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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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Grape Updates

Posted by on Jul 14, 2015 in Backyard, Do it Yourself, Gardens, Inspiration, West Coast |

Last year I launched a project to redesign our backyard.  We built a pergola and afterwards, I planted grapes on the corner posts as I documented in this blog post.  About fourteen months later I think it’s time for some grape updates.

Here’s how things looked when we last left you:

Baby Grape Pic

And here’s where we are today:

Grape Updates II

 

Grape Update

 

No grapes to date, but maybe next year!

We’ve moved the currants from the back fence and used them as a shield from the walk by traffic.  Ian cut out the sod and laid some beautiful stones, to which we’ve added some creeping thyme.  We’ve also added three smallish trees that provide wonderful perches for our resident bird populations.  We’ve had a very dry summer here, so our hanging baskets have suffered a bit.

So how about you?  Any summer backyard projects?

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Spring: Celebrate Life in the Garden

Spring: Celebrate Life in the Garden

Posted by on Apr 2, 2015 in Backyard, Flowers, Gardens, Inspiration, Spring, West Coast |

Spring has sprung. While much of the rest of Canada still digs out and thaws from its deep winter freeze, west coast gardens have busted through. We’ve sprinted through the early spring blooms with colourful rapidity, leaving cherry blossom petals as the only white stuff on the ground here. Our Crocuses were drawn from the early February mud by days of unusual sunshine that has also lured us outside to enjoy them. Tall Daffodils created their own helioclimes of warm yellow. Now Tulips and Bleeding Hearts paint away the brown of winter landscaping. It’s no surprise that many of these harbingers of spring grow from bulbs, planted long before. It’s the best time to celebrate life in the garden.

Cherry Blossoms

But when we planted those bulbs in the autumn, it was hard to know how things would turn out. Should we plant in blocks or patterns? Will they bloom this time? We dig and dream. The energy stored within these little bulbs provides the biological drive: a life force that defies our long dark winters and often bitter cold. We tidy up the stems a bit after they bloom, but the floppy leaves do most of the work to return nutrients to the bulbs for next year.

Daffodils

And they come back. Even though the winter garden appears razed to the ground, first a little leaf unfurls and before long a whole plant bursts into bloom; each according to its own rhythm, a symphony of colour played slowly over the spring and summer months.

Bleeding Hearts

So it is in spring that I am struck by the faith and wonder of gardening. It’s a faith in nature and the universe that after getting progressively darker every day for six months, everything turns and slowly and gradually, we see more light. To reward our faith, we are trothed the gift of colour.

Planter Colour

We also have the stick of a Rhododendron newly planted in our yard. Its parent lives on the Sumas prairie: a giant bush whose branches became so heavy, this one dropped to kiss the ground. Uncle Neil selected a few most likely to succeed for us. His plant in turn had come from the family property in New Westminster where they were all born and grew up in the teens and twenties of the last century. They lost the house in the Crash, but transplanted their home by way of Rhododendrons, Snowdrops and rhubarb when they moved. In our turn, we’ve also drawn from them, to help us make our homes. They have been part of our shared hope to make things better–but we also don’t forget how tough it can be.

Transplanted Rhododendron

Uncle Neil died in February.

We’ve lost his loving presence, his curiosity and deep knowledge of the people and world around him. But we’re grateful that he’ll live on in our gardens.

Snowdrops

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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.

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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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Dream Gardens: #DesignThis Contest Week 5

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Contests, Do it Yourself, Garden Design, Garden Sketch, Gardening Apps, Gardens, Inspiration, iPad App |

Just a reminder that Friday October 31st, 2014 is the last day to download our garden design app for free! We are also heading into our final week of our Garden Sketch App #DesignThis Garden Design Contest, but before we do we thought we should highlight a couple great entries from our themed garden challenge!  Now we want travel inspired, butterfly and zen gardens with tire swings!

Which is your favourite of the two entries below?

 

Garden Sketch Contest Entry, Theme Challenge

Design A

 

Garden Sketch Contest Entry, Theme Challenge

Design B

 

As a reminder, #DesignThis is a weekly Garden Sketch App Contest that will be hosted here, and on facebook and twitter, weekly until November 3rd, 2014!

The contest is quite simple.  Each week, we shall post a different garden design challenge here, and on facebook and twitter, and we challenge you to create a garden design of your dreams while including that week’s challenge in the garden design, using the Garden Sketch iPad App. Challenges might be things like including a water feature, rockery, or themed area in your garden. For the purposes of this contest, the Garden Sketch App is free in the iTunes store until October 31st, 2014.

We will be accepting new entries this week, until midnight PST on Monday, at which point our esteemed judges will select a winner (or we will go to one of our various gardening communities to help us pick out a winner). Weekly winners will be announced on Tuesday evening.

To enter:

  • Download the Garden Sketch App to your iPad for free;
  • Use Garden Sketch to create a design for a dream garden including  the week’s challenge element;
  • When you are done designing, select ‘Share’ and email yourself a .png of your dream garden;
  • Then share your Garden Sketch dream garden .png with us by posting it on our facebook page with the #DesignThis hashtag on your entry description, on twitter by including @GardenSketchApp and #DesignThis in your tweet, or by sharing a link to the image in the contest post comments; and
  • Check back on Tuesday evening to see if you won!

To make entering easier, we’ve written a sample tweet below, that you could use to enter:

#BeddingDown with the @GardenSketchApp ~ URL to image. I showed you mine, now show me yours! http://ht.ly/BNofB #DesignThis

For various tips and tricks to creating a Garden Sketch, check out our Garden Sketch Tutorial, by clicking on this link.

So what will the weekly prize for the winners be?  $50 (Canadian) gift certificate to a local-to-you garden centre (or in lieu of that, to an online seed catalogue or garden centre).

To ward off the All Hallow’s Eve nightmares this week’s #DesignThis Contest Challenge is to simply share your dream garden in the Garden Sketch garden design that you create.

Happy Garden Sketching!  We look forward to your entries!  Remember to submit them by midnight on Monday November 3rd, 2014 and to download the app for free by Friday October 31st!

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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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