A Bloggers Blog Picks

The christmas cookies are still fresh and a few more cheers are left to be said.  Does that mean that we are not yet ready to dream of spring during the long winter days ahead?  Perhaps it does.  If you are a year round landscape enthusiast and never tire of a beautiful scenery to view, here are a few more landscape blogs to check out that I have enjoyed reading this last year.

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Miss Rumphius’ Rules is written by Susan Cohen a landscape designer who also owns her own company and founder of leaf magazine.  Her blog focuses on landscape design and pulls together a lot of visuals that help inspire and showcase her style.

Chicago Garden is a blog that focuses on..well…Chicago and events surrounding gardening in this area.  For example, right now there are links for the Lincoln Park Zoolights.  Previous topics have included tours of local garden centers, events at the Lurie Gardens, garden walks around Chicago and much more.

Dirt Simple | Gardening and Landscape Blog by Deborah Silver focuses on all the small details of garden design.  The abundance of pictures is a great idea generator.  I especially enjoy some of the decorations that are featured to highlight the writers second business, Detroit Garden Works, a shop devoted to unique metal and various other types of garden decor both new and vintage.

The Experts Weigh In

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Who doesn’t want a panel of experts in their field to bounce off ideas?  I’m very glad I have some go-to people to ask advice, construction applications, or find out the latest and greatest must haves.  Here are some of my collegues greatest advice to homeowners from perspectives all over the board.  From designers, to brick salesman, maintenance gurus, and growers their diverse backgrounds mean that collectively they’ve seen just about everything.

Kathy Richardson
Landscape Designer

One thing I always try to tell people when helping them with their landscape design is to think about the big picture. They might just want a couple of plants, but know that they need a patio in a couple of years. So instead of just popping some plants in willy nilly, try to plan for your future landscape. Most people can not landscape their entire yard all at once. Not only is that a big maintenance undertaking all at once, but the cost of installing your dream landscape is usually not budget friendly. Dream big, and install a phase at a time. Plan your garden by laying out a master plan – or hiring a great designer to include all of the items you want in your garden into a master plan. There’s no reason why everyone can’t eventually have the landscape of their dreams. Install a patio one year, some foundation plants the next, stepping stone path and some accent plants the next and so on. It does take a bit of planning and patience, but you can’t beat the end result. That way, your garden and all its parts look like they were supposed to be there and you’ve got a functional and beautiful well thought out landscape.

Mickey Bittenbender

Maintenance Operations Manager
To prevent your lawn from turning brown during the hot summer months apply one inch of water per week with a lawn sprinkler, anything more is just a waste of water and money. If you choose to let your lawn go dormant during the summer months keep in mind this does not eliminate the need to water. During extended dry periods (3-4 weeks with no moisture) it will still be necessary to apply at least a ½” of water to help prevent costly lawn repairs due to turf grass die off.

 

Jim Clesen
Ron Clesen’s Ornamental Plants, Inc.
Grower

 

[My advice] basically, is for the homeowner to realize that they need to have an active part in the planning stages. Educate themselves. And, after all the decisions have been made then sit back and let the professionals do their job.  Working with designers before I know there are two types. Ones that plan for the product that they feel comfortable, for many reasons including they are just who they are, or what is overstocked in the nursery.  The other is one that will listen to what your needs are AND form fit the plantings, along with some of their previous experiences, to what your needs and wants are.  Asks important questions like “who will be maintaining these gardens or how much time and effort can you give?”
Jim Slattery AIA,CES
Illinois Brick Company

Material Sales 

The one tip I would give a homeowner is this, “Make sure your landscape design has color through-out the year”. I call it “Keeping your Landscape Alive” I drive around and looking at many landscape designs and see lots of color during spring, summer and fall months. But after the leaves and pedals have fallen off most designs look lifeless. The proper selection of trees, shrubs and ground cover is imperative to maintaining inviting color through-out the year to any landscape design. Ask a Landscape Professional on which plantings will work best for your property.

Get in the Zone

Global warming or just better math?  New to 2012, Chicago city proper has moved hardiness zones from 5b to 6a and the western suburbs are solidly a 5b zone instead of 5a. The change is due to better data collection that bases the zones on a wider range of years studied. What does it mean for plant connoisseurs and landscapers alike?  It means we can try some fun new things, but it doesn’t come without consequences.  The temperatures in certain years can still dip down to zone 4 temps that can kill plants on the “fringe”.  Here are my favorite fringe plants for protected areas.  Want to live dangerously? Locate these plants in areas with surrounding trees, solid fences, south-facing walls, and under overhangs or alcoves.

1.  Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’-Bloodgood Japanese Maple is the most hardy of the japanese maples and also a larger specimen.  There are other varieties, some that are smaller with more ferny-like leaves.  They are generally small trees with purple leaves, but can be green in color as well.  They can sometimes lose whole limbs from late frosts and harsh winters if not properly protected.

treevalley.ca

treevalley.ca

2.  Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’- Daphne

This is one I have only seen growing decent in one clients’ yard and her father happened to be a nurseryman.  This is the type of plant that is unique and worth trying if you are a gardener type that doesn’t mind a failure every now and then.  It is worth it for the unique variegated foliage, fragrance and interesting texture.  As will be a consistent theme for any broadleaf evergreen, winter winds can take moisture out of the leaves, which can take away from attractiveness.

houzz.com

houzz.com

3.  Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’-Forest Pansy Redbud

This redbud has all the same characteristics as the parent, but has purple leaves.  It would be best under the story of other trees.  The leaves can get burned in very sunny locations.

missouiribotanicalgarden.org

missouiribotanicalgarden.org

4.  Fagus sylvatica ‘Roseo-marginata’-Tricolored Beech

The EverGreen Landscape office inherited a specimen planted near the main entrance.  If it were not for the barn near by, this would not be a great location for the Tricolored Beech, especially as it is out in the open.  Planted on the north side of the barn, it gets enough protection from harsh summer suns, and protection in the winter.  The variegated leaves make it very unique.

landscaping.about.com

landscaping.about.com

5.  Ilex x meservea ‘China Girl’ and ‘China Boy’

For anyone looking for a shrub that truly looks like a holly shrub, this is one of the best bets for harsh northern winters.  The leaves often get burned by winter winds which drag moisture from the leaves.  Avoid south exposure, even in protected areas.

johnstonplants.org

johnstonplants.org