ab8b186e81c033624d01849ba0a1302d

I saw the small group in the distance. There were three of them; one was clearly a designer of some sort, while the other two were homeowners, listening attentively.

 rvanderhoff

In our business we see this scene everyday. A landscape designer, often with a rolled up blueprint under one arm, walking from plant to plant, motioning with their arms and talking with their clients. We usually leave them pretty much to themselves, other than perhaps to help them find a plant or two that they wish to see. The clients already have already a knowledgeable person guiding them in their needs, there’s not much more that we can offer.

Nonetheless, wanting to be helpful, I stopped by to say hello and make sure that everything was going well with the trio.

I knew there were problems from the start, after I overheard the first sentence from the designer, “Let’s find a short plant with grey leaves to put in front of these”.

bluedesign

“Is everyone doing okay here?”, I asked. The designer was warm, charming and articulate. She had a nice smile and a friendly personality and I could see why these homeowners were attracted to her. In the aisle, the designer had created a miniature landscape of sorts, plants pulled together from throughout the nursery. At a glance, it was a pleasing collection, with nice contrasts and varying textures; any untutored homeowner would be pleased.

To my gesture for assistance, the designer replied “we need something to go in front of these”. Then, with the sentence scarcely complete she pointed and said “what about these”. She left us for a moment, then returned with a few small plants known as Licorice Plants or botanically as Helichrysum. She arranged them in front of several Heartleaf Bergenia and declared the design complete. She thanked me and I responded “good luck with your new garden”. Sadly, these two naive homeowners will need more than luck.

I later discovered that the designer guiding all of the decisions was a successful and well respected interior designer that had agreed to also design their garden space.

In a recent national magazine article I recently read, “There is not much difference between interior designing and landscape designing, except that interior designing deals with your interior or your indoors; while landscaping deals with designing your exterior or your outdoors. More often than not, landscape designing is confused with interior designing. It’s because there is only a minor difference between the two.”

How tragic the results if anyone were to follow this misguided and erroneous statement. A garden designed by someone trained only on interior elements would be tragic.

Interior designs and landscape designs both create solutions to achieve a better living environment for the occupants. Solutions in both spaces should be functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants, and of course should be aesthetically attractive.

But, unlike interiors, which are for the most part static, plants are anything but. Plants grow, plants change their appearance seasonally. Plants are particular about being in the sun or the shade and different plants need different soils, different watering regimens, different fertilizers. Plants may be prone to an insect or disease and may need special pruning or training to achieve a desired appearance. Interior design and garden design are distinct skills.

Here, in a nursery aisle was a designer making plant suggestions for a garden; a garden that grows, that changes, that has weather and seasons and climate. Here was a garden being designed as if the plants were pillows on a couch, with no concern and no knowledge of the organisms. A game of musical chairs, with living plants as the participants.

Little did this designer or her inexperienced clients know that in one year the tiny Licorice plant before them would grow two feet high and four feet wide and swallow the smaller Bergenia. The Licorice Plants would yearn for sunshine while the Bergenia would withdraw to the shade. Licorice Plants are low water, Bergenia are high water. But there were two dozen other plants laid out in the miniature aisle garden, unknowing participants in a future tangle and death scene of near hideous dimensions.

Designing a garden is far more than choosing colors and arranging forms. It is about growing, living and dying. It is about continual change and about an appreciation and respect for nature and all its demands.

If you want some design advice for your garden, consult a landscape designer.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.

Questions from Readers May 21.

When should I prune my camellia? It is getting too large for the space it is in?

Mary, Huntington Beach

Answer:

Great question. Prune Camellias in the two or three months immediately after they finish blooming. For most camellias that is about now. Pruning any later in the season may interfere with the development of next years flowers.

Assembly_7-24-10_4

Plant Care Reminders

Echeverias roots

How to Slice and Re-root Large Echeverias

Widely known as the “Queen of Succulents,” Debra Lee Baldwin is the award-winning garden author who launched global interest in succulents with her book, Designing with Succulents. Her other bestsellers are Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents…
Blue Bunny Hydrangea monthly plant care
Shrubs Proven Winners

Hydrangea - Blue Bunny (Hydrangea involucrata 'Wim Rutten' ) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) - Monthly…

4634 Steve Brigham
Apricot Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Citrus & Avocado Tree Planting and Care

24711 Walter Andersen Nursery
Citrus & Avocado Tree Guide
Citrus and Avocado trees are well adapted to most areas of San Diego County, from the…

Avocado - Haas (Persea americana…

9263 Steve Brigham
Avocado Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Innis Free
Landscape and Design Kathleen Hassinger

APLD International Landscape Design Gold Award Winner W Gary Smith

APLD Names 2011 Landscape Designer of the Year
Amaryllis bellandonna
Seasonal Gardening Chris Eirschele

Amaryllis for Container Growing and Holiday Giving

The amaryllis gardeners grow in containers during the frigid cold winter months then happily give away to warm another’s heart is actually known, botanically, as Hippeastrum.

Oscar Olson - Southwest

8924
Oscar Olson
Region: Southwest

Phil Tacktill - Southwest

20934
Phil Tacktill
Region: Southwest

What is your favorite plant to propagate from cuttings, and why?

54906
Aeonium urbicum
These gardening ideas titled "Sharing Secrets" are provided by the San Diego…

Plant Recommendations

Salvias
Plant Recommendations Steve Brigham

Salvias - A Great Choice

Salvias (Sages)

Bamboos for Small Gardens - Southern…

6447 Jason Kubrock
Chusquea coronalis
Jason Kubrock's Top Plant Recommendation: Best Bamboos for Small Gardens in Southern…

Basic and Permanent Garden Plants -…

10412 Pat Welsh
Bougainvillea spp 'Barbara Karst'
Pat Welsh's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Basic and Permanent Garden Plants.

Perennials - Oregon

16137 Dawn Hummel
Gaura lindheimeri 'Perky Pink'
Dawn Hummel's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Perennials for Oregon (Sunset zone 6,…

Featured Plant Care

St. Catherine's Lace Monthly Plant Care

St. Catherines Lace (Eriogonum giganteum) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Shrubs
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Peach Monthly Plant Care

Peach Tree (Prunus persica) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Agapanthus Monthly Plant Care

Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus orientalis) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Corn Monthly Plant Care

Corn - Sweet Edible (Zea mays var. rugosa) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Echeverias roots

How to Slice and Re-root Large Echeverias

Widely known as the “Queen of Succulents,” Debra Lee Baldwin is the award-winning garden…

Plant Care Reminders List of Links

We have monthly regional plant care reminders for many plants. This is a list of links…
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads

Jungle Music Palms, Cycads & Tropical Plants - November Newsletter

Bring the Tropics Indoors! House Plants Bring Your Tropical Passion Indoors! At Jungle…
Join the Mulch and get a bunch of Walking onion bulblets!

Join the Mulch & Get a Free Bunch of Walking Onion Bulblets!

We'd like you to join theMulch and start using all of the great tools we've created to…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)