As a landscape designer in Cleveland, I have worked on many different kinds of designs but designing or redesigning perennial gardens is my favorite. I’m like a kid in a candy store. I want some of this and some of that but I have to be careful or I’ll be sick to my stomach. In addition, I have to choose only those that fit the client’s parameters. Be aware that although I can design with just perennials, I really love to use all parts of the plant palette.
Nevertheless, I need to know what colors the client loves or hates, if the client is always out of town during certain months, how much maintenance the client will either do or pay for, how much light the garden receives, whether there is deer fencing, whether there is irrigation and what the quality of the soil is.
Early last summer, I received a plaintive cry for help from an acquaintance who had commissioned a design for her garden that was to be on a garden tour in six weeks. She had fired the so-called designer who had actually given her a design and ordered the plants, so she thought. It turned out that half the plants he ordered were annuals and that many of the perennials on the design were not ordered. When I went to see the garden, it was half planted with the rest of the plants waiting in flats for installation.
I assured her that I could help. Instead of doing a formal design, I designed on the spot with the plants that had been delivered. I’m happy to say that the garden looked great for the tour. In late summer, I photographed the garden so that I would know what was there and where it was. Over the winter, I redesigned it, omitting most of the annuals except for ones that reseed and would, therefore, not need to be replanted each year. The garden is almost complete now although colored flags indicate spaces where late arriving perennials will go.
Next year, I hope to have another similar story for you. I’ve just redesigned the beds in another back yard and we will start phase one, soil amendment and planting of shrubs and large perennials, in a few weeks.