Dan Pearson’s Old Rectory in Gloucestershire

gardening, Gardens, Inspiration, Landscape, Landscape Design, Landscape Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Awhile back I got hooked on watching garden videos featuring my favorite designers. Dan Pearson is one of those great landscape designers whom I admire for his combinations as well as his overall designs. What makes this video so amazing is the ability to place the viewer in the garden with the mixture of sounds, soft movements and multiple compositions throughout the garden both large and small. Gardeners appreciate both the overall design experience (wide pan angles) in addition to the beauty of the individual flower.

The Old Rectory, Gloucestershire from Dan Pearson Studio on Vimeo.

Below here are some images of the same garden if you don’t have have the 19 minutes to watch the video.

Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood Dan Pearson - The Old Refectory from Thinking Outside The Boxwood


Image Sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Get the Look: Irregular Greens

Boxwood, G A R D E N S, gardening, Gardens, Landscape Design, Pinterest | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am on the fence about calling these posts “get the look.” It is more of a plant ID compared with a recommendation for how to plant for a similar design. While I think of a better title, here is a image that gets a lot of interest on Pinterest. The planting structure reflects the irregular shapes of the flagstone walkway, giving it a planned naturalistic look. This planting combination could work in zones 6-9 and maybe in particular zone 5 locations where the plants would be protected.  I’m not what it is about the garden, but it is very calming.  The dark house color really helps the greens and silvers to pop….


Original Image from Karl Gercens’ Flicker Page (here).  The description only notes CT private garden, but I am doing additional research to see if I can find more about homeowner and/or landscape designer.

God Save the Trees!

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My favorite landscapes to design are those that already include mature trees. They provide a framework to start, drama, history and most importantly shade and air quality.  The placement could be seen as a hindrance, but as the images below showcase with some thought can be incorporated into any design.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7,


I don’t think there is a homeowner out there that does not desire large mature trees in their yard, but often folks don’t know how to look out for the tree’s best interest. The worst offences are during construction phase. With well intentions to keep the trees, the construction proceeds to slowly kill the tree with parking equipment under or piling soil on the roots, even something as repeated foot traffic can have deadly effects. The tree will not die right away, but a few years down the road the tree will die or at the very least large branches will die. The sad part is protecting the trees is very simple with a little planing before construction begins.


Here are some quick pointers for protecting your trees:

Have a Plan. Before any construction starts, walk the lot with your contractor and confirm which trees should be saved. You can hire an arborist to evaluate tree health in selecting the trees to protect, this will be a huge benefit to make sure the trees you are saving are healthy.  Make sure the trees selected are clearly marked and this is communicated to all contractors on the lot.


Put up Barriers. Protect the tree and root area with barriers around the truck and root system. For every inch of diameter of the tree, include one foot in the barrier from the tree truck.  Snow fence works great but also wood structures help provide additional barriers.


Utilities Harm Too. Pay attention to the trenches for utilities. Request they bore all utilities under tree roots (compared to trench dug). Approve the locations the trench will dug. An arborist can help provide recommendation where trenches can be dug with the smallest impact to the root systems. Make sure all trenches are filled ASAP after being dug and make clean cuts on any roots damaged during the process.


Grade Matters. After construction is completed, ensure proper grade is around all trees.You will want to keep the preexisting grade before the construction started. Too much grade will suffocate the roots and kill the tree.


If you want to see more details about protecting trees, check out this site. It is sad to say, I barely see the precautions listed above while driving past both home and commercial construction sites. It should really be the part of all construction practices and only the home owner and the old trees lose out.


Ebay Finds for the Garden

C O N T A I N E R S, G A R D E N S, gardening, Landscape Design | Tagged , , ,

I spent some time on Ebay last night looking for unique antique and vintage items for the garden. Adding found garden elements with patina and age give a history to the garden you cannot get with just plants. Looking for an antique gate or interesting container is just as easy as buying new, you just need patience and the ability to see something used to its potential. Below is a list of items I found along with an inspirational Pinterest image to bridge the gap -


A collection is always better than just one, and this collection of concrete fruit and baskets covered with lichens is a beautiful for smaller scaled item.

See Items for Bidding here: 11″ Concrete Basket of Apples  and 7.5″ Concrete Basket of Mixed Fruit



These are iconic grecian urns designed by Kramer Brothers in a foundry located in Dayton, Ohio. Some of the casts initially used are still in use after the foundry closed, but I don’t  believe this cast was saved. I was lucky to find one in Southern Ohio ,without the pedestal, that matches those accentuating the pond above; I paid $200. This one is listed as a buy it now for $1,800 but that seems to match others I have seen at 1st Dibs etc.

See item for bidding here: Cast Iron Kramer Brothers Grecian Urn 



Scale is something important in both a garden and a container. If you are going to invest in an antique or large natural stone you want to make sure you get pay off with large impact.  To create a diverse mixed plant combo you need a large container. This antique sand stone water trough is perfect in texture, age and scale. It is flat on one side which would allow you to place next to the house or wall. Listed as a buy it now for $1,650.

See item for bidding here: 27″H Antique carved sand stone trough. 



Another Kramer Brothers cast iron item are these rabbits, which look great lining a walkway in another use of collections to make big impact. These will show their age quickly but the weathering makes they as unique as individual bunnies markings. Place near a path entrance or hidden in a collection of containers.

See item here for bidding: 10.5′H Antique Rabbit Signed Kramer Brothers.


Reclaimed brick can be used for many uses in the garden, like the image above for providing the entrance to a gravel driveway. You can edge walkways, use as a patio or on an outdoor fireplace. These bricks were removed from a building completed in 1904 and the price is for 240 bricks so about .60 per brick. However you use them, make sure it highlights the chips, nicks and imperfections of hundred year old brick.

See item here for bidding: Antique Reclaimed Bricks.  


This garden fence has such a strange design, not victorian but almost more art deco. It is 36″ squared and is most likely a portion of a fence than a gate, but a local ironworker could alter into a gate. Keep the natural patina or paint a blue/green to stand out from stone posts. I have also reused the sand stone trough since could be fitted as a water feature.

See items here for bidding: Wrought Iron Gate and Antique Sand Stone Trough.



The last item I found is this sink, with no good inspirational image, to showcase how I think it could used in an outdoor kitchen. At four feet across this would be a huge statement and will allow you to do full food prep outside, and filled with ice is a great entertaining bar. For the complete look, mix this concrete sink mixed with soapstone counters, large stainless grill and then clad the sides of the kitchen area in teak or ipe. I prefer mixing multiple finishes in outdoor kitchens and make as many of them natural elements as possible.

See item details for bidding here: Old Vintage Double Bay Concrete Sink



Options for a Disappearing Fence and Ha-Ha Walls

Central Ohio, G A R D E N S, Inspiration, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , ,

I am working on designs in the office all winter, which has me looking for inspiration on Pinterest since the snow covered landscape outside my window has lost its luster. I have one project that includes a pool for a house on some acreage. Local code requires a fence around all pools, but this will close off the pool from the rest of the land or will enclose the land from the surrounding woods and fields.  I have been looking at mixing materials that allow the safety of a fence but also will allow the barrier to blend with the natural landscape. Here is what I have found:


Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,


One of the solutions I really like is using a Ha-ha wall to provide a break between the pool and yard from the surrounding landscape. This is a method used to keep livestock contained, without blocking the view often on grade estates. Odds are this alone will not pass code, but a combination of a ha-ha wall, low fence with plantings to conceal might.


Image Credits: 1, 2, 34, 5, 6 

What to grow?

Advice, C O N T A I N E R S, Central Ohio, container, Inspiration, Landscape Design, McCullough, New Albany, Redtwig Farms | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

January is the month of seed catalogs and research for what to grow in the upcoming seasons. I keep a running list of plants that caught my interest the previous year, thumb through books and review Pinterest to pull together my order list. We have the benefit of a greenhouse and production fields that allow us to grow more unique varieties or nurture plants for a longer period to get items that are not easily available.


Cut Flower Inspiration:

I am currently researching what to grow on Red Twig Farms for the local flower markets. Our production fields currently produce peonies, dahlias, french pussy willows, alliums, ornamental branches and berries. We are looking for items more grand than zinnias and sunflowers, but will continue the cut from the garden feeling. My search for options normally starts on our bookshelf and our collection of flower specific books. Our cut flower specific books are a lot smaller than the garden design and plant tomes, and includes some rather older books as well as recent releases.

books to inspire growing flowers


Seedheads in the Garden. By Noel Kingsbury

Lee Bailey’s Country Flowers. By Lee Bailey

Bringing Nature Home. By Ngoc Minh Ngo

Flowers Rediscoveredby Madderlake, Tom Pritchard, Billy Jarecki, and Allen Boehmer

Flower Design. By Bridget von Boch

Living Color. By Paula Pryke

A Passion for Flowers. Carolyne Roehm

To Have & To Hold. by David Stark and Avi Adler

Fresh Cuts. Ken Druse, Edwina Van Cal and John M. Hall

The Flower Recipe Book. Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo




Also under the work on Red Twig Farms, we are growing specimen trees and shrubs. While I was in Belgium I was inspired by the nurseries and how in land much smaller than what we have, were growing amazing trees that they spent years training. This summer I ordered a truck of young Carpinus betulus  (European Hornbeam) that I am in the process of training in shapes and allee forms. I am looking forward to the time and training that goes into creating the art forms. I am working on a post about this tree as a Plant ID, which will include all the tree’s details.



Plants for Container Designs:

If you looked at our online portfolio of work you see that we do a lot of container designs.(http://mccland.com/Portfolio/3)  We have fun with this type of work because given its seasonal nature and small investment, we can experiment with different plant combos and go for big impact by playing with color, texture and height. I really think my best inspiration is travel, a change of scenery goes a long way in taking your imagination down a different, maybe more inspired path.  I had a chance to listen to Dan Benarcik, from the famed Chanticleer Garden (http://www.chanticleergarden.org/), this past Sunday at the Perennial Plant Association P.L.A.N.T. seminar in Columbus OH.  Dan gave a truly inspiring talk on his sources of creativity……and it was like he was speaking directly to me.  He too confides in his travels for a creative reset….If you have a chance to hear Dan talk, do not hesitate- you will not be disappointing.  When I travel I use my camera as my journal.  Click away, you never know when you might need a creative jump start.

Chanticleer Gardens, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Some of Dan’s work from a visit to Chanticleer Gardens a number of years ago I still draw inspiration from…

Chanticleer Gardens, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Mixed tropical and grass plantings at behind a boxwood hedge and Chanticleer.

Chanticleer Gardens, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Golden hops trained on steel cages in a central courtyard at Chanticleer.

Thomas Hobbs private garden outside Vancouver, BC.  Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Planters from Thomas Hobbs private garden outside Vancouver BC.

swirled heather planting and cobble stone, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


A swirled planting of heather and a cobble stone path outside Vancouver, BC

Nicotiana and Cleome at Butchard Gardens, BC. Thinking Outside the Boxwood



Massed Nicotiana and and Cleome at Butchard Gardens Brentwood Bay, BC


Thankful for 2013, looking forward to 2014

Central Ohio, container, Family Gardening, G A R D E N S, Inspiration, Landscape Design, McCullough, My Work, New Albany

Happy first full week of 2014. I hope you are as excited to kick off the new year as I am. I love the rush of the holiday season and then the resulting relaxation of the week between Christmas and New Years. But with January already seven days down, its time to forge on with ticking off the long to do list of winter tasks. Before I get too far head down on designs, planing and research I wanted to share so of my favorite random photos from  2013.


My Favorite Photo of 2013:


This is my son inspecting an apple while visiting a client’s garden.


Other Favorites from this year:

garden in bloombest of 2013 thinking outside the boxwoodcontainers thinkingoutsidetheboxwood

steel arch garden thinkingoutsideboxwoodflowers from the garden

maple and squares cmasdecorating (2 of 2)-2


Happy Holidays

C O N T A I N E R S, Central Ohio, G A R D E N S, gardening, Landscape Design, McCullough, Redtwig Farms | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Holidays to everyone to reads Thinking Outside the Boxwood. Its amazing how quickly the year flies by and I am looking forward to this week to spend with family and friends. Here are a few images from our holiday decorating this year, of course forgot my camera most days…. but here is a glimpse into our world for the past 4 weeks.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



Recommended Gifts from a Gardener

Central Ohio, G A R D E N S, gardening, Landscape Design, Landscape Products | Tagged ,

Tis’ the season for gift lists, so I wanted to throw out my recommendations. Gardener gift lists leave me mystified because they typically include items gardeners will never actually use. Here are a few items I recommend because I use them everyday.

Gardener Gift Guide from Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Links to Products: (1) Boots (2) Soil Knife (3) Shovel (4) Headphones (5) Tool Holder (6) Lens


Blundstone Boots. Gardening is a lot of kneeling, heavy lifting and dirt tracking. Blundstone boots are great for providing flexibility at the ankles, protecting the foot from equipment and easily slip on and off. I have had my pair for over five years and am just now getting to the point where I need a new pair.  Blundstone also uses sustainable manufacturing and promotes ethical treatment of its employees.


Lesche Soil Knife. We call these our soil swords, along with Felco Pruners these are our most frequently used tools. This is a great tool for planting, scoring the roots on a root ball or popping a weed out of the ground. This model is hefty and provides the best leverage, also I heard Martha Stewart’s gardeners use this knife so you know it is good.


All-Steel Super Penetration Shovel.  Also known as the King of Spades, this is my go to shovel. The all steel design has a pointed blade and sharp tapered edges to provide the most ease in cutting into soil. The foot pad also allows you to get the most impact from your exertion.


Noise-Blocking Stereo Earmuff. Lawn mowers, string trimmers, and leaf blowers all put out around 90 decibels,  which prolonged exposure can cause serious hearing damage. I always wear protection when using equipment and have found these great headphones that allow me to listen to music while working. I run Pandora on my phone and put on my headphones. I can still hear calls and text come through and am protecting my ear drums. I really love these!


 A.M. Leonard Double Pruner/Saw Holder. My soil knife and pruners are with me at all times, and proper storage that puts them at quick access is important. This side by side design is my preference, and the leather wears over time giving it a great patina. For someone that already has favorite pruners, this with the soil knife is a great combo gift.


Tamron SP A0S 17-35 MM F/2.8-4.0 Aspherical DI IF Lens. Gardeners know that moments in the garden are fleeting, each day brings different sunlight, flowering combinations…..and having a great camera and lens allows you to capture those moments when all your work looks its best. This is my favorite lens to use when taking garden photos because it is an Ultra Wide Angle lens.  I would also pair this lens with a polarized filter for better results when you are shooting on a sunny day.


Follow me on Instagram to see a photo my items noted above to see how they wear with constant use. Nickmccland


I am also working on one more gift guide for this or next week and owe a holiday decorating wrap up post.



Using Branches in Containers with Red Twig Farms

Landscape Products, McCullough, My Work, Redtwig Farms | Tagged , ,

Yesterday my article on Garden Design was published about using ornamental branches in containers. I intended to have a blog post up to accompany the article, but have been so busy creating client holiday containers and hanging decorations I got a little behind on the blog.


The stems used in the article and for clients are all grown on our farm in Johnstown, Ohio next to our offices. The farm is named Red Twig Farms directly after the scarlet bark of the dogwoods. You can find more information about the farm on previous posts here.



We have hundreds of plants that we harvest from each fall after the leaves fall and the bark has reached its peak color. By cutting back, coppice, each year we ensure the new growth comes back in tall single branch formats. Depending on the age and species of the plants we can get between 2 and 6 feet plus length branches.


Dogwood Branches


We grow red and yellow twig dogwoods. The red is great with the seasonal colors for christmas and the yellows are great all the way into spring. I like to use as many branches as possible in my container designs, the bundles above show 50 stems. The dogwoods are also very upright, so you can cram a lot into a container without spreading out too far in width. However you can also use just a few and will pop against any greens added to the container.


Example of yellow branches used in a spring or early fall container. 


Example of yellow branches used in a holiday container. We placed LED Christmas lights around the base of the stems to provide a glow.


Example of Red Twig Dogwoods in a fall container.


 Curly Willows


We also grow curly willow for cut branches. These also grow quickly through the season between 2 -6 plus feet in length. The additional benefit of these stems is the gnarly shape the branches grow and are very wide when used in containers.  We grow three colors (left to right  in images above and below): Black, Scarlet and Green.




Example of curly branches used in a holiday container design.


Ordering Branches

If you want to order any branches you can order from our Etsy Store. They are packaged in bundles of 50, but we can do in any order you wish. Also if you want a large bulk, you can email Joshua@mccland.com and get wholesale pricing.


Additional Holiday Decorating:
I will do a post dedicated to holiday decorating once we are done and that will include more examples of the branches in container designs. I have yet to decorate at home, and that is often where I do something a bit unconventional but also takes significant hours to execute.  I would love to see how you extend the season with container designs or if you have any questions about using branches.