Monday, January 30, 2012

Naturalized City Garden

This garden already had the foundation of lush plantings that just needed balancing and supplementing. We added some evergreen Camellia spring blooming shrubs, relocated some of the existing plants and added a number of shade loving, flowering perennials. However the garden was dominated by its very linear brick path bordered by linear timbers. Since the garden naturally tended towards the naturalized woodland garden style due to its dominant trees on both sides, we needed to bring a balance to the linear pathway. We selected weathered flagstones and formed a serpentine pathway that crossed the brick pathway as well as some fieldstone boulders set on the right side around the tree. This quickly brought the best out of the garden space and defined a theme for the garden (naturalized urban woodland).
Later in the fall, we returned to rebuild the fences on the left and rear sides of the garden. The old pine picket privacy fence and gate was removed and we constructed a custom made cedar fence with horizontal boards. The design was made more appealing by using thinner boards with wider gaps at the top of the fence, allowing greater light through the fence and lessening the enclosed feeling of a fence. The home's cat was very pleased with the new fence that provided a perfect sunbathing and lookout spot!
The gate mimicked the style of the fence, and was completed with a deadbolt lock rather than a latch. Both sides of the fence were "finished" making it equally appealing from the inside or outside. Finally the fence and gate were stained a walnut color semitransparent stain that allowed the grain of the cedar wood to show through but darkened and protected the wood.
Below the fence (still unstained) radically changes the appearance of the garden as vertical pickets were replaced with horizontal lines. This also served to de-emphasize again the dominant linear brick path.
On the left side of the garden the fence continued with the same design but included a single step down to take into account the change in grade. The new side fence replaced an old wire fence that had been completely covered with ivy. While ivy is a very effective ground cover, it is very invasive and can come to completely dominate a garden. In this case the ivy was removed which further transformed the garden.
Finally a new house number was required for the back fence. Using the numbers provided by the homeowners, we created a unique plaque for the numbers using a section of Osage Orange board. Osage Orange is a local native tree (also known as monkey brains) which has a stunning yellow wood. This yellow wood provided a highly visible back ground for the dark numbers. Osage orange is a very hard wood, very resistant to decay and it has a long history of use in fences, living fences and was used by the Osage Indigenous People for Bows due to its strength. In many ways it is a perfect wood to create plaques for numbers, signs or fence art. We left the bark on the board to add to the natural appeal and uniqueness of the number plaque, which also hints at the naturalized woodland garden behind the fence!

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