I am very pleased to introduce you to Kathy Moran of Cedarstore.com. Kathy is the first guest blogger to appear here on Blue Heron Landscapes, and I hope you enjoy the wonderful ideas she bring to us today! You’ll find more information on cedarstore.com at the end of this post, please pay them a visit.
An elegant arbor provides a welcoming place to sit!
Just look through any magazine for outdoor design ideas, and you’re bound to notice the trend toward turning patios, yards, and porches, into outdoor living rooms. Often furnished as luxuriously as indoor rooms, some are even equipped with stoves and refrigerators.
After seeing so many pictures of these gorgeous spaces, many people give wistful sighs when glancing at their own backyards and patios, feeling that they’re too small or drab to have any such potential. However, they needn’t give up so quickly, because there are many ways to capitalize on spaces of any size. In fact, even those who have small porches or patios, and limited acreage to work with, can create charming backyard havens and outdoor living rooms.
A custom pergola transforms this patio into an elegant outdoor room!
For example, trellises, arbors, and pergolas can be strategically placed to define a specific area, such as a cozy hideaway in a corner of the backyard, a delightful niche for entertaining, or a secluded alcove in a side yard. These rooms will have colorful walls and ceilings that are alive with vibrant, climbing flowers and vines, as well as built-in shade and air-conditioning. Another alternative is to use planter benches with latticed backs, which supply seating, flowers, and walls, all at once, without hindering air circulation. Multi-paneled garden trellises and screens also offer beauty and privacy.
Polywood tables and chairs resist the weather!
It’s easy to decorate these spaces attractively, as today’s outdoor furniture is available in styles and colors that will complement any motif, from rustic, to refined, or classic, to contemporary. Beside the traditional woods, modern choices include durable aluminum and polywood, along with synthetic wicker, a material that looks stunningly authentic, but is practically indestructible.
Carefully selected colors can establish a flow from the indoors to the outside, giving the illusion of a larger space. For instance, if the room immediately off the patio has blue walls, patio furniture, outdoor throw pillows, or patio umbrellas with blue in them, will create a unified look. Blue flowers, in a bed, and/or in some planters placed near the door, will enhance the effect; and a vase full of those flowers on an indoor dining table or accent table will tie things up perfectly.
Accoutrements make this dining area feel like an indoor room!
This principle applies not only to solid colors, but to patterns and materials, too. Indoor paneled walls and wood furniture can easily be complemented by wood outdoor furniture. Moreover, with the countless colors and patterns available for outdoor furniture cushions, it’s easy to find some that will correspond with indoor upholstery, carpeting, throw rugs, or tapestries.
There are also many lighting options for these spaces, which, in addition to candles, party lights, and torches, include exquisite outdoor table lanterns, pendant lights, and floor lamps.
So, the next time you’re browsing through a magazine, don’t be dismayed if you don’t have the same kind of sprawling backyard or spacious porch or patio that you see in the photographs. No matter how large or small an area you have as a foundation, you can be sure that, with the proper planning, it can be transformed into a striking outdoor room that’s as functional, practical, and comfortable as any room in your home.
CedarStore.com is a family of five websites specializing in outdoor furniture and garden structures. Offering a wide variety of top quality and handcrafted patio furniture, CedarStore.com, GazeboCreations.com, AllPicnicTables.com, TeakDesigns.com and DesignerBridges.com can boast the absolute authority on both their products and their ideal uses.
As experts in the field, CedarStore.com writes a well-read blog, AllOutdoorPatioFurniture.com, to help outdoor enthusiasts, landscapers, and gardeners design their gardens, lawns, and patios to suit their needs. Their biggest passion is always making sure everyone can get the most out of their outdoor living spaces as possible!
To learn more: visit CedarStore.com, AllOutdoorPatioFurniture.com, Follow them on twitter with @CedarStore, or, of course, simply call them up at 1.888.293.2339.
February, the shortest month of the year, can seem an eternity for a gardener. Here in the northeast, we are still about a month away from beginning any serious gardening chores. The vast array of seed catalogues has arrived at our doors, and we have moved from excitedly flipping through each, noting trusted old varietals and new and promising crops to try this season, back to waiting. Relief will eventually come, first in the form of seed starting for those newly purchased vegetable and bedding crops, then will come late winter pruning of fruit bearing and ornamental plants, then finally, temperatures will warm enough to begin working the soil.
Winter can seem an unproductive time, but for the gardener who is paying attention, it can be a valuable time to assess a landscape. Comprised of many components, a garden is built upon and is defined by its structural elements. Referred to also as the bones of a garden, structure might be found in an outbuilding, in stonework, sculpture, walkways and patios. Even plants themselves, can create structural elements; Trees provide ceiling, hedges act as walls, and individual plants act as specimens displaying architectural shapes and interesting growth habits.
Much structural elements of a garden lay hidden beneath foliage during the growing season, but now during the colder months, a garden’s bones are revealed as if by x-ray, enabling one to detect its balance, mass, and symmetry. Problems to any one of these elements can be quickly diagnosed, enabling the gardener to plan for changes to correct them. Walking the garden during the winter moths also gives a gardener an unobstructed view of the trunks and branches of deciduous plants, revealing damages or disease. There is much to find in the garden during the stark winter months.
There is also beauty. Experiencing a garden in winter can be a treat for the senses. The low arch of the sun casts long shadows that play with the bare branches against a snowy backdrop. Ice crystals form on every surface and backlit by the sun become like stars glistening in the sky. The frozen crunching of footsteps and the crackling of sap from nearby trees fill the air with song. If you have provided food and habitat for birds in your garden, then it will most likely be buzzing with activity, the brightly colored feathers acting as moving blossoms. Venture into the winter garden at night, especially on a full moon and it transforms into a surreal landscape. Never will you feel such a sensory connection to a place as a garden at night, be it winter or summer.
There is much to enjoy in a garden, and when planned for all seasons, the joy will last year round. Cast away your feelings of cabin fever, and shrub off the cold. Take stock in your outdoor surroundings, for at the very least, it will give you a new appreciation of your garden come spring!
If you’ve ever walked through a landscape and not been able to tell what part of the country you were in, or have traveled somewhere only to find the same plants, paving materials, and stores as the mall back home, then you have experienced the homogenization of today’s society. Uniqueness is giving way to mass production in our world. If everywhere we go, looks the same as where we’ve been, is there really any reason to have gone there in the first place? This post, and the posts of 12 of my friends and fellow Landscape Designers today, is dedicated to celebrating regional diversity in the garden. Lauding the uniqueness of each corner of this small planet. Please take some time to visit the other participants blogs, and experience the visions of each of these talented designers, as they delve into regional diversity in Garden Design. You’ll find their names and links to their blogs at the end of this post.
A simple herringbone path, brings out the charm of this cottage.
I live and design landscapes in southern New England. New England is a wonderfully diverse region of the country. The Connecticut River Valley, rich and fertile, has been home to thriving agriculture for some 400 years. Dairy farms once dominated the rolling hills of Vermont. There are granite quarries in New Hampshire, brownstone quarries in Connecticut, rocky lobster beds in Maine, and the world’s premier oyster fisheries in Long Island Sound. Mill towns throughout the region stand as reminders of a strong manufacturing base, long since weakened by present day global economies. Ecosystems vary from huge sand dunes on Cape Cod, alpine meadows in New Hampshire, deep spruce forests in Maine, and over 6000 miles of rocky and sandy coastline. In a days drive, one can experience all that New England has to offer, passing through cattle pastures, tobacco fields, mountain passes, large cities and industrial hubs.
Instead of cut and fill, the terrain in this garden was celebrated with a stream and pond.
The architecture in New England is predominantly colonial in nature. It echoes the feel of northern Europe, for it is those Europeans that originally settled here. They brought with them their colonial style houses, cottage gardens, and an innate ability to construct miles and miles of field stone walls, perhaps the defining image of New England. Stone walls line both farmland and Main Street in most New England towns, and that same stone can be found in the construction of many of the older factories, churches and municipal buildings.
Sadly though, New England’s natural beauty is slowly disappearing, succumbing to strip malls and boring landscapes of mass produced plant cultivars. The brick paths, field stone walls and cottage gardens, that provided this region with its traditional character and charm, are also giving way to more modern concrete pavers, block walls and uninteresting plantings. To turn around this trend, one need only to look again to New England’s history and natural beauty when designing a garden. Its early European influences, natural geography and native ecosystems, still present today, can easily be drawn upon to marry each design to the regions character. And when that design is true to its surroundings, and successfully implemented, the effort put forth to enhance that natural beauty, disappears beneath a conjoined sense of place. To put it simply, a well designed landscape seems not to have been designed at all, yet gives the visitor a sense of location, and of the character within. Herein lays the value of celebrating a location’s natural diversity, and turning away from homogeneous design. By focusing on regionally specific plant groups, hardscape materials, and design concepts, we promote uniqueness rather than assimilation into the global fold.
Natural Cedar and Native Fieldstone conceal an ugly foundation wall.
Examples that might celebrate regional diversity could be as follows: A shade garden of locally native plants beneath a beautiful hardwood canopy, so common in New England, instead of cutting down as many trees as possible to grow a lawn. A meadow or rain garden in a low lying damp area, filtering toxins from runoff before it reenters the ecosystem. A habitat garden comprised of native plant species providing a place of food and sanctuary for the native fauna. Moving in closer to the house, examples might include; Native stone and brick to construct walkways and patios, calling back to the days when such materials were quarried in a nearby location. Regionally available wood species, felled and milled locally to build garden structures. And, when possible, situating the home itself so as to accentuate the property, shunning cut and fill grading practices and taking advantage of the land’s unique characteristics.
Boston City Hall Pavers, shown here before planting, complement the colonial architecture of the house.
Drawing upon the history, native plants and hardscape materials of a region when designing a project, provides the designer a culturally specific path to creating that garden. A garden that celebrates its location and informs its visitors. As our world continues to shrink, it is imperative to preserve local character and regional identity. Doing so, will give your garden its unique sense of place.
I hope you find yourself a new sense of place in your own garden. And please, if you any thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear them, leave a comment below!
I would invite you now to visit my friends and fellow Landscape designers as they blog from their unique and diverse regions, and who knows, maybe you’ll find an interesting place to visit the next time you venture across this wonderfully diverse country of ours. Click on each of the Designers names to visit their blogs. (And while your there, explore some of their older posts also. You’ll find a wealth of information!)
Jocelyn Chilvers (The Art Garden) – Wheat Ridge, CO
Susan Cohan (Miss Rumphius’ Rules) - Chatham, NJ
Michelle Derviss (Garden Porn) – Novato, CA
Tara Dilliard (Landscape Design Decorating Styling) – Stone Mountain, GA
Dan Eskelson (Clearwater Landscapes Garden Journal) – Priest River, ID
Laura Livengood Schaub (Interleafings) – San Jose CA
Susan Morrison (Blue Planet Garden Blog) – East Bay, CA
Pam Penick (Digging) – Austin, TX
Susan Schlenger (Landscape Design Viewpoint) – Charlottesville, VA
Genevieve Schmidt (North Coast Gardening) – Arcata, CA
Ivette Soler (The Germinatrix) – Los Angeles, CA
Rebecca Sweet (Gossip in the Garden) – Los Altos, CA
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On a recent walk through a nearby cornfield, I came across these irrigation reels. I really love the size and scale of this setting. It had me thinking of all that had come to pass in that field over the course of the year, and that in a few short months, how different and hopeful this scene would become. No matter the size of the garden, there is always inspiration to be found. Enjoy!
Here’s hoping you get your garden tucked in before the freeze,