Saturday, December 8, 2012

Four And Counting!

Yesterday marked my four year anniversary in the blogging world.!!  I can't believe how quickly the time has gone by.  It has been a wonderful experience and I have been lucky enough to meet many of you over the past few years.  To all my electronic pen pals I want to thank you for reading over the years.  It was funny to go back and read through some of the first posts, what a difference four years makes.

Yesterday was South Carolina's Arbor Day.  Last year I went up to USC Upstate's campus in Spartanburg for their celebration, the speaker was Dr. Michael Dirr.   I enjoyed it and decided to come back each  year!!   I went up this year with a couple Master Gardeners from my area.  This year's speaker was Tracy DiSabato-Aust.  I know her books from reading many of your posts about her recommendations for tending to the perennial garden.   Her program topic was "The Well-Designed Mixed Garden".




Tracy started off with some very clear expectations... first and foremost, no zone denial!  What? Not me, I live in zone 8a, ok, 7b.  I may have been known to stretch the zones, but sometimes I stretch it the other direction...try to baby some plants that are marginally zone 7 and my 7b/8a could stress it.  Micro climates!!!  
After getting us on board to work within our zonal limits, Tracy took us through the steps in the design process.
Site evaluation seems pretty straight forward, check how many hours of sunlight you have, soil test, and of course, know your hardiness zone.  You must then determine your objectives for this garden spot.  Points to consider include

  • maintenance- how much work do you do in the garden?
  •  budget- how much are you going to spend?
  • location of the garden-private or public spaces?
  • function- how are you going to enjoy your garden? 
  • peak season of  interest-- I am working on getting more seasons of interest
  • what is your style?  What inspires you?



She spoke of scale and proportion.  Scale is the size of an element or area and proportion is the relationship of the elements' size to each other -- a ratio of one dimension to another.  (I didn't know we were going to have math!)  She spoke of the Golden Mean, which is 1:1.618, also called the proportion of divine beauty.  I understand using odd numbers of plants and when picturing a space that you don't want to divide it in half, use 1/3 2/3. This takes it a little further.  When graphed, a series of numbers that have the Golden Mean ratio, form a perfect spiral.   It is found in nature, a spiral shell, the arrangement of sunflower seeds, the way rose petals shape a bud.  Read more about this here. Wow, more math than I have done in a long time.  Tracy says to use the ratio in size, plant choice, color selection, textures and placement of plants.  It will be more pleasing to the eye.
Color is another focus of design.  She covered hue, value and intensity of color.  Hue is pure color.  Value is degree of luminosity (how much light is reflected back) and intensity is colorfulness or grayness or a color.   Choosing colors takes control, I love so many colors.  My last post shows how I needed to have a better plan for the colors in the front garden.  Colors next to each other on the color wheel, analogous colors and colors opposite each other, complementary colors work can create harmony or cause the eye to stop.  You can choose color schemes that are analogous, complementary  monochromatic (one basic color in various shades and tones) or polychromatic- many colored.  
Other elements of design include form-- you know, all those shapes (more math- Geometry) and texture-- fine, average and bold.  One technique for seeing form in your garden is digital photography...using the black and white feature or the pencil line drawing feature.  It eliminates the color your eye is drawn to, seeing form.    The Golden Mean is used with texture, keeping that balance.  I remember in my Virginia garden I ended up with too many spikey plants, too many spires.  It was out of balance.  
The design principles Tracy follows are Order, Unity, and Rhythm.  Order in balance and mass plantings.  Unity with dominance, repetition and interconnection- plants that mingle.  Rhythm in color, textures, plantings... repetition, alternating, and gradation (color or size).
Color, form or texture can be achieved using art  in the garden.  Tracy likes to add some art to bring in a color or create a focal point or repeat a shape.  You can personalize your garden with art.
I hope to keep and use some of these principles in my garden.  It was such an informative program.  I have barely covered all that Tracy shared.
Immediately after the program I met up with my buddy Julie from Growing Days.   Julie lives close by but this is the first we have seen each other since the Spring Fling.  It was great to visit over lunch.  Julie suggested that my Master Gardener buddies and I stop by Hatcher Gardens on our way home.  What a great recommendation.  It is a 10 acre garden and Woodland Preserve.  The Hatchers worked this garden, adding acreage over the years, making a slice of heaven out of a weedy trashy portion of land.   I hope to get back to this garden many times over the seasons.  It was truly a labor of love.
I will leave you with photos of our short time in the garden.  Thanks for sticking around for these four years.
Pitcher plants in clay chimney inserts

See the little hairs on the throat of the flower?  

Hillside of Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Hand made bird feeders adorned the trees

Various conifers created a beautiful setting

Honey bees on Fatsia blooms

Water features throughout the garden, filtering storm water

Pretty pink Camellia

Honey bees were all over the Mahonia blooms

More pathways to explore next time.  What a tranquil setting.

Thanks for giving us directions to this wonderful garden Julie.   I look forward to seeing it in all seasons.
I bought Tracy's book "The Well Tended Perennial Garden".  Will share what I learn once I read through it.  Stay tuned!

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford.

  words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

50 comments:

  1. The book sounds fascinating and I love that garden...the water feature is amazing...Janet blogging for more than a couple of years is amazing and such a milestone...congrats and I hope there will be many more.

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    1. Donna @GEV, Yes, the Hatcher Garden is super, can't wait to visit it again and again.

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  2. Kudos on reaching four years! I would have loved going to that talk, I bet you really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing so many of her points with us. I'm not much for math either. That looks like a really lovely garden too. All in all, it sounds like you had a wonderful day!

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    1. Alison, thanks, hard to believe four years have gone by so quickly. I had to take a lot of notes at this program to make sure I reported it well.

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  3. Happy Anniversary to you!! I cringe when I look back at my first posts from years ago, and now I'm curious--I'll have to check to see how long I've been at it!

    It was so wonderful to see you, even if it was only briefly. You really captured Tracy's information so well, and now I wish I had gotten her book. Oh well, maybe Santa will think I've been a good girl and bring it. We'll see! Please tell your friends Mary and Mary Jane that I enjoyed meeting them.

    Your photo of the pitcher plant is gorgeous--amazing detail! I hoped the camellias at Hatcher would be putting on a nice show for you, and I'm so happy to see the many honeybees still working in the garden. Let's definitely plan an outing to Hatcher in the spring--it's really lovely. Next time, I'm arranging child care so I don't need to rush off--sorry for that.

    And most importantly--did you win any door prizes? ;-)

    Hope to see you again soon!

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    1. Julie, First posts are really like reading an elementary primer. So how long have you been blogging? Did you look? I will tell Mary and Mary-Jane, it was a fun day.
      I fell in love with pitcher plants when we went to Asheville....such a cool plant. No door prizes.

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  4. Wow. Both last year's lecturer and this year's lecturer were top notch! How wonderful to have been able to make it to both.

    As I looked through your photos of the Hatcher Gardens, enjoying the closeup of the pitcher plant and trying to identify a couple of the other blooms before reading the caption (the fatsia had me totally stumped!), I was suddenly struck by how much the opening camellia bloom looked like a peony blossom opening. So many of my friends in Mobile were frustrated that they couldn't grow peonies...but in a way, they can! They're just generally smaller blooms and located on a woody, evergreen shrub!

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    1. Gaia, I know, the choice of lecturers is amazing. Can't wait until next year. Yes, Camellias are a super shrub, love the varied blooms.

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  5. Dear Janet,
    congratulations! It is like a diary, isn't it? Through you I found the way into blogland, and though by our move to Berlin my garden has changed to a balcony, my thanks to you are always there! Britta

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    1. Britta, It is like a diary. I am glad I was out in blogland for you to find. thanks so much.

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  6. I just got the book on designing mixed borders by this author, so your summary was a great primer. I'm now even more eager to read the book. By the way, my family and I are staying the week of Christmas to New Years at a cabin we rented at Edisto Beach in SC, any suggestions about great gardens to visit in the area?

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    1. Jason, yes, hope the overview helps with the book for you. I am a little late in sharing no information about Edisto. We live in Upstate and have been here for two and a half years, never been to the SC coast (YET). I would have been no help.

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  7. Congrats! Sounds like you heard a fascinating lecture, with lots of great design advice!

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    1. Sweetbay, thanks! It was a great lecture, hope some of the advice with help me!!

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  8. Congratulations! Fantastic that you have been blogging for so long! I only found your blog this year and love reading your posts! I am looking forward to meeting up some time soon too! Sounds like you celebrated Arbor Day right..I love those kind of days out.

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    1. Karin, thanks!! It has gone by pretty quickly in hindsight. I am glad we met up in the blogasphere. We will meet up sometime soon. Your Heart's A Bustin' is doing well in the pot!!

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  9. All those design principles are things every design should know, but I am at a loss on the Golden Rectangle/Ratio reference. It is important in graphic design, art architecture, and even garden design drawings in plan. It is not related to color, expressed 3D or in a spacial sense in the way it seems to be explained. Like in architecture it guides for proportion and scale. Gardens are too fluid. I must get her book to see how she explains using it on such a small scale as plant selection and textures of plants. I was at one of her talks, but her talk was not so design centric.

    Congrats on four years. That is an accomplishment. I am glad the bees like the Mahonia. I just got two plants and am hoping they make it through the winter. The are iffy in our area. I just love the size of the plant and the pretty flowers.

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    1. Donna@GWGT, I know you have far more knowledge of the Golden Ratio than I do! I think her using the G. R. on plants is to have that best combination of texture, size and shape. Like I said too much of one thing can put it all whacky. My garden in VA had too many tall spikey plants, it didn't look pleasing.

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  10. What a fun day! Looks like Tracy cut her hair. I bet her talk was really informative. You too great notes. No more zonal denial is actually pretty good advice but I wonder how the nurseries feel about it. :) I keep my questionable plants in containers on my covered patio just in case the temps dip which they inevitably do every year. The nursery looks so inviting. I love that they've got flowers for the honeybees in December! Great post, Janet, and happy Blogiversary!

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    1. Grace, it was a great day! Yes, Tracy didn't have her cornrowed hair this year. I tried to take good notes, she really shared a lot of information.
      thanks!

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  11. Sounds fascinating Janet. Zone denial....who me? LOL! I love stretching it too and would love to try some Camellia's. I love the bench in the garden with the hydrangeas behind. What a lovely picture and grouping they make. Have a wonderful week my friend.

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    1. Lona, it was fantastic. I know zone denial is a hard one! I have read there are some cold hardy Camellias, will have to look into it a little more.

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  12. Congratulations on turning 4! That sounds like it was a great talk to take part in. I find it hard keeping all those principles in mind when working on garden design. Much easier to see my mistakes after the fact! How lucky you're close enough to get there to attend these.

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    1. Marguerite, thanks!! It was a fun day. Learning about it is one thing, putting it into practice is really another.

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  13. I am so glad you've been blogging because I wouldn't want to blog without you! I have Tracey's book and love it!!

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    1. Tammy, thanks, that is really nice to say. I look forward to reading delving into her book and putting it into practice.

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  14. Congratulations on your blogaversary, Janet! The one thing I remember from your early posts--or whenever I first found your blog--was your mermaid coffee table:) Do you still have it?

    This sounds like such a great program; wow, I'd definitely have to brush up on my math! Design is an area I feel woefully inadequate in; I just plant things I like and plop them wherever they fit. I'll have to check out Tracy's book this winter.

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    1. Rose, thanks so much. I really feel like we have forged into blogging together. Yes, I have my mermaid table--- OF COURSE I DO!! Will have to share another photo of her.
      Yes, it was a great program.

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  15. Janet, you are a dedicated blogger, writer, photographer. Congratulations on your four-year milestone! I would love to meet up with you and Julie at Hatcher sometime when I'm staying in WNC for a while.

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    1. DJ, thanks, very kind words. Yes, four years it a milestone. We will meet up soon!

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  16. Sounds like a great talk!

    Here's my issue with design: I start out with a good design. Then, nature kills off (weather, critters, etc.) one or more of the plants in the design and I don't want to fill the spot with the same thing (since it didn't survive). So, there goes the design! :-)

    Congratulations on four years of blogging.

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    1. Freda, yes it was a great talk. And absolutely nature takes your design and laughs. More plants should be in the auxiliary plan!

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  17. What an informative talk! I'm going to have to start looking for that Golden Mean! Congratulations, too, on four years of blogging! That has taken a lot of dedication, and I can only imagine all the information you have imparted in that time.

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    1. Holley, thanks for coming by, I have been very late in replying to all these comments. yes, apparently the Golden Mean is all around us.
      I have learned a lot in the four years. Blogging is a two way street! We teach and we learn.

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  18. Gee, Tracey as speaker and then a visit to such a wonderful garden too! I was kinda sad when I saw the garden because we have very little going on outside right now. I can't believe it's still so warm where you are, but of course, it is. Great review of her talk btw. She knows her stuff.~~Dee

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    1. Dee, Yes, it was a great time!! We have stuff going on most all year long, I love my zone!

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  19. Hi Janet, Congratulations on 4 years of blogging! I was reading away and started to wonder just how long I have been at it. I couldn't remember! Was it 3 years or 4? I guess it is a good sign that I have lost track of time. Fellow bloggers do become friends, don't they? One thing and another has kept me away from the computer-I find I miss all my favourite blogs and the voices of their authors.
    "The Well-Designed Mixed Garden" certainly seems to have inspired you. I can't remember when you have written at such length. Order, Unity, and Rhythm are especially intriguing design concepts for me. I think my garden is becoming a bit too choppy and could use a bit more "unity". I look forward to your book review.

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    1. Jennifer, thanks!! It is easy to lose track of time for blogging. We do become friends, it was so great meeting some garden bloggers this past year at the Spring Fling, instant friends. I missed blogging this past month but it was a nice break.
      Tracy's talk was very interesting. I think I wrote so much because I was afraid to leave out an important point.

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  20. Janet, congratulations on your blog's 4th anniversary!!! I got so much useful information from it! But, the most important is the fact that I started to pay more attention to trees, thanks to you! Thank you!
    What an interesting post today! There are some things that I have not heard before. I need to look at my garden in black and white.
    Happy gardening and happy blogging!

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    1. Tatyana, thanks so much. I am glad you have been a regular reader and that you notice trees more now. :-)
      It was a great talk, I took a lot of ideas away with me.

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  21. Congratulations Janet! I can't claim to have been following your blog for all that time, but I do really enjoy reading about your garden, the trees you love so much, and the world around you. The talk sounds fascinating, though my mind is boggled by the notion of applying the golden ratio to plant selection. Your woodland garden looks beguiling, a garden that makes you want to explore is always a winner in my book.

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    1. Janet, thanks so much. I do have a reputation for my tree posts, that makes me happy. It was a great talk, lots to take in. Yes, the Hatcher Garden is one we will explore many times over.

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  22. Congrats on the anniversary. Have enjoyed your posta and look forward to many more.

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    1. Patrick, thanks so much. More to come and Happy New Year.

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  23. Four years... congratulations, Janet!

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    1. Gloria, thanks! It has been an enjoyable trip.

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  24. Congratulations on your four years. I was able to meet Traci DiSabto-Aust at last year's short course in Newport News. Her garden advice was very good, but I found her athletic accomplishments just as impressive.

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    1. Les, thanks. Tracy has some very good advice. Her arms are buff!

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  25. Sounds like a really fun day especially seeing Julie. Haven't heard anything about next year's fling. Four years is a wonderful accomplishment, congratulations.

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    1. Carolyn, it was a lot of fun getting together with Julie along with my Master Gardener friends. Next year's fling is San Fran!

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