Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Elements of Landscape Design

photo from A Certain Cinema
Imagine trying to explain to someone step-by-step how to ride a bike.  I think it would be pretty difficult to explain how to balance without actually being on a bike, don't you think? This is kind of how I feel about explaining the five major elements of landscape design.  It's difficult to explain, and some things just feel right, but you won't know until you're doing it.  So, let's just jump on the design bike, try to find some balance and start pedaling!

In my opinion, there are five major elements of design. Click HERE to watch a quick video where I discuss these points on WFSB's Better Connecicut. 

1. LINE. Line defines not only the shape of planting beds but also defines space.  Good lines will direct the eye to or away from an area.  Lines should be dramatic and not fussy. 

2. SCALE. The size of plant materials and objects in the landscape should be appropriately sized, relative to the bones of the property.  Imagine the mature size of plant material, or be prepared to do a lot of pruning to prevent plants from taking away from an area.  Dwarf plants along the foundation of a 4,000 square foot home will look ridiculous.  A friend once told me, "Landscaping is the icing on the cake.  Don't skimp!" I couldn't agree more. 

3. COLOR. Pick a color scheme, stick to it, and repeat.  If you are more attracted to warm colors, plant reds, yellows and orange.  If you like the cool colors of blue, plant that along with purple and pink.  Personally, I'm a cool girl.  I love the calmness of a garden filled with shades of blue and white.  Whatever you do, don't try to plant a rainbow garden.  The colors will compete together and cause stress on the eyes. 

4. BALANCE.  There are two types of balance- symmetrical and asymmetrical.  One is not better than the other, it just comes down to personal preference.  Symmetrical is easiest to describe.  If you were to draw and imaginary line through a design, shapes and plants would be the same and equal on either side.  Asymmetrical balance if for the seasoned designer.  Plantings appear or feel balanced based on the weight of plant materials, the size of space or the placement of a walkway.  This is the reason that many homes have an anchor tree on the opposite side of the house of the driveway.

5. TEXTURE. A planting of all broadleaf plants would be terribly boring.  A planting of all feathery grasses would be a yawner.  But mix the two together and wow! Plant a bunch of ferns next to a couple of hosta and each plant will complement the other like you've never seen before.  Mix heavy and light, soft and prickly and remember that opposites attract!
These textures are too similar to be interesting
Many different textures make this landscape very interesting
Keep the five points above in mind when designing a landscape or even a small garden and repeat them over and over.  Your landscape will have no choice but to be magnificent!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Career Change?

Scot Haney and me!
Yesterday went down as a "Top 20" in the life of Julie Harrison!  As many of you know, every Monday I do a brief story for WFSB's Better Connecticut on Gardening.  It's a magazine style TV show which covers everything Connecticut- travel destinations, hot news, beauty trends, local happenings etc...  Kara Sundlun and Scot Haney are the co-hosts of the show, but with Kara out of the country, her seat needed to be filled.  I was both thrilled and honored to be asked to do it!  Scot is always fun to work with, but to do the entire one hour show with him was just a blast! I had a lot of laughs, met some great people and tasted some delicious cupcakes!

Here are a few notes about the show:

1. My dress is from Artichoke is West Hartford, CT (and then borrowed from my Mother-in-law's closet!!!)

2. I neglected to mention that besides eating ice cream this weekend I also: had lunch with a special friend, Hillary, at Max Burger.  My husband Chip and daughter Elle and I were treated to a fabulous and relaxing dinner with the Scranton family.  I went shopping and worked in the garden.  In a nutshell, there was actually a lot of eating going on this weekend, but I did do more than eat ice cream!

3. Scot did not smoke the Japanese Maple leaf, so I cannot follow up with his reaction on the effects of that.

Doing a TV show is fast paced and fun. I would certainly entertain any offers to do it again! Does anyone have any New York hookups for me at NBC? Maybe I can take over for Ann Curry?
Two of my fans.. these ladies are sisters and come to the studio to see the show live,
every Monday!!! I LOVE them!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Save the Riverbank!

A Shadblow in spring
One of my design projects that I have been working on is right on the Farmington River at the Tunxis Plantation Golf Course in Farmington, Connecticut.  The Farminton River Watershed Association asked me to work in collaboration with them to help stabilize a portion of the riverbank with a native planting.  So fun, and surprisingly, easy! There are lots of native plants to choose from that together, provide interest thorough out the year. Here is a quick sketch of the area- I’m hoping that this planting will go in soon as with each river flood, a little more of the riverbank gets swept downstream.    

The area, before planting

Another before shot, on the Farmington River

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Water Through the Heat

Elle says, "When the sun is so strong I shall wear my shirt as a hat!"
While I regret beginning a post with an apology, I must say sorry for my absence.   My dear brother-in-law has been sick and my mind and energy have been with him and his family.  We just received news yesterday that he is kicking some butt and taking names- cancer messed with the wrong dude!
"No One Fights Alone" reads the bracelet I wear every day for my brother-in-law
Hello, Summer!
Here in Connecticut temps have nearly reached 100 degrees over the past couple of days.  Not only am I feeling the heat, but my plants are too.  You might notice that many of your plants look wilted as sun and the temperature rise through the day.  This is actually a good sign that your plants are responding to the heat, as gentle leaf curling is a natural defense to restrict water loss.  Crunchy, brown leaves are a bad sign which is a major SOS for water. 
Make sure that you give all of your plants a good drink first thing in the morning.  As you need your morning cup of Joe, your plants need some H2O!  If they look like they still need a drink at night, carefully offer a ‘night cap’ at the soil level, and try not to get water on the leaves.  Allowing water to sit on your plant’s foliage overnight can lead to fungus growth.  Yuck!
A Hydrangea with leaf curling in the heat of the afternoon

The same Hydrangea looking great again in the evening after a drink
I am watering all of my pots and planters TWICE a day in this heat.  Give an extra drink now and you shall receive flowers in abundance after this heat wave!