Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Evolution of A Foundation Garden

In the late winter of 2006, we ripped out the overgrown shrubs from the front of our home, and started with a clean slate. In April, as replacements, I added two bluepoint junipers, three crimson pygmy barberries, a harry lauder's walking stick, a red twig dogwood, a japanese cypress and a few blue fescues to round things out.

As the years passed by, I continued to extend the beds further out into the existing lawn; my goal being a cottage-type garden (and to reduce my mowing area) that requires minimal upkeep / pruning as well as four-season interest. I concentrated on dwarf varieties, so as not to end up in the original predicament of having to remove overgrown shrubs too large for their space.

Five and a half years later,  I am (mostly) successful with my plan. The harry lauder's walking stick was, I'm afraid, not the best choice. it has filled it's space in the center of the bed and then some. I fear I will need to move it this Spring (possibly to the back yard); this will be no easy feat. The blue fescues also have all but disappeared into the lawn, due to my lack of vigilant edge maintenance.  But all the other plants have come into their own; I prune the barberries a couple of times of year and a major pruning of the dogwood taking place in Spring.  The evergreens take care of themselves and hopefully (!) have reached their mature heights.

Here are some photos showing before, during and after of the front yard:
Before - Late Winter 2006 Clean Slate
During - Approx.  May 2008 (?)
After - Oct. 2011 Continuing to Evolve . . .

As winter approaches, I look forward to the ever-changing palette the garden displays. Speaking of winter interest, I recently stumbled upon a great book called "The Garden in Winter" by Suzy Bales (click link):
This is a fabulous book, especially for anyone in a northern climate, who thinks that gardening ceases in winter. She really opened my eyes to the beauty of the winter garden, as well as eased my anxieties about the unpredictability of plant behavior in this season. I read a lot of gardening material; this is one of the most refreshing gardening books I've seen in a very long time. Check it out!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pet Portrait - Frankie

I just completed this pet portrait of a friend's dearly departed dog Frankie, using black ink and inktense colored pencils. I never met Frankie, but he sure looked like a sweet dog, and his owner loved him dearly. When I gave her the portrait, she immediately noticed something in the picture; and she said to me, "was that intentional?" I didn't know what she meant. And then she pointed it out - the heart-shaped ear(!) To her, it was as if Frankie was communicating a message from beyond. And who's to say he wasn't?