Kudos and Suggestions of real life lawn to garden conversions

rouge21_gw(5)August 11, 2013

I apologize for the removal of the active thread generated by these pictures but as several of you had suggested it would be best if we had permission to display such photos.

I spoke with the homeowner and she was fine with me posting such pictures on-line.

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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

I still like this border, but as discussed earlier it could use some structure. I do think a 3' white picket fence behind it would really set off the bright colors. Perhaps some taller grasses behind the existing plants in front of a fence, maybe a clematis up the lamp post. There must be tons of bees and butterflies and other bugs that are drawn to this border. I wouldn't change much of it.
Curious to know if there are spring bulbs, or if this is truly just a "summer" garden. Could take out some of the BES and throw in a couple of nice shrubs for a few seasons of interest.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 5:40PM
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MilaB

I totally respect your decision to remove the original post, even though the discussion was interesting. We have all had experiences where we unintentionally did something potentially hurtful or unethical without realizing until someone explains to us the potential fall out. So often in these situations I have found that when people are called on something they respond defensively instead of taking some time to reflect. I admire that you gave this some thought and put consideration for your neighbor first, and got their permission before re-posting. I know it is what I would want someone to do with my garden.

And I, for one, enjoy your neighbor's exuberant garden! Thank you for sharing.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 5:47PM
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susanzone5(z5NY)

This garden looks like an embroidery I did, full of flowers all blooming at once. I'd add some tall lilies (bulbs) and maybe some flowering shrubs to vary the height near the house.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 11:03AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Is your neighbor OK with posting the original pictures again? The one taken from a distance so you can see the overall garden in relation to the house is more useful than these closer views for considering what to do to give the garden more definition. I've been thinking about this garden and what I'd do differently since you posted the original photos. I'd like to see those again to see if what I've been thinking would actually work to improve it or not... So, if it's OK with the neighbour to show thm again, can you please repost them?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 11:28AM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I don't think it is uncommon for August flower gardens to look overgrown and a bit wild. I know mine does. We went on two trips, with only a few weeks between. The weeds were crazy tall by the time I got to pulling them out. Another week passed before I got to keeper plant trimming, because my bins were full.

It is summer. In many areas it is uncomfortably warm to garden during the day. Yet the rudbeckias and other large growers, that may have started out as tiny 3-inchers in spring, are huge in comparison now. But they are flowering, so it is hard to cut them back. Some of mine have flopped to the side but continue to bloom heavily. Oh, well! For many I'll wait and remove them when it is time to replant that area. It would be too warm to replant now.

In comparison to the neighborhood lawns and topes sliver showing in the far background, I'd probably stop to linger in front of this flower garden with a smile. :)

Do I prefer a more orderly flower garden? Yes. Does mine have spells where it looks awkwardly cramped or overgrown? Yes. Do the neighbors mind? I don't think so.They endured the "before" for years. lol And they often tell me they have never seen so many butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds here before. I bet that garden is a draw for animals, too.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 2:00PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I've changed my mind about this garden. Seeing it up close, what's not to like? Yes, I would probably do things differently, but wouldn't we all? I would love to have these people as neighbors. Clearly they love plants, they love color, their garden is the ultimate celebration of summer.

It would probably really easy to make some suggestions to them too. Maybe they're completely open to some minor tweaking if you're so inclined to making some suggestions. Something like this: "Did you ever consider adding some (insert plant name here)? They would look fantastic with what you already have."

Kevin

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 4:16PM
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mulchmama

Of course this is a show stopper. Of course it's beautiful...now. I had a foundation border a lot like that at our last house. That was before I studied design, and no, I am not a landscape design snob. But I do agree that this garden needs bones. It needs more texture variation, and it needs fall and winter interest. My garden up in Chicago was a barren wasteland from late fall until spring.

But hey, this isn't my garden. I am certainly not a design purist, as is evident in my own place here in Kansas. I drew up designs and I stuck to them around the foundation, and once I began creating berms out back on the acreage, all bets were off, and those are the prettiest parts of our landscape.

People will plant whatever they love, and the people who tend to this garden clearly love it. It isn't what I would do again, but bless them for doing it. I don't know that I'd even consider suggesting ways to improve it unless they asked, or expressed some frustration, like, "I wish it looked nicer in the fall..."

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 5:02PM
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pat4750(Zone 6 Cen PA)

Longtime lurker here but after seeing this meadow in both threads, I wondered if little bluestem or 'Karl Foerster' calamagrostis might fit the mood and offer fall/winter interest too. The calamagrostis is more columnar and turns a tawny color in fall but stays upright all winter. The little bluestem has more vibrant color in fall but a slightly more open habit. Neither has broken apart in my windy winter garden and both are easy to divide if/when that becomes necessary. Either would fit into Kevin's suggested opening line.
I have entire beds that are as "enthusiastic" as this, and I would love it if a gardener offered input on mine - indeed I seek it

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 2:14PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I have never seen Karl Foerster stay upright after the first heavy rain, snow or sleet. They flop, break and that's it. I love it in season though.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:29AM
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david883(5/6)

I stand by my original comment.... my only real issue with it would be that all the flowers are the same height. I like the idea of some very tall ornamental grass to give it some variations in height.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:42AM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Around here Karl Foerster stays upright, but we have dry snow. Agreed that would add some structure and some foliage interest. I can also imagine some tuteurs clad with flowering vines - maybe scarlet runner bean or something really bright and cheerful for the hummingbirds.

These are easy fixes - the homeowner has already done 90% of the hard work!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:43AM
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Ruth_MI(z5MI)

I'll preface this by saying that I like that they've done something different, and it's great in a lot of ways. They'd probably (for good reason) have more suggestions for my garden than I do for theirs!

Even without adding "bones," I think that this garden could be improved by massing more and mixing less, especially with everything non-rudbeckia.

The rudbeckia is such a strong color (and grower) that it visually holds its own. The echinacea, on the other hand, looks overwhelmed by the rudbeckia and is visually a bit lost.

On the second picture from the bottom, cover up the left side then the right, and see how much easier it is to "see" the right side.

The perovskia only confuses my eye when mixed in with the echinacea. I'd like to see more echinacea (a stronger hue would go better with the rudbeckia imo), and see it solidly massed.

I'm seeing something white and fuzzy/transparent - not sure what that is, but I think it adds to a confused look. I like the wider white flowers much better.

Stronger, more solid masses of pink, white and blue/purple would do a lot for this garden, I think.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:15PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 4:30

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 4:06PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Sorry, but I guess I missed the first posingt so I'm not sure about your original concern. Reading all the other comments doesn't clarify the situation. So I have three questions---

What kind of conversion was this?

Where is the garden located?

Is the homeowner happy with the results?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 5:02PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

All worthwhile posts. (GreatPlains1, you have put lots of thought into your entry).

molie, yours are all good questions.

This property is in a very suburban residential neighbourhood.

I spoke briefly with the owner and it appears to me that she, like many of us loves color and doesnt like to see any brown ground. She has accomplished both objectives.

As we all do, she likes it when people stop by to take pictures and to ask questions.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 5:51PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Great, Rouge! The most important thing is that the homeowner is happy and proud of the results. I'm guessing, then, that she doesn't really need any suggestions and that her favorite flowers and colors were selected.

Like many gardeners I keep visual records of our gardens. I know that my gardens progress over the years as I spot newer plants or want other "looks" ---- although I'm sure as I get older, these urges to change things in the garden will pass!

But sometimes the circumstances of your yard play into changes in taste. On a funny note, for example, my DH LOVED the look of plants spaced so that you could see dark earth and mulch between them. He was never much of a gardener but I went along with his taste, pulling out and giving away the things that touched --- as long as he promised to help weed. Well, two season of weeding our 65-70 ft long garden changed his tune. Because we live along the river and next to a neighbor who's not minded by weeds, we were on our knees in the garden from early spring to fall. Two years ago he threw in the towel --- or should I say the trowel! Now we're back to something more like what you've shown here!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:31PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Sat, Aug 17, 13 at 20:48

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 6:44AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

'GP1', he first time I posted the pictures I thought it would generate useful discussion....and it did. At that time I had not spoken with the homeowners

The thread was removed due to privacy concerns.

Another thread arose with several posters hoping that the photos could be reinstated with the discussion continuing. I did just that. In addition I was able to speak briefly to the homeowner. I am not sure how her seeming satisfaction with her lawn conversion somehow makes it not worthwhile for us to discuss possible improvements.

she likes her own garden which feels all nice, happy and warm. I guess this will have to do and that makes you a very nice person

Yikes! Where did that sarcasm come from...not nice.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 6:58AM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

I thought the comments, discussion and suggestions were just for our own entertainment, and were interesting to us mostly on a conceptual level. In that light, I'm not sure it matters exactly what the homeowners' wishes are/were - if we are just offering armchair suggestions, then we can talk about lots of different points of view. And this is exactly what makes the conversation interesting.

Sure, if we know the intent of the homeowner that adds to the discussion, but it's not a prerequisite in my book. Usually the thought begins with, "if this were my garden, I would..." Thus the comments reflect our own varying perspectives, which I think is the fun part. :)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 9:48AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I'm with Karin on this issue... i.e. that the point of the discussion is to use this garden as a jumping-off point to talk about related issues as we see them individually - rouge's original 'but I don't like it' comment was essentially in that line - sort of inviting us to explore why one might not like it and what you could do to make it better - probably in a conventional garden context .

Ruth has good comments re massing etc. - they reflect a lot of my reaction to it too. I would also introduce more strong rusty-red colors with the gold - perhaps through heleniums and Rudbeckia hirta, Some nice dark red-purple foliage - perhaps Summer Wine ninebark would be good contrast inboth color and size (shame about those wimpy pink spring flowers though....!)

GP1 - your comments are interesting but raise an issue that bugs me at times. Prairie-style garden look great - in the right setting! I am not a big fan of ornamental grasses in many garden settings - certainly not in mine! - because they just don't seem to 'fit' with an area that is more naturally a northern forest. They do fit with a lot of commercial/industrial/institutional plantings (e.g. parking lots!) because the environment there has a similar wide-open - bake-in-summer/freeze-in-winter sort of feel to it as a prairie has. Certain prairie plants do fit into a more conventional garden setting (purple coneflowers being the obvious example) but in large masses they start getting uncomfortable (which is one reason I'm on a campaign to reduce their numbers in my garden!) Their growth habits (seeding profusely!) seem to demand those endless prairie spaces! The average suburbia around here - and probably around rouge's area too - just doesn't have that prairie feel. A more natural 'look' for wild open spaces here is apt to be things like daisies, asters and goldenrod - and tree saplings!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 5:27PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

"Those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter."

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 3:24

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 5:42PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

I wouldn't have publicly posted my neighbors garden in the first place saying I don't like it and asking for opinions.

Please show me this public post.

This post was edited by rouge21 on Fri, Aug 16, 13 at 19:06

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 7:03PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 7:55PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

What do you mean "here ya go"?

'GP1', you must be more tech savvy than myself as I just see images i.e. pictures that are posted in this thread!

Where is the written post on GW (or now even elsewhere) in which I as you put it..."saying I don't like it"?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 1:08AM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 4:41AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

I have no idea what you are blubbering about.

You are still upset because of what may have been said in the original thread?? A thread which was removed days ago.

Not that there is anything very wrong with the first thread but I have asked you multiple times to show me the link to it. You are unable to do so. (It is this current thread that you keep linking.)

So references to anyone not liking anyone's garden appears because of you mentioning it here. How ironic.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 6:38AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Enough! Let it go, both of you.....

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 10:21AM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

"Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own"
Proverbs 26:17

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 3:35

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 2:51PM
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vivian_2010

I have not been part of this discussion so far. I like this garden, so cheerful and colorful and full of life. It is more a cottage garden style than a neat garden. Gardening is very very personal and it should be and there can not be one style that fits all. That is what makes it so much fun. Of course there always things that can be changed and need to be worked on, but that is part of gardening too.

I know for sure that if this is one of neighbor's garden, everytime when I drive by or walk by, I would slow down and smile because it makes me happy.

Just my 2 cents.
Vivian

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 8:37PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 1:39AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

We live in a world that is changing rapidly due to environmental, financial, and societal pressures. The way we garden is changing, as well, and some are embracing those changes more quickly and completely than others. That is normal and OK. Many communities have not felt the extreme squeeze of drought accompanied by severe water restrictions. So, those regions haven't been forced to adjust their style, yet. I hope everyone can appreciate the beauty of someone else's hard work and unique tastes. I garden for myself, and for the benefit of the environment as much as possible. I choose my plants based on their ability to provide nectar or shelter, or host certain larvae, etc. My measure of success in a garden is the volume of insect buzzing that can be heard during a quiet moment, or the number of species of birds that visit during the season. I also benefit from the calming effect my work in the garden has on my body and mind. I enjoy the fascinating process and intricate web of science at work from the tiniest microbe in my compost pile to the deer who help prune my asters. The physical appearance of my yard is several steps down the ladder of priority. I choose where to plant based on how much sunlight I have and which are the most beneficial plants I can fit in that won't block my neighbors' view of the road as they are pulling out of their drive. I do try to grow plants in masses of each variety, and currently have space between each group with neatly mulched leaves to maintain a well-cared-for appearance. But, as my garden matures, those spaces will be filled in. That will simplify the job of weeding and shade the ground to decrease evaporation and need for irrigation.

I'm only describing this to give an example of how someone's approach to gardening can be very different, but still perfectly legitimate. I would bet that the owner of the garden in the photos approaches that garden much like I do mine. I expect we will see more of that style garden as more people learn the advantages of gardening with native plants that are resistant to pests and have lower water requirements.

Martha

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 8:43PM
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gardenweed_z6a

I thank you Martha for that viewpoint.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 9:04PM
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vivian_2010

Martha, Very well said.
Thanks
Vivian

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 9:39PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 11:16PM
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aseedisapromise

I for one thought it was really interesting that in the second picture where the sun is out you can see how the plants are arranged maybe according to the available sun-or at least the sunny side has the majority of yellow. I wonder if this is the result of self-seeding kind of deciding what goes where.

I kind of wish for something that would break up the general plants-are all-the-same height-and texture. My eye wants stopping places as it goes around the photos. All I get are the two plastic hangers and the one bush by the porch. Maybe clumping things more would help with this, but the exuberance might suffer.

As far as what everyone says about what they would do with this garden, or whether they like it or think it has redeeming qualities or whatever, in any thread I always listen to what people say with the idea in mind that they are talking about what works for them in their situation. If someone disses a plant I really like, I have to know that it isn't about me. This kind of attitude might be the only thing that can keep gp1's sister sane in her situation. I admire woodyoak's gardens, but I know that I couldn't replicate what she does in my gardens. We all have different constraints that we work with. I find it really interesting to find out that something that I take for granted, like Karl F grass standing up tall all winter isn't the case for others. We also all have different backgrounds and desires informing our plant choices. I think that getting together to talk about what we would do with a particular garden is going to generate controversy just because we are all coming from different directions. So we just have to be gentle with each other.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 12:46AM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 1:07AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Docmom, appreciated your post. Very well said. I did want to point out, that when you said some communities have not felt the impact of drought, that is very true in our area. This summer we have had a lot of rain, to the point of mildew issues and IâÂÂve barely had to bring the sprinkler out. Some years we have had a very dry summer too. I would have loved to grow meadow plants, and more drought tolerant plants, to save watering, but my clay soil doesnâÂÂt accommodate those type of plants readily. IâÂÂve tried a lot of salvias and agastaches for a start and they have not done well in my garden. IâÂÂve lost at least 5 different varieties even though they were hardy to zone 5 and I am in zone 6.

And the unpredictability of the weather seems to be an issue. If you plan a drought tolerant garden and then the next summer you get nothing but rain and all the plants rot, it wastes a lot of time and money. If the climate changes we all seem to be having, were it just got drier or wetter or colder, that would be easier to accommodate, then one season dry, one season wet, winters with warm temperatures, followed by winters with below normal cold temperatures.

And GP1, I appreciate your apology and IâÂÂm sorry your sister had that experience. IâÂÂve enjoyed the photos of your front yard garden very much.

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Mon, Aug 19, 13 at 8:21

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 3:08AM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 2:13PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I made a brief mention of the background yards in my comments on the 12th, but with the hostile posts towards differing opinions and comments about neighbors' yards in the Perennials forum threads growing like powdery mildew, I chose not to say more. Not a shocker, is it?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 3:41PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

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