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Archives for June 16, 2017

Get tips on how to grow a city garden in Canary Wharf

The seeds of how to tackle the challenges of a city garden will be planted in Canary Wharf at two events.

The Royal Horticultural Society will bring its Planting Ideas roadshow to Crossrail Place Roof Garden from Friday, June 16-18.

As well as a curated selection of plant sellers, there will be workshops and demonstrations including create your own kokedama Japanese hanging houseplant, plant a succulent in an espresso cup or design your own floral crown or miniature garden.

RHS On Tour: Planting Ideas

Some workshops are free but others are ticketed and require pre-booking.

Visitors will also be encouraged to discover more about the exotic greenery of the Roof Garden as part of the Open Garden Squares Weekend.

A series of guided tours will be on offer from Canary Wharf’s landscape manager who will talk about how the garden has flourished since opening in May 2015 and share details of the plants growing there.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden
(Photo: The Wharf)

The free event will run on Saturday, June 17, from 10am to 6pm and Sunday, June 18 from noon to 6pm.

Details and bookings here.

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Wedgwood wins gold for show garden at inaugural RHS Chatsworth

Show Garden at wedgwood

Wedgwood Garden – A Classic Re-Imagined was designed by Sam Ovens.
Photo: Wedgwood

During the 2017 Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) Chatsworth Flower Show, Wedgwood unveiled its debut show garden, which is open to the public, as part of a three-year partnership with the RHS.

Creator of Wedgwood’s gold medal winning show garden, Sam Ovens, is a multi-award-winning designer known for contemporary, environmentally sustainable and innovative designs.

Atop the Wedgwood Tea Conservatory, Wedgwood will showcase the garden designed by Ovens. It is said that the garden is informal, contemporary and romantic, and it draws inspiration from Wedgwood’s rich history and its future direction. Wedgwood says the concept showcases Wedgwood’s attitude to interior living of bringing the outside in, and it is inspired by the biophilic design philosophy.

Ovens also commented on the inspiration of the garden’s design. “It’s my favorite part of the build when all the individual elements start coming together and the garden takes on its own character,” he said. “It’s the moment that I can see whether the idea and image I had concocted in my head has become a reality…I can’t wait to share it with visitors now, to see their reaction to the garden. I hope they will be surprised and it will be something they wouldn’t necessarily expect to see…”

show garden with pond at wedgwood

Photo: Wedgwood

Sponsored by Wedgwood, the garden was built by James Bird Landscapes and Swatton Landscape. To ensure that more visitors will be able to enjoy the garden, it will be replanted at the World of Wedgwood, in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded gold for our very first show garden at RHS Chatsworth,” said Ulrik Garde Due, president of Fiskars Living Group. “Working with talented young designer, Sam Ovens has been a truly inspiring experience. He instantly recognized our unique re-positioning as an iconic British brand and designed the garden with this vision in mind. The stunning array of colorful flowers have been inspired by the new Wedgwood Wonderlust collection and the garden creation is fresh and an imaginative interpretation of a classic English garden, re-imagined. We look forward to seeing the garden at The World of Wedgwood, for all to enjoy.”

RHS and Wedgwood share the same roots since John Wedgwood founded the RHS in 1804. He was the eldest son of entrepreneur and English potter Josiah Wedgwood, who founded Wedgwood in 1759. The two groups say that they share the similar vision for the future: to enrich peoples’ lives by celebrating nature, championing sustainability as well as creating healthier and happier communities.

The partnership between the RHS and Wedgwood has also marked the launch of The Wedgwood Tea Conservatory, which was inspired by the new Wedgwood Wonderlust Collection. This collection offered a bespoke tea pairing menu designed by Wedgwood’s global tea curator, Burnadine Tay. He hosted tea masterclasses throughout the Flower Show, which explored the innovative new blends in the Wonderlust tea range. For those who wish to view the Wedgwood Tea Conservatory in its entirety, it can be found at Peter Jones, Sloane Square.

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Naturalistic garden design workshop at Knoll Gardens

A new event at Wimborne’s Knoll Gardens will help garden lovers find out more about the increasingly popular naturalistic style of gardening.

Frequently featured within the show gardens of Chelsea and other national flower shows, gardening in a naturalistic style provides an opportunity to move away from regimented planting schemes to evoke the beauty of plants found in their natural setting.

‘Designing in the naturalistic style’ will be led by Neil Lucas, owner of Knoll Gardens, RHS Senior Judge, and the UK’s leading authority on ornamental grasses.

You can join him as he takes a walk around his secluded garden, explains his ethos and some of the concepts and techniques that have gone into creating this naturalistic, wildlife-friendly garden.

Holly Blue butterflies at Knoll Gardens

Holly Blue butterflies at Knoll Gardens

“The naturalistic style is good for the garden and good for us,” said Neil.

“It not only allows us to feel closer to nature, but actually requires less work than more traditional gardening schemes.

“Better still, it also provides food and year-round habitats to an astonishing array of wildlife. It is this naturalistic style we champion at Knoll Gardens”.

Designing in the Naturalistic Style takes place on Thursday 22 June from 10.30 – 12 noon at Knoll Gardens near Wimborne.

Places are limited. For more information and booking go to or call 01202 873931.

You’ll find more information on Knoll’s full event programme at

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Garden Design: Intertwining the Inside and Outside of Your Home

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at

Interior design is something lots of people enjoy. With a specific taste and defined interior, your place can really maximize its true potential. Finding the right solutions to carry that feeling from inside to outside by adapting your garden space can really help emphasize your entire living space.

While only you can decide what you would like to see in your garden, here are some widely used garden styles that are applicable to various interior designs.

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Minimalistic Style

Some people think minimalistic styles are plain, boring and uninteresting, but the true secret and idea behind minimalist gardening is to professionally use the space. With a somewhat restricted palette of materials, plants, and lack of aggressive color, this style can be widely applied to different gardens and houses.

What to Keep in Mind – There are a few major things to have in mind when thinking of starting your own minimalistic garden: space, lines, limitations, boundaries, and nature. Setting a simple limestone wall as a boundary is both aesthetically pleasing and can be great summer night fun if you use it as a screen for projection. Plants and gravel work great with wood and stone, and keeping them all aligned with other elements helps make a balanced and visually appealing feel of the space.

Maintenance – Minimalistic gardens are heavily based on wood, stone and plants; you have to address those areas accordingly. Classify your plants. Separate those that need lots of water from those that don’t. Slow-growing plants also help quite a lot when it comes to garden maintenance. Find what finish is used on your stone and wooden surfaces, and get the right agent for those surfaces to make sure they look fresh and as they should.

Naturalistic Style

This type of garden’s decorative style is quite widespread. It is based on the nature surrounding the location, or on the nature life found in the area. Its foundation lies in a natural color palette and its inspiration is found in the nature all around us, in meadows, forests, even deserts.

What to Keep in Mind – Generally, naturalistic gardens aim to keep the human impact to a minimum. All man-made structures should be done in a natural way, covered with recycled wood, stone, gravel or even completely concealed by plants. This garden style uses the general surroundings to better blend in with areas that should be left wild, if possible, without property borders. The main theme behind a naturalistic garden is to break the boundaries people feel between them and the great outdoors.

Maintenance – If you have no property borders, you will have to deal with various critters and similar problems. Also, with a garden based so much around nature, you have to carefully separate the plants, give them the right nutrients and enough water with long retractable hose reels, and regularly trim and maintain them in order to avoid garden infestation, or even some plant diseases that can be quite harmful.

Boho-Chic Style

This specific type of garden’s decorative style is definitely the most colorful and whimsical. Everything goes when it comes to color in a boho garden, but it has to be in the same saturation. Also, this garden style is recognizable for its collection of intricate antique-looking items, like chairs, stools and various gardening tools.

What to Keep in Mind – The best way to approach designing a boho-styled garden is to start with muted basic complementary colors and then build from there. Adding old furniture can really bring up the soul of your new outdoor oasis. In order to emphasize the bohemian spirit of this garden, aim to add interesting and appealing light solutions, like hanging lanterns or jars.

Maintenance – If you include actual antique pieces in your garden, make sure to take care of them properly. Most antique furniture isn’t meant for outside use, so it may be a good idea to get some of the pieces back inside when you are done using your garden. Also keep in mind that moisture can really mess up some of your rags and cloth, so think about keeping them dry.

Choosing the right style that completely intertwines with your interior design isn’t something you should be scared about. The mentioned types of garden decoration style are just some of the mostly used and well-planned ideas that can bring the best out of your garden.

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Newton Grove Circle project to honor military

NEWTON GROVE — Town and state officials are looking forward to paying homage to the military through a popular and busy roundabout in northern Sampson County.

Laura Wheeler, a member of the CING (Citizens Improving Newton Grove), made a presentation regarding the landscaping project through the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Along improving the look of the circle, Wheeler said the project will honor men and women serving in the military.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us,” Wheeler said.

Currently, the design consist of four 19-foot walls with memorials at the north, east, south and west sectors of the circle. Plans for one wall includes flags of the United States and North Carolina. The third mentioned was the Honor and Remember flag. The proposal for the location on the circle is between N.C. Highway 13 and U.S. Route 701.

Some of the scenery plans include plants such as drift roses and lily turf. Mayor Gerald Darden reported that existing flag in the center may be moved near another monument.

While discussing traffic in the circle, Commissioner Cody Smith made a suggestion to relocate walls to avoid damage from vehicles.

“They need to shift them to where they are on the inland side, exiting the circle, instead of entering the circle,” Smith said.

Wheeler said she’ll contact NCDOT engineers about the matter. During initial plans, she said the goals was to make it an attractive sight for drivers passing through.

“Our goal is to let the Seymour Johnson (Air Force Base) troops see it and the Fayetteville Fort Bragg troops,” she said. “That why we suggested maybe doing two sets of flags.

For maintenance issues, Smith wanted to make sure the area was accessible for mowing or any other landscaping upkeep. The layout for the project includes turf on the exterior.

“I would like to see the beauty of it, but it should be easy to maintain,” Smith said.

Wheeler said the state will provide maintenance at the beginning of each year. The town will be responsible at other times. It also includes an irrigation and lighting near the walls and other locations.

Smith recommend to table the matter until a final drawing is presented. Other commissioners mentioned how the plans will probably not change since it came from NCDOT officials. Wheeler said some ideas may be tweaked with the assistance of Darden.

“I would hate for us to do anything that would slow it down because this slows our planting down also,” Wheeler said.

An official completion date was not announced, but Darden said officials wanted to begin at the begging of June. But a bid process is required for the monument walls.

A few years ago, Newton Grove officials approved a resolution for a new landscaping projects on Weeks Circle. This required an agreement between the town and NCDOT. The initiative is part of an overall enhancement project. It was previously reported that the cost of the grant was about $50,000.

By Chase Jordan

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Cut out for the green industry

Working at 360 was supposed to be a temporary gig for Justin Green, but once he got started, he couldn’t stop.

Green had been in lawn care and landscaping since his teenage years, but he was pursuing a career in corporate sales when he started working with his longtime friend Brandon Guffey at his Charlotte, North Carolina-area company.

Green came on in January of 2016 to help organize and clean up operations, starting in lawn care. He quickly moved to take over other divisions and eventually became general manager. And after turning down two corporate job offers, he says he can’t see himself doing anything else.

“Over there, I would just be one of many and here I’m kind of one of somebody,” he says. “Over there, you would cap out and my future here is as bright as I want it to be.”

Consistently working 50 to 65 hours a week, Green has been blowing past his sales goals and growing the business from $421,000 in 2015 to $1.3 million by the end of 2016. “I think most of it’s Justin,” Guffey says of the growth. “I think it’s him portraying the confidence to the customers and with his leadership of the crewmembers. It’s not anything I was ever able to do.”

Since Green got started, the company has added an irrigation division and the pair wants to keep growing. While 360 had tried to add irrigation in the past, it wasn’t successful since they didn’t have enough jobs lined up to pay for a dedicated crew.

But once Green started upselling irrigation to the company’s existing customers, it really took off. Now, it’s one of the biggest divisions. His years of experience have given him a solid knowledge of everything from sod to chemical applications to landscaping, and he’s using that, plus his employees’ strengths, to grow the company.

“So, we grew very fast here and it’s like OK, we got lawn care, now let’s focus on landscaping and then we did the landscaping,” Green says. “Then a hardscape guy came on board and I said, ‘Hey, let’s branch out and start doing hardscaping. So, whoever came to the door, if that was their expertise, then we kind of just said let’s go ahead and do it.”

As the company grew, Green instituted practices to make the crews look more professional, like putting logos on all of the trucks, making crewmembers tuck in their shirts on the job and banning any hats that don’t have the 360 name on them.

People person.

“I’ll work sunup to sundown – that’s pretty much every day. But it’s because I enjoy it. It’s not because I have to,” Green says.

He loves the people and he loves the quality of the work he and his crews are able to produce. He says the reviews are one of the best parts of the jobs, and his guys aren’t satisfied with anything less than five stars. If a four-star review comes in, they’re immediately on the phone with the client asking how they can fix any issues and make the property a five-star job.

“Justin’s one of those guys that will ride you all day long and the guys listen to him and respect him and know when he means business,” Guffey says.

It’s a top-down approach to customer service that makes it work, Green says. He strives for the best and he’s instilled that in the foremen, who push it out to the crew leaders, who make sure crewmembers know the expectations.

“I’m always wanting laborers to know you’re not just a laborer. If you work hard and you’ve got what it takes, you can step up and be another key piece,” Green says.

But finding the right people is the most difficult piece of the puzzle for 360. That’s why Green doesn’t look for the candidate with the most industry knowledge or the best resume; he looks for someone who will work hard and dedicate themselves to the job.

“You want somebody that’s goal-oriented and you want somebody that wants to move up, not somebody that wants to be a laborer,” he says. “You want somebody that’s going to say, ‘Hey man, what does it take for me to be a crew leader?’ And they’re out there. They’re just a little harder to find.”

During the interview process, he makes sure to pay attention to how candidates carry themselves and the particular words they use during the interview. He also does a test to make sure a candidate can actually perform the task they say they can. And he makes sure to follow up with crew leaders to make sure the employee is a good fit who can keep up the 360 standard of work.

On the same page.

Guffey and Green have known each other since childhood and have been best friends since elementary school. They met growing up in the same apartment complex and have spent years hanging out at each other’s houses.

“He’s always looked out for me. I mean he’s got a huge heart and he’s an awesome dude,” Green says of Guffey.

Green loves his freedom, and Guffey has no problem handing over the reins so that he can focus on the business. Green sets his own hours and his own wages and for the last year and a half, so Guffey hasn’t had to worry about production.

“I was the one wearing all the hats, trying to manage all the divisions,” Guffey says. “I was the general manger but I was also the company owner. So whenever Justin came in, I was able to step back and focus more on the business side of things and let him run the crews.”

While Green handles the sales, production and management side, Guffey is working on marketing and advertising, so the two can make sure that they’re growing and ensuring quality work.

But they still bounce ideas off each other and come to each other with any problems. “Anytime there’s a big decision made that I make or Brandon makes, I come to him or he comes to me and says, ‘What do you think about this?’” Green says.

A bright future.

Bringing on Green has also allowed Guffey to take on new ventures like opening a supply yard.

And after growing so quickly, Green wants to make sure there are proper procedures in place. Franchising could be in the cards, and to prepare, he’s hoping to get everything running smoothly.

The company is also thinking about a nursery and an electrical division. Guffey wants to have 10 total divisions and the company still has three to go.

“Anything, honestly, that comes along that we think might be beneficial for the company, and for us, then it’s something we would look into,” Green says.

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Ideas for outdoor living: Annual tour stretches from Bedford to …

“I wanted a wow factor when you looked at my pond,” she said. “I wanted it to look like it belonged there.”

After enlisting the help of Tussey Landscaping, Frederick liked the result so much, she allowed her home to be a part of Tussey’s Outdoor Living Spaces Tour this year, scheduled for June 24.

“The Outdoor Living Spaces Tour is going to a new level this year,” said Weston Zimmerman, marketing director and construction foreman. “We have some awesome homes that we are showing. One incredible outdoor area that we just finished last year, as well at the largest waterfalls we ever built.”

The self-guided driving tour “is a great place to get ideas,” Zimmerman added.

A dozen homes are on the tour, from Breezewood to Carrolltown, with most being in Blair County. The final stop will be the home of Tussey Landscaping owner Steve Martin, with grilled food and events and a look at his property that includes an outdoor kitchen, a play set for the children, a pond, waterfall, secret garden, fire pit and more.

“We are working to set things up to have a festive summer feel that will be a fun and relaxing day to attend with your family or friends,” Zimmerman said.

One home has an outdoor kitchen under a vinyl pergola. Another has water features, plantings, paver walkways and patios with a fire pit, a pavilion and more all against the backdrop of farmhouse setting.

Zimmerman said water features are becoming more commonplace in backyards because there is a wide variety and more budget friendly.

“There truly is a water feature for anyone’s budget,” he said.

Besides the enhanced pond at the Frederick property, complete with a walking bridge, is a series of paved patios and meandering walkways that feature a design of a dragonfly and lotus flower.

“I have my wow factor,” Sheila Frederick said.

Tickets to the tour are $40 for a car-load and can be obtained online at www.OutdoorLiving The proceeds go to the ARC of Blair County.

“We always enjoy being able to help out our local community with this event,” Zimmerman said. “Your ticket purchase is essentially a donation to the ARC of Blair County. They’ve always been a great group and appreciate the tour goers’ contribution.”

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

If you go

What: Outdoor Living Spaces Tour

When: June 24

Where: Various locations in central Pennsylvania

Admission: $40 for a car load

Tickets/More info:, 814-696-3700

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Business Buzz: Entrepreneur cultivates strong passion for urban gardening and landscaping

If you fancy walls of greenery, flowers or even vegetables in your home, patio or backyard, Matt Clarke has a product for you.

Clarke, a 20-year-old entrepreneur, has launched a new business called RootPro Vertical Gardens.

Clarke uses a geotextile to create a planter that can be filled with soil and planting material and hung on a wall.

The geotextile is a fabric for landscaping that is used to prevent weed growth in gardens/under driveways, soil erosion.

The material is produced by Randall Manufacturing, a Thorndale company owned by his father.

“I have always had a strong passion in gardening and landscape so I was instantly drawn to vertical gardens as the future of urban gardening,” said Clarke.

The trend toward housing intensification mean more people want to garden in small spaces. Clarke’s product is designed for backyards, storefronts, condos and apartments where space for gardens is limited or unavailable.

The vertical gardens hang on fences and walls creating a green, and unique look.

Clarke did some research and found that geotextile is the best material to plant because it allows roots to grow through and allows easy access for excess water drainage promoting faster and healthier plant growth.

Clarke has so far been selling the RootPro Vertical Garden online ( and at flea markets.

Clarke plans to expand by offering an indoor waterproof option, for home owners and businesses to decorate their walls and even grow vegetables and herbs.

— — —

Growing partnership

Western Fair District and Fanshawe College are partnering to offer the colleges Agri-Business program.

The Western Fair District will become host to the program which will be offered on site beginning in September.

The Agri-Business course is a graduate certificate program that teaches students to manage every step of the supply chain from farm to table and everything in between.

Western Fair District officials noted the venue already plays host to many agricultural shows, events and initiatives the Fanshawe program is a perfect complement to the District’s existing agricultural initiatives.

— — —

McClenaghan honoured

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) London chapter presented the inaugural IABC London Outstanding Communicator Award to Andrew McClenaghan, president of Digital Echidna, at the Virtuoso Awards Celebration.

McClenaghan was honoured for his leadership at Digital Echidna, a London-based web-design and digital agency.

He fosters open communication with staff and clients using tools such “The State of the Echidna,” a quarterly address for his staff going over the company’s business operations.

McClenaghan has grown Digital Echidna from a small, one-man business operating out of his basement to its more than 65 employee headquartered in downtown London.

— — —

Firehouse Subs expands

Firehouse Subs has opened a second London location on Highbury Avenue.

Local business partners Phil Dawson, William Carr and Teresa Cavaliere opened the new location on May 31 in a commercial plaza constructed, appropriately, at 1192 Highbury Ave. former site of the old No. 7 Fire Hall

“As soon as we found out the brand was expanding into Canada, there was no holding us back and we pushed full-steam ahead. We couldn’t ask for a more perfect brand to invest in and continue to grow with,” said Dawson.

The first London shop at 879 Wellington Rd. opened last fall and was only the second in Canada for the chain founded by firefighter brothers.

The chain has more than 1,000 outlets in the U.S.

The London outlets have a firehouse theme including historic photos of London firefighters and a bank of “steamers” to steam meat and cheese for two minutes to ensure it’s hot before it lands on toasted buns.

The restaurant is open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Designer purses up for grabs

For the fifth year in a row, designer handbags are helping support end-of-life care at St. Joseph’s Hospice. Presented by Lerners LLP, Handbags for Hospice is a chic cocktail party taking place on Thursday at the Best Western Plus Lamplighter Inn. About 2000 designer handbags, lifetime experiences and a variety of accessories from local boutiques will be up for grabs in both live and silent auctions in a shopping extravaganza to support hospice palliative care.

The collection of donated handbags has something for everyone, includes must-have labels as Mansur Gavriel, Givenchy, Valentino, Rebecca Minkoff, Chloe, Louis Vuitton and Burberry/ The bags range in price from $40 to almost $3,000.

Admission is $80 and include a glass of wine and gourmet hors d’oeuvres. Tickets can be purchased online at:

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New house? Don’t rush the garden

My daughter bought a house. It’s an exciting moment for a parent, but even more so for this parent because the place has no garden or landscape. It’s a blank slate, and she wants my help.

Even when it’s not in the family, it is good when a landscape professional can help a new homeowner – before mistakes are made. The right adviser can save you, young buyer or downsizing retiree, from frustrating and expensive mistakes. Best of all, with the right help the project can be fun and fulfilling, and leave you feeling ready to care for your little piece of the earth.

Let’s start with some principles for do-it-yourself homeowners, including those that have spent all their money on the house, closing costs and making the inside livable.

Wait a year

Sometimes it’s smart to do nothing (except some weeding), especially when you have acquired a landscape and gardens that prior owners created. Gardeners often tell sad stories of gardens that were full of perennials and special shrubs or trees. The buyers swore they loved gardening and would take care of the garden, but in no time the special plants were ripped out – decades of gardening gone. It’s heartbreaking for gardeners to move and let it all go, and everyone says, “Never look back.”

But it’s not just sad for prior occupants or the plants. It’s also sad that the new homeowner doesn’t take time to watch and learn what is growing, and what the landscape looks like in all four seasons. A perennial garden looks barren in early spring but might contain hundreds of precious plants. Many green shrubs seem plain and unimportant when you close on the house, but could have fantastic flowers, berries, fall color or value for birds or butterflies. Give the plants time to show you.

Two other reasons to take your time with landscape transitions:

• Work to be done on the house. If you are going to paint, fix gutters, replace the windows or driveway, or build a deck, let the landscape wait. Workers often don’t recognize gardens. They don’t see the young plants that you see, or don’t want to take the time to work around your flowers, and can do a lot of damage by wounding trees, putting weight on root zones, and damaging soil. Rather than fight that fight, set up barriers or protection for the plants you know are important, and wait to do anything new.

• Figuring out what you want. Your first ideas won’t always hold up. “I want a swimming pool; we’ll grow vegetables; I want cherry trees; we’ll get a swing set; I want a tall fence there; we’ll have a puppy. …” You may want a new patio or deck, but first find out how hot the afternoon sun feels on that side of the house at dinnertime.

You’ll learn which neighbors’ activity you do or don’t want to see from your picnic table. You’ll find out that deer pass through regularly, or what it’s like when the nearby school lets out. After a while you’ll know what you really want and you won’t have wasted your landscaping money.

A good tip for the waiting year: Invite real gardeners over or hire a knowledgeable garden consultant to walk around the yard with you. The right advisers can identify perennials and weeds, suggest keepers and plants to thin or remove, recognize diseases or other problems, suggest proper pruning, and offer design suggestions.

For a bigger project, make an appointment with a certified nursery and landscape professional (or a quality arborist in case of large trees) – but you may have to wait some weeks during this short and busy season.

Make better choices

My daughter will do some waiting to make backyard decisions, but with her mother’s advice she will make some front yard choices that prevent headaches later. What I wish everyone would do:

• Make front landscape beds, aka “foundation plantings,” wider and farther from the house than you think. The typical 3-foot bed smashed up against the house is disproportionate to the size of homes and doesn’t support healthy, appropriate plants. (They can’t get sunlight or rain!) Leave a couple of feet (maybe with gravel) next to the foundation to walk on when you want to wash a window or work behind the bed. Then make the planting bed 5 to 8 feet wide or more (in design theory one-third as wide as the height of the house). That doesn’t mean you have to cram it full of expensive plants. Begin with a few good plants and make an elegant and simple frame around your home.

• Choose better shrubs. You may have to remove some overgrown oldies whose usefulness has passed, but it doesn’t mean they should all go. You may have a fine old viburnum or lilac that has been pruned badly or not at all; fix it and keep it. Then go to a professional nursery or garden center knowing your site – the amount of sun and shade, direction the beds face, wind and other factors – and let a pro show you plants that suit the site, the architecture, and you.

• Don’t be oversold, or buy plants that will grow past your windows or sidewalk in a few years. I cringe to see landscape jobs where somebody bought three times the number of plants that the space can accommodate once they start growing. Buy plants according to what they will become, not what they look like right now. (Fill the bed with annuals or container plants if it looks sparse at first.)

• Include flowers. The paradigm is skewed toward front yards with lawn and all green shrubs, but flowers belong out front, for beauty as well as pollinators.

• Do your soil homework. Get a pH test if you have any doubts or want to grow a rhododendron. If the soil is worn out and compacted, replace it with quality garden soil, and in all cases add compost as you plant new plants.

A new home landscape is a joy and an adventure – for my daughter and maybe for you.

Sally Cunningham is a garden writer, lecturer and consultant.

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Lincoln-Based Studio Roji Creates Gardens as Refuge

click to enlarge Sam and Kathryn Wyatt in their Lincoln home's front gardens - CALEB KENNA

  • Caleb Kenna
  • Sam and Kathryn Wyatt in their Lincoln home’s front gardens

The gardens in front of Sam and Kathryn Wyatt’s Lincoln home are a work in progress. There are stone pathways and clusters of chamomile, a birdbath and stalks of allium. Vegetables grow among the flowers and herbs, and Kathryn says she’ll plant more in coming years.

“Gardens are never done,” Sam says. “That’s the point.”

He’s not allowed in hers, Kathryn says, lest he pull a “weed” that isn’t a weed. Yet Sam is the garden designer by profession. His small firm, Studio Roji, does nature-based landscaping with a particular focus on creating spaces that provide a sense of solace. Roji is a Japanese word for the ground on which people walk on their way to a tea ceremony — a passageway that might be transformative.

Such spaces can be created by numerous means, including an arbor that serves as a gateway between a driveway and a garden, a series of strategically placed plantings and stones that act as guideposts along a path, or steps that slow a person’s pace as they approach a certain area of the garden.

“The more we can live with nature and natural forms, the happier we’ll be here,” Sam says. “It’s very good for our souls.”

The Wyatts live with their two children on 10 acres in Lincoln, where they moved three and a half years ago from Mount Desert Island in Maine. They came to Vermont to be closer to family and because they were “too young to be this isolated” on a dead-end road in coastal Maine, Kathryn explains.

The couple met at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston about 20 years ago, when they were assigned to work on an interdisciplinary project together. He was a sculpture student; she studied fiber art. Together, they made a woven scroll based on the changing seasons.

“It was the best collaboration pretty much from the start,” Kathryn recalls.

These days, working in a shared home studio, the Wyatts are bound by a common aesthetic theme: incorporating natural elements into their work. They use a variety of techniques to make botanical art.

Sam presses flowers in a vintage cast-iron plant press dubbed “Howard the Beast”; combined with color washes, these are sold as originals or limited-edition giclée prints on the Studio Roji website. Kathryn uses flower pigments in her printmaking, extracting color by making a stack of flowers sandwiched between pieces of paper, placing the stack in a canning pot with a weight on top and simmering it on the stovetop for two hours. The flowers leave their impressions on the paper in lovely shapes and interesting colors. Her prints are also available for purchase online.

click to enlarge Kathryn Wyatt holding a flower print created at Studio Roji - CALEB KENNA

  • Caleb Kenna
  • Kathryn Wyatt holding a flower print created at Studio Roji

“It’s a really nice way to spend time in the garden and bring that inside,” Kathryn says. “And keep it, indefinitely.”

The studio also holds a drafting table for Sam’s garden-design projects. He began this work when the family lived in Maine and, after moving to Vermont, continued it at Rocky Dale Gardens in Bristol. Two years ago, Sam opened Studio Roji, a design practice that draws on his experience studying garden design in Japan. More recently, he earned a certificate in health care and therapeutic garden design through a program of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

In his designs, Sam’s intention is to create spaces that possess restorative energy and “therapeutic value,” he says, “rather than landscaping as distraction or wallpaper.” He says these qualities can be cultivated in a Burlington backyard or on a rural acreage. (See sidebar for Sam’s tips on crafting such gardens.)

“I’m really interested in building calming and beautiful places that take you away from the stresses of everyday life,” Sam adds. “People are intuitively seeking those types of places.”

In 2015, he collaborated on a project with Will Wallace-Gusakov of Goosewing Timberworks. For a garden that is tucked in the corner of a backyard in Bristol, the Lincoln woodworker built a meditation/yoga hut. Sam contributed a stone-carved water basin that complements the black cherry and white cedar structure and nearby tall grasses.

The beauty and fascination of a garden, Sam says, is derived in part from the intersection of what the gardener intends and what actually results. “There are the hopes and dreams of what the garden is going to look like, and then the reality of what happens because of … nature throwing unexpected accidents at you.”

click to enlarge Sketches on the wall at Studio Roji - CALEB KENNA

  • Caleb Kenna
  • Sketches on the wall at Studio Roji

An observant gardener can turn an “accident” into a landscaping feature. An example of this can be found on the Wyatts’ property, where a dead black cherry tree has been left in its place.

The trunk of the tree has split and cracked, and one end of it rests on the ground. The tree’s mangled configuration forms a natural gateway, or threshold. Sam values this kind of landscaping feature, he says, because it helps guide a person from one space to another, and even from one state of mind to another.

In this instance, the naturally felled black cherry forms a passageway from the family’s backyard to wilder landscape down a steep grade behind the house.

At the foot of the hill, a captivating, sometimes fast-moving stream, Beaver Meadow Brook, flows into the New Haven River. The Wyatts’ property encompasses pools and falls along the brook, as well as swimming places and sitting spots. The two are mindfully and incrementally building garden-like spaces beside the stream — clearing paths and cultivating areas for hanging out, reflecting or playing.

Right now they’re in an “editing” phase, describes Sam, pruning and removing plants and trees to see more clearly what is there so they can highlight interesting features. For example, a century-old hemlock tree that stands sentinel by the river and a big rock across the path together form a natural enclosure. It’s a place that sparks the Wyatts’ gardening imagination. A lone European ginger plant, peeking up from the forest floor, has been noted and tended.

Looking into the future a decade or so, the couple envisions building workshops in the woods for visiting artists.

“We like to expand the definition of what a garden is,” Sam says, “from cultivated flowers and vegetables to a dialogue with our whole property.”

Seven tips for creating a calming garden

click to enlarge A meditation/yoga hut for a client in Bristol - CALEB KENNA

  • Caleb Kenna
  • A meditation/yoga hut for a client in Bristol
  • Create Enclosure: Develop the feeling of a sheltered retreat. When we feel safe and secure, we can let down our guard and enter our surroundings through the senses — the fragrance, the sound of birdsong, the feeling of wind on our skin. These sensations are magnified when we are at ease.
  • Tone It Down: Use restraint in choosing plants and materials. Rely on the soft textures of foliage and the many shades of green, blue and white, rather than on bright, bold colors. Utilize local materials such as natural stone and untreated wood rather than slick, manmade products. These have a calming effect on the mind and create understated elegance that stands the test of time.
  • Be Aware of Thresholds: Be mindful of stepping from one space into another. Find ways to heighten these transitions to allow a shift in mental state. Build an arbor or gate to pass through, add a large stepping-stone, or plant a tree to walk under.
  • Create a Garden Ritual: Sip a cup of morning coffee in your favorite spot, or take a slow stroll along a cultivated path. Develop a habit that strengthens your connection with your garden.
  • Bring the Garden Inside: Cut plants and bring them into your home. Hang artwork that reflects natural forms. Design the view from your kitchen sink or other garden-facing window. The more we can blur the line between inside and outside, and invite natural beauty into our daily lives, the more connected we feel to our environment.
  • Find Inspiration in the Natural World: Seek out places that you are drawn to in the wider landscape. Spend time in them and look at what makes them unique. Is the place under dappled shade, or is it made up of dramatic ledge stones? Does it include a beautiful view? Take these ideas and elements into your own garden, distilling their essence on an appropriate scale. A mossy boulder under a yellow birch can evoke the same emotional response as a deep mountain ravine.
  • Genius Loci: Try to tap into your garden’s “sense of place.” Enhance the atmosphere that makes your personal space unique and settled within its surroundings. Be aware of your specific growing conditions and work with them, not against them. Native plants are constant allies.

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