Gardening - all things for all people... :-)

woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)January 10, 2014

I was struck by GP1's post on the like/dislike thread but don't want to hijack that one further so thought it best to start a separate thread....

What struck me is how gardening can satisfy so many different needs/desires. It provides an avenue for solitary activity, contemplation, and expression of individual creative vision for GP1 - and all gardeners I'm sure! - while also providing an avenue to express that same sort of individual creative urge in a way that increases social interaction.

I am in a sort of opposite position to GP1 - i.e. have more limited opportunities for routine social interaction - so one of the functions that gardening provides is to create a context that promotes opportunities for social interaction (in person on on forums like this - which sometimes lead to in-person interation too :-) by sharing a common love of gardening. I'm a believer in 'a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled'!

I think the sharing aspect is probably behind most of the interactions that happen (in person or on-line) of the 'you should see MY [whatever]' type that many interpret as one-upmanship irritating incidents. I'm probably guilty of a few of those :-) But gardeners love to share what they've learned and I think that is at the root of many of those type comments - and you often see posts here along the lines of 'show me your [whatever]'.... so there is an interest in learning from those who have been successful at growing [whatever].

I'd say the solitary/social balance for me is about 50/50 (i.e. half the pleasure is from activities and outcomes in the garden that pleases me, regardless of what others think of them, and half from discussing the garden with other people and incorporating that interaction in the development of the garden so as to create a garden that gives others pleasure too.) What is the balance of things for you?

In part, because I live with physical limitations, exploring the the more 'academic/intellectual/aesthetic' aspects of gardens/gardening gives me as much pleasure as the hands-in-the-dirt part, although both aspects are necessary to provide a complete and satisfactory gardening experience for me.

Different strokes for different folks and all that....! :-)

GP1 - it sounds like your job is in some sort of land planning field....? It sounds interesting (annoying meetings and revisions aside!)

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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I prefer the solitary aspect of it in my own garden, mostly because I'm a planner and organizer by nature, as I mentioned previously, and I want to take sole responsibility for the planning/design; it's also a good creative outlet for me. I also find the solitude relaxing when I'm out there, although I never feel like I'm "alone" - God is always there, and His creatures, His magnificance reflected in nature; so, there's also the spiritual aspect for me.

I do enjoy the social aspects of plant shopping (at times) or garden-related events with others.

I very much enjoy discussing gardening with others who are truly interested and want to hold a genuine conversation, but like I've mentioned numerous times before, the "You should see MY..." type of people get under my skin (I take that as one-upmanship, as mentioned in above thread).

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Woodyoak, my work is very restricted. I am interested in ecology and passionate about native plants.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Tue, Mar 4, 14 at 4:00

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 7:11PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Wow - that sounds like interesting work you do! Pictures....?

There's no need to run away :-) when we're just getting to know you. Everybodyhas there own unique 'voice' and interests and that's part of what makes the forum interesting.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Diversity of gardening aims/ experiences/ challenges/ solutions - true.

If we all said the same thing, we'd all learn nothing.
And we'd be bored.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 10:01PM
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I do not have much social interaction either, probably less than you do, I know its less than most people have.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Feb 12, 14 at 2:28

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:40PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

GP1 - There are lots of plants that I can't grow here, but that doesn't mean it's not interesting to hear about them and see how they are used. Likewise with styles of gardening that differ form how I garden. It can all be a source of ideas for things you can, with suitable modification for your tastes and physical environment, incorporate into your garden. I'm always curious and love to learn new things. Yes, people can 'get under your skin' causing you to 'lose it' at times (I certainly have experienced that - as have most people who participate in on-line forums of various sorts) but it gets easier with time to ignore the irritations and focus on the parts that interest you. Sometimes, though, stepping back for a while and just 'lurking' without posting does help put things in perspective.

Come back and join us when you like - and show us some of your art - herbaceous and painted :-)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 9:37PM
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Woodyoak, just one small peculiar item. I would have hesitated to mention this at all on the other forum concerning Gertrude Jekyll because it would have seemed like a criticism and devils advocate thing (again). I bring it up now it since you mentioned being interested in hearing about other plants and how they are used.

Where you are, I imagine the conditions are probably favorable to try to incorporate a European style garden on a smaller scale inspired by someone like Gertrude Jekyll and the great European show gardens created for public enjoyment. But also imagine this same type of goal in a part of the country where it would waste gallons and gallons of drinking water every other day to maintain and even at that, it would be a poor fit and suffer. Then imagine 100's of people moving out here intent on being a lot of little Gertrudes and trying to do this in an environment alien to it. It happens ALL the time, most of the time in fact. We are so stuck in our modes of what a garden should be.

I think as gardeners we should, at some point, finally learn to be stewards of the earth, us more than anyone. And yet, I often observe gardeners to be the worst offenders and the most blind, blind to anything but convention. We then dump chemicals to achieve perfect lawns (another European import) and use water in excess like there is no tomorrow on imported European plants just to keep up with some idealistic style or influence. Why not an American Garden look? One that is kind to the environment and in sync with the surroundings and conditions?

I like reading about the plant explorers and pioneers of this country who traveled, cataloged, collected and named plants. Men like George Englemann and Charles Parry. Many of the plants I grow are named after them. Its not Gertrude Jekyll but it makes a lot more sense than some silly women (not you, I have specifically others that I know personally in mind here) trying to copy and be her in a place like central Oklahoma. Multiply her by the thousands and you get the picture. The nurseries are more than happy to oblige.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Sat, Jan 11, 14 at 22:29

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Yeah, the whole perfect lawn thing has a lot to answer for. Living in the island which suffered from glaciation, our flora and fauna is dismally limited (yet we are a nation of horticultural maniacs)....but you lot in the US - how very fortunate to have the option of so many fabulous native plants....why would anyone want to create little Italian, French or English gardens when you have geography, history, culture and terrific extravagant wildlife aplenty.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:15AM
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Hi there,
Just spent a great day mingeling with co- gardeners at our annual meeting of the friends of perennials - thingy.

So, yes, lots of people, some really nice discussions. Afterwards I went along with 2 persons I had met the year before for a dinner, coffe and more talk. Plants mostly, nursery business, new cultivars, funny clients, ... But also more general topics of life.
Apart from that I survived many situations/ evenings like being stranded next to some stranger ( at some wedding, party whatever) and suddenly the somewhat awkward small talk turns lively cause you mentioned gardening.

Intersting about "Gertrud J" and adopting/ importing styles.
I admired her just for her complete abstract aproache to plants, using them like- color just with roots and some timer.

But even in Britain that only worked with a plethora of staff who keep the stuff running and pamper all plants that are crammed in one border, in total disregard to their demands.

One of my credos is to always work with the site and the conditions. Sure you can amend soil to a degree, but there is a limit.

And I got funny ( ok, not amused) looks from my mother in law when she quizzed what to to about those " horrible Daysies" ( Bellis perennis) in her lawn, meaning, which magical herbicide I would recommend,

And I suggested she could try to like them.

I explained immidiatly that most of the stuff is still toxic and always a risk for the person to handle it, and that those flowers would pop up again because of the heavy soil and little sun.

Takes quite some generall knowledge to handle your garden and environment thoughtfully.

Bye, Lin

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:58AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

True that Jekyll's gardens were designed for large properties with a garden staff to manage and maintain them, in a temperate climate. But the essence of the
gardens was her skillful use of color and form to produce a garden that was beautiful and where well-grown plants added up to 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts'. That is an approach that is applicable in any garden. I'm sure that, if Jekyll was alive now and living in Oklahoma, she would be producing beautiful gardens with a different palette of plants!

Perhaps an English garden more suitable as a model for dry climates would be Beth Chatto's gravel garden (see link below). The average rainfall in her area is 20" per year and that garden has, apparently never been watered. It is built on land that was once a parking lot so it is far from the rich soils one associates with English gardens.

One needs to create a garden suitable for the conditions you have, whether those are hot and xeric or cooler with a greater degree of moisture, or any of the possible combinations between the two extremes. It is human nature though to sometimes hanker after what we can't have :-)

I think one of the big 'holes' in North American gardening is the relative scarcity of good public gardens - especially private gardens open to the public. So the average homeowner does not have easy access to good examples of locally-appropriate well designed gardens. I gather California has made concerted efforts in some areas to promote water-wise gardens by making available information and examples on how to make gardens that are suitable to their climate, water-efficient, and beautiful. Once things move from being a 'fringe' activity to 'mainstream', change can happen quickly. The first step is for the early-adopters to produce something that is attractive and functional enough to appeal to a wider audience.

In the begining, Jekyll's style, and that of contemporaries like William Robinson, was considered a fairly radical departure from the then-current garden style! A hundred years from now, maybe gardeners in North America will look back at this time as the period where region-appropriate garden styles developed and took root.

Beautiful gardens with the different plant palette are the start. Jekyll was a trained artist and used that knowledge in creating her gardens. GP1 - I gather, based on what you said about your job, that you must be a trained artist too. Do you use that knowledge of color and space to shape your garden and arrange the plants to best advantage? I think the job of those who want to initiate and spread a new style of gardening is to create beautiful gardens that people will want to emulate. There are too many gardens that are sort of random jumbles of favorite plants, lacking in an organizing principle to take them to a higher level of beauty. That is the quest I have been on in my years of gardening here. I've not achieved all that I'd like to but I'm closer than I was when we started the garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Beth Chatto's gravel garden

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 11:47AM
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"There are too many gardens that are sort of random jumbles of favourite plants, lacking in organizing principle to take them to a higher level of beauty".

This is the same sort of elitism, actually arrogance, that Gertrude Jekyll displayed.

Others feel that beauty, in gardens, owes far more to the knowledge of gardening of the gardeners than to it does to any deference to principles of Art.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 4:20PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I don't consider myself either elite or arrogrant but I do value learning from the history of gardens and garden design. I aspire to make my garden the best that I can achieve. If that approach and my style offends you, I'm sorry but it won't change my approach to gardens and what I've learned to see as beautiful based on my reading and study. I, too, was once focussed mainly on creating a beautiful 'jumble of my favorite plants.' Looking back on those pictures I see the basis for the garden I aim for now but an unstructured jumble is not what I want anymore. And I do believe that it is the 'jumble of plants' look that holds back a wider acceptance of many native-style gardens because it reinforces a common perception of the plants as 'weedy'. A more structured approach to the plantings would, I think, go a long way to changing negative stereotypes and help a wider audience appreciate the intrinsic beauty of the plants.

I gather, SB, that you live not too far from Rouge....? If so, you're within visiting distance of here. I'd be happy to have you as a garden visitor at some point this summer. I hope you would not find me elite and arrogant - but you would find me very passionate about the garden we have created/are creating here.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 5:09PM
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I absolutly second woodyoak.
A person like Gertrud J. In my book is someone with a vision, she had a new radical approach to garden design.

A collecttor's garden tends to be a loved place but the result mostly nothing exciting, a different way of gardening.

I myself progressed from a wild jumble of " all the plants I ever wanted to try" to a more subtle border with an actual design that deserves its name. After ripping out stuff I now have quite a limited number of species,
resulting in a texture based combination of mostly solid Hostas, fern and Hellebores.

My absolut hero and role model is a German landscape architect.
She sometimes talks at conventions, last time about a year ago.

She masters a profound detailed knowledge of perennials and shrubs, and with her skill she can start a new border/ project aiming for a certain atmosphere or color theme/ shapes and just use certain species that achieve the desired look.

And her plantings are resilient and dont need any pampering.

Sometimes I design borders for private clients and every new garden is an opportunity to improve this "over all design aspect".

And the true challenge is exactly that last step: what plants to use for a certain effect or look.

An exciting journey, always learning, always researching

A good Monday to you all, bye, Lin

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 5:47PM
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Woodyoak, I too have some knowledge of the history of gardening, notably for Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

I hope you don't change your approach and I would be very interested to see your gardening work.

In gardening, I don't aim to change things in other peoples gardens, only to do my own thing. I'd add, however, that I do get some very useful information from a lot of contributors to GardenWeb. And I really admire what I see of some of the gardens. Wieslaw's garden immediately comes to mind

As has been said, you can sometimes recognize the gardens of an individual gardener in the same way you may recognize the work of an individual artist. That's my kind of art.

Since my overwhelming orientation in mixed perennial gardening is flower colour, for me, mixed perennial gardening is painting with flowers; with colours that change through the growing season (always a challenging task).

I don't like being preached to by the likes of dated folk such as Jekyll and Sackville West, or by Art. In the latter case, I'm quite aware of the close historical relationship between Art and Garden Design (in Britain) over the last several centuries.

Still I don't mean to imply anything of a personality nature to any person on a gardening topics. I would agree, however, that I myself do have libertarian tendencies.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 6:13PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Lin - I'd love to know the name of that designer you talked about....?

SB - any time you want to drop by in garden season, just e-mail me through the 'my page' link and we can set up a time.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:26PM
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Will Woodyoak.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:40PM
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Just to clarify, a native "style" garden is not a jumble. It is not a style either. This is not what holds most people back, although that seems to be a misconception some people visualize when they think of natives or "wildflowers". It seems to conjure up a chaotic scene or tangled mess of haphazard plants as if someone threw out a seed mix and then stood back and let it happen. A native plant garden is not a wild prairie, it is simply a garden using natives (in other words, wild indigenous plants). It is a common misconception people often have when the subject of a native garden comes up.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Tue, Mar 4, 14 at 4:02

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:28PM
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I gather, SB, that you live not too far from Rouge....? If so, you're within visiting distance of here. I'd be happy to have you as a garden visitor at some point this summer. I hope you would not find me elite and arrogant - but you would find me very passionate about the garden we have created/are creating here.

SB, I had a wonderful time while visiting with WO last summer. She is justifiably proud of her property and I learned lots.

"Woody", I would love to see your gardens again, hopefully earlier in the season than last year. And I could bring SB along for the ride ;). He is a passionate gardener as well who is a great guy to boot.

This post was edited by rouge21 on Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 7:54

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 7:30AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

GP1 - I really enjoyed that blog, especially the Garden Projects section which shows before-during-after pictures and commentary. I like pictures showing the plants in the broader context of the landscape rather than just close-ups of a particular plant. Gardens like that one are exactly what I was saying that need to be seen/publicized more widely to show that the natives can make a 'proper' garden that doesn't look like an unmown lawn (I'm sure most people have seen/heard news stories - or experienced the situation in their neighborhood - about neighbours complaining about unkempt properties where the owner says he/she is naturalizing the space.) Native/water-wise/xeric gardens will move into the mainstream and become more common once people have more comfort with them as attractive garden spaces, so posting pictures of such attractive gardens is a good thing to do. I'd love to see more pictures of your garden - e.g. a picture that shows the plants you posted above from further back so we can see more of the overall garden.

The 'Texas style parterre' wheel garden in that blog was an interesting illustration of how something more usually associated with a formal, European style garden works well in a totally different context. And I'm in complete agreement with you GP1 that you can apply Jekyll's approach to color etc. to gardens like these. That was part of what I was trying to say in earlier posts - 'dated' styles include valuable lessons that can easily be adapted to guide and enhance contemporary 'radical' new gardens. (There's no need to throw the baby out with the bath water so to speak :-) )

One thing that really struck me in the garden pictures on that blog is how clearly the 'negative space' (i.e. the space that is NOT a garden bed - largely paths in the pictures on the blog) is to defining the attractive look and feel of the garden. Combined with the openness of the plants and the uniform light color of the stone in both beds and paths, it makes for a powerfully calm and peaceful space. The most important lesson I have learned in my gardening here is the power of shaping the negative space! In my case, the space is green (rectangular lawn in the backyard and grass paths in the front garden). Look at the wheel garden in that blog - what you see first is the pattern of the 'empty space' of the paths. I think one's mind craves both order and variety; the deliberately shaped 'negative' space of the paths provides a sense of order while the detailed planting within it provides the balancing variety. That is how I explain to myself why I'm drawn to gardens that use space in this way - I call it balancing order and chaos.... :-)

Rouge - I'm definitely hoping to see you in the garden again this year (assuming there's anything worth seeing after this winter is through with us!) and will try to make it up to see yours at some point. Either a joint visit with SB or separate visits is fine with me - visits from other avid gardeners are always welcome. The showiest flower time is late May to mid-June. SB - is there any particular aspect of the garden that interests you that would affect what is the best time to visit?

This post was edited by woodyoak on Tue, Jan 14, 14 at 17:52

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Woody, I have already posted several photos trying to show that.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Feb 19, 14 at 18:12

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 1:50PM
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Here is the same area entering from the other side. the photo is such that you cannot see the gravel spaces but in reality its about 1/3 gravel and 2/3 planted areas in the back. I keep the plants spaced apart and can work around any plant in my garden.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Feb 19, 14 at 18:15

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 1:55PM
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For some reason I cannot access Photobucket so I am posting in two more spaces.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Feb 19, 14 at 18:13

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 2:18PM
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Here is a shot a few years later.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Feb 19, 14 at 18:14

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 2:22PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Oh, great stuff, GP (and look at you, puffing away - we social pariahs must stick together although it is e.ciggies all the way for me now).
I love your garden - a gravel garden was the very first planting I did when I got my allotment - it still looks OK after a decade of neglect.....while the rest of it dissolves into chaos, the scree beds hold their own.
Course, the neglect shows here but you get the picture?.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 2:47PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I was obviously 'asleep at the switch' when you posted photos like that before because I don' t remember them :-)

That's a very nice garden. I always wonder, when I see pictures of gardens with cactuses in them, how do you work around them?! Are 'rose gauntlets' and leather chaps - or something equivalent to that - standard garden attire? :-) I have a balance problem and am always worried about falling into thorny things like roses. Those big cactuses are scary!

The blog pictures and yours highlight for me both the sinilarities and differences in regional gardening. You could keep a similar color scheme and layout but swap the plants for more temperate-zone plants and mulch or earth paths and the garden would look appropriate here too. But, a gravel, rock and predominantly silver garden usually looks as out of place in the naturally green landscape here as the (neighbour's?) green lawn looked out of place in some of the blog pictures. Context matters... Region-appropriate plantings and materials make sense to me - the principles that contribute to beauty in the garden are not dependant on a particular plant palette. Material matters in regional context too. One of the things that feels 'wrong' to me is when large rocks, particularly rounded and/or gray ones are used in local neighbourhood gardens (since there are no rocks like that in the natural environment - this area is ancient lakebed. Any rocks that are here are flat, relatively brown mudstone.). The limestone Niagara escarpment is not too far away and limestone rocks then make sense in the landscape, but not right here.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 3:12PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

GP1 - I just saw these new photos after I posted the comment on the first two.... Beautiful! We have a lot in common :-) We ripped out most of our front lawn too years ago - different plant palette but similar ideas.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 3:19PM
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campanula I like that garden and I can see it, seems like a good testament of how sound the idea is if it still looks that good in a life after people situation with no one maintaining it.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Feb 19, 14 at 18:16

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 3:57PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

GP1 - kindred spirits, eh?... :-) (I figured we probably had a fair bit in common, both being passionate gardeners. We just needed to find our way through the thicket of superficial differences arising from working in different climates/plant palettes.) I'm sort of the neighbourhood eccentric I think - 'the crazy disabled lady with the garden and dogs' :-)

BTW - you've got a great SALAT stance! I'm a literal 'seat of the pants' gardener but SALATing and WALATing are essential first steps in deciding what needs doing next! (For those who aren't familiar with the terms - SALAT = Standing Around Looking At Things; WALAT = Walking Around....)

Seat of the pant gardening - making the 'moat bed' along the ditch along the road:

I hope the BBQ tongs are used to pick up leaves - I'd hate to see what sort of cactus thorn might need BBQ-sized tongs to remove!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 5:18PM
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Thanks, Rouge.
Sounds a great idea.
Will be in touch; also with Woodyoak.

I aim for changing colour in the garden from April to October here (viz. use many perennials), so I'm pleased to see perennials at any time through the growing season. Seasonally, among my many favourite perennials are our spring primulas, summer phlox and fall asters.

Interesting to see your garden, PM1 and see Woodyoak in action. Re kneeling, that's not my favourite stance (osteoarthritis), but I find it can't be avoided for a few garden tasks, most notably planting the smaller spring bulbs.

I probably mentioned Merlin's Hollow to Rouge. Merlin's Hollow is the garden of David and Dierdre Tomlinson, here in Aurora. It's 3/4 of an acre, divided into four "rooms" (Sissinghurst style), with a very wide range of perennials (around 2000). The alpine (spring) part is scree, as per Campanula's posting. It will be open to the public on the four usual days in 2014, but I would be allowed to take you through there at another time.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:04AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Merlin's Hollow sounds interesting and worth a trip north on one of the open days. We have friends in Newmarket that would probably enjoy it too. Maybe we could all meet up there on one of the open days. That would make a fun outing! :-)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:11PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

Several points seem to rarely get brought up with regards to native plantings.

First, what exactly qualifies as native? If I plant something that originally ranged in Florida, and plant it in California, am I planting a native plant? What if the original range is closer, such as Arizona? How about if it was originally found only on the Channel Islands, but I plant it on the coastal mainland of California?

If we reduce the natives list to only those plants that naturally occur in the immediate area, another group of problems crop up. In Southern California there are some fine local plants. However, SoCal is also known for raging wildfires. So the fire districts put out suggested planting lists to reduce the chance your home's immediate landscape will be tinder for wildfires. Then, because we live in an area where most of our water must be imported, the water districts puts out plant lists so that home landscape areas are beautiful without the use of moisture-thirsty plants. Many Australian and California native plants are included on this list.

Guess the number of plants that are included on both lists? Yeah. And when the property line is 50' from your dwelling, you cannot make a 100' buffer zone for fire protection and plant water-wise plants beyond that zone.

I wish good solutions were as simple as than dig up "X" and plant "Y". Unfortunately, it is more complex than that. :-(

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 3:10PM
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Sounds great Woodyoak.

Could be an open day or another. Up till now, I've had a task at Merlin's Hollow on open days (selling plants), so wouldn't have been so good. The whole garden was built by David and selling perennials, which he raised, paid for it. They're not raising/selling perennials any more.

It could be preferable to go on other than an open day;
reasons: weather, no other people.

Will certainly be in touch about it in growing season.

David is a very clever man; his aim was to develope an Ontario version of an English type garden, which is distinctively southern Ontarian, supports local wildlife, uses local materials (especially maple leaves) and is lower maintenance. Despite his horticultural, also landscaping, urban planning, and environmental reconstruction work, his first love has always been birds. In season, he's now doing field research on birds of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Dierdre now also has a major involvement in the maintenance of Merlin's Hollow.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 3:32PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Indeed, GyrF. The debate about natives is complex, to say the least. Having such a limited flora and fauna, we tend to avoid purist schemes here in the UK (our gardens would be sparse indeed if we relied on natives). And then there are 'naturalised' plants - a different proposition. Research has been showing that many insects can, and will, make use of plants which are not usually a part of their life cycle requirements. Swallowtails have a tiny number of essential foodplants (peucedanum, silene dioica, hemp agrimony......but will also move across to using other, decidedly non-native plants, including asclepias incarnata and asclepias syriaca. Life is tenacious and will find a way - sometimes to the detriment of other species and sometimes beneficial in surprising ways. In order to strike a balance between increasing diversity and dangerous invasive species, we are, in effect, running a continuous experiment - a steep learning curve as we gradually discover which plants are of benefit to the environment and which ones are a menace....but without making the attempt, we are unlikely to make useful discoveries either. Mostly, it comes down to clear communication, a wider knowledge and greater responsibility within the horticultural industry and a lively and enquiring curiosity regarding the nature of our world and our place in it.
Ultimately, the plants themselves will inform us whether they are fit for purpose in the locations and conditions we have selected - of course, we can push the envelope, grow any plants, anywhere (with sufficient energy and technological advances) but whether these practices are sustainable or worthwhile is another issue........

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:06PM
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On forums like Wildlife Gardeners those questions and discussions are raised all the time. A forum like this is not the best place for such a discussion but I think its OK to touch on the idea of using native plants that are not in the nursery trades as garden worthy.

I would not consider a native Florida plant to be a native plant in California or Oklahoma for that matter.

I think regionally and look for plants which I like that will thrive in my conditions without wasting resources and not cause problems in this general area. Some natives from elsewhere in the country would or more likely, they would just croak. Other people are more purist than that and are what I think of as zelaots for a cause because its like a religious fervor and I detest having the "natives gospel" preached at me. I only get semi-hysterical when I see someone planting something like Golden Bamboo myself so I do have lines drawn in the sand but am not a purist or zealot by any stretch. Mostly, I just like these plants better and want a low maintenance situation.

It is a very complex subject. This came up briefly in the "I dream of trees" thread when I pointed out that trees are sometimes not the answer to problems, sometimes they can instead be a problem. I was responding to the "no brainer" comments about trees adding oxygen to the environment as if they should be planted everywhere.....duh......

There is no one size fits all fix. We have problems with over-grazing, ecological disasters like fracking and corporate farming by companies like Monsanto planting vast acres of corn and our dependence on this crop, pesticides and fertilizers on lawns winding up in streams feeding into lakes on a massive scale, loss of habitat, de-forestation in some areas and the reverse, forestation in others, invasive species being introduced, fires, drought, water resources dwindling and on and on and on. Each region in the country has its own particular issues to deal with.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Tue, Jan 14, 14 at 16:43

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:21PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

lol about the bamboo GP1. I planted Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon' in a planter. My husband really, really wanted Golden Goddess bamboo there. Marital gardening harmony is probably another GW forum, too.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:59PM
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GreatPlains1 wrote:

I was responding to the "no brainer" comments about trees adding oxygen to the environment as if they should be planted everywhere.....duh.....

GP1, it is this kind of post that makes it difficult for some of us to see beyond your brash, sometimes insensitive comments to better consider more carefully the worthwhile things you do say.

No one ever stated the hyperbole that trees should be planted everywhere. And as far as I can see, in that whole thread, the only reference to oxygen is in the so short paragraph:

"imagine if trees gave off wifi signals we would be planting so many trees and we'd probably save the planet too. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe"

These two sentences were never intended to be a manifesto for the environmental movement; nor the be all and end all re landscaping design ;). Instead consider it only a clever way of highlighting the sometimes skewed priorities humans do have.

How many times have you promised to vacate these forums? Thread after thread showing your deleted comments. And so each time you return I am thinking there will be a change, showing much more of the thoughtful, knowledgeable GP1....maybe it will be the next time.

This post was edited by rouge21 on Tue, Jan 14, 14 at 17:35

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:15PM
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My neighbor wanted to plant running bamboo after getting into a shouting match with the crazy guy (he is territorial just like a dog, I think he marks his property at night with urine) who lives behind us as a privacy screen. I had the Round-up ready and would not have hesitated.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:19PM
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Gardening: All Things (includes Plants) for all People.

There's a lot of common sense in what you say, Campanula. I've certainly read parts to the contrary, but overall I agree with you.

Purists try to rewrite reality.

I would, however, add one thing and that re the horticultural industry. Personally, I wouldn't put much faith in the horticultural industry (at least as a totality). I'm thinking of things like: pushing toxic chemicals on gardeners: introducing? or at least spreading plant pathologies (e.g. in Impatiens and Echinacea): subverting the naming of plants by pushing trade names (viz names that can be owned) rather than cultivar names (which no entity can own).

This post was edited by SunnyBorders on Tue, Jan 14, 14 at 17:35

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:32PM
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rouge, anyone can go back and read the last few comments on the 'I dream of trees' thread and make their own judgment. If that is the way you interpret it, thats fine.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Jan 15, 14 at 3:46

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:56PM
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I appreciate Woodyoak's role in starting this particular forum.

I also appreciate Rouge's role in trying to put the record straight. Like Rouge, I feel comfortable with a careful weighing of words. When they're about people, it just seems the fair thing to do.

Still here we are.

And to give credit where credit is due; I do like GP1's garden pictures, plus her comments on her garden. They certainly do contribute positively to this forum.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:59PM
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SB---Whatever I said about you personally either this time or the last time is still a mystery to me.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Jan 15, 14 at 3:42

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 10:10PM
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hello woodyoak,
somewhat delayed
the landscape architect`name is

Petra Pelz,

I put in her home page link, but the pictures don`t do her justice really.
I think she is not really well known internationally, but she does mingle with Piet Oudolf or did with Oehme and Van Sweden, those trailblazers for perennials.

otherwise I am slightly worried that this great, frank exploring discussion is tipping cause some answers/ post are "too frank, direct or whatever".
I lurked through this post all the time and like it because of all the different aspects poppig up.

To quote sunny borders:
If we all said the same thing, we'd all learn nothing.
And we'd be bored."

so, yea, let`s continue to verbally battle for the ultimate wisdom of gardening and enjoy all things that appear in the debate`s wake,

Bye, Lin

Here is a link that might be useful: Petra Pelz`s homepage

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:16AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Lin - thanks for the name and the link - I couldn't of course, read the text :-) and only the Projects menu item had pictures that I could access, but I also did a Google image seach using her name to find others. The combination that really grabbed me was combining two differsent-sized ball-flowered plants - a relatively large allium and a smaller globe thistle of some sort. It's not a combination I would have thought of but I really liked that one. I do like big-small look-alike kinds of things but they usually happen by accident! I will have to find a place to try the ball combination :-)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:11AM
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Nothing personally about me, PM1.

A few things to say that really can piss me off:

(1) telling me that mixed perennial gardening is easy and that herbaceous perennials never need replacing.
(2) telling me I should trust garden journalists before I trust hands-on gardeners.
(3) telling me that what the horticultural industry loves about gardeners is not their money.
And a final one (a personal foible).
(4) speaking against any flower colour. I love colours. I do draw the line at dyeing flowers, even if that only way to get a representative of turquoise.

Love Lin's final paragraph, above.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:57PM
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I'm glad to hear that SB, what a relief I thought I was loosing touch with reality there.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Tue, Mar 4, 14 at 4:04

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 1:48AM
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campanula, What is that grass with the really tall panicles in the picture you posted? Is it giant stipa? When I was looking for grasses there were lots I liked that were only available out of the UK or Australia. Australia has some great tussock grasses not for sale in the US.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 2:36AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Talking about color and the use of color in the garden is one of those things that tends to put people in defensive/hostile mode because it's difficult at times to clearly describe what exactly one means when talking about color and the use of color in the garden. So things get misinterpreted or overly simplified as each person brings their own biases and interests to interpret what was said. There is (an annoying :-) ) tendency in some quarters to dismiss color - particularly flowers - as a sort of frivolous, unimportant 'icing on the cake' element in designing a garden. That sort of dismissal of color irritates me greatly. But it also irritates me when the 'any color goes with any other' sort of line is thrown out as an oversimplification. Because the perception of a color can very much depend on what color it is partnered with. Change the partner and you change the effect. So, for me, how I use color in the garden/where I place a particular plant depends on what effect I want to create there. In my early gardening days I went through the polychrome 'anything goes' color phase but became unhappy with that because I began to see, as GP1 said above: ' "Too much color is the equivalent of no color at all". It becomes like a street lined with billboards each competing for attention and no color stands out. ' Now I try to think through what I need to do to create a desired color effect. I don't always get it right - and it can take years to gradualy change the plantings to get to where I want to go - but it has made a noticeable improvement (to me at least!) in my gardening outcomes. GP1 - as a trained artist, you (and the gardening artists in your neighbourhood) probably intuitively use color in your gardens to create desired effects whereas for plebes like me it's something that requires deliberate thought and 'misses the mark' more often! :-)

Playing with color to create effects is fun - and not limited to gardening :-) Below is a picture of DH wearing a 'tumbling blocks' sweater I knit about 17 years ago. I was aiming for an 'autumn leaves' color effect. Not perfect by any means but it's still one of his favorite sweaters. The link below is to a Google image seach that shows other sweaters of the same design in different color combinations (the fifth one is DH's sweater....) so you can see how different the sweater looks depending on what colors are used and how they are combined.

And that brings me to the issue of 'rules' and styles etc. 'Rule' is one of those words that also immediately gets one's back up because most of us don't particularly like the idea of being ruled! :-) Styles tend to imply a lack of originality - a 'follow the herd' sort of mentality and we all want to be thought of as individuals. But understanding what a particular 'rule' is trying to achieve, and the consequences of breaking it is useful when assessing whether it helps or hinders what you are trying to achieve. 'Rules' can be a sort of distilled 'wisdom'/short cuts that can be useful in getting you where you want to go without having to reinvent the wheel each time! Styles, in a gardening sense, are often a response to particular times, places, cultures environments, etc. Understaning why they are/were popular can be very useful in helping you decide which styles - or elements of a style - can be used or adapted to positive effect in your own garden. That's one of the reasons I like to read widely in garden history - the more I know, the clearer I see what appeals to me and how to achieve it. Certainly my interests and tastes have changed over time but change is a constant in the garden so I'm always looking for ideas that I can incorporate - harmoniously - in the garden. The constant that drives my garden is the desire for it to have a peaceful and harmonious feel while still being a vibrant space.

Here is a link that might be useful: tumbling block sweaters

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 12:10PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Woody - speechless with admiration at your flawless intarsia!! I truly love colour work but both intarsia and cables have been fails for me. Your man looks a cutie too. I sort of think every colour goes with every other colour because the deciding factor tends to be tone/shade. For example, I have something of a mania for old velvet curtains which all seem to harmonise with each other because they have the same muted, slightly faded tonal values.
GP1 - stipa gigantea - it surely is. I agree, there are some terrific tussock grasses to be had - have you tried chionochloas. I know Plantworld seeds carries a couple (and a delicious little festuca, F.gautieri, a tiny emerald sea-urchin of a grass)......and ships to the US.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:22PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Who cares about the flowers - Woody's got a good-looking man we can admire!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:38PM
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Chionochloa rubra?! I most loved that one and I was obsessed for weeks. I couldn't find seed anywhere except on sites in the UK and I looked until my eyes nearly wore out. Australia on the other hand doesn't seem to ship anywhere in America. I get easily intimidated when I see anything sold in pounds as opposed to dollars and it seems a lot of trouble, mostly I'm just lazy about such things. I ended up going the Texas route and growing various Muhlenbergia species instead. I'm full up on grasses now, it can happen quick.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Tue, Mar 4, 14 at 4:05

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:58PM
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Interesting comments PM1 and Woodyoak.

I'm more with PM1 when it comes to styles and rules.

Re the contentious matter of rules: it all depends on what kind of gardening you do.

My design is in arranging a mixed perennial bed to optimize the show the flowers will make. I see this as a technical matter of selecting plants, of modifying growing conditions and of ongoing maintenance.

Nice work on the sweater, Woodyoak.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:19PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Yes, GP1, DH is a friendly, sociable, charming guy - definitely 'a keeper' :-) I couldn't garden without him. With respect to the garden, I'm most often 'mangement' and he's most often 'labour' but 'labour' contributes creative input too. He's a very good amateur photographer and, since he retired, he's really got 'into' bird photography (has some honkin' big lenses that allow him to get some pretty amazing pictures!) He usually doesn't say much about what he likes in the garden - I figure out what he likes by looking at what he's taking pictures of! He has been making approving comments about the things that attract birds and wanting more of those.

That sweater had an interesting offshoot that taught me a lesson or two on color. I used leftover balls of the colors to make another sweater, combining the colors in a different way and using a darker more 'heathered' olive green for the base color rather than the clear olive I used for the ribbed bits of the first one. The smaller patches of color mingling with the base color made the colors look far less clear - it's hard to believe at times that there are indeed the same colors!

In the garden I do like shading colors through a range or related colors but, because of this knitted example, I aim for larger blocks of color than I might otherwise do. Lessons applicable to the garden can happen in a variety of media...

Geez I wish GW had a spell-checker! (edited to correct some typos....)

This post was edited by woodyoak on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 21:27

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Thats nice. It makes me think of the colors of grain amaranth.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 1:28AM
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