Evolution of a Garden

“The necessarily ephemeral nature of the art of garden-making is its most alluring charm.  Just as an individual flower, so the garden blooms, fades, and if not renewed, becomes a memory.”   Myron Hunt, California Gardens, 1931

Much of our recent work has been improvements to established gardens.  Often we are asked to update a landscape that is overgrown, fill in a bare area, design a new driveway or provide curb appeal.  This garden started with a Master Plan that addressed replacing a driveway, definition of entrance to the property, foundation and general planting improvements and addressing how to scale down the blank façade of an existing garage.

Pyracantha Espalier

We were very excited to implement some unique classical design elements.  Our first task was to address a blank wall on a garage.   As part of the design process, we studied installing commercially available espaliered plantings such as Camellias or Pyracantha; we also entertained  another more architectural solution of constructing a lattice panel onto the building and then begin the process of training vines onto the lattice.

Neither of these options appealed to our client’s taste, so we suggested something a little more unique; an espaliered apple tree.   We worked with River Road Farms out of Decatur, Tennessee.  They helped guide us with the different options of designs, sizes and varieties of apples they grew.  It was a great working relationship.

After some debate, we decided to  install a 12’ section of  Belgian Fence  grown from Crabapple trees.    It was a process to install as each plant had to be carefully placed to the proper height and distance as well as getting the limbs  positioned in order to overlap and create the diamond shape pattern of the design.   The trees were planted  30″ away from the building to allow room for painting and any repairs needed.   Horizontal structural cables are slated to be installed behind the trees to allow for proper growth and development.

The Belgian Fence has proven to be a good choice as it combines the architectural structure of a trellis, year round seasonal interest plus a focal point that functions as intended to scale down the blank wall on the garage.

River Road Farms Belgian Fence Crabapple Onsite

A River Road Farms Espaliered Apple Tree

River Road Farms Belgian Fence Drawing

Espaliered Crabapples Installed

Our second task was to upgrade a portion of the foundation planting.   We found the existing plantings overgrown with a large bare area between the existing plantings and front walk.  A simplified approach to the planting along the base of the house was used by selective plant removals, transplanting the English Boxwoods and installing an informal boxwood parterre with a simple planting of Annabelle Hydrangeas.

Transplanting existing English Boxwoods

Boxwoods Transplanted with 20" English Boxwood Hedge Installed. Laying out hydrangeas for planting.

The new design creates a pleasing composition along the front foundation unifying the old with the new.  The existing larger English boxwoods were strategically located to anchor the architecture and provide screening of undesirable mechanical equipment.  Smaller boxwoods were employed to fill the gaps between the larger boxwoods and as a low hedge in front of the hydrangeas creating a seamless foundation planting.

A Boxwood Foundation Planting Parterre

I find designing and constructing gardens a metaphor to gardening it-self.   There is inspiration, effort, nurturing, frustration, revision and reassurance along the way and like all great gardens, reward!

Our next task, the driveway….

By: Jeff Allen
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