The Basics - Creating a Design

The Basics - Creating a Design

Part of Ep. 1501 Garden Design

Lake Geneva's Barbara Barren is an experienced gardener who teaches viewers about the importance of proper bed placement, planning and preparation.

Premiere date: Mar 03, 2007

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
There are so many plants in the world and I want to grow all of them.  Unfortunately, they won’t fit in my yard.  Welcome to the “Wisconsin Gardener.”  I’m Shelley Ryan, your host.  Today, we focus on garden design, or another way to put it, how to control ourselves.  At Olbrich Gardens, we learn how to design a mixed border.  Rotary Gardens in Janesville offers wonderful ideas for garden beds focusing on color and texture.  We also learn how to create garden rooms with Anne Walker.  First, we travel to Lake Geneva for tips on basic bed design.  It’s all coming up on the “Wisconsin Gardener.”

Shelley:
The first step to garden design is sometimes the scariest, and that’s where to place your bed.  We’re in the Lake Geneva area in the back yard of Barbara Barren, of Environmentality.  Barbara, you’ve taken a very tough situation and created a garden of wonder.  Tell us about some of the things you did to make this work. 

Barbara Barren:
Well, Initially, it didn’t work.  I had the garden fading off into nowhere.  And it needed a backdrop.  That is one of the things that I tell my clients when they want to have a garden, that you need to find a really good place for it that has some kind of backdrop. 

Shelley
That sets it off and frames it. 

Barbara:
I convinced my husband we needed this deer fence and needed an entrance. 

Shelley:
Of course the deer need this!

Barbara:
It’s also very nice to have and entrance. 

Shelley:
That’s what you’ve done here, you’ve framed the garden.  Even though there’s really nothing behind it you’ve given an enclosure.  The entrance doesn’t have to go anywhere to still feel like it’s leading you somewhere.  I love it. 

Barbara:
I emphasize the entrance with the boxwood.  This year, I put two more boxwood on either side to even make that a stronger point.  I feel that that’s important. 

Shelley:
Again, dealing with such a steep hill you’d have to do something to set it off.  When we’re looking in other yards where to put our garden are there places where we should not put a garden? 

Barbara:
Definitely not under a Norway Maple which has shallow roots. 

Shelley:
Walnut trees are another example of something to avoid. 

Barbara:
You need to decide whether you want a sun garden or a shade garden, whether you want to view it from your house, or whether you want to have other people look at it.  There are a lot of considerations.  I would advise that you think about it and put it on paper before you even begin. 

Shelley:
That’s the key step that a lot of us skip.  We go out there with the plant in our hand and go, "Hey, let’s put this right here."

Barbara:
Certainly, I’m guilty of that. 

Shelley:
I’ve moved more than one plant in my life.  We should always be doing this the season ahead, too.  Even the creation of the bed. 

Barbara:
Absolutely, the season ahead, you should be thinking about it and looking at your light, and so forth and then preparing.  You can prepare your bed several ways.  You can use Round-Up and kill everything two weeks before if you want to. 

Shelley:
If you’re impatient. 

Barbara:
Or, you could put newspapers down the season before, black plastic. 

Shelley:
And let it smother while your sitting indoors with your paper.  You gave me another tip that I didn’t think of.  I tend to go out there with a list of plants I want to grow.  I’m not supposed to be designing that way. 

Barbara:
No, you’re taught in design school that you should be thinking about shapes.  You want vertical shapes, moundy shapes, spikey shapes, shapes on tree levels, plus your sky. 
Shelley:
So, the ground level, middle level and then upper. 

Barbara:
Then decide on what you want, rather than say, "I’ve got to have this plant" and design a garden around it because sometimes it doesn’t work. 

Shelley:
Well, if the plant’s dead, then you’ve got a whole garden designed around a dead plant.  So, think shapes.  That’s a really good idea and we’re doing that the fall before.  You also had some other solutions.  One of the places that I know is a problem area for many of us is between the house and the garage, or the garage and the driveway.  You’ve done something here that’s a great solution. 

Barbara:
We have the same problem here.  We decided to put this pergola, and to lower the house because it was three levels on this side.  And so, we have a narrow walkway.  It’s a great opportunity actually because you can grow slightly less hardy plants.  You can do some interesting things. 

Shelley:
So, use a pergola in that narrow space as a sheltered opportunity instead of a pain or a problem area.  And by the pergola then, there’s this transition. 

Barbara:
Yes. 

Shelley:
Transition is something you’re very keen on.  Let’s talk about the transition you’ve done here from the house to the garden.  That’s often a step we all forget in design. 

Barbara:
Yeah, I think that actually the steps link the two.  That’s the obvious point.  But I tried to use some of the same colors and some of the same shapes you know, the same feel for above as below. 

Shelley:
You’ve got colors and patterns repeating.  You know what’s so neat?  There’s hardly anything in bloom and it’s glorious. 

Barbara:
That’s what you work for as a garden designer. 

Shelley:
Don’t worry about the flowers. 

Barbara:
My clients always want flowers.  And I try to educate them that what they want is shapes and textures. 

Shelley:
Foliage and colors.  One last important thing that some of us have forgotten in the past, and that’s about water availability. 

Barbara:
Yes, I did forget to mention that you should place your garden where you’re going to be willing to drag a hose, or have water readily available. 

Shelley:
Or get your spouse to do it or something! I’ve lost many gardens because they were too far from the house.  Barbara, these are some great points to help us get started.  Thank you very much. 

Barbara:
Thank you, I enjoyed doing it. 

EPISODE SEGMENTS+
EPISODE RESOURCES+

Buy DVD »

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.