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Beautiful gardens; Pic heavy

Posted by becke52 zone 4 mn (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 27, 11 at 0:43

I was traveling last week, and came across this home near mine. Absolutely beautiful, and all done by the retired owners.
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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Beautiful gardens; Pic heavy

Lovely and inspiring!
Thanks for sharing.


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RE: Beautiful gardens; Pic heavy

Indeed beautiful: like a painting.

And I hate to say this, but I find it sterile. All those dots.... Except for the sheared evergreens in front of the bridge in the first photo, nothing is allowed to touch anything else. Each tree is isolated in its own ring.

It's all very green and soothing, though. I wonder what it looks like when things are blooming ... if anything is allowed to bloom....


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RE: Beautiful gardens; Pic heavy

Lovely plant specimens, verdant, incredibly well maintained, gorgeous lighting in the pictures - all that I can appreciate.
But sorry, sterile IS exactly the right word for this landscape.


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A beautiful site with loads of potential. Perhaps the relevant thing is 'retired owners'... A large property planted to facilitate low cost/easy/no-brainer maintenance by the owners now and by a landscape service in the future...? A large property planted to allow the owners to live their as long as possible?


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I was actually going to say, look, something this spectacular and interesting can be done without a single flower.

Those plants do flower. Even conifers do, we just can't see it. So to call it sterile is... what, the species equivalent of ethnocentric?

It is calm, and I find it soothing relative to the over-hyped cottage garden concept. Not sure I could live with it, but it is that.

It's like the north American version of a Japanese garden :-)

It's all about form, structure, and something Purpleinopp brought up on another thread: spacing. Refreshingly too, the owners have a vision and have really committed to it, followed through on it. I'm just working on my little side yard beside the shed, and am having trouble choosing the vision out of my several options and then keeping my eye on the prize. It's hard to commit to a single vision. Harder than one might think.

Karin L


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You need to get Botann in there. Morse code planting is a big turn off for me dot dash dot.


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Must be retired golfer!


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I was actually going to say, look, something this spectacular and interesting can be done without a single flower.

Those plants do flower. Even conifers do, we just can't see it. So to call it sterile is... what, the species equivalent of ethnocentric?

I wrote "if anything is allowed to bloom" because everything looks so controlled, regimented, and pruned-within-an-inch-of-its-life. I couldn't imagine the creators of that landscape allowing the exuberance of floral color or the unpredictability of flower spikes in that collection of unforgivingly shaped and well-separated plant life. What if they don't all bloom at the same time? What if they're not all the same size? What if the flowers stick up at different angles? Time for the pruning shears! Check the charge on the hedge trimmers! [In fact, I deleted an allusion to "control freaks" from my first post.]

The "sterile" remark has nothing to do with procreation and everything to do with static, rigid, emotionless....

It's the landscape equivalent of a football field filled with well-dressed people, each standing motionless six feet apart -- and none of them speaking to each other or interacting in any way. One might as well arrange large cubes of granite in the landscape as all those separate mini-meatballs, giant gumdrops, and well limbed-up trees (and the single aberrant evergreen pancake).


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RE: Beautiful gardens; Pic heavy

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 28, 11 at 12:09

I am stunned by the size of the garden and the meticulous maintenance. I wouldn't call it sterile, but it feels more like a public park than a private garden; it doesn't feel personal. I wonder about the waterway lined with the carefully trimmed 'dots', particularly as viewed in photo #4, if that was an attempt at a look that didn't quite come off? Going for something modern, but failing? Not spare enough to be minimalist, and not loose enough to be naturalistic; something is missing, but what is it? For sure I'd much rather look at this than a dense, impenetrable and weedy wood. It's nice to have the sight lines through the trees. And it sure beats the heck out of an expansive asphalt parking lot, an all-too-common sight in beautiful downtown San Diego.

About lack of floral interest -- definitely not an issue for me. It would be fun to see something burst into flaming leaf color in fall, or flower in spring, but to me those elements can be a bonus surprise in a green garden.

It would be interesting to have a conversation with the owners, learn more about their goals and the process they went through to create this green space.


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Missing? I have the same sensation although I think this is an exceptionally well done example of whatever it is. Maybe some paths, although that might make it look even more like a golf course. There is spacing, and then there are rows. Not a fan of the rows, but they do compliment the formality of this space. It's staggering to think how long it might take to mow that grass, on which I'd feel guilty about making footprints. Maybe it's like a hotel with no front desk, it's hard to figure how to get in, or even if you are "allowed."


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It is a little repetitive, the forms as well as the plants, That has its place when you want this effect (and not in my yard!). I bet that when there is wind there is a lot of movement, in both trees and water. But does anyone else wonder why they put the bench facing away from the water??

Karin L


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Yes, I was wondering about the bench also. Why work so hard on all those acres and turn your back on it?

Maybe an acre of antique roses surrounds the house, with patterned stone walkways and engraved labels for the different cultivars.

Maybe the house is a Victorian mansion restored to its original glory, with mullioned windows and turrets, twisted copper downspouts and matching spiral chimney pots, dripping with gingerbread and topped by a mammoth wind-vane worthy of adriennemb's Sculpture thread.

Maybe there are sixteen benches near the house that face the water.


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That last comment made me laugh out loud...

... maybe there are sixteen benches near the house that face the water.

I look at this landscape, and if I were the kind of person who were to enjoy this landscape, I suppose I would feel a great sense of calm, order, and tranquility that corresponds directly with the obviously-high level of maintenance required. Sort of like a Sudoku fan who's just completed their 10th Deathly-Extreme-Difficulty puzzle, but to us, they've just filled another grid with numbers that happen to never repeat in a single row.

Kudos to the owners, but it's not for me.

- Audric


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I thought it was beautiful, like a parkland one could walk through and enjoy. Now I'm sorry I shared.


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Don't be, becke; we love a good discussion. Thank you for sharing!

Audric, you're right, a certain mindset would appreciate this garden. And I can just see that after a chaotic life raising kids and working, that this level of calm is balm for the soul.

Karin L


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I LOL'd at the 16 benches comment also.

Becke, I enjoyed looking at it. If this space brings the owners joy, it's a perfect thing for them.

Anything posted here will get picked apart in search of theoretical perfection for each poster. It's not personal, just how this works. Even the folks who would change it would not all change it in the same way. The level of commitment necessary to achieve this garden is mind-blowing and I think everyone appreciates that. It's a great example of "you can do it if you set your mind to it."

Would love to see the house that goes with it if you're in the neighborhood with your camera again.


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Thanks Becke for posting. Do you know how long the garden has existed?

I was wondering if it is possible that the owners a striving for a geometric garden, but the shrubs havent quite filled in yet. If it wasnt so polka dot - ish and spaced it would be quite interesting. I like the vast expanses of lawn complimented by the willow trees - quite beautiful and peaceful.

If one is maintaining shrubs that meticulously it is hard to imagine dealing with the mess that willow trees make...


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  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 29, 11 at 11:31

Becke, I'm sorry if the commentary made you feel bad. I really enjoy seeing photos of all sorts of gardens; don't let the analysis deter you from sharing.

Since you are familiar with the locale, perhaps you can give us an idea of what the owners might have had to do to achieve the serenity of this green space. What do you imagine the raw land would have been like? Heavily wooded, open grassland, other? Being from a very dry part of the world, I envy the presence of water in such abundance. What is the water source?

I will compliment the elegant arc of the bridge, and that it is human scale, and fits nicely with the surrounding weeping tree forms. I kind of wish there were something on the little island to make it more of a destination, even some artfully stacked rocks would create more interest, but there I go again. (feel free to roll your eyes)

I can sort of imagine the couple walking a group of happy dogs here, tossing balls and frisbees for them to chase. Or maybe they trot through on horseback every morning?

About mowing the grass, I believe some people find riding on their mowers a source of peace and a time for zen-like meditation, very similar to my time spent pulling weeds.


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Guess I'm a middle of the road kind of gardener, some folks think this is sterile, others perfect. I personally like the clean open spaces of the trees and grass, neatly ordered. But... I don't like the (hosta?) and the other ground plants being separated with mulch and space. I like the clash of order and wild with neatness running up against the beautiful disorder of lush ground cover and flowers running seemingly wild. It's a difficult effect to achieve, some Japanese gardens do this marvelously though.

I'm with everyone that dislikes the separated plant spots with mulch. Sterile, bare, unimaginitive, boring are adjectives that come to mind when I see this modern style. Looks like a business park.

JMO...


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Becke, I think it's great if you (and the owners) enjoy this this landscape. People aren't going to agree 100% on any landscaping, and a variety of viewpoints are what make an Internet discussion interesting.

That said, overall I agree that this landscape is sterile and boring. Is there a native plant in the whole garden? Any remnant of natural habitat? I can't imagine the birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters finding much of use here. If they do stop by, hopefully they won't be zapped by pesticide residue.

It reminds me of my next-door neighbor's yard - also another retired couple. Not a weed to be seen, not a blade of grass out of place, perfect edging, expanses of mulch, no plants allowed to touch each other, every shrub pruned into meatballs, meat loaves, etc. and every tree limbed up to a ridiculous extent or pruned into lollipops. Even the dot-dot-dot planting. I call it "the golf course". Oh, and he IS a control freak.

As for not getting footprints on the grass...what about the carbon footprint required to achieve and maintain such a controlled landscape? Likely they guzzle fossil fuel and spray poisons on the earth to do so....insanity if you ask me.


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Becke, I am the odd one. I like the clean look. It looks so calming. It looks like they have a lot of land and you can have several diffent looks on your property. That would be a nice addition to have a space that you can sit, be quiet and think about a hard day without the distraction of busy flowers.


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  • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 2, 11 at 15:18

Ink, I would LOVE to landscape that!
It's got a good foundation and plenty of room for expression.
I'm retired too.


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  • Posted by tibs 5/6 OH (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 3, 11 at 9:48

I find it incredibly soothing. I would love to walk around it all by myself after a hectic day. It looks like phase one of a long term landscaping project. The bones are in and the next step is the details.


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Give it time. In a few years it has the potential to be overgrown as well as boring (assuming the little meatballs grow up to be large meatballs).

As to the soothing (szz..ZZZ) aspect, I suspect it will be less so with all the mowing and weed-whacking required for maintenance.

To be fair, the mature trees are nice and the fairways well-groomed. Maybe the plantings around the tees and greens hold greater interest.


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It is understandable that this spartan landscape would be soothing. No busyness or distractions. I also agree the trees are nice. However there is a preponderance of non-native Salix babylonica, which have a reputation for suffering wood damage as they get larger. Ongoing maintenance would be required to keep all the trees in such a well-groomed condition (more noise, deisel-guzzling, waste materials, etc.).

Anyway, I see this landscape as another example of humans commandeering more than their fair share of natural habitat to suit some human aesthetic. This practice is not compatible with cohabiting with other species that share our planet and need habitat too. Besides, I prefer a more natural appearance, complete with wild native plants, snags, dead branches for the birds to perch, fallen logs, leaf litter and other debris, thickets,e tc.


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I think they have done an outstanding job, if this is the look they wanted. If I drove up to their home my first thought would be that I must be dressed properly with a suit and tie. If there were not a house involved it would make me think cemetery.
When I look at someones landscape I get a mental impression of the type person that lives there.


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Can I say, my first impression was to look really, really closely to try and make sure they actually were photos, and not renderings? Because the little plants look so identical, and just like the stock rendered plants I see.

I do wonder if the large expanses of mulch will shrink once the plants get larger - I'm hoping, at least. I'm sure it was a massive undertaking to make that border around the entire pond. (I'm also wondering what the view is from that bench, and if there is another one somewhere that takes advantage of the view of the pond...)


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I am in the process of looking at some Feng Shui placement of plants, water, and furniture. I wonder if the bench placement is more in the Feng Shui placement than "What am I going to look at over my property?"

It is said.....If you are relaxing around the pool avoid sitting opposite the 90 degree angle. You'll then be out of the direct line of cutting chi.

Becke, please do not be sorry you posted. People have different feelings of design and will see things as a negative because it does not appeal to them. When I see a wild garden it looks messy to me and I think people have dirty houses. It is all in the eye of the beholder. You saw beauty and wanted to share.

I appreciate you posting the pics.


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Are you serious Marquest? Just because someone likes a wild landscape, you think they have a messy house? Well, I do track leaves and debris from the garden into the house, LOL. But I am a property manager and landlord for a living, and am constantly thinking about maintaining the integrity of a structure.

Anybody else wonder how much pesticide and fertilizer residue runs off into the pond, and makes its way to the larger body of water in the distance (assuming they are connected)? Those anal little meatballs and expanses of mulch aren't going to do much to filter the run off.

Not only is natural border around bodies of water much more attractive (IMO), it provides habitat for wetland species, and it's much better for water quality too.


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terrene, yes I am serious. LOL As I said it is all in the eye of the beholder.

You see chemicals, noisy up keep, it is not natural etc. A garden is personal to the person and others will judge it as not their taste for various reasons. Whether those reason are valid or not. What is attactive to one person does not make it valid. What I was saying is it was beautiful to Becke and it was the reason she thought she wanted to share the pics. It obviously is attractive to her and the homeowners.

I have seen beautiful lawns without chemicals. There are lots of beautiful lawns kept without chemicals. If you have good sod and soil grass will choke out weeds very well. It has choked out many gardens.


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Terrene, you strike me as being very prone to stereotyping. As Marquest points out, lawns can be beautiful without chemicals, and also, litter from willows can be raked by hand. Indeed, all of what has been done in this garden can have been done without machines, without noise, without fuel. The mulch looks all natural; it isn't dyed, it isn't rubber, and as it isn't gravel it won't require a leaf blower. Plus, if there is no landscape fabric under the mulch, the soil is probably very much alive. Several of those plants grow "naturally" in their round shapes and are not sheared. ("Naturally" in quotes since they are selected life forms). And even if their tops are pruned, there is no reason to assume they do not have a healthy and extensive root mass.

It is probable that the lawn is mowed with power, and that the major tree work was done with a chain saw, and maybe a hoist but likely just a guy climbing. But everything COULD have been done manually.

Oh, and birds sit on live branches too. They are not so judgemental.

Sometimes, of course, judgements and stereotypes ring true - they come from somewhere real, usually. For example, I admit that Marquest would be quite right about my messy yard and house!

Karin L
(ps I use "guy" as a gender-neutral term...)


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  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 8, 11 at 20:32

But I also understand the point being made that thick more naturalistic edge plantings adjoining the water's edge are much better for both wildlife and water quality. I think it is a pretty safe guess that this landscape is maintained with all power equipment and.chemical herbicides as well as fertilizers, and the precise forms of the evergreens and smaller shrubs do signal a "very french" approach to garden design a la Versailles. Nothing wrong with this style for those who like it, but I personally prefer gardens that play controlled off exuberant, as a style that seems less static and "warmer" to both wildlife and people. That bench orientation just seems odd, regardless what the view we can't see actually is. It would seem that this bench at the__ water's edge should relate to the water...


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My point of view does not come from stereotyping or personal idiosyncrasy. It comes from decades of thinking about living more "lightly on the earth" and ways to reduce the energy and resources required to perform daily activities. One of my dreams is to build (or retrofit) a sustainable home.

The bottom line for me is this: we humans on planet earth are rushing headlong into a global energy crisis, and yet we continue to squander the earth's resources at an incredible and unsustainable rate. Do the math.

A large highly-manicured landscape simply isn't possible without generous use of fossil fuels and pesticides, or slave labor, LOL. If the owners of the above property had to use a reel mower to mow the lawn, hand weed the broadleaf weeds, hand clip the edges, or use a horse to pull out the tree debris, they simply wouldn't have a landscape like that! It wouldn't be practical.

And of course lawns can be organic. I use lime and compost on the lawn.

PS. Cavity-nesting birds require dead wood to nest. This includes woodpeckers, Bluebirds, nuthatches, chickadees, tree swallows, Titmice, etc. Also, 95% of terrestrial birds raise their young exclusively on insects. My guess would be that despite the size of this landscape, it provides relatively little of either dead wood or insects.


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terrene, I total understand your view. I was saying unless we know for sure we cannot assume because it is our point of view of how the land is kept.

Depending where you live there are rules. In some areas you are required to landscape a certain way. In my area if your grass is not kept at 2" or below you are fined 100.00 a day. Rules dictate what you can and cannot do with a area.

I look at it as if we followed all the rules of "We are killing our World" because we do not have a total natural landscape we would not have public parks, football fields, baseball fields etc.

I loved George Carlin's humor.....I remember a concert where he said "Man thinks he is so great that he can destroy earth" "When in fact earth can flick you off it's back like a tick." Earthquakes, Tornado, Fire, and any other natural weather events will take you out with all the natural landscape you can create.

So I say this to say.....Man can think he is so great that he can destroy earth but he is not as great as he think. Mother Nature will bring you to your knees. You can continue to think you are good enough to destroy earth or fix earth but you are just a tick.

I feel we should just enjoy the pics that was posted and not assume how it was developed and harm it is creating because of what one might think of how it is maintained.

My goodness now I have written a book. I am sorry. I get upset when people pick and choose how they want to save the planet. When they live in a house running electric (to post how we are destroying the planet on a computer) or gas, drive a car using gas, cook with gas but look at a lawn and scream about a little gas to mow a lawn. JMO


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  • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 16, 11 at 0:58

Yes, Bahia, the bench is backwards and doesn't relate to the water at all. Maybe the owner just moved it for mowing.

Any pollywog sprouting legs and crawling out of that pond has very little chance of surviving. Too manicured and smooth for many insects and hiding places for the young frogs. Leaf litter over a coarse mulch with varying groundcovers offers the best environment for wildlife diversity. That's what I strive for in my garden. Diversity balances.

Too neat and orderly looks too sterile and planned for my tastes, but to each his own, as they say.
Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden


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"Earthquakes, Tornado, Fire, and any other natural weather events will take you out with all the natural landscape you can create."

Hey, we don't all garden in California.


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 17, 11 at 17:46

You need to get Botann in there

Bingo! If only I had a piece like that to work with.


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Too bad becke didn't say where this was - guessing somewhere in the metro Mpls/St.Paul area. Lots of incredible properties there.

Although I fancy a bit less order in my landscape, I think this would be absolutely serene with a trackless covering of new snow and the pond not iced over yet.


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  • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 20, 11 at 2:34

Sorta like this picture, duluthinbloomz4?

Pond

That's my driveway, dam, on the far side.

If were to design additions to the garden posted, I would think restraint would be the order of the day. I do like the nice flowing lines, and that should be retained at all costs. The points should be treated as headlands and the bays as bays. The island needs a wow factor, with rock outcroppings a must IMO.
Mike


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Uh huh, this is much more appealing, Mike. In the original photos, there was a sense of a very composed and pretty scene, definitely not an interactive landscape. Here, wanderers and wildlife could be imagined exploring amongst the trees, trespassers no longer in the garden.


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Beautiful. Exactly, Mike - maybe with even a bit more snow. Love the reflections in the still open water.

For those who don't get the dusted conifers, the last of the fall leaves windblown against any impediment - into nooks and crannies, frozen into the ice top sheet - it's probably hard to imagine how interesting the landscape can be in the cold season.


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My first thought was it's gorgeous. Then I noticed the spacing of some of the shrubs, but as others have guessed, maybe they just haven't filled in yet, the little meatballs need to grow into big meatballs. And spacing is so difficult to get right, it's hard enough when you're aiming for a casual overlap/merging/blending, so if the owners want the shrubs to remain distinctly separate that might be even harder to do? And maybe with such a huge area to do they started with cheaper very small plants? I personally would like less space between some of those small shrubs but overall it's a garden I would love to walk through.


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