We were recently engaged to do the design, installation, and maintenance for several lovely massive pots flanking the front entrance to The Country Club of Fairfax. These are combinations of pussy willow, curly willow, Redtwig Dogwood, dried hydrangea blossoms, and Virginia Juniper, along with Southern Magnolia tips. They are quite large (the larger containers have an overall height now of about 8′-9′) and now really frame the entrance well. Cheers!
Each year I like to send out a gift to our clients, as a way of saying thanks for their business and as a way of expressing my appreciation for their trust in allowing me to shape their home or business spaces. For several years I have been aware of a stockpile of vintage mason jars in our basement– the previous owner of our house was an ardent canner and ran a huge veggie garden in our backyard. This year I brought up a bunch, cleaned & sterilized them, and now we’re using them to ship ridiculously tasty (if I do say so myself) home made granola. The recipe is a riff off of a nice one by Alton Brown. Whereas Alton calls for vegetable oil, we’re using unprocessed coconut oil, which imparts wonderful flavor to the mix. We’re also adding:
Dried fruit (apple, pineapple, plums, currants, raisins)
So I was very happy to learn that the residential clients for the project on Elmwood Avenue in historic Oak Park, IL wanted to move forward before things got really cold (and the ground unworkable). These past few weeks have been controlled insanity as a major renovation/addition project is ongoing at the house, so what’s a little major foundation planting? Why not, right?
click image for much larger version
A few photos the clients kindly took for me on this very rainy & cold windy day:
Almost too wet to work, still the ground was not clumpy or sticky so on we go with the install.
Looking down the driveway towards all the construction materials. The long side of the house will remain undeveloped until the spring, this will allow freer access for all the large construction vehicles and also ease the repaving job. Plants would scald pretty easily being so close to burning hot, newly-laid asphalt. As well, painting the house will be much less time-consuming without having to work around foundation plants.
The beds are laid out and hedging spacing adjusted. The Degroot’s Spire Arborvitae are just gorgeous, and the encircling boxwoods healthy and full.
Tidied up, edged with new sod, and hardwood mulch laid. There are several shrubs & one tree, a Chinese Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum), which will be planted in early spring.
The idea for the fundraiser is simple: In the second week of November, Dave Bockman & a select group of equally crazy cyclist friends will hop on our bikes and not stop until we’re 200 miles from where we started. Consider making a personal or corporate donation? Thanks from all of us!
One thing I really enjoy about this profession is the incredible diversity of client wishes that are incorporated into master planning. For example, last week I was approached to do a real top-to-bottom makeover– a client recently purchased a home which– while truly lovely otherwise- had some crazy chaotic plantings throughout the space (banana trees? Yep!) This coupled with the client’s desire for Best Management Practices when it comes to Tick abatement as well as generous outdoor program elements like a fireplace, spacious patio, outdoor kitchen, and robust privacy screening led to a very satisfying design process.
What is Tick abatement? It turns out one can seriously reduce the instances of Tick bites (and subsequent risk of Lyme disease) by creating a dry barrier around one’s property. This ‘barrier’ should be at a minimum three feet in width and consist of either an impermeable surface or a permeable stone surface like river gravel. Ticks require cool & moist conditions on their travels, and simply cannot make it over such a breadth of hot dry material without expiring. In this design, I have added steel edging to both contain the gravel (washed Chesapeake river gravel) as well as add some heat to the situation. By allowing the steel edging to stand proud a bit (say, an inch and a half?), we help create a situation where the Sun will help the steel to radiate heat into the gravel, adding to the barrier’s effectiveness. Aesthetically, I think it looks attractive and I have designed its course in such a way as to suggest a gravel path, especially over to the far left where it disappears between tall evergreens– a kind of ‘folly’ in that it doesn’t actually lead anywhere but does suggest more room and spaces beyond. Looking forward to seeing this space realized over the coming months!