As an independent designer I'm in the fortunate position of being able to design gardens that will be professionally installed by my recommended contractors*, by the homeowners themselves, or even by another preferred and local-to-the-site contractor. (*I never accept a referral fee so my recommendation is based on the fact that they always do outstanding work and make me look good!)
Occasionally, homeowners like to take my ideas, mull them over, then add their own unique spin. Such was the case with a recent client whom we'll call Louise.
Louise is sassy, vivacious, full of fun, and full of ideas – I just love working with her! She had asked me to redesign several of her garden borders for lower maintenance – which I did. But I couldn't ignore the complete lack of statement at the entrance to her lovely rural property. I drew Louise's attention to the lackluster Shasta daisies, long since past their bloom time, that flanked the entrance driveway. I suggested we could improve on this and yet to my surprise she was initially hesitant saying how much she loved these summer flowers.
Now I love them too – to a point. But they stink to high heaven (cut a bunch and bring them indoors and you'll think all the neighborhood Tom cats have visited), they only flower for a few weeks, and the remaining stalks and leaves are at best boring, and at worst a hideous mess. They also spread like crazy.
Regardless, I've known Louise a while and knew I could bring her around to my way of thinking. Eventually.
- The Shasta daisies only look good for a few weeks. Before and after they look a mess, boring or are dormant.
- Louise insisted she had to have them
- Everything has to be deer-resistant
- To give a greater sense of 'arrival' by designing a structure of some sort – not just a patch of brown earth
- To include the beloved Shasta daisies within the structure
- To add other plants with year round interest
- Use a circular galvanized stock tank, drilled for drainage to act as the structure
- Add a beautiful small tree (a compact form of seven-son flower (Heptacodium) such as Tianshan or Temple of Bloom) in the center that has interesting bark, beautiful foliage, fragrant, late summer flowers, and outstanding fall color
- Surround this with the transplanted Shasta daisies
- Add trailing (evergreen) rosemary around the edge for additional four-season appeal
- Rather than a stock tank she installed circular gabion walls of the same dimensions which will be filled with soil and planted as per my design
Above 3 images courtesy of Louise
Other potential options:
- Concrete block
- Stacked stone
- Rusted metal
Take home message
Don't be afraid to tweak a professional design but take time to understand why the various elements were chosen. Any professional designer will gladly explain their choices and you may be surprised to hear how much goes into the selection process. From style, scale, and proportion to longevity, sustainability, and suitability – this is what we do. Yet there is always more than one way to solve a problem.