White Oak Walkout
This last week we planned out, prepared and planted a new bed in the White Oak Walkout, an area near the back of the garden with a small lawn in between some oaks and other shrubs. It is a narrow spot, and the beds frame the length, creating a long, skinny area on a hill, which you can look at from either the bottom or the top. We talked with Bob and Paula, to discuss what ideas they had for the space, and then went to work. We moved some cannas from a clump to a smooth line bordering the bed, and potted up and moved some spireas, lantana and other perennials to a new location to make room for the annuals we were given to work with. After pruning back some out of control Deutzias and weeding, we had room for the annuals. We decided to make a border along the front of ageratum and Mexican heather, to formalize the area. Behind those we put some white vinca, apricot portulaca, rose portulaca, red dragonwing begonia and some crinkle leaf ageratum. The learning experience was good, to design a garden that works in the space, using the plant material at hand. We had to consider things such as the views from top and bottom of the hill, color schemes, integration with the native and introduced perennial species, and texture and form of the plants.
That was two days’ work, and on the third crew day, we went out to the rose garden site to lay out where the planters would be. (The rose garden is to be an elliptical promenade, with steps to the lower level, and a lawn above). The planters are going to be along the back wall of the ellipse, and poured in the concrete, so we had to use the architect’s drawings to lay out at the site their exact location, and mark it so it would be visible after they poured the concrete for the walkway. That was also a good learning experience, to learn about what the architects and contractors go through when building a new garden area, which I think will prove quite practical in the future as I’m sure I will be working with these situations.
The weather is already very hot and humid, and I’m glad it’s a woodland garden, so most of it’s shade. They put wireless internet into the house today, so now I can do some serious researching.
On our office days, we worked with Bob, doing an exercise about how to design a space that will introduce visitors to the garden, with attention to the message each portrays to the viewer. We also discussed how to enclose a space, and what kind of feeling different arrangements and plantings can give the viewer. I really enjoyed this exercise, because I learned about the extreme effort that goes into designing a landscape that looks like it’s been there for years, sculpted by nature, as well as the huge effect a misplaced plant can have on the experience. Bob has a lot of knowledge, and I’m going to tap into that and get as much as I can from this experience, as it will be extremely practical in the future. I’m also learning that I love the naturalized garden/woodland garden, because it is almost like raw nature, yet still has an order and a specific aesthetic in mind.