Garden Design

April 26, 2008 at 12:06 pm 5 comments

The real deal

my garden as it looked at the end of my first day of digging in it

It took a week and several revisions, but I’ve finally come up with what I think is my final design for this year’s garden.  It consists of four long raised beds for the vegetable plot, each three feet wide.  Figuring out that part was easy.  The design of the herbaceous/ornamental plot was a whole different beast.  

I wasn’t exactly intimidated by it so much as I was uninspired.  I knew that I wanted to focus a good portion on growing flowers for cutting as that’s an area of interest for me moving forward in my horticulture career.   I also wanted enough room for a “tea garden”, a section that will allow me to experiment with new herbs in order to broaden my portfolio of homemade teas.   Here’s the starter list for that:  

Tea garden herbs

Another general group of plants that interest me are seedums, something I know little about but am very intrigued by their shapes and textures.  I put them on the original design layout but really had no vision for their presentation.  Then the horticulture gods smiled upon me, and I was gifted with three baby Metasequoia trees.  They were just the jolt of inspiration I needed to get going with some ideas.  The major design element of my herbaceous area will be a constructed “bank” to showcase a sweep of succulents resting under the three trees that are now anchoring the bank at its highest point (more on how I engineered this bank to come).  Tucked in below the bank of succulents will be my tea garden, assuming all those herbs can play nice in such a small space.   

Garden Design

This garden incorporates graded assignments for my apprentice work at Longwood Gardens.  One of those assingments is to have a container planting in the garden that changes with the seasons.   Knowing what I wanted to do with this container was easy.  Knowing how to implement remains a challenge.  What I envision is water garden container for the summer, showcasing a pitcher plant or two, some bog grasses, and a large water lily.  I have zero experience in bog plants and water gardening.  But I am eager to start this piece, hopefully with the help of Kari, an expert at Longwood who knows a good bit about them.

I’m still sketching out ideas for the “facade” of my garden, toying with the notion of growing a hardy kiwi vine up poles on each corner and stringing solar powered twinkle lights entwined with willow branches between them.  Wouldn’t that be pretty?  Those plans will have to wait though.  At the moment, I need to get all of my seeds sown for my vegetable plot and go plant shopping for my ornamental plants. 

Anyone got some good ideas to share about garden design?  Either asthetic or functional?  I’d love to hear them!



Entry filed under: In The Garden.

Celebrate! Better Late Than Never

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. marimann  |  April 26, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Hi, Jenn~Your garden design looks great, and your plans sound creative and practical and exciting all at once. Having just worked quite a bit on our garden plan for this year, I know how much work it is but also how much fun it is. I also know how much work it is to implement the plan! I like your comment about the plants playing nice with each other, we try to do our plans with this in mind too. And what plants might keep the bugs, critters, and etc away! I’ll be looking forward to seeing your plans grow to fruition.

  • 2. Caroline  |  April 28, 2008 at 5:24 am

    I could spend months designing gardens – and you’ve included all my favourite elements into one. Anything with herbs, vegetables and cutting plants is bound to grab my attention. I’d be curious to see how this progresses, please take lots of photos and show them to us! Have you given any thought to your paths? Weeding paths makes me a bit grumpy since they get so compacted, but I do like them to look neat. I’ve resorted to wood chips this year, but am not thrilled with the way they get into my raised beds when I’m double digging. What do you do?

  • 3. gintoino  |  April 28, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I’m quite interested in seeing the progresses of your garden design. I’m still buiding my main garden (I’m doing it all by myself, which means it has taken me 1 year already and it is not finished) but when I’m finish that I whant to start working on the vegetable garden. I do like a vegetable garden to be prety and funtional (For the moment mine is just plain functional and ugly as hell). What will you use for paths in your garden? I do like gravel paths (I have them in my garden)

  • 4. Jennie  |  April 28, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Mari – Ooo, do share more about your own garden designs and methods for pest control! There’s always a new trick to be learned. For instance, a friend just told me he uses empty milk jugs with small holes poked in the bottom to water his larger vegetable plants in the summer. Instead of using a hose that will create a lot of run off, he fills the jugs with water and sets them next to the plants so they get a long slow drink. Isn’t that a great idea?

    Caroline – Have no fear, there will be plenty of garden content up on this site, pictures included 🙂 So glad to hear we’re like-minded in our desire to have funtional spaces, but pretty flowers too. Weeding paths is frustrating…I dug mine very deep and then filled them in with about three inches of mulch/wood chips and still have plenty of vertical distance between the mulch and the top of my beds to hopefully avoid getting too much of it in there. I also have some large field stones down along my paths to help keep everything more stable. I like Gintoino’s idea of gravel though too, assuming you are keeping your design pretty much the same from year to year. Mine will probably change next year again…. No rest for the weary! 🙂

    Gintoino – You are so ambitious! It is hard work building up a garden all by yourself. I am lucky here because I have a lot of special tools/machines (little motor carts to haul the dirt and such) available that most people don’t have. I am anxious to see your vegetable garden grow. I am not sure how pretty mine will be just yet, but hopefully it will come together nicely. 🙂 I’m using wood chips/mulch for my paths but I would like the gravel a lot too. I think I am going to line my paths with small round stones though to make them stand out from all the brown color. 🙂

  • 5. May Garden Inventory « Straight from the Farm  |  May 23, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    […] I also put up posts for my garden’s facade, which I plan to then string with either solar powered twinkle lights or woven branches (or maybe both).  I also hope to create some rough garden art with twigs, but that will have to wait for a rainy day.  Next up in the garden is putting water lilies in the big center container at the intersection of my paths.  […]


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