Archives for October 2016

The Boston Ivy, 2016

sept-2-2012-036I have been writing about the Boston ivy growing on the walls of the buildings surrounding us for a number of years. A storage business put up buildings all around Detroit Garden Works many years ago. Some of those buildings proved to be on our property after an as-built survey. We settled the problem amicably. They ceded 6 feet of their property opposite the front door of our building, as pictured above, in return for our tolerance of their encroachment on our property in the back. That giant cream colored concrete wall was visually intrusive on our space, and oppressively tall. We opted for a landscape solution. Of course! 10 Boston ivy in 2 gallon pots were planted in regular intervals all along that wall close to 20 years ago. It took the better part of 15 years for that ivy to cover that wall. Cover that wall, it has.

dsc_9582That leafy green wall is a delight. No one needs to squint, walking down the drive. Our driveway is garden like, no matter the season.  This intermittent planting of Boston ivy vines in 2 gallon pots has produced a thriving green wall almost 100 feet long, and 20 feet high. There has never been any need for special care, feed, or supplementary irrigation.  We do water when conditions are extremely dry, and when we think to water. Otherwise, we only take the time to enjoy the look. The science of how leaves change color is not totally understood, but my oversimplified version is as follows.  Leaves have 3 major pigments integral to their structure.  Chlorophyll, a primary pigment which gives leaves their green color, is necessary for photosynthesis.  The production of food to sustain life is indeed primary. Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction between sunlight and chlorophyll, the upshot of which enables leaves to manufacture sugar.  Sugar?  Another word for food. The other pigments hidden by the green that chlorophyll dominates are red and yellow pigments.

the-boston-ivy-024Every gardener is aware that our daylight hours are growing shorter.  Leaves respond to a shorter day length by slowing their production of chlorophyll.  This makes sense. The slowing of the production of chlorophyll is one of many mechanisms in plants triggered by the shortening days that directs them to slow down their growth before the end of the growing season. Once the production of chlorophyll wanes, the red and yellow pigments in leaves begin to show. Fall color. The temperature and rainfall may play a roll in the timing of fall color, but the most significant factor is day length.

the-boston-ivy-023 The popular hoopla about the dangers presented to masonry walls by Boston ivy is well documented.  I am sure there are still those who suggest that a covering of Boston ivy will bring down a building. This has not been my experience. How this vine grips a vertical surface is serious. The vine sends out sucker discs, or gripping pads, which hold the branches of the vine close to the wall. Have I ever seen any damage to our walls in 20 years-no. Many universities in the eastern part of the US, popularly known as Ivy league schools, feature buildings dressed to the nines in Boston ivy. They have been that way a long time. Our green wall requires little in the way of care. But it provides a stunning backdrop for all we have going on at the shop in every season. Once the season turns from summer to fall, I can count on the Boston ivy to tell a spectacular fall story. Every year is different. Some areas turn red, and others are yellow. Some spots are a mix of red and peach and yellow. Some leaves stay green until they drop.  Others are a fiery red. Every year, that tapestry of color created by these 10 vines is different.  Every year, the fall color is breathtaking. I have yet to tire of it.

the-boston-ivy-003Boston ivy is a very vigorous and self supporting vine. It needs a lot of width, a lot of height, and a huge space to truly represent all that it can be.  Who knew that 10 2 gallon pots of Boston ivy would look like this, 20 years later.

Detroit Garden WorksThe next 10 days at Detroit Garden Works will feature this particular year’s tapestry of fall color on the Boston ivy. Stop by, should you have a mind to see the 2016 version. Too far away? I will post more pictures. The easy part is my picture taking.  The miraculous part belongs to nature. Thank you, Madame Nature, for this moment.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

So What Do You Do With A Pumpkin?

pumpkins at Detroit Garden WorksRob has made 3 epic pumpkin and gourd buying trips in the past 3 weeks. Epic, as in 8 hour trips to pumpkin hybridizers within 80 miles or so in every direction of our shop. Epic, as in the relationships he has cultivated with growers who specialize in these fall fruits. I am sure the gross vehicle weight of the Sprinter loaded with pumpkins and gourds is equally epic. His vetting of pumpkins and gourds one could describe as rigorous. The pumpkins have to stand up on their own. They have to have long and beautifully shaped stems fresh from the picking. Many of those long stems are integral to the pumpkin body. They have great shapes. Unusual surfaces. Incredible color. Who knew there were  black or pale yellow or blue pumpkins? Considerable is the education I have had about pumpkins and gourds in recent years. They have colorful and descriptive names. Long Island Cheese. Knucklehead. Porcelain Doll. Many of them have already gone to gardening homes. Many more will snapped up this week, in advance of Halloween and in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

pumpkins at Detroit Garden WorksA  gardening customer came in today, her husband in tow. She and Sunne launched into a discussion about something or another. Her husband found a place to sit on a bench outdoors. Milo and I joined him.  Only moments later he asked me, so what do you do with these pumpkins? Hilarious, this. I burst out laughing. Indeed, what does one do with a pumpkin? To follow are my answers. As for the above picture, I would contrast a green and a white pumpkin, and shower them with green eucalyptus and some yellow fall leaves conveniently shed by a nearby linden tree.

Detroit Garden Works stand up for fall

Detroit Garden Works fill a wood box

Detroit Garden Worksmake a scene

Detroit Garden Worksplant a vintage bushel basket with a single grand white pumpkin, and face it down with white ornamental cabbage.

Detroit Garden Workshang it up

Detroit Garden Worksincorporate them into a fall container.

Detroit Garden Works go for the green

Detroit Garden Workscelebrate the season

Detroit Garden Workspile them up

fall-window-boxadd them to a fall themed window box

Detroit Garden Worksset the table

Detroit Garden WorksLine them out

Detroit Garden Worksfill the air space

Detroit Garden Worksspread them out

pumpkins-and-gourds-2013-38select a favorite

Detroit Garden Worksstack them up

Detroit Garden Worksbrighten up a dark spot

Halloween pumpkincarve them, of course

Detroit Garden Worksarrange them by color and texture

Detroit Garden Workscrate them

fall container arrangementgo for gourds

Detroit Garden Worksplump up a bench

Detroit Garden Workssort by size and color

Detroit Garden Worksload up a cart

Detroit Garden Worksset them on their sides

fall container with pumpkinsmake a statement

Detroit Garden Worksdress up an urn

Detroit Garden Workswarm up a porch

Detroit Garden WorksDoes this help?

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Part 2: The Drive Court

rainy-day-2016-7My last post about this project centered around a winding and and most beautifully curvy driveway, and the landscape views proposed by that drive. The major portion of the landscape, including this driveway, was designed with an informal and park like atmosphere in mind. It  features a collection of specimen trees, each one placed individually. It is a property with long views. The placement of the trees involved a lot of walking, and seeing.  The result, to my eye, is a landscape that is natural, and subtly polished. The following pictures are about the landscape immediately adjacent to the house. This part of the landscape dramatically contrasts to the rest of the property. It is as much formal as it is contemporary, in design.

rainy-day-2016-8Formal landscapes are predicated on a series of geometric shapes generated by horizontal and vertical axes. Formal landscapes are usually symmetrical, as in equally representing on both sides of an axis. You may only see the axis as an imaginary line, a construction line drawn on a plan.  Contemporary landscapes can be quite formal, in a geometric sense.  They are not necessarily symmetrical. Both formal and contemporary gardens are more about spacial concepts, ideas or visual tension than they are about individual plants. Contemporary gardens are edited. The less said, the better. Some contemporary landscapes are so minimal that they make my mouth go dry. This landscape is not stark. The shapes of the plants, and the texture they create in numbers is lush.

rainy-day-2016-1 This landscape needed to quietly describe the plane of ground in question, and cleanly describe the geometry of the drive court, and the shapes described by the house.The walk from the garage to the drive court is formally outlined in brick pavers set on end.  The stepping stones are square, and set in grass. This walk is set down in a mass of 18″ Green Gem boxwood on both sides. It is not part of the presentation of the landscape entering the drive court. A secondary walk calls for a secondary and circumspect placement.

the-drive-court-11The widest portion of the east side of the drive court is but 6 feet from the property line. The neighbor graciously agreed to let us encroach on her property just enough to screen the houses from each other, and reiterate the very strong circular shape of the drive court. The boxwood facing down the Joe Burke flexible pines are set on a slight slope. That slope speaks to the rhythm established by the curve of the drive.

rainy-day-2016-4The old spruce in the background of this picture belong to the neighboring property. We did borrow this view. A small and solitary columnar ginkgo to the center left will provide a considerable and beautiful vertical element at the entry to the drive court, once it settles in, and grows.

the-drive-court-10Every green gesture is in service of the long and low architecture of this contemporary home. The horizontal plane dominates the architecture, and the landscape.

the-drive-court-8I believe the landscape respects the strong and compelling geometry of the house. Mind you, this is the first season of the landscape. I am pleased to say all of the plants seem to be making themselves at home. I am happy about that. The strength of the architecture greatly influenced my design, as it should.

the-drive-court-9A custom made planter set in the corner between the house proper and the garage is planted with an incredibly beautiful Japanese maple. Yes, we will try to over winter this maple in the pot. The location is quite protected; this north side niche is stone on three sides, and is partially protected by a generous roof overhang.

the-drive-court-4The view from the opening of the circular drive court reveals a formal and contemporary landscape that quietly celebrates a beautiful example of contemporary architecture.

the-drive-court-5I persuaded the tallest member of my landscape crew to take this picture from inside our dump truck. I wanted to look down on the landscape, and have a view of the house skirted in a simple and low profile landscape.  I knew from the moment that I saw this house, that the landscape would not be able to ignore the architecture. I am fine with the outcome.

dsc_9437The trip back down the driveway on this mid October day, a year after the initial landscape installation, was a good trip indeed.

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Up And Down The Driveway

december-5-2015-062In November of last year, I wrote about the challenges posed by refurbishing a landscape while a new driveway was under construction. GP Enterprises managed to plant a number of big trees, including European green beech, tricolor beech, Norway spruce, fastigiate hornbeam and sweet gum, with a digger truck – as the old driveway was being torn out. This collection of specimen trees were placed mindful of the views established by the placement of the driveway. The property had previously been densely planted with Norway spruce on the east and west lot lines, for privacy.  The client was more interested in a more park like landscape which would make the trip up and down the driveway an interesting trip. Needless to say, they like trees. The rounded tree a little left of center in the above picture is a 10″ caliper tricolor beech. Behind and to the right of the beech is a very old, previously existing, weeping Norway spruce.  As the lower branches had lost needles with age, a semicircular wrap of American arborvitae was planted behind it.

december-2015-3The arborvitae added a lot of green weight to the old Norway, and to this entry view. On the right, a columnar sweet gum.  In the distance, to the left, a big beech. The new driveway was an enormous undertaking, and is quite wide.  Part of the beauty of it is a curb that defines the shape and direction of the drive. The adjacent ground was regraded so it rolls gracefully down to that curb.

GazonUA And Company Landscape DesignThe drive up, and the drive back down does a great job of telling the landscape story. These pictures were taken very early on a cold morning in December, just after the project was finished. Seeing a landscape just after dawn permits the eye to focus on the composition and shapes, rather than color or texture.

december-2015-7The architect did such a great job of setting this contemporary house low, on the crest of a property that rises steadily from the road, and falls steeply to to a lake on the far side. The right fork in the drive goes to the garage, the left fork to the front door.  The low dome of ground that separates the two helps sink the driveway down, and delays the visual presentation of the house to the final approach of the drive. Whomever designed the location of the drive, and the grading adjacent to the house did a great job.

december-5-2015-044The landscape near the house is low, and simple, and entirely evergreen. If you live in a cold climate you know how important it is to have an evergreen presence in the landscape. The circular drive court was redone first. All of the landscape material for this area was delivered all at once, and staged on tarps on this drive court. Once the plants arrived, the old driveway disappeared. We could no longer drive trucks to this area. The planting was slow going until we have enough plants in the ground to relieve some of the congestion.  In the foreground are masses Green Gem boxwood, 12-15″ tall.  My landscape superintendent Dan, pictured above, did a beautiful job directing the installation.

december-2015-9This circular bed of taxus capitata spreader yews features 24″ tall plants at the center, and 36″ tall plants at the outside edge.

december-2015-17The pinus flexilis “Joe Burke” that screen the neighboring property to the left are faced down by the same “Green Gem” that are planted elsewhere.

december-5-2015-028An existing hedge of upright yews was transplanted just outside the drive court, and is accompanied by a fastigiate mugho pine, and more of the Green Gem boxwood. An existing Katsura on the left has company in a fastigiate gingko on the right.

december-2015-1A path from the garage drive to the drive court was set inset in the ground cover boxwood, and is not visible from the drive until you reach this point.  Against the foundation is a hedge of the spreading cap yews. Separating the cap yews and boxwood is a ribbon of gravel.  This provides space for the plants to grow, and it provides access for maintenance.  All of these evergreens are on drip irrigation. Once the path was fionished, grass would be planted between the stepping stones.

december-2015-2The view out from the house is equally as circumspect as the view up to the house. The beautiful shape of the land here, and a trio of spruce are the feature of the mid ground space. The rows of boxwood provide contrast to the informal landscape in the background.

Deborah Siver and CDompany landscape design The grade of the return view down the drive is quite different than the approach views. On the left, a group of columnar Serbian spruce.  In the mid ground, a large green beech, and the blue needled abies candicans. In the distance, the semi-circle of American arborvitae.

december-2015-5Another beech was planted on the far side of the drive, and is the centerpiece of this view. To the right, a group of white pine. Behind the American arborvitae, a massive and old weeping Norway spruce.

december-2015-8We finished the last bit of the work in mid December 0f 2015. I drove up and down the drive more than just a few times. It was a quiet summer for this phase of the landscape.  Every tree was busy moving in to their new homes, and putting down roots.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save