(I wrote this in 2013 and never posted it)
Where to start? My inspiration came from Thomas Rainer’s Grounded Design post, Pleasure Garden. Thomas is a landscape architect from the Washington D.C. area and until recently had been reticent to talk about his own yard.
I am also trained as a landscape architect (MLA), although I do not make my living at it. I despair that I too am falling into the “non-planning / non-design” mode as the landscape threatens to overwhelm me.
To make matters more complicated, we “inherited” this garden just over three years ago. Originally designed years ago by well-known local botanist Art Holmgren, the landscape is replete with shrubs never pruned, behemoth junipers, and overly shaded shrubs leaning toward the sun.
Floating island perennial beds are mounded above turf. Water-wise and non-water wise trees and shrubs are flood irrigated together with the turf in the back yard. Deer prune different plants each year.
But… there are “good bones here”, a former coworker once mentioned. Did I mention that the property is 0.82 acres?
Surprisingly, most of the plants are fairly drought tolerant. The former owners; after the botanist and before us, tried to be true to his vision. I am not really sure what that was, but I think it might have been to include plants from different parts of the country in each bed. Hepatica, Jack in the Pulpit, and other under-story forest plants attest to an “East coast” mentality.
Odd onesies are discovered here and there. A Heuchera tucked in a border, a Cupid’s Dart on an inside edge, a Campanula perched on an outside curve and a goldenrod in the wrong irrigation water zone. A Purple Loostrife with its metal ID tag.
Divide, remove, transplant.