Archives for February 2016

Some Details On The Floor

outfitting the roomThe first order of business is to thank each and every one of you who took the time to write a comment on my post about the finish of the floor. It was an extravaganza of a day for me! I had no idea so many of  your comments were forthcoming, but how I loved them. All that good will was rocket fuel for my day. Again, thank you. All of your energy and enthusiasm was the talk of my entire staff.  I did want to address some of the questions posed in some of the comments.

furnishing the room (6)As for the possibility of painting this rug on canvas – I would not have considered that. This space may not look very big, but it is. I am guessing at least 25 by 40 feet.  No canvas comes this size; it would have to be pieced, and sewn together. This room is the Detroit Garden Works railway station. It is our most highly trafficked space. People bring wet plants and bags of soil with holes in the bags to the counter. Carts get wheeled through here. Sometimes we need a pallet jack in this room.  Kids drop the remains of their ice cream cones on the floor. The dogs drag in everything from outside. On a rainy day, everyone coming in has a mix of mud and gravel on the bottoms of their shoes.  A canvas rug in a retail setting is a trip worry, if the edges do not lay perfectly flat. This is not a good place for a floor canvas. This floor painting is firmly glued down, and can be washed.

furnishing the room (5)All of the daisies have a yellow center.  I think our track lighting washed out the yellow in my pictures. I did paint the rug with semi gloss finish, as it is so durable. We do have a glare coming off the floor both from those lights, and the paint. The yellow reads loud and clear, if you are in the room. The yellow was an essential element.  Bellis have yellow centers.

furnishing the room (9)It is a pleasure that this painted rug will get a lot of use. I like things for the garden that go on to last long enough to look worn. If this painting wears to the point of no return, it just means I will have a chance to paint a floor another time.  This is the 3rd painting in 20 years.  I wonder how I might repaint this floor when I am 72. Maybe when I am 70, I will simply be ready for a change. I was in a commercial building last week whose lobby was filled with potted poinsettias. Though they had had perfect care, and looked wonderful, their time had passed. I will not put a sealer coat over the painting. It will just have to endure, as best it can. Should it ever need replacing, I will paint again. I am not thinking of the future now. What is there now is enough.

furnishing the room (7) What Rob has placed on the painted floor tells me he likes it. No big things sit flat on the floor, obscuring the paint. Everything sitting on the floor in this room has legs.

furnishing the room (8)Painting this floor was 9 days well spent. February is a bleak month in Michigan.  I scarcely thought about the cold and gray.

Detroit Garden Works 2016This room is starting to come together.  MCat, that dark blob in the back center of this picture, has walked across this floor as many times as all the rest of us have the past few days. It will be great fun next week to have people come in and see it in person.

Detroit Garden Works 2016Again, my thanks to all of you for taking the time to write. And I promise, no more posts about this floor.

The Finished Floor

the shop floor (6)I did fine tune that painted grass rug day before yesterday. The paint stick that Buck made for me made that grassy style painting possible.  The bamboo has a lot of flex. All I needed to do was stand up, dip my stick into the paint that had been thinned to a loopy consistency, and vibrate. It went on for days, but it was fun. Absorbing. This is a perfect winter project. Not so much thinking, just my eyes following my hands. A pair of hands working is a big fluid situation, all to the good.

the shop floor (5)Rob got up on the ladder to take this picture. Not that anyone will ever see this floor at this stage, from such a perch.  I was just interested to see if my plan for consistent texture with color that was shifting was working. The shop lights are glaring off this semi-gloss paint, but I was happy with what I was seeing. By the way, if you ever have any paint project inside or out that requires fine quality paint, I highly recommend Porter Paint.  It is a paint favored by sign painters. It is the only paint I ever use, inside or out.

the shop floor (8)This room in the shop gets a terrific amount of traffic. The effort it will take to finish it up is the most I will even see of it. Right now, the rug is prominent, as there is not much else to look at. By the end of this week, it will be filled up with whatever Rob has in mind.  This floor will become part of a bigger scene.

the shop floor (3)For me, the marvel of the outcome belongs to the tools. A bamboo stake, a wood plant marker, and a sharpened orchid stake made all of this happen. All I supplied was some energy.

the shop floor (4)To follow are a lot of pictures, and not so much commentary. When I am painting, I am not talking or writing. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

the shop floor (7)The dogs could not wait to get in to room that Dan had roped off. Dogs hate being excluded from any event.  Howard was barely in the room before he laid down, and started licking the floor. Interpret that however you wish.  I think he thought the project tasted good.  Me too.

the shop floor (20)I have spent the last 2 days painting my representation of English lawn daisies over top of the grass painting.  It took a while to get the hang of how to paint those bellis flowers.  Suffice it to say that I painted with a sharp stick, in a certain pattern.  It took the better part of two hours to get comfortable and expressive. Not much news in this regard.  Any project asks for a go ahead. I went ahead. After the go ahead, a great idea can take hold. Establishing a rhythm takes some time. It took a while, but I finally managed to let my tools take the lead.  If you are a gardener, you understand this. The tools, lead by a pair of hands, can make a garden.

the shop floor (15)a painted English daisy lawn

the shop floor (18)midway

the shop floor (16)close to the floor

the shop floor (13)Rob took this picture from the top of a ladder.  OK, I think I am done painting the daisies.

the shop floor (19)My daisies are geometric and regular, against a field of green swirls. Did I know this this the beginning? The swirls versus the geometry?   No. Every project evolves.

the shop floor (1)Detroit Garden Works reopens for the 2016 gardening season next Tuesday. March 1. If you are local to us, feel free to check out the floor. That said, we have so much more going on besides this floor. I promise that your visit, from the floor up, will be an especially beautiful celebration of the garden.

daisies on the floorWe have English lawn daisies blooming.

 

The English Daisy Lawn

Bellis_perennis_Marburg_02Daisies? I have always liked them. They are easy going and companionable in the garden. They are not fancy. They are sunny and friendly. A bunch of daisies relaxing in a vase is a sure sign of summer in my zone. They are sturdy plants, meaning they are willing growers and easy to care for. The daisy/aster family is a large one, comprising more than 20,000 species. Simple, single flowered and obliging-this describes most daisies. A well grown stand of  shasta daisies is stunning in bloom. But my favorite daisies are those that tend to the weedy side. My most favorite daisy?  Bellis. As in bellis perennis.  That English daisy that is scrappy enough to thrive in a lawn, providing you garden in a zone where the summers are on the cool side.

English daisiesThe broad leaved foliage forms a tuft that hugs the ground. That they thrive in a lawn can be good or bad, depending on your definition of a lawn. The informal and casual entrance to a lakefront neighborhood near me is covered with white bellis blooming in the spring. There are some trees, a sign, and the English daisy lawn. The conditions must suit them perfectly, as it appears the only maintenance is an occasional mowing. Another neighborhood entrance a good hour away features a few trees, a bell tower, a sign, and a bellis lawn. Though our summers are anything but moderate, these two patches thrive.

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Daisies_(1894)I make a point to go and look at the daisy fields at least once in the spring, as I would have one if I could. The bellis in my yard is not nearly so robust. The grow for me, begrudgingly. I am likely to grow them in pots until they are done blooming.  Then I set them out in a different spot in my garden, hoping to eventually find a place they will like. This painting by the 19th century painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, entitled “Daisies” tells more than one sweet story. It had me thinking about how I might get an English daisy lawn.

painting the shop floor (1)Detroit Garden Works has been closed since January 15. We routinely clean and repaint. This year we needed repairs to our roof, and some of our outside walls needed to be rebuilt. We had water coming through some damaged concrete block, and in to the building. That water greatly damaged the painting on the floor.  Once the repairs to the building were done, it was time to repaint that floor. You can see the gray spots where the paint had lifted off the floor. Dan took great care to isolate the room from our furry population. Milo, Howard, Ollie, Gary and most of all MCat would be obsessed about getting in that room. Once the room was secure,Dan laid down a primer coat of paint over the old floor painting.

repainting the floorI rolled the base coat in three different colors, all of them dark. Succeeding layers of paint would be progressively lighter.

painting the shop floor (2)All of the paint applied in the beginning of stage 2 was put down with small wood garden marker, taped to a bamboo stake. This was Buck’s invention. I wanted to be able to paint standing up, as much as possible. I was after a loose textural description of grass.  The border was undercoated with several shades of gray and gray brown, which would become a gravel border.   repainting the shop floor (5)This is the 3rd time I have painted this floor since we opened in 1996.  I probably would have done a new floor painting anyway, as the shop has a 20th anniversary coming up the end of March. It is a very special spring for us. It seems like the perfect time for a floor painting that features a few English daisies in bloom. And just in time. The shop will reopen for 2016 on March 1st.

repainting the shop floor (4)The grassy portion of the painting is just about done. I have looked at it all morning, trying to decide if what is there is enough, or if I need a few finishing touches.

repainting the shop floor (3)The gravel border is comprised of paint drops in various colors. It was impossible to keep my shoes out of it. This part is done and dry. If all goes well this afternoon, there will be daisies in the grass.

English lawn daisiessomething like this.

Garden Design Magazine 2016

Garden Design MagazineDetroit Garden Works has been on hiatus since January 15. Anyone who comes to our door is welcome to come inside, but most of what there is to see now are the repairs we’ve made to our old block walls and roof, the new paint throughout, and clean surfaces all around. What Rob has selected for our 2016 gardening season is beginning to arrive. It will take every bit of the next two weeks to put the shop back together for our March reopening. But there is another sure sign of spring. The early spring 2016 issue of Garden Design Magazine is set to ship the beginning of next week. If you are a gardener of a certain age, you probably recognize the name. Garden Design Magazine, in its previous life, was published between 1982 and 2013.  Jim Peterson, entrepreneur and risk taker, decided to buy the rights to the magazine from the Bonnier Corporation shortly after they ceased publication.

Garden Design Mafazine Early Spring 2016Though his primary interest was in establishing a new innovative digital presence for Garden Design, gardening aficionados all over the country spoke strongly to their appreciation for the printed page. Who knows what possessed him to commit to bringing that print publication back to life in an incredibly beautiful and signature way, but he did. I greatly admire this about him. Jim called me to ask if Detroit Garden Works would consider carrying his new magazine. I loved how he was willing to take his passion as far as making his case for his new magazine personally to people in the retail garden community.  I admire any gardener that creates magic from dirt, and Jim Peterson is no exception. Of course I said yes. I am an American landscape designer. A publication devoted to American landscape and garden design is a resource I would treasure. I take great pride that my practice was featured in their first issue.

photograph by Rob Cardillo

Garden Design Magazine is easy to like. Each of the four yearly issues are much more journal than magazine. The early spring issue which will ship the first of next week is 148 pages, none of which are devoted to ads. The paper is of such a substantive and fine quality that the photographs represent beautifully-more like a monograph than a magazine. The beauty of the photo reproductions do justice to the beauty of the photographs themselves. This highly evocative photograph by Rob Cardillo speaks volumes about composition and color in a garden. Who knows what article is in store that will feature this photograph. The quality of the photographs in every issue is matched by articles bound to be of interest to anyone and everyone who gardens – either personally or professionally.

photograph by Rob CummingsI had occasion to speak with Thad Orr, editor in chief of Garden Design, at some length last week.  I was interested to hear him talk about his approach to the work of creating a magazine that would encourage wide readership in the gardening community. He is clearly keen to represent three broadly brushed and overlapping areas of interest. The individual gardener, who designs and tends their own garden, will find articles that speak to a personal scale, scope and interest. The professional landscape and garden designer, whose practice is a life’s work, and those with an abiding interest in horticulture either as a grower or a practitioner round out the trio. This photograph by Rob Cummings speaks not only to the hard work of garden, but the artistry that can accompany every aspect of great garden making. It also speaks to other groups in the gardening world-those who design and make tools, furniture, garden gear, or ornament.

photograph by Jason IngramThe magazine is willing to celebrate any aspect of garden making. There is no stultifying narrative about what gets to be called gardening, and what doesn’t. Their tent is a big one. The benefit to readers is whatever topic they choose to cover, they address with some depth. A new gardener might fill their first containers with geraniums, as they are ubiquitous in nurseries all over the country.  I love them – they are the little black dress of the container plant world.  But this pot, photographed by Jason Ingram, features a geranium I am not familiar with. There will be those who are interested in the plants in this pot.  And those who are interested in the design of it.

photograph by Pia ClodiGrowing and arranging cut flowers appeals to everyone who has ever been enchanted by flowers. I have no idea in what context this scrumptious but simple arrangement of anemones, lisianthus and carnations was photographed by Pia Clodi, but I will be finding out next week.

photograph by Bob StefkoGarden Design does a great job of telling stories about people who garden in one form or another.  This part interests me greatly, as every person has a different point of view. And most surely a point of view worth learning about. As a landscape design professional, I am naturally interested what other people in horticulture and design are doing. Bob Stefko’s portrait of Roy Diblik, well known American plantsman, grower, author and designer tells me an interesting story is on the way. If you gardener, and are not familiar with his work, there is a golden opportunity to get acquainted.

photograph by Robert YuI do believe there is some great landscape design being done in the US.  Photographed by Robert Yu, this contemporary landscape is absolutely stunning. It is not a landscape I am familiar with. Garden Design is a forum for landscape and garden design that I appreciate having available to me. I might not otherwise see this garden. I am keenly interested to read more about it.

photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo30 years have passed since since I last grew bearded iris. This astonishing photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo not only makes me want to grow them again, it makes me want to grow these.

photograph by Rob CardilloAs much as I appreciate this garden and fence, as photographed by Rob Cardillo, what strikes me the most is the idea that a landscape and garden can be a gateway to a way of life that is good for people. Garden Design makes this case in many different ways.  If you do not already subscribe, I would recommend you do so. Subscribe now, and you get the early spring issue from which all of these photographs were taken, free. Check it out:  Yes, I have a good bit of enthusiasm for this magazine. It is the only magazine of its kind. I would like to see them continue to cover horticulture and design for a long time to come.