I love the natural shapes of plants in landscape design, but garden style is subjective, and it’s fair to say that gardens should be fun and expressive. We all have our own ideal “look” in mind when we envision a garden space, and who’s to say one is better than another? Some of us are collectors of anything new or unusual. Others seek a bit of nostalgia or want to seamlessly blend into their wild surroundings. Some like their plants well behaved and formal, expressing geometry and order not always found in nature. If the latter category describes you, you may find formality to be more of a challenge in the arid Southwest. There are some arid native plants that work well in formal garden design, however.
Traditional plants used in formal design, such as boxwoods (Buxus spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9), beeches (Fagus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), and yews (Taxus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8), are hardly sustainable in desert regions without excessive water use and soil modification. Some regionally adapted plants lend themselves readily to formal use, like smaller grasses or slender conifers. With others, a successful outcome does take some skill. Well-pruned plants need deliberate renewal and careful training, not just a crew cut once a year.
For those looking to cultivate a formal design, considering some of our sustainable southwestern natives is a good place to start. Many are more forgiving and adaptable to formal pruning than we give them credit for. The following native plants are some options that may surprise you. Some of these photos show the highly pruned form of the plant, but perhaps not the most creative use, so that’s for you to decide how far you’d like to go with pruning. After all, it’s your garden!
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Moving Day is stressful on everyone, including your houseplants! And if you’re like us, you’re probably emotionally attached to many of them. Maybe you received them for a special occasion, or your Gram gave it to you years ago. Or perhaps you nurtured a plant from a single cutting, and now it’s a huge, lush specimen. But in order to survive a move successfully, your plants are going to need a little TLC. “Obviously, in nature, plants aren’t moving around, so any change is stressful,” says Justin Hancock, horticulturalist with Costa Farms. “But you can take a few steps to help prepare them for the trip.”
Today’s home design trends often place an emphasis on the front entrance to elevate the overall house design. It’s a no-brainer that entry doors play a pivotal role here, being the first element that guests see when visiting your house.
We’re back with more from Susan Esche’s visit to the beautiful University of British Columbia Botanical Garden in Vancouver in early September. It is open to the public and has many different sections and types of gardens to explore.
Horse manure makes an extremely good soil improver for the garden. Often combined with stable bedding and allowed to rot down for a couple of years, horse manure is perfect for digging into planting holes or spreading onto the surface of bare soil. Fresh manure mustn’t be used directly on the garden as it can actually remove nutrients from the soil and scorch plants, but it can be added to compost heaps.
Fall is a great time for garden chores. This is the time to clean up before winter, protect vulnerable plants, and wind down the growing season. This isn’t the right time for all tasks, though. Know what to do with your garden in the fall and what not to do — for instance, what plants should not be cut back in the fall — to best prepare it for next year.
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