Sunday, December 23, 2012

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.





1 comment:

Jerry Zhang said...

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