Tag Archives: Landscape Design

Featured in Small-Space Gardening Magazine

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March, 2015

The Photo Editor of Small-Space Gardening contacted me about a picture she found on on my website of a garden I’d designed. She loved it and asked  to use it in their Spring edition. I, of course, was thrilled that they liked it and wanted to publish it, so, of course, I said yes!

And here it is! I am so pleased that it’s in such a wonderful publication — currently available on newsstands. It’s filled with fabulous pictures and great ideas for container gardens, small vegetable gardens, small backyards, color palates, plant selection and a great deal more.

Here is the photograph from the magazine, which they titled “European Charmer.”

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If you’d like to read or download the article, click Small Space Gardening 2015!”

Pruning & Planting For Spring

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garden-centerWhile it may feel like spring and look that way as well – given how full the garden outlets are with plants aching to be planted, you still have time to prune and plant bare-root roses, berry bushes and some ornamental trees. It’s best not to wait till March, particularly in the desert areas such as Blythe, Anza Borrego, Canebrake and the hot Central Coast as well as Fresno and Bakersfield.

Pruning

pruning-1 copyNow is the time to prune dormant trees and shrubs that will bloom in the summer and fall. These include roses, berries and grapes — and make sure and do it before they begin to bud.

In pruning roses, take out all of the dead canes and any that look diseased. Take a look at the rose’s shape and consider removing crossing canes and particularly those canes that have come out below the graft union. It’s also a wise idea to prune mature bushes down to 18 to 20 inches.

Bareroot Planting

bareroot-rose-ground-m-m-(1)Bareroog planting can provide you with a much larger variety of plants than what is usually available at you local garden center. There are any number of on-line nurseries that can ship bareroot specimens directly to you. Unfortunately, you’ll need to see what’s currently available (most people order months in advance) and how long it will take for the shipment to reach you. But a Google search would be well worth the time just to see what is currently in the market place and what extraordinary specimens you may have missed!

Planting bareroot varieties is relatively simple. Dig your hole at least half a foot wider than the plant and deeper than the roots. You then need to spread the roots apart and fill the hole with a combination of the existing soil and soil that recommended for that particular plant. Water well to make sure all of the air pockets are filled, which may also require additional dirt. Once planted you don’t want the plan(s)to dry out, neither do you want to overwater them so that their roots rot.

A successful gardener is someone who plants well and tends with love and dedication.

 

 

 

Fall & Winter Garden Color

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WinterGardenOne of the advantages of Southern California over the North and the East, is that our mild winters make it possible to plant and grow year-round. Fall is not only a time for garden maintenance and preparation of the soil for spring planting; it is the time to plant for winter and early spring harvests and blooms.

Clients have asked about adding color to their gardens, patios and balconies, so here are a list of 17 winter-blooming plants that offer a range of colors and structure that should do the trick.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

CalendulaDaisy-like calendula provides easy color from late fall through spring in mild-winter climates, and are long lasting in a vase. Choose classic orange and bright yellow, or opt for subtler shades of apricot, cream, and soft yellow.

Branching plants are 1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 1½ feet wide and look great as masses of color or in a container.

Calendula plants take full sun and moderate water. They will tolerate many soils as long as they have good drainage. Remove the spent flowers to prolong bloom.

Candytuft (Iberis)

candytuft-iberis-lCandytuft plants grow 8 to 12 inches high and wide; their narrow, shiny dark green leaves look great all year.

Pure white flower clusters are carried on stems long enough to cut for bouquets. Choose ‘Alexander’s White’ (pictured), ‘Autumnale’, or ‘Autumn Snow; they bloom in spring and again in fall.

Plants thrive in full sun or part shade and regular water. Candytuft needs well-drained soil and should be sheared ightly after bloom to stimulate new growth.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Pergolas For Summer Shade

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Encino-10There is nothing quite as relaxing as sipping a gin and tonic (or your favorite beverage) with friends, sitting in the shade of a vine-covered pergola, on a late summer’s afternoon. I have just completed the construction of two pergolas that are designed for this very purpose, although it may take several years before their vines provide the requisite shade.

During their construction, one of my clients asked me where the term “pergola” came from. I wasn’t sure; I said, “I believe it’s Italian but I’ll check and let you know.” I did and found a lot of very interesting information not only about the derivation of the name “pergola” but where the design was first used and how it has evolved over time.

I was right with my guess as to pergola’s derivation; it comes from the Late Latin word “Pergula,” which refers to a projecting eave; and the English term was borrowed from the Italian “pergola,” which means “a close walk of boughs.”.

According to Wikipedia, a pergola, arbor, or arbour is a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway, or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support crossbeams and a sturdy open lattice. As a type of gazebo, it may also be an extension of a building or serve as protection for an open terrace.

 To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Happy National Public Gardens Day!

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Gardens and landscaping are my life, so I couldn’t be happier to help ring the bell for this well deserved national celebration.  While I doubt there’ll be too many fireworks going off, it’s still an important day to draw attention to how important parks and landscaped public spaces are to our well being. So let’s raise a glass — I’ll forgo the fireworks — to the beauty of nature and the peace and tranquility she provides.

National Public Gardens Day (May 9th) is an annual celebration of the nation’s public gardens to raise awareness of the important role botanical gardens and arboreta play in promoting environmental stewardship, plant and water conservation, green spaces, and education in communities nationwide.

If you’d like to find a garden near you to celebrate, please CLICK HERE!

The Mission

Today, this national day of recognition, presented by the American Public Gardens Association, celebrates the environmental stewardship of North America’s public gardens and their local, regional and national leadership in resourcing the nation’s conservation and environmental education needs.

Activities

National Public Gardens Day celebrates all public gardens, botanical gardens, educational gardens, specialty gardens, entertainment gardens, arboreta, farm gardens, historical landscapes and zoos, and each institution participates in their own unique way.

Many of the nation’s public gardens will mark the day with special events and activities for schools, families and thousands of visitors to explore and discover their local public garden, while learning about each garden’s commitment to education, research and environmental stewardship.

Timing

National Public Gardens Day takes place annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day, an unofficial start of spring and a time when the environment is top of mind for most of the public.  This year, National Public Gardens Day will be celebrated on Friday, May 9, 2014.

Benefit

Public gardens offer fun activities for families, couples and enthusiasts, providing a low-cost, entertaining and beautiful community outing as well as important resources, education and research on environmental stewardship and conservation.

Check out the 2013 National Public Gardens Day Video

Raised Bed Gardening

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artistic design garden bedWith spring now upon us, I’ve been asked by several of my clients about the viability of raised bed gardens for growing vegetables and, in one instance, flowers for cutting. They wanted to know how practical they were, the cost involved and if they were really worth the bother? My answer is quite simple; if you’re serious about raising vegetables or creating a cutting garden, constructing a raised bed make perfect sense.

A raised bed makes gardening easy. Filled with the appropriate soil mix, they provide the excellent drainage needed to grow picture-perfect vegetables and flowers.

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For many gardeners, not having to bend or kneel to weed and harvest crops is a real bonus. And if your objective is to grow tomatoes, building a raised bed against a sunny wall or fence means that heat-loving crops, such as tomatoes, will thrive and require less watering than those grown in pots.

Here is Wikipedia’s take on Raised Bed Gardening

Overview

Raised beds lend themselves to the development of complex agriculture systems that utilize many of the principles and methods of permaculture (agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient). They can be used effectively to control erosion and recycle and conserve water and nutrients by building them along contour lines on slopes.

This also makes more space available for intensive crop production. They can be created over large areas using any number of commonly available materials and efficiently maintained, planted and harvested using hand tools.

Materials and Construction

RaisedGardenBeds Illustration

Vegetable garden bed construction materials should be chosen carefully. Some concerns exist regarding the use of pressure-treated timber. Pine that was treated using chromated copper arsenate or CCA, a toxic chemical mix for preserving timber that may leach chemicals into the soil which in turn can be drawn up into the plants, is a concern for vegetable growers, where part or all of the plant is eaten.

If using timber to raise the garden bed, ensure that it is an untreated hardwood to prevent the risk of chemicals leaching into the soil. A common approach is to use timber sleepers joined with steel rods to hold them together.

Building Raised Garden Bed

Another approach is to use concrete blocks, although less aesthetically pleasing, they are inexpensive to source and easy to use.

On the market are also prefab raised garden bed solutions which are made from long lasting polyethylene that is UV stabilized and food grade so it will not leach undesirable chemicals into the soil or deteriorate in the elements. A double skinned wall provides an air pocket of insulation that minimizes the temperature fluctuations and drying out of the soil in the garden bed.

Sometimes raised bed gardens are covered with clear plastic to protect the crops from wind and strong rains.

In addition to wood, stone, concrete, cinder block, galvanized culverts, stock tanks, Cor-Ten steel and pre-manufactured raised bed products, there is a new fun product that not only provides an interesting solution to creating a raised bed, it helps deal with the problem of what to do with plastic by creating a Lego-like modular system of interlocking blocks for easy assembly

togetherFarm-box-edge Check out this simple but ingenious design solution at Urban Gardens. And here are 8 materials for raised bed gardens described in an excellent article in Houzz.

Green Cities – Part I: Good Mental Health & Functionality

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brooklyn-botanic-garden-new-yorI was sent a truly fascinating article about how interaction with nature can help alleviate mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind. It was published by the College of the Environment, University of Washington. Because of the length and in-depth analysis of the article I have decided to add it to my blog over the next couple of months. Anyone interested in how important nature is in our lives and our mental well being should take the time to read it.

The Project support was provided by the national Urban and Community Forestry program of the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry. Summary prepared by Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D. and Katrina Flora, December 26, 2010. You can read it in its entireity at http://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_Mental.html.

Mental Health & Function

Encounters with nearby nature help alleviate mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind. Within built environments parks and green spaces are settings for cognitive respite, as they encourage social interaction and de-stressing through exercise or conversation, and provide calming settings. Having quality landscaping and vegetation in and around the places where people work and study is a good investment. Both visual access and being within green space helps to restore the mind’s ability to focus. This can improve job and school performance, and help alleviate mental stress and illness.

Fast Facts

  • The experience of nature helps to restore the mind from the mental fatigue of work or studies, contributing to improved work performance and satisfaction
  • Urban nature, when provided as parks and walkways and incorporated into building design, provides calming and inspiring environments and encourages learning, inquisitiveness, and alertness.
  • Green spaces provide necessary places and opportunities for physical activity. Exercise improves cognitive function, learning, and memory.
  • Outdoor activities can help alleviate symptoms of Alzheimers, dementia, stress, and depression, and improve cognitive function in those recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Contact with nature helps children to develop cognitive, emotional, and behavioral connections to their nearby social and biophysical environments. Nature experiences are important for encouraging imagination and creativity, cognitive and intellectual development, and social relationships.
  • Symptoms of ADD in children can be reduced through activity in green settings, thus “green time” can act as an effective supplement to traditional medicinal and behavioral treatments

The Brain and the Environment

The brain, complex and vulnerable, is the only organ that undergoes substantial maturation after birth. This process is shaped in part by response to stimuli in our surroundings (including both negative and positive conditions), and continues throughout our lives. Substantial research shows that natural scenes evoke positive emotions, facilitate cognitive functioning, and promote recovery from mental fatigue for people who are in good mental health. The experience of nature can also provide respite for those who experience short-term and chronic mental illness.

Mental Fatigue Recovery

Nature: An Urban Respite

The constant stimuli of city life can be mentally exhausting, and life in the city can actually dull our thinking.3 In navigating the outdoor environment, one must continually monitor traffic and pedestrian flow while constantly focusing on where one is going and the means to get there. Constant response to even such low-level stimuli cannot be maintained indefinitely. A few minutes in a crowded city setting can cause the brain to suffer memory loss and reduced self-control. Even brief glimpses of natural elements improve brain performance by providing a cognitive break from the complex demands of urban life.4

Attention Fatigue and Recovery

Our immediate environment can prompt both negative and positive subconscious effects. A glance at an object that even remotely resembles a snake, for instance, may initiate an instantaneous fear response. Similarly, the presence of plants subconsciously and beneficially impact how the brain responds even when we do not focus attention on such surroundings.

In today’s lifestyles and work, we must focus our attention on critical information or tasks. Maintaining that focus by screening out distractions overloads our capacity for conscious attention.5 Yet, exposure to settings that are visually interesting (having “high fascination”) have been found to aid directed attention recovery.6 Comparing memory retention in people viewing low versus high fascination scenes in built and natural environments, respectively, people viewing natural environments performed significantly better (see Figure 1).6 So, in the case of offices and schools, where one must focus on tasks, the addition of natural features could significantly improve attention and content retention rates.

To be continued …

Growing Bamboo Is Not For Sissies!

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clump-bambooWhile bamboo may be beautiful–even exotic–in concept, it can be treacherous and very difficult to deal with in execution. To demonstrate my point, I offer this cautionary tale.

I am currently dealing with clients who are in the process of selling their home while having to contend with a next-door neighbor who is badmouthing both them and their property. This has come about because the stand of bamboo on my client’s property has sent runners under their neighbor’s garage. The bamboo runners are forcing their way up through the floor of the garage, breaking up its concrete foundation.

While my client’s are doing their best to resolve the situation, which is one reason I’m involved, it never would have happened had they not planted bamboo.

What is Bamboo?

There are over 100 species of bamboo, which is an evergreen member of the grass family, and it ranges in size from petite miniatures to massive giants that can reach over 30 feet in height. It can be found from the tropics to the tops of mountains and while most bamboos are tropical or subtropical, there are hardy bamboos that can survive temperatures of –10° to –20°F.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn

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Malibu_11An important article appeared in the New York Times this past Sunday, August 11, 2013, by Ian Lovett, entitled  Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn. As detailed  in the article and quoted in this blog, it examines a very serious concern––lack of water––and how the Southwest and California and Los Angeles, in particular, are dealing with it.

This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, aspects of which I’ve written about on a number of occasions, which you’re more than welcome to check out:

Help Save Water & Save Money

Are You And Your Garden Stressed Out

Five Water-Conserving Tips For Summer Gardening

Water, Water Everywhere … So Where Did It Go?

Southern California’s Most Pressing Problem

A Drought-Resistant Lawn … Is It Possible?

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In the article, it was noted that since 2009, when the Los Angeles’ rebate program began, the city has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns, and more than one million square feet of grass has been removed and replanted with succulents and drought-tollerant native California plants. New city parks provide only token patches of grass, surrounded by native plants, and the park outside City Hall, which was once a field of grass, has been transformed into a garden of succulents.

The first five months of this year were the driest on record in California, with reservoirs in the state at 20 percent below normal levels. The lawn rebate program here will save approximately 47 million gallons of water each year, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. So concerned about this issue, Los Angeles, last month, raised its rebate from $2 a square foot of grass removed to $2.50. Long Beach now offers $3 a square foot.

“The era of the lawn in the West is over,” said Paul Robbins, the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. “The water limits are insurmountable.”

City officials across the region have hailed turf removal as vital, given the chronic water shortages.

Las Vegas Made It Work

Las VegasLas Vegas presents a model of how quickly the landscape can change when a city moves aggressively. In 2003, after a drought wiped out the city’s water resources, the Las Vegas Valley Water District offered what officials believe was the first turf removal rebate program in the country.

Since then, the water district has paid out nearly $200 million to remove 165.6 million square feet of grass from residences and businesses.

In the winter, watering is allowed only one day a week. Homeowners who take advantage of the city’s rebate must sign a deed restriction stating that even if the property were to be sold, grass could not be reinstalled unless the new owner paid back the rebate, with interest.

The city’s investment has paid off. In the last decade, 9.2 billion gallons of water have been saved through turf removal, and water use in Southern Nevada has been cut by a third, even as the population has continued to grow.

“The landscape in Southern Nevada has changed dramatically,” said Patricia Mulroy, the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District. “If you had driven through a single-family development in the 1990s, it would have had grass all the way around. Today, you find desert landscaping. You see very little grass.”

Save Water & Save Money

If you would like to examine the possibility of re-landscaping your home with succulents and drought-tollerant native species, and save water and money, give us a call––we are specialists in creating beautiful, sustainable landscapes.

Weingart Center Garden & Worldscape

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See what happens in three years!

Weingart-6In May of 2010 I began designing and building the Weingart Center Garden. The Garden is adjacent to the Weingart Center, in the heart of the skid-row section of downtown Los Angeles. I wrote about this experience in one of my first newsletters entitled, “A Little Bit of Country on Skid Row.” That newsletter detailed my experiences and it has become the basis for an article I wrote for an up-coming issue of Worldscape.

Worldscape is a Chinese publication, in both English and Chinese, that focuses on global landscape design. The editors requested an article describing one of my projects and I thought the design and construction of the Center’s garden was ideal. It demonstrates how a public/private partnership (the Weingart Center, AmeriCorps and me) can make a major contribution to one of the worst neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

The article is to appear in Worldscape’s September publication – I’ll update you when it comes out. In the meantime, these photographs were shot for the publication and show how the Garden has grown in three years. If you want to see what it looked like in 2010, here is a link to a video showing the Garden’s construction:  Video.

I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to tell the Weingart Garden’s story. I hope it inspires other public/private partnerships and will help introduce “a little bit of country” to desolate pieces of property all around the world.Weingart-4 Weingart-8 Weingart-3 Weingart-2 Weingart-1