Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seven Winds Landscaping Projects from 2016

From Rain Gardens to Outdoor Fireplaces, 2016 projects ranged from beautifying small corners of the garden, to constructing whole new outdoor living spaces.  Here are some visuals of our Year 2016 with some dramatic before and after photos too!

A key element to enjoying your patio year round is an inviting hearth.  This fireplace is brick with bluestone accents.  The space is defined and embraced by curving brick walls.  The patio itself is Pennsylvania Bluestone- a classic withstanding the test of time!

 Moon gardens must shimmer in the moonlight.  The choice of quartzite flagstone with its mica particles was natural in designing this Moon garden.  Plants with silvery foliage light up in the moonlight and give year round texture and color to the landscape.  The summer is filled with white blossoms of roses, hydrangeas, day lilies, echinacea, astilbe and coral bells.

Functional, beautiful, and a gift to bees and butterflies, a rain garden can be incorporated into any landscape.  Generally filled with native plants, a rain garden absorbs water runoff and provides a wonderful ecological benefit.  The second photo in this series is a rain garden in its second year of growth.

Old ivy laden chain link gives way to classic brick and iron.  Elegant and secure this alley way wall is the visual back drop to a reimagined city garden.

New lattice fences flank garden beds lining a new Bluestone walkway.  In city gardens, space is a valuable commodity and design can make a small garden feel expansive.  After springtime planting this will  be a tapestry of color and texture surround simplified lines and a contemporary yet classic style.
Here the goal was to create a more serene space.  The garden was spilling over with flowers creating an unmanageable space.  The challenge was to keep the color but redefine the space.  Plants moved to new perennial borders leaving space for a bench and step ping stone pathway that acts as both a visual accent and functional seat. 
A front garden of grass and weeds is transformed to a view of texture, color and year round interest.  A Sango-Kaku Japanese maple tree takes center place surrounded by perennials.  A lovely birdbath that had been hidden by the weeds becomes a second major accent in the composition.
This tired slate patio was crumbling on top but had a solid concrete pad below.  Removing the slate and its mortar bed, and replacing with new brick pavers mortared on to the existing concrete pad allowed this patio to take on a whole new look.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Cedar Trellis and Pergola Create A Shaded Retreat!

Urban gardeners are often faced with space limitations and the awkward spaces created between homes can become overlooked, as more focus is placed on front and back gardens.  However with creative design these spaces can become beautiful and functional gardens.  These small spaces can transform to elegant and intimate, lush and tranquil retreats within the city scape!

Essential within the design process is the creation of a strong "skeletal system" for the garden, which is created through the use of Patios, Walkways, Garden Walls, Decks, Fences, Pergolas and Trees.  These are the "Bones" of the Garden which will be visible at all times of the year, but become especially evident in the Winter.  In this Garden the most essential "Bones" are the Trellis-Pergola structure, which transforms the brick walls and patio from an overwhelming expanse of Brick, to a beautiful back drop for the Garden itself.

This space is approximately 9' x 22' and walled on three sides with brick and also has a brick patio.  The old worn bricks were a valuable asset that were re-set to even out  areas that had sunk over time.  A garden bed was reclaimed, and a large Cedar Trellis and Pergola designed and built to take advantage of the small space by angling the Pergola at approximately 37.5 degrees from the Trellis.  This created a shaded area in this sun-baked side patio just large enough to contain a small table for two or three.   Pink tints in the Cedar blend perfectly with the rose bricks.  A blue patina medallion adorns the Trellis, providing a perfect cooling contrast with the warmth of the Cedar and Bricks.  Wisteria will eventually cover the whole Trellis and Pergola providing lavender spring blossoms and Summer Shade.  The lovely twisting vine will also provide winter interest as well as have an architectural function as it grows larger over time and will wind its way around the cedar.

Not only does the Pergola create shade, it also enhances the entry through the side door of the home, providing a graceful transition from street to home.  Walking up the steps into the space one enters a well defined garden, with a strong structure that will be adorned with appropriate plants.    It is always a joy to work with small spaces as they provide a design challenge and opportunity cultivate the relationship between human structures and the natural world, bringing that relationship into harmony and balance.



Monday, October 7, 2013

From Bricks, straggly Junipers and Weeds to Bluestone, Crape Myrtles, and Perennials!

In the Guilford neighborhood of Baltimore, beautiful homes abound.  Many are have exquisite contemporary gardens, naturalized gardens, and classic gardens.  Some have low maintenance liriope expanses with evergreen shrubs carefully placed to give year-round consistency to the landscape, others contain an wide array of perennials.  Some gardens still contain patios and plants from many years ago, when patios were smaller, tall junipers were popular as screens along with the ubiquitous yews!

In this project Seven Winds transformed an old brick patio and weedy garden with a row of junipers into a contemporary garden which welcomed the happy activities of the homeowners who rounded out the garden with their own selection of perennials and vegetable plants!

We began with the removal of the junipers, various other shrubs and the old brick patio...
We continued with a new dry-laid bluestone patio and a basic structural landscaping of 3 crape myrtles (fall blooming),  skip laurels (evergreen) which will eventually provide privacy and the spring and summer flowers of viburnum and clethra respectively.  

Bluestone pattern is "Random Rectangular or Pattern Bluestone" and color is "Full Color" including blue, gray, rust, green and purple tones.  

These plant selections created the basic structure of the garden, leaving plenty of room for the homeowners, who enjoy gardening, to get creative with their own selections which were planted in front of the new shrubs and trees.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Terraces become Garden "Rooms": Using the garden's "natural resources"!

Seven Winds designed and installed a master plan for this garden using the existing stone walls that graced this hillside home.  These stone walls had been built by a prior homeowner who evidently loved stone and utilized some reclaimed stone to have all these walls built.  The walls create two terraces above the ground level where the house sits.  The homeowner wanted to have the garden feel like different rooms, each area having its own unique qualities.  She also wanted a large deck to extend the living area of the home and to create a wonderful area for garden parties.


Upper Terrace
Middle Terrace

The Upper Terrace
This terrace included a cedar shed in board and batten style, a garden filled with trees, shrubs and perennials, a clover lawn and some perennials to accentuate the gorgeous Japanese maple tree which provided filtered shade to the terrace below.  
Clover is a great choice for a lawn that does not get a lot of foot traffic.  It is an ecological option as a legume, fixing nitrogen from the air into the soil and thereby improving soil fertility.  It grows well in light or dappled shade, and only needs to be mown once a year.  Its flowers attract beneficial insects to the garden including the honey bee.
Shade gardens not only allow us to plant the usual shade favorites such as coral bells, bleeding heart, bergenia, hellebores, ferns etc, but also give us the opportunity to plant some of our special woodland natives such as black cohosh, wild ginger, trilliums, solomans seal and even some of our rare and precious natives such as bloodroot, goldenseal and ginseng!
The benefit of having a master plan for the garden is that while the expense of various installations can be spread out over a number of years if necessary, the result will be a garden that is in harmony with itself.  This also eliminates having to pull out plants or doing extensive transplanting due to not planning ahead.  In this garden the house, deck and shed are all cedar, tying the whole home and garden together.

The existing stone steps just needed to be tied together with some flagstone walkways.  The walkway on the upper terrace leads to the shed and back gate and is made from slate that was already in the garden.  Seven Winds values the creative and tasteful reuse of materials whenever possible and the accentuating those elements that the garden already contains.  This garden had the walls and a beautiful huge maple on the ground level, and the Japanese maple on the top terrace.  The end of the middle terrace had some espaliered fruit trees, which provided a nice semi-private (seasonal) screen as well as fruits which were at least appreciated by the wildlife!

We selected this exressive weeping Spruce for the top terrace, along with a crab apple and Juniper.  They will spread and grow and eventually create more privacy and of course a wind block for the top terrace.  They also beautified the neighborhood as a walking path runs behind this property and this garden is visible from the walking path.  

The Middle Terrace
The middle terrace consisted of a quartzite patio which can be used for this small table and chairs or for a hammock.  The patio is surrounded by plantings which will spread to provide a lush abundance of perennials.  Beyond the patio is a small clover lawn and behind that a bed of meadow perennials such as Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Lavender and behind that the espaliered fruit trees.

The view from the neighbor's yard shows both the top and middle terraces dominated by this beautiful Japanese Maple.

The Ground Level

On the lowest level we build a large cedar deck which stretched from the walls to the house and to the large maple tree.  There was an old fireplace built into the walls and we built the deck around this so that it could continue to be used.  The deck raised the level of the yard up about 18" which brought the three terraces closer together in terms of visual connectedness.  Now someone in the ground level garden could more easily see and fell part of the rest of the garden.
Some of this decks best features come from the fact that it is surrounded on two sides by these beautiful stone walls which give it a sheltered feel, balancing its large size.  The large maple also gives it quite a bit of shade, without totally blocking the sun.  Pots of herbs, perennials, annuals or even vegetables could easily be grown on the deck.
This garden project was a wonderful project, as the garden had such a strong foundation with its trees and walls.  It was an honor to be the designer and installer to bring a renewed vibrancy and life to this garden.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Naturalized City Garden: The Magic is in the Details! (Update)

A couple blog posts ago we spoke about a naturalized city garden.  These photos show some details a year later which are truly charming and really bring the garden together.  In the photo above, flowering Crape Mrytle complements flowering native honey suckle and the honey suckle flows over the fence bringing charm to the unusual osage orange number plate. The combination is stunning.
The homeowner had bought some garden sculptures and together we found the perfect locations for them.  The sculpture above completed a path that had previously led just to the fence.  With the placing of the sculpture the path now leads to the sculpture as if it had been made exclusively for that.  Below a figure in a prayerful or meditative pose sits below the holly tree among some field boulders and among the hostas.  These carefully selected pieces complete this garden nicely.  Details like these bring magic to the garden!

A Woodland Garden in a City

In this 2011-2012  project Seven Winds designed and planted a garden influenced by some principles of Japanese garden design.  The garden included the fencing, new timbers lining the pathway, a stone walkway through the garden and all the plants.  The principles of Japanese garden design utilized in this garden are creating a design that mimics nature in a simplified very specific way.  It is like creating an idealized natural environment.  We also utilized symmetry and a touch of formality on the right side of the garden using seven Nandinas.
This project was truly a "from scratch" project as only the soil in the raised beds and the concrete slab remained.  Previously a large black locust tree and ivy had dominated this garden.  Surprisingly we discovered that this entire garden sits on top of a concrete slab. This is an inspiration for those city gardens which consist of a concrete slab, and do not appear to have much potential for a woodland oasis in the city!
The Fences Seven Winds designed and installed are cedar and gave the garden an Asia feel, as well as changed the feeling of the garden space.  It gave a sense of enclosure, yet not a sense of feeling boxed in.  
The walnut semi-transparent stain darkened the fence, yet still allowed the grain and knots of the cedar to be seen.  The next step was to install the stepping stone pathway through the larger raised be.  The stones used were field stones with their weathered jagged expression.

We chose the plants to give a range of flowers throughout the year, and to give contrasting textures and colors.   The tree selected is a Japanese Stewartia with Spring flowers and appealing bark for winter interest.  
Japanese painted ferns are a nice selection for woodland gardens.

The picture above and below show the first year growth in this garden.  It rapidly became a lush expression of various colors and textures.
The homeowner's frog took up its position on the stump of the old locust tree among the yucca.
The pathway invites one to step up into the garden...
The homeowner had particularly requested some bamboo, so we planted this golden clumping bamboo in the corner.  Clumping bamboo does not send runners all over the garden, so it is a good choice for those who want bamboo but who do not want the bamboo to run out of control.
The seven Nandinas are a sharp contrast to the abundance of the opposite raised bed, yet still complement the overall design with their airy foliage, and winter red berries.  They compliment the fence very nicely.
One of the most interesting points of this garden is that it is all built on top of a concrete slab.  This concrete slab was probably installed many years ago, and the fact that the small garage door is the only access from the alley to this garden, made it very difficult for the concrete to removed once installed.  At some point a prior homeowner had dealt with this issue by creating raised beds with railroad ties.  By the time we got to it, the railroad ties were disintegrating, however a huge locust tree had been able to grow on top of this slab.  Ideally the concrete slab would have been removed to create garden beds, however in cases like this one where logistics or budget prohibited removal, raised beds can be created with great success without removing the concrete.

There are many urban yards in Baltimore in particular which consist of a solid slab which really is not being used at all.  These gardens can easily be turned into green spaces which are obviously good for the homeowners, good for the birds, bees and butterflies, and good for the air!  This was a wonderful project that we truly enjoyed installing.