay out of this separate world that becomes the garden. The fence protects us from the outside world and the gate is the threshold where we leave our daily worries and then prepare ourselves to confront the real world again.

The use of fences is based in the concept of hide/reveal or Miegakure. Fence styles are very simple and are put in combination with screen planting, thus not giving many clues of what hides inside. You can give a sample look of your garden by cutting a small window in the solid wall that encloses your garden if that’s the case. Sode-gaki, or sleeve fences, are fences attached to an architectural structure, that will only show a specific view of the garden from inside the house. Thus, we’re invited to get into the garden and enjoy it in its entirety. That’s what makes the true understanding of the garden, to lose in it our sense of time and self.

Basic Arrangements
Despite the fact that certain rules are applied to each individual garden, don’t think that there’s just one type of garden. There are three basic styles that differ by setting and purpose.

Hill and Pond Garden (Chisen-Kaiyu-skiki)
A China imported classic style. A pond or a space filled with raked gravel fronts a hill (or hills). This style always represents mountainous places and commonly makes use of vegetation indigenous to the mountains. Stroll gardens commonly use this style.

Flat Garden (Hiraniwa)
It derives from the use of open, flat spaces in front of temples and palaces for ceremonies. This is an appropriate style for contemplation and that represents a seashore area (with the use of the right plants). This is a style frequently used in courtyards.