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A medley of fall colors

I know, I use that phrase constantly when describing how I want the gardens I designed to look in the fall.  But seriously, isn't it the most beautiful thing?!!






Geums - plant some of these!

Geums have a color palette that complements just about any garden.  They're colorful, cheerful and easy to grow, with flowers that remind you a little of strawberry plants.  The rosette-shaped flowers are generally borne on long stems, rising above the thick clump of semi-evergreen foliage that creates a welcome, fresh presence in spring.

Yellows and oranges with some reds and apricots, their color palette is soft enough not to take center stage, but interesting enough to make you look twice.  Most geums require a soil that does not become too dry during summer, and they don’t mind a certain amount of shade.


'Flames of Passion' -  flowers vary from single to semi-double, from non-frilly to frilly, with lovely soft coral orange/pink flowers that are held above a dense clump of light green leaves. Flowers from April to June.

Geum X 'Flames of Passion'

'Mango Lassi' - This nice plant has small, semi-double yellow flowers that are heavily stained with red rendering them soft orange. The flowers are held on short stems above a mound of mid-green, evergreen leaves.  This cultivar was discovered by Grace Dinsdale on her nursery in Oregon as a sport of the single yellow flowered geum ‘Georgenberg’.  Flowers May to July.

Geum 'Mango Lassi'

'Totally Tangerine' - a soft orange in late spring that pulls together the purples and whites.  Flowers May - June, then sporadically in fall if you deadhead it.  

Geum 'Totally Tamgerine'

 'Mai Tai' - A new variety with open semi-double soft apricot flowers with neatly ruffled petals that form a rosette on short, branched stems. Raised by Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in the USA.  Flowers from May until July.

Geum 'Mai Tai'

'Prinses Juliana' is a new introduction with semi-double bright orange flowers.  Blooms April - June.

Geum 'Prinses Irene'

'Mrs J Bradshaw' - is a red cultivar - not red like crocosmia 'Lucifer', but still red enough to contrast with purple and make yellow stand out.  Blooms May - June.

Geum 'Mrs J Bradshaw'

'Lemon Drops' - is a cultivar of Geum rivale, so its flowers are more nodding than some of the other cultivars.  Its a beautiful shade of yellow, and short - growing to only 9 inches.  Flowers May - July.

Geum 'Lemon Drops''Beech House Apricot'  is a low-grower that flowers from May - July and can make itself right at home in the front of the border - only 8 inches tall.

Geum 'Beech House Apricot'





Folly Forest: From Asphalt to Educational Landscape

From the ASLA Blog "The Dirt":

08/11/2014 by Jared Green

Browsing through the latest issue of Azure magazine, (http://www.azuremagazine.com/) one can see socially conscious design is making its way even into the far reaches of Winnipeg, Canada.  Folly Forest (http://www.csla-aapc.ca/awards-atlas/folly-forest), a great, small project at the Stratchona School, which in a low-income neighborhood, was put together with just $80,000 by local design firm Straub Thurmayr Landscape Architects and Urban Designers.

50-year old asphalt was broken apart so 100 trees could be planted within bright red and yellow-lined star-shaped spaces. Azure tells us: “To add rich texture and provide ground cover for the new plantings, they arranged bricks, logs, and stones inside the bases.”


The project has deservedly taken home a ton of Canadian design awards. Azure‘s jury gave it a merit award, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) awarded it a citation (http://www.csla-aapc.ca/awards-atlas/folly-forest). CSLA said the project “demonstrates the immense potential of landscape architecture as a spatial and social transformer. It showcases how a simple measure can take ecological and aesthetic effects and turn them into the formative element of design.”


The Prairie Design Awards (http://www.prairiedesignawards.com/2014/folly_forest.html) also honored the project, writing that at just $20 per square foot, nature is allowed to “take root through an asymmetrically disposed composition of newly planted trees, benches, follies and earthen mounds. The program fosters playful engagement, through the eyes of a child, and provides any visitor, young or old, to engage with a truly delightful and special place.”

But beyond all the accolades from the design world, the teachers and kids at the school seem to get a lot of out their rugged new green space, too. Erin Hammond, a teacher at Stratchona School, told CBC News (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/strathcona-school-perforates-tarmac-to-create- folly-forest-1.1352450), the new space has been a boon for the kids. “It’s just been an amazing enticement to get kids outside.”

Teachers are using the green space to start new conversations about ecology. “Kids are going, ‘How come that tree has more leaves than this one?’ Well, that one has more sun than this one,” said Hammond.




Design Inspiration - Front Yard Prairie

Front-yard prairie - an inspiration for a current design.  Will mine work as well as this one?  Stay tuned for 2015!


More Soil Basics - what are the roles of soil?

I recently joined the Soil Science Society of America.  They have published a fabulous book called 'Know Soil Know Life" - designed as a textbook for middle/high school students.  Here's some of the points they make.

Soils Overview - Provided by the Soil Science Society of America

Soils are complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and countless organisms that are the decaying remains of once-living things. It forms at the surface of land – it is the “skin of the earth.” Soil is capable of supporting plant life and is vital to life on earth.
Soil is formally defined by the Soil Science Society of America as : "the unconcolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as the natural medium for the growth of land plants".    The second part of the definition is "the unconcolidated mineral or organic matter on the surface of the earth that has been subjected to and shows effects of genetic and environmental factors of: climate (including water and temperature effects), and macro- and microorganisms, conditioned by relief, acting on parent material over a period of time.
So, then, what is DIRT?  Dirt is what gets on our clothes or under our fingernails. It is soil that is out of place in our world – whether tracked inside by shoes or on our clothes. Dirt is also soil that has lost the characteristics that give it the ability to support life – it is “dead.”
Soil performs many critical functions in almost any ecosystem (whether a farm, forest, prairie, marsh, or suburban watershed). There are seven general roles that soils play:
1. Soils serve as media for growth of all kinds of plants.
2. Soils modify the atmosphere by emitting and absorbing gases (carbon dioxide, methane, water
vapor, and the like) and dust.
3. Soils provide habitat for animals that live in the soil (such as groundhogs and mice) to organisms (such as bacteria and fungi), that account for most of the living things on Earth.
4. Soils absorb, hold, release, alter, and purify most of the water in terrestrial systems.
5. Soils process recycled nutrients, including carbon, so that living things can use them over and
over again.
6. Soils serve as engineering media for construction of foundations, roadbeds, dams and buildings, and preserve or destroy artifacts of human endeavors.
7. Soils act as a living filter to clean water before it moves into an aquifer.



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