Garden Design

End of a Long Journey

About three years ago I embarked on a new journey … that of becoming certified in landscape design. The journey took a full year longer than I had planned and hoped, due to work, family, and general life responsibilities, but that’s all in the past now. I finally reach the end of this long journey.

It involved teaching myself computer aided drafting, following twenty-five in-depth lessons on site and level surveying; developing concept, hardscape, and planting plans; designing all aspects of a residential property including fences, walls, steps, water features, garden structures, habitat gardens, vegetable gardens, border beds, lawns, low-maintenance plantings, and native plantings;  delving into landscape design history and, among other things, honing my knowledge of botanical terminology.

For one lesson I designed a garden as if I were a female settler at Plimoth Plantation. For another lesson I designed a butterfly and herb garden.

I became lax on blogging about the lessons simply because of time constraints, but the lessons marched on.

There was the border planting in front of a brick wall, with both summer (top drawing) and winter (bottom drawing assuming all perennials are cut back) views. (For unknown reasons when converting to a jpeg for posting here, the drawing lost its sharpness, but it still shows the general design ideas.)

border planting in front of brick wall-summer and winter views


The working drawings, both plan and elevation views) of a pergola.

pergola drawings


The fence lesson that gave me the chance to design a garden fence for espaliered fruit trees.

espalier style fence


Plus, there were many full property design lessons too large to show here in any meaningful detail. Living and working in a rural section of Connecticut means there are very few small properties to practice design skills upon. As my instructor noted in her assessment of my final project, “I think you have designed more acreage than any other student to date. Large properties are a lot more difficult than average-sized ones and this last assignment shows that you are very capable of handling the task. The design, presentation and documentation were all excellent.”

Am I an expert? Not by any means, but, I have a lot more knowledge and understanding of what it takes to design beautiful and functional landscapes, and … I fulfilled a long desired goal … and this makes me happy.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Joene Hendry

Planting for Year-Round Interest

Late summer into autumn is a perfect time to plant shrubs with year-round interest. Evergreen shrubs of varying shapes anchor planting beds while providing structure and greenery to brighten the gray days of winter.

Here’s a planting plan that does just that. Two pyramidal holly bushes, or similar shaped evergreens, and three mounding hollies provide year-round structure. Spring brings purple blooms of iris and the first lavender blossoms of scabiosa along the front of the border, while climbing hydrangea leafs out along the center of the brick wall to show off its large white blooms.  A few bulbs could be tucked in here and there for really early spring color.

As summer approaches, pale yellow rose shrubs grab attention along with pale pink and magenta day lilies. Purple globe allium stand tall on either side of the center holly bush and annual gerbera in pale yellow and magenta line the front of the bed. Lavender blue scabiosa continue to bloom along either end of the front border in sharp contrast to the lime green foliage and magenta blossoms of low-growing spiraea shrubs, also at either end.

Mid-summer brings tall, showy phlox and lily flowers, as well as purple coneflowers peaking from behind the center holly. At the foot of the center holly, and behind the gerbera, rests a low-growing variety of catmint. The roses, spiraea, scabiosa, and gerbera continue to bloom until frost.






Once cold weather hits, the annuals and herbaceous perennials die back, leaving the bones of the spiraea shrubs and the climbing hydrangea vine to keep company with the shapely evergreen holly, hopefully spotted with bright red berries.


This particular design is for a bed that’s about 30 feet long and 10 feet wide, but the plan can be adjusted to other sizes. The perennials around the center mounded shrub could easily be replaced with prostrate golden-foliage evergreens. A couple of yellow-fruited winterberry shrubs would add additional height to either side of the center shrub.

Gardeners on a tight budget could add two shrubs one year and two or three more in subsequent years. Once your create your planting plan it can be implemented as time and funds allow.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

A foxglove garden, You Can Grow That!

I’m late with my You Can Grow That! post, but better late than never. This is a tale of the easiest garden I’ve ever created. The work involved allowing foxglove (digitalis purpurea) to establish from one or two transplants from some of my other gardens; letting it flower and set seed; then helping mature seeds spread by shaking seeds from the stalks after the dried seed pods open.

Today, June 6, the foxglove are in full bloom.


A photo from May 25, 2012 hinted of the display to come.


I did not plant all these foxglove. All I did was stand back and let these biennials do what they do. The most difficult aspect of building this garden was tolerating the view of ungainly and rather unattractive flower stalks as the seed pods matured … not an easy thing to do when foxglove grow in an oft-viewed, front-and-center perennial bed. In this bed, to the edge of my front lawn and on the low-traffic side of the house, ignoring the maturing seed stalks was pretty easy, particularly when I visualized the reward.


In addition to the pink hues, the bed contains hints of white.


The bed is a buzz with bees going from flower to flower … there’s a bee in one of the flowers below. Hummingbirds visit as well … sorry, no shots of hummingbirds. This display will last for about another week. The flowers at the bottom of each stalk will fade and begin to set seed while those farther up will still be in bloom.


Once each stalk has completed is bloom I will cut the stalks off many of the plants. They often rebloom on new flower stalks later in the season. I’ll leave the healthiest stalks in each color (I never know when pale pink or white blooms will show, the plant may bloom in any of the shades shown). Each stalk will set seed that will mature the following year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As a biennial, digitalis purpurea grows only leaves in year one. The second year it flowers and sets seed. The photo on the right is of first year plants last autumn. Every year since I first purchased a couple of small foxglove plants I’ve had year one and year two specimens throughout my gardens. Those that self-sow in less desirable spots are moved to preferred locations in the cool temperatures of September or April/May. Preferred locations in highly visible beds are usually near the rear of the bed where the maturing flower stalks will be less obvious.

Since digitalis purpurea is poisonous, deer and other creatures leave them be. But use caution, all parts of digitalis are poisonous to pets and children. Digitalis is also invasive in some western U.S. states.

The plant family is extremely valuable as the source of the cardiac medicine by the same name. Here’s some digitalis history.

If you love the look of foxglove and want to give it a try, You Can Grow That!

You Can Grow That! is a blog meme, on the fourth of each month, started by C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening to remind everyone that gardening is good for people. Gardening enriches our senses, our food, and our health. Gardening fosters friendship and increases ones appreciation of nature. Read more You Can Grow That! posts by visiting Whole Life Gardening.


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry
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