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Spring Forward Garden Makeover with my GardenSketch App

Spring Forward Garden Makeover with my GardenSketch App

Posted by on Apr 30, 2016 in Front Yard, Garden Design, Garden Sketch, Gardening Apps, Gardens, Inspiration |

I’ve wanted to the redo the garden bed right in front of the house for a while. When we originally designed it, I was trying to preserve some grass for the kids to play on, but as they are now into their teens, the space is now mine! The original bed was just not big enough for three tiers of plants, tall, medium and short and the plants there, were completely taking over. It was definitely time for a spring forward garden makeover with my GardenSketch App. I was also curious to see if the App was also good for this small scale project.

Our Sad Front Garden Before the Makeover

Our Sad Front Garden Before the Makeover

We rented a sod cutter to roll up the existing grass and repositioned the existing rock wall four feet forward. We filled it in with  a trailer of top soil from our local nursery and  I moved all my border plants to the new wall. These included my early spring favourites: Snowdrops, Crocuses, Grape Hyacinths. Our big patch of Irises was getting unwieldy and there weren’t very many buds for this year. We made the decision to split the existing patch into three to anchor points of early summer colour. We kept the stepping stones through the garden that provide access to the side of the house.

Spacious New Garden

With our skeleton in place, it was time to think about some plant selections. The house faces south and with our black front door we trap a lot of heat and create a highly localized micro-climate. It is definitely Full Sun. I’ve already had to move many plants to our much cooler backyard. My garden sensibility is ‘Country Cottage’ and I was really inspired by the recent Colour Issue of my Canadian Gardening  magazine and I decided to focus on working with plants of purple-blues, whites and yellow.

Inspiration Country Cottage in Shade of Yellow, White and Purple-Blue

Inspiration Country Cottage in Shade of Yellow, White and Purple-Blue

I placed an order with Botanus in Langley for a few perennials. A great local company, they operate an online mail order gardening business. You place your order for plants and bulbs and they ship things in time to plant. Botanus had a blue Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’) and I added a few Blue Sea Holly (Eryngium planum ‘Blue Hobbit’). My goal was also to  move around a few plants that I already had in my garden. Some of you may know that my Shasta Daisies are always amazing. I also had some under-appreciated Lilies of the Nile that I bought last year. I also decided to add in some Yellow Day Lilies by splitting a couple of existing plants—so there was lots of recycling going on.

Who Wouldn't Want Loads of Shasta Daisies in the Garden

Who Wouldn’t Want Loads of Shasta Daisies in the Garden?

Before I headed to the Nursery to pick up some the other plants I knew I would need (White Swan Echinacea, Foxgloves and Delphiniums), I wanted to plan the layout to estimate how many of each I would need.

This is where Garden Sketch came in handy. Rather than working with the whole yard space, I decided to just add a blank “Plan” and design just the one Garden. After you open Garden Sketch, if you’ve added a house shape before (or not!) You can slide to the ‘Plans’ tab at the top of the screen. If you tap the ‘+’ sign on the bottom, you will get a blank plan showing any house structure you’ve added. If you want to add to an existing plan, tap that plan select the ‘Copy’ Function. You can save the original and modify the new one.

It's easy to create new 'Plans' in Garden Sketch

It’s easy to create new ‘Plans’ in Garden Sketch

I measured the garden at various points and then worked to recreate the shape in the Garden Sketch App. By moving to the ‘Design’ tab at the top, I could used the little ‘Plant’ icons to layout the shape. Each square measured one foot.

Use the 'Plant' Icon to Trace a Shape

Use the ‘Plant’ Icon to Trace a Shape

I’ve found that using straight lines does not work really well for adding garden boundaries. If you want to move the garden you have to move each line. So instead of connecting my dots with straight lines, I use the ‘Area’ function in drawing section and connected the dots with a single line. You can pre-select the colour so this is also ideal for drawing ponds and water features.

Under 'Drawing' Select the 'Area' Shape Drawing Function

Under ‘Drawing’ Select the ‘Area’ Shape Drawing Function

Once your shape is complete, so you can move it out of the way and ‘Delete’ your place holder icons and move your garden bed wherever you want it.

Then Move Your Garden Shape out of the Way

Then Move Your Garden Shape out of the Way

With my garden shape in place I added the Irises that I had split and used to anchor the corners of the garden, using the smallest “Plant” icon in a lovely shade of purple.

Then with all the data I researched about each of my plant selections, I was able to approximate how much room they would need and come up with this layout. The goal was to have many layers of height, and add in some elements that would make the garden beautiful throughout the growing season.

Design with Plant Names

The good news is that going to the Nursery there really wasn’t much to buy: 7 delphiniums, 3 yellow daisies, 3 White Swan Echinaceas and 4 Yellow Foxgloves. Because it is still so early in the season I was able to buy the Blue Delphiniums but not the White. Nor did I find any Yellow Foxgloves. They will have to wait a few more weeks until temperatures warm up a bit.

Then I set out to dig up the various tranplants. I am not good role model for this kind of work. I believe if I dig something up, move it and it dies, it was just not meant to be. I know that there are optimal times of the year to do these things, but I’m not usually digging then. I just take my chances.

Root Ball of Transplanted Lily of the Nile

Root Ball of Transplanted Lily of the Nile

This is when all those pots you never recycle come in handy. I use them for all my transplanting and then to estimate how close together things can be planted.

Staging the Transplants and New Plants

Staging the Transplants and New Plants

With everything so well laid out and organized, DH and I were able to get things planted into the ground really quickly.

Everything well planted

Everything well planted

All in all, everything went smoothly. There were a lot of upside to having a plan. I was able to be efficient with my time and money. I did some plant purchasing online, allowing me some unusual choices which were delivered right to my door. I was able to work out what could be recycled from other parts of the garden and I prevented the impulse buys at the Nursery—“Oh, isn’t that pretty! I don’t know where I’ll put it but….” and only bought one plant not on my list: three Sapphire Corydalis. With the plants laid out, once we started to dig, we were really efficient and the whole job was done in an afternoon.

We often don’t think we have time to plan, but the opposite is true. We don’t have time not to plan and Garden Sketch was a big help.

What are your upcoming garden plans this year? Are you planning any makeovers?

Made with Garden Sketch

 

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Frosted Fall Gardens

Frosted Fall Gardens

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Backyard, Flowers, Front Yard, Gardens |

We’ve had a hard frost here in Vancouver most mornings this week.  The cold has freeze-dried the plants in the garden and finished off most of my annuals.  I got out last weekend to catch the shapes and colours of my frosted fall garden.

Twists of Japanese Blood Grass

Twists of Japanese Blood Grass

I couldn’t resist the look of the Japanese Blood Grass this morning.  It’s leaves must feel like my super dry hands this week as the cold sucks the moisture from my skin.  Happily my fingers haven’t curled up like these leaves–yet!

Siberian Bugloss

Siberian Bugloss

I’ve raved about my Siberian Bugloss before.  It’s the first of my hosta-type plants to re-emerge in the spring and it’s the last to die off.  It’s a great add to any shady garden for its beautiful variegated leaves and whimsical blue flowers.  It may even bounce back from this frost depending on the weather in the next few weeks.

Organic Symmetry

Organic Symmetry

This plant is normally a taller, but has given way to the cold.  I don’t know what it is called, but brought a little of it over from Point Roberts where it seemed to thrive under the tall Hemlock Firs (which my neighbour also has along the property line).  It has very pretty pink and white blossoms in the summer.

Chickadee Chats

Chickadee Chats

This guy was hanging out with me in the yard this morning.  Obviously really happy that I had refilled the feeder!

Nearly Headless Marigolds

Nearly Headless Marigolds

Yes, the frost took it’s toll on the annuals.  Still robust last weekend, they have bowed to their fate.

Leafy Lettuce

Leafy Lettuce

I’m not sure that the texture of this lettuce would be very palatable now.  I wonder if it might rebound once the rains return.  It does seem to like this sunny spot in the garden.

Free Dried Japanese Maple Leaves

Free Dried Japanese Maple Leaves

The leaves on my Japanese Maple were incredible this morning.  It reminded me of picture of frozen waves from Lake Superior last year.  It’s like they curled around the wind that blew so hard this week and froze in place.

IMG_2603

The cheerful pink of these plants has finally faded, but the Crocosmia have retained their orange hue.

Well, I had left a bunch of plants in the ground, because it shame to pull them up while they were still blooming.  These heavy frosts have definitely dealt them a death blow and set up one last weekend of work before I start my winter rest from the garden.  I’ve really loved my garden this year.  How about you?  Any special victories in your yard?

 

 

 

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My Autumnal Garden

My Autumnal Garden

Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Backyard, Front Yard, Gardens |

I just got home from a long business trip and couldn’t wait to see how my garden had fared my absence.  That night we had a terrible wind storm and pounding rain.  The next day, we awoke to uprooted trees and even more heavy rains.  I was really happy then, when all of a sudden, the sun burst out on Thursday afternoon.  The greens seemed greener and the remaining pinks and oranges popped.  I rushed outside to snap a few pictures of my autumnal garden.

Dahlias Returned to Beauty

Dahlias Returned to Beauty

Well, in my absence and with all the rains, my Dahlias were looking a little bedraggled.  With a few snips and the deadheads removed, my huge Dahlia pot was returned to a state of beauty.  It was my bargain this fall.  I picked up two for fifteen dollars at West Coast Gardens!

Pot of Lettuce

Pot of Lettuce

I have to say, it doesn’t look like my lettuce minded all the rain.  It is one of the joys of gardening here in Vancouver that we can plant a second crop in the fall, then barring a heavy frost or prolonged cold, we can feed from our gardens in to the New Year.

Summer Blossoms and Autumn Offerings

Summer Blossoms and Autumn Offerings

I can’t believe that these summer flowers are still threatening to crowd my autumn kale, but  I really love how the colours go together!

Irises now well past their prime

Irises now well past their prime

It looks as though my Irises are ready to call it a year.  Their wretched condition made me wonder if we’d gotten some really cool weather while we were away. Time for some garden clean up.

Black Eyed Susans, now little more than black eyes

Black Eyed Susans, now little more than black eyes

My Black Eyed Susans clearly need a good deadheading, but there is a delicious creepiness to their fuzzy black eyes, especially with Halloween around the corner.

Pinky Winky Hydrangea in Autumnal Hues

Pinky Winky Hydrangea in Autumnal Hues

My transplanted Pinky Winky Hydrangea is clearly much happier in its new location.  I’m tickled by its ethereal colouring.

IMG_2345

My row of hostas in the back underneath the neighbours fir trees have clearly made the transition into fall.  They seem to have entered a living dead, zombie state whereupon they have started to decompose but remain standing.  I do appreciate the pop of yellow to provide contrast to wall of green.

Fiery Blueberry Bushes

Fiery Blueberry Bushes

With all the blueberry farms around Vancouver now, one of my favourite things is to drive by at this time of year and see rows upon rows of the fiery red leaves. I consider myself lucky to have a few in my own backyard too.

 

How has your garden been faring with all the rain and autumn weather?  Have you already cleared your summer plants or are you happy to let nature take its course?  We’d love to hear from you.  Share your photos here on our website, on our Facebook Page or via our Twitter Feed.

Happy Autumn!

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It’s our Day! It’s our Special Day! Garden Sketch App Launch

It’s our Day!  It’s our Special Day! Garden Sketch App Launch

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Backyard, Do it Yourself, Flowers, Front Yard, Garden Design, Garden Sketch, Gardening Apps, Gardens, Inspiration, iPad App |

The long wait is over.  After much fussing, planning and worrying it is finally time for the Garden Sketch App launch!  It is now available for iPads in the App Store.  Click here to download.  Garden Sketch will be free for the next few weeks, after which the price will be set to $3.99.  So download it now!

Use Garden Sketch to map your yard with the house, sheds, existing trees and gardens, then create new plans of future garden designs.  There are preset logos for plants, shrubs and trees in three sizes and different colours.  There is also the option of straight or freehand lines and freehand shapes to define spaces.  You can easily add notes to create plant lists.   Export your designs to email or social media platforms as screen grabs or pdfs.

Garden Sketch has a quick and an easy learning curve, but also has plenty of subtlety.  As your skill improves and the designs get better and better and you can fine tune the details.  We’ve found that working with a Stylus really helps to get nice lines and precise plant placement.

Autumn is a great time to use Garden Sketch.  Your garden is still beautiful and full of summer colour.  Use Garden Sketch to record all the plants in your garden and get a head start on your ideas for next year’s plans.

Send your comments and questions to me via email to maija[at]gardensketchapp.com.

Thanks to Jane for sending us this design!  Feel free to share your plans on our Facebook page or with us on Twitter – @GardenSketchApp.  Stay tuned, for a contest with prizes!

Garden Sketch Plan

Garden Sketch Plan

We’ll have a series of posts over the next few weeks with tips for you to get the most from Garden Sketch.

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Garden Sketch Tests Well at Beta, Soon to Launch

Garden Sketch Tests Well at Beta, Soon to Launch

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Backyard, Do it Yourself, Front Yard, Garden Design, Garden Sketch, Irrigation | 2 comments

Our design team from Denim and Steel has been working hard to implement the suggestions recommended by our alpha testers and we were pleased to present the results to our discerning panel last week. We had two returning members and two newbies to test the latest version. Overall, the feeling was that Garden Sketch tests well at the beta phase.

Opening up the App, small changes made it easier to get started.  We provided a lot less verbal direction at this phase as the instructional tutorial was now functional. We noted any user friction, seeing where our testers ran into difficulty.

Garden Sketch Live Testers

Garden Sketch Live Testers

Testers seemed excited by the variety of house shapes they could now incorporate but he biggest news was on the design tab. The colours were much brighter and our designers now had the choice of small, medium and big of any of the shapes they wished to use. We also add yielded to the public outcry for the option of a water feature and flower pots.

Garden Sketch Tester Design with Notes

Garden Sketch Tester Design with Notes

It was a lot of fun to watch our testers as the navigated. Their focus and intensity was notable and lasted at least forty-five minutes to an hour. There was complete silence as they worked to perfect their designs.

For me, the biggest surprise was how much I enjoy using the shape drawing tool to give a sense of space. I used it to represent the Pergola in my back yard because it didn’t match the shape of the gazebo.

Our goal at the outset was to develop an iPad App that would help the home gardener to map their yard, noting the existing structures, trees and plants and enabling them to make garden plans. We thought these plans could be useful by getting people looking at their gardens in a new way: is this space working for me? What would I like to change? What would my dream garden look like? How can I achieve it? Garden Sketch creates a low risk opportunity to try out different ideas and share them with your friends and family for input and feedback.

Garden Sketch is being submitted to Apple’s App Store for approval this month and we expect to announce its release in September. Stay tuned!

Here are some of the other designs we’ve been creating:

Garden Sketch Plan

Garden Sketch Plan

 

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Gardening as an Act of Creation

Gardening as an Act of Creation

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Backyard, Flowers, Front Yard, Garden Design, Gardens, Inspiration |

I’ve always brought green things into my life.  My first year of university, I bought a plant so I could share my boarding house room with another living thing.  I always pulled the weeds and planted annuals in the gardens of our rental houses, but it has been here in this house that gardening has become an act of creation.

Breaking it down, I would say that I garden for three reasons: beauty, to create spaces and joy. The beauty piece is self evident.  It’s why we buy tulips on those grey days when winter seems in its final convulsive fits.  Beauty seems like a luxury in tough times but it is also very powerful.  Beauty draws us in and brings us closer.  And as fleeting as it seems, it connects us with the human condition as Robert Frost once said, “Nothing gold can stay.” Wandering my yard, I have realized that what gardens do is create spaces, like small acts of architecture.  As someone walks by on the sidewalk, they are invited into the space created by the ridiculously cheerful wall of Black Eyed Susans.  I’ve watched the smiles come over their faces as they reach out to check if the flowers are real.

The front sidewalk

The front sidewalk

On the other side of the same garden bed, there is a completely separate space–one that is shared with the people invited into my home.  It’s a view that is private and separate from that public facade.

The Other Side of the Garden

The Other Side of the Garden

In the backyard, the cute low fence keeps the dogs in, but still grants a view.  Here the pergola gives us a place to site our deck chairs as we enjoy the coolness of the evening.  With a few bird feeders, we’ve also created a space for creatures to visit.  The chickadees, juncos, finches and sparrows hover and flit, filling the space with life.  Our most welcomed guest is the Rufous hummingbird, who always exits the yard with an acrobatic flourish. IMG_0874 When we create these spaces for beauty in our lives, we can’t help but create joy.  I feel it as I sit here in the early morning scribbling my words.  I know it as I putter, watering my charges and pulling weeds.  I indulge myself as I daydream about the plants I will add next year.  The beauty of the garden is a luxury, but there are precious few things that we can do that bring us such joy.

What about you?  Why do you love to garden?

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