Friday, March 23, 2018

Seven WInds Projects from 2017


The past year, 2017, was a busy year for Seven Winds Landscaping.  We installed projects all around the area.  Below is a selection of some of the projects from 2017 with some fun "before and after" photos.  Some of these gardens are indeed unrecognizable after their transformation. We thank all of our great homeowners for entrusting Seven Winds with caring for their gardens, from the most simple project to the most complex.  It is because of you that we can continue to do what we love to do!

A masonry fountain, brick and bluestone graces a city garden oasis.
The project pictured below required extensive designing in order to incorporate all the elements that the homeowners desired. Myriad details went into creating this complex, yet visually flowing space. It features a lot of functional elements incorporated into a pleasing and harmonious aesthetic experience.  The yard was originally framed by privet hedges which made the garden feel narrow.  There was no functional deck space.  
The first step was the construction of a cedar fence which was finished on both sides, unlike many privacy fences.  The gate was highly unusual in that it is a 10' bifold gate.  The second step was the construction of a deck with pergola, planters and benches, and the construction of a small shed built into the actual fence in order to maximize space.  Narrow raised planters flow along the walkway with metal trellises to create additional vertical green space.

AFTER:  This shows the winter view of the garden.

Phase two which took place over the winter 2017-2018 involved a great deal of masonry as walkways, patio, walls and a fountain completed the space.

AFTER: A paver "flagstone' patio allows dual use as a patio and parking area.  A waterfall water feature is built into the fence on the right side.  
Phase two involved a curving masonry wall built from local quartzite stone quarried out of Butler, Maryland.  This wall curves up to create a sitting area around an overflowing urn garden.  It also creates a large raised garden along one side of the space with ample room for a couple Japanese maples.  The AC unit (a common eyesore in small gardens) is covered with trellis and a top to create a table.  Trellis sides and cap are removable for the summer season in order to allow AC unit adequate air.  
Urn water garden in deck extension is accessible from deck and walkway.   Seating areas on the wall and on the built in bench between planters on deck create an intimate space to enjoy the water features.
A second project in another narrow garden shows the difference an elegant bluestone patio can make in a garden that had not been "updated" in many years.  In this case we removed a straight paver patio and walkway and created a curved patio and walkway.  Curves give a walkway a sense of surprise with their inherent invitation to continue walking to discover what is around the curve.  In rectangular yards, curves can soften the space.  In this particular case a beautiful cascade of blue morning glories from the neighbor's yard compliments the various blues, greens and purples of the bluestone.  The rose colored bricks of the garage complement the patio as well.  This is now a garden ready for an array of plantings to further develop its beauty.  
Simplicity of design and smoothness of flow form a strong foundation for this  garden.
The following project combines classic brick and bluestone with sleek contemporary design.  A large fountain pond is a visual and auditory centerpiece harking back to the charming village fountains still found throughout Europe.  A generous bluestone patio allows space to stretch out with ample room for container gardens, while a series of steps drops to the alley grade at the end of the garden. Follow the photos as they move from the alley into this gorgeous new space.

An arched gate leads from the back alley into the garden.  Brick knee walls retain the higher garden grade, while a horizontal cedar board fence introduces a modern tone.  
Upon opening the gate a series of steps rises to eventually give way to the upper patio.  Raised beds retained with timbers allow gardening space on each side of the walkway.  A hidden trash area is tucked in the left corner.
AFTER:  Two new trees, a seedless Sweet Gum and a Sweet Bay Magnolia have taken the place of the prickly Holly and overgrown pines.  The trash area is hidden behind a fence panel in the back right corner.  
BEFORE:  Three large trees overshadowed the garden, dropping pine needles and prickly holly leaves.  The garden was feeling cluttered and in need of some more functional space, however the water feature was an essential feature to bring into the new design.  
Diagonal lines cut through any boxiness that a rectangular design can give rise to and the arched gate becomes a visual focal point from this view due to it being one of the few curves in the design.
The visual and auditory jewel of the garden, a goldfish pond and fountain  provides room for water garden plants, sitting walls,  and shelves, while it creates the tranquil sound of a waterfall which drowns out the city noises.  The waterfall itself consists of a reclaimed granite slab over which the water flows.  The pond is deeper than grade, allowing for safe overwintering of fish.

This petite garden needed a new fence and reorganizing using existing stones that were already present.  The new fence created a new frame for this space, with a level top rather than the more typical top that follows grade.  For city gardens a truly level fence is more elegant.  We can step it down (as in the previous project) to comply with city or county building code restrictions of fence height.  Especially with a very small garden such as this one, building the fence to be level is essential.  We reused existing stone collected by the homeowner to define very specific raised planting areas. The new curved walkway is pea gravel, a classic choice for informal gardens.  
AFTER: Now a strong new fence frames the space, while clearly defined and beautified planting areas  are separated by a pea gravel walkway.  The Serviceberry tree, now freed from its pot, will appreciate its roots being in the earth.  New plantings will give color and attract birds, butterflies and bees.
BEFORE:  Undefined planting areas and a very old fence needed to be addressed.
Pavers and concrete wall units offer a wide range of hardscaping options.  In this particular project a new deck had been built creating a large sloped unusable space underneath it, and an area that needed a patio to connect a back door to the bottom of the steps.  We came up with a design that allowed level terraces under the deck as well as a lower patio to connect the door with an existing walkway and the new deck steps.  The back drop to the patio was an array of color, given this project took place in November.  We also enjoyed seeing some very tame deer passing by.
The paver selected by the homeowners was Belgard 'Mega Arbel' in fossil beige with matching wall units and caps.  They provide a flagstone look alike patio.  

Terraces under the deck create new useful spaces as well as provide for easy cleaning.  A privacy lattice was installed  to hide a storage area under an existing enclosed porch.  We like to use a tight mesh lattice for privacy or to obscure the view of a storage or trash area.

Many features can be added to the garden to provide architectural interest and yield a result, be that result fruit, wildlife food and nectar, or cut flowers. In this project we installed a cedar trellis system for an espaliered apple tree (with three different apple varieties grafted onto it) as well as some raspberry rows on the side.  Espaliered trees and shrubs are a way to fit a tree into a narrow vertical space, such as along a wall or at the side of a deck or fence.  They do need a strong supportive structure.  
Espaliered apple with raspberry rows on either end.
We also planted a native plant garden to feed butterflies, humming birds, various other birds and beneficial insects. These are robust plants which quickly take root and thrive.  The ones we selected for this very sunny spot are meadow natives, which tend to be very flamboyant.  A humming buzzing haze of insects and butterflies fill the air around them in the summertime.  
Some of the native wild flowers here are Joe Pye weed, Monarda, Buttefly weed, Iron weed, Goldenrod, and Red Cardinal flower.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seven Winds Landscaping Projects from 2016

From Rain Gardens to Outdoor Fireplaces, 2016 projects ranged from beautifying small corners of the garden, to constructing whole new outdoor living spaces.  Here are some visuals of our Year 2016 with some dramatic before and after photos too!

A key element to enjoying your patio year round is an inviting hearth.  This fireplace is brick with bluestone accents.  The space is defined and embraced by curving brick walls.  The patio itself is Pennsylvania Bluestone- a classic withstanding the test of time!

 Moon gardens must shimmer in the moonlight.  The choice of quartzite flagstone with its mica particles was natural in designing this Moon garden.  Plants with silvery foliage light up in the moonlight and give year round texture and color to the landscape.  The summer is filled with white blossoms of roses, hydrangeas, day lilies, echinacea, astilbe and coral bells.

Functional, beautiful, and a gift to bees and butterflies, a rain garden can be incorporated into any landscape.  Generally filled with native plants, a rain garden absorbs water runoff and provides a wonderful ecological benefit.  The second photo in this series is a rain garden in its second year of growth.

Old ivy laden chain link gives way to classic brick and iron.  Elegant and secure this alley way wall is the visual back drop to a reimagined city garden.

New lattice fences flank garden beds lining a new Bluestone walkway.  In city gardens, space is a valuable commodity and design can make a small garden feel expansive.  After springtime planting this will  be a tapestry of color and texture surround simplified lines and a contemporary yet classic style.
Here the goal was to create a more serene space.  The garden was spilling over with flowers creating an unmanageable space.  The challenge was to keep the color but redefine the space.  Plants moved to new perennial borders leaving space for a bench and step ping stone pathway that acts as both a visual accent and functional seat. 
A front garden of grass and weeds is transformed to a view of texture, color and year round interest.  A Sango-Kaku Japanese maple tree takes center place surrounded by perennials.  A lovely birdbath that had been hidden by the weeds becomes a second major accent in the composition.
This tired slate patio was crumbling on top but had a solid concrete pad below.  Removing the slate and its mortar bed, and replacing with new brick pavers mortared on to the existing concrete pad allowed this patio to take on a whole new look.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Cedar Trellis and Pergola Create A Shaded Retreat!

Urban gardeners are often faced with space limitations and the awkward spaces created between homes can become overlooked, as more focus is placed on front and back gardens.  However with creative design these spaces can become beautiful and functional gardens.  These small spaces can transform to elegant and intimate, lush and tranquil retreats within the city scape!

Essential within the design process is the creation of a strong "skeletal system" for the garden, which is created through the use of Patios, Walkways, Garden Walls, Decks, Fences, Pergolas and Trees.  These are the "Bones" of the Garden which will be visible at all times of the year, but become especially evident in the Winter.  In this Garden the most essential "Bones" are the Trellis-Pergola structure, which transforms the brick walls and patio from an overwhelming expanse of Brick, to a beautiful back drop for the Garden itself.

This space is approximately 9' x 22' and walled on three sides with brick and also has a brick patio.  The old worn bricks were a valuable asset that were re-set to even out  areas that had sunk over time.  A garden bed was reclaimed, and a large Cedar Trellis and Pergola designed and built to take advantage of the small space by angling the Pergola at approximately 37.5 degrees from the Trellis.  This created a shaded area in this sun-baked side patio just large enough to contain a small table for two or three.   Pink tints in the Cedar blend perfectly with the rose bricks.  A blue patina medallion adorns the Trellis, providing a perfect cooling contrast with the warmth of the Cedar and Bricks.  Wisteria will eventually cover the whole Trellis and Pergola providing lavender spring blossoms and Summer Shade.  The lovely twisting vine will also provide winter interest as well as have an architectural function as it grows larger over time and will wind its way around the cedar.

Not only does the Pergola create shade, it also enhances the entry through the side door of the home, providing a graceful transition from street to home.  Walking up the steps into the space one enters a well defined garden, with a strong structure that will be adorned with appropriate plants.    It is always a joy to work with small spaces as they provide a design challenge and opportunity cultivate the relationship between human structures and the natural world, bringing that relationship into harmony and balance.



Monday, October 7, 2013

From Bricks, straggly Junipers and Weeds to Bluestone, Crape Myrtles, and Perennials!

In the Guilford neighborhood of Baltimore, beautiful homes abound.  Many are have exquisite contemporary gardens, naturalized gardens, and classic gardens.  Some have low maintenance liriope expanses with evergreen shrubs carefully placed to give year-round consistency to the landscape, others contain an wide array of perennials.  Some gardens still contain patios and plants from many years ago, when patios were smaller, tall junipers were popular as screens along with the ubiquitous yews!

In this project Seven Winds transformed an old brick patio and weedy garden with a row of junipers into a contemporary garden which welcomed the happy activities of the homeowners who rounded out the garden with their own selection of perennials and vegetable plants!

We began with the removal of the junipers, various other shrubs and the old brick patio...
We continued with a new dry-laid bluestone patio and a basic structural landscaping of 3 crape myrtles (fall blooming),  skip laurels (evergreen) which will eventually provide privacy and the spring and summer flowers of viburnum and clethra respectively.  

Bluestone pattern is "Random Rectangular or Pattern Bluestone" and color is "Full Color" including blue, gray, rust, green and purple tones.  

These plant selections created the basic structure of the garden, leaving plenty of room for the homeowners, who enjoy gardening, to get creative with their own selections which were planted in front of the new shrubs and trees.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Terraces become Garden "Rooms": Using the garden's "natural resources"!

Seven Winds designed and installed a master plan for this garden using the existing stone walls that graced this hillside home.  These stone walls had been built by a prior homeowner who evidently loved stone and utilized some reclaimed stone to have all these walls built.  The walls create two terraces above the ground level where the house sits.  The homeowner wanted to have the garden feel like different rooms, each area having its own unique qualities.  She also wanted a large deck to extend the living area of the home and to create a wonderful area for garden parties.


Upper Terrace
Middle Terrace

The Upper Terrace
This terrace included a cedar shed in board and batten style, a garden filled with trees, shrubs and perennials, a clover lawn and some perennials to accentuate the gorgeous Japanese maple tree which provided filtered shade to the terrace below.  
Clover is a great choice for a lawn that does not get a lot of foot traffic.  It is an ecological option as a legume, fixing nitrogen from the air into the soil and thereby improving soil fertility.  It grows well in light or dappled shade, and only needs to be mown once a year.  Its flowers attract beneficial insects to the garden including the honey bee.
Shade gardens not only allow us to plant the usual shade favorites such as coral bells, bleeding heart, bergenia, hellebores, ferns etc, but also give us the opportunity to plant some of our special woodland natives such as black cohosh, wild ginger, trilliums, solomans seal and even some of our rare and precious natives such as bloodroot, goldenseal and ginseng!
The benefit of having a master plan for the garden is that while the expense of various installations can be spread out over a number of years if necessary, the result will be a garden that is in harmony with itself.  This also eliminates having to pull out plants or doing extensive transplanting due to not planning ahead.  In this garden the house, deck and shed are all cedar, tying the whole home and garden together.

The existing stone steps just needed to be tied together with some flagstone walkways.  The walkway on the upper terrace leads to the shed and back gate and is made from slate that was already in the garden.  Seven Winds values the creative and tasteful reuse of materials whenever possible and the accentuating those elements that the garden already contains.  This garden had the walls and a beautiful huge maple on the ground level, and the Japanese maple on the top terrace.  The end of the middle terrace had some espaliered fruit trees, which provided a nice semi-private (seasonal) screen as well as fruits which were at least appreciated by the wildlife!

We selected this exressive weeping Spruce for the top terrace, along with a crab apple and Juniper.  They will spread and grow and eventually create more privacy and of course a wind block for the top terrace.  They also beautified the neighborhood as a walking path runs behind this property and this garden is visible from the walking path.  

The Middle Terrace
The middle terrace consisted of a quartzite patio which can be used for this small table and chairs or for a hammock.  The patio is surrounded by plantings which will spread to provide a lush abundance of perennials.  Beyond the patio is a small clover lawn and behind that a bed of meadow perennials such as Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Lavender and behind that the espaliered fruit trees.

The view from the neighbor's yard shows both the top and middle terraces dominated by this beautiful Japanese Maple.

The Ground Level

On the lowest level we build a large cedar deck which stretched from the walls to the house and to the large maple tree.  There was an old fireplace built into the walls and we built the deck around this so that it could continue to be used.  The deck raised the level of the yard up about 18" which brought the three terraces closer together in terms of visual connectedness.  Now someone in the ground level garden could more easily see and fell part of the rest of the garden.
Some of this decks best features come from the fact that it is surrounded on two sides by these beautiful stone walls which give it a sheltered feel, balancing its large size.  The large maple also gives it quite a bit of shade, without totally blocking the sun.  Pots of herbs, perennials, annuals or even vegetables could easily be grown on the deck.
This garden project was a wonderful project, as the garden had such a strong foundation with its trees and walls.  It was an honor to be the designer and installer to bring a renewed vibrancy and life to this garden.