Woodland Inspiration for Planting Daffodils

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The life of a gardener is spent with one foot in beds tending to what is currently growing and the other foot planning 2-3 seasons ahead. I think it is the anticipation or daydream of what we could be growing is what keeps us going as the gardens go to bed over the fall/winter season. My garden to do list is filled with cleanup tasks, but what has me excited is the collection of spring bulbs I am currently planting.

Natural woodland plantings of spring daffodils - more at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

One of the spring bulbs we are planting at home and across client properties are daffodils. Along with many spring bulbs, daffodils are easy to tuck into your existing beds without disrupting existing perennials and easy to plant for any novice.

 

Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on ThinkingOutsideTheBoxwood.com

This year, my daffodil inspiration is the unexpected places you see the flowers blooming during the spring. At home we have masses of daffodils tucked throughout our woodland in sporadic groupings incorporated around the trunks in clusters of multiple varieties.  These groupings are relics of a home burned down 20 years ago on our property and have naturalized over the years into this completely organic pattern.

 

Natural woodland plantings of spring daffodils - more at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

The palate of whites, oranges and yellows allow you to mix many different varieties together without the flowers clashing, and depending on the combos, pull out the different features of each variety. The fallen leaves provide a great foil to the vivid green leaves, and help hide the foliage as it dies back later in the season.  The combo image below showcases all the different daffodils we have growing in our woodland, however, I am sure there are more we may have missed photographing. Our diverse varieties provide us with blooms through the entire spring season and making woodland walks exciting to see the evolution of the prominent color as the varieties alternate peak bloom.

 

Woodland Inspiration for Planting Daffodils, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Earlier this spring we built a few bulb containers using our cluster woodland plantings as inspiration and I loved how reminded me of our home.

Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on ThinkingOutsideTheBoxwood.com Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on ThinkingOutsideTheBoxwood.com Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on ThinkingOutsideTheBoxwood.com

 

Next spring we have 60 black gallon nursery pots pre-planted with bulbs for building more unique containers of the more unique varieties. All the varieties we have for next year are from Longfield Gardens, and here is a sampling of what we are working with. The plan is to have these winter over and then as the push in the spring transfer into containers. Wish us luck.

      Narcissus Baby Boomer

      Narcissus Delnashaugh

       Narcissus Jetfire

       Narcissus La Torch

       Narcissus Pink Pride

       Narcissus Barrett Browning

GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design

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GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

I give credit for the monoculture trend in container design to the brilliant container groupings by Danish gardener Claus Dalby. The groupings of containers he places at the entrance of his garden receive over 2,000 Instagram likes for the striking color and scale impact they create. Traditionally you see “mono” container groups of singular variety of specimen plants, such as begonias or succulents. However, this new trend focuses on a variety of plants curated based on color and texture. I compare it to a French or English florist showcasing the seasons best blooms at the entrance to their shop.  The work featured here is all by Claus, but there are a lot of Nordic designers that are creating amazing monoculture container groupings are large and smaller scale.

New Garden Design Trend - Monoculture Container Design showcased in the work by Claus Dalby. More on the trend at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

Generally, monocultures are not a good horticulture practice since they leave your garden vulnerable to pest and disease. Just ask anyone losing their boxwood to boxwood blight or dealing with the relics of Emerald Ash borer. However in container gardens, planting pots in a singular species gives you flexibility in swapping out under performers and revise placement based on height and spread.

 

New Garden Design Trend - Monoculture Container Design showcased in the work by Claus Dalby. More on the trend at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

HOW TO CREATE A MONOCULTURE CONTAINER GROUPING

 

SKILL LEVEL: This container design method is great for gardening novices, you can move and swap to keep it looking fresh and easily replant any unsuccessful pot. Also mono-containers can use smaller, less expensive containers and be placed in compact outdoor spaces. Plant geek level gardeners will also love this trend since you can highlight your unique plants and constantly fiddle with your groupings.

 

PLANT SELECTION: Following in Claus’ footsteps, I recommending following a strict color palate when selecting plants. Either go for variations on one color family or just warm or cool tones. If you are more confident in color theory, mix it up with using complementary colors, etc. But remember this is a designed collection, not a hodgepodge of random plants.

 

CONTAINER SELECTION: This design is great for smaller containers which don’t work with when building combo containers. Since using small and easily moved containers they can be made of just about any material; terracotta (just store indoors during freezing temperatures), metal, concrete, pottery, fiber-clay and reclaimed containers.

 

CARE: Smaller containers will have more frequent maintenance. Check soil daily for moisture. Some weather could require daily watering compared to their in the ground counterparts. Smaller pots provide less organic matter for growing and will result in root bound plants with a shorter plant lifespans for your plants. Outside of watering, remember to fertilize and feed your plants. Also lighter containers could be susceptible to strong winds blowing over, so just take note if placing on a balcony.

 

ARRANGING: For the height and impact, you need a multi-tiered surface. You can start with a grouping of tables nesting together or line a collection down your stairs. You can take it to the next level and find or build a tiered plant stand (try searching antique/vintage French and English plant stand for some ideas). The objective is to have a graduated height with focus on the plants not the stand. For the minimum I would start with 10 containers and a maximum only limited to what the space can hold.

 

GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I am currently building my small container supply and designing a plant stand based on some antique French models to create my own grand display. I will share the plant stand design and planting results. Also, if you don’t already follow Claus on Instagram (with over 100,000 followers- I hope you do), I highly recommend you add him to your list and include posting notification. Outside of views into his own garden, Claus visits some beautiful gardens across Europe.

Designer’s Block- Ground Plain Inspiration

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This is the time of the year when I need to be on my game, the most creative, innovative…..  However this the point in the year when I feel most removed and beaten down by the winter.  To combat this “Designer’s Block” I peruse through images…. Pinterest, Instagram, and pictures from my travels.  Garden visiting is so vital to my creative being.  A change of scenery goes a long way into the generation of ideas.  I cherish the images I am able to capture on these journeys.

Today the focus is on the ground plain.  Paving is such a great way to set yourself as a designer.  I pride myself on my patterns and schemes I work into my designs.  Yes, I am a complete plant nerd- but I also love architecture and pattern.

Please enjoy images from my travels and I hope you find inspiration the pattern…..Maybe it will help to get you out of a funk, like it did me!

Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodDesigner's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Designer's Block- Ground Plain Inspiration, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking back: Container Designs 2015

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Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Finally, we have snow and below freezing temperatures. This mild winter has allowed the team to continue with projects up until Christmas, and now finally we have a chance to breath. 2015 was a busy year, and unfortunately I did not always remember to bring my camera to the job site. And as I look back at blog post, I did not share much of what we accomplished. But now I am in the office, editing the images I will spend the winter posting to catch up.

 

Here is a selection of our container designs from our main container season of May through October. Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking back: Container Designs 2015, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

 

 

Embracing Container Gardens – Part One

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The next series of posts on Thinking Outside the Boxwood are going to be more of rant than normal as I attempt to solidify the impact container gardens have in residential gardens. By no means are container gardens a ground breaking concept, there are hundreds of books from edible containers, instant containers and succulent containers to name just a few. But the more I travel and see residential gardens, I wonder why there is a lack of color and excitement in the design besides shrubs and trees. Understanding not everyone has the budget let alone time to maintain vast perennial gardens, I believe embracing the well designed container gives all the impact with a fraction of the effort.  Please bear with me as I attempt to see if I can spur a widespread love of Container Gardens. 

Embracing Container Gardens - Part One, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

The beauty of utilizing containers gardens is the ability to control a very small area and create a garden beyond your geographical area, existing plantings or maintenance ability.  Container gardens allow you to experiment from season to season or year to year.  Even in a large container, it is very easy to control the soil type, sun exposure, water frequency, and beneficial nutrients.  Also you can create a very large impact in a garden that has mainly foundationial plantings.

 

This was a concept I experimented over the years with the container flanking our front door. The blank wall and landing provided us a canvas for building a container design that would be seen by every visitor.  The location next to our front door made it easy to water (near the hose) and reminders to water with frequent traffic past.  But what the container allowed was just to change the plantings with no relation to the surrounding landscape or worry about how items would fair in a zone 7 long term

Embracing Container Gardens - Part One, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This is the front of our previous home taken around the end of July in 2013. The planting beds include our foundational plantings that give the garden year round structure.  It also includes seasonal color of alliums, daffodils and nepeta that are highlighted throughout the different seasons. The container next to our door never reflected the surrounding plants and changed from year to year. 

 

Embracing Container Gardens - Part One, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here is three years of the containers from our front door; 2013, 2011 and 2013. These were always an experiment in design, with the container from 2012 including Asparagus deniflorus ‘Myers‘ – Foxtail Fern never taking off due to lack of sunlight. In 2013, inspired by Mediterranean gardens, I contrasted the height from previous years with low-water plantings. It was this container that was an “Ah ha” moment for me on how containers can be used to transport you across the world into your favorite gardens without touching the rest of your garden.  

 

My ranting will continue with the next post showing how a destination garden like Lotusland in Montecito, CA or geographical area can be recreated in container garden. I am very interested to see what you think about “containing” a destination or favorite garden in a container.

Spring Containers + A Garden Giveaway with terrain

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Spring has finally arrived in Ohio. With three warm sunny days in arrow, we have dried out from the early April showers. This weather should have you excited to plant your spring containers, if you have not already. If you are still looking for some inspiration, peruse the options on Container Gardens: Spring + Summer. Together with terrain, I have complied some of my favorite container designs from Pinterest to provide you some great inspiration to welcoming spring. As a bonus, terrain is offering a $500 gift card giveaway if you repin your favorite container design from the board. The giveaway ends April 25, but don’t wait too long to plant your containers and it will be time for summer color.   Here are some direct links to enter:

  • Here is a link directly to the board: HERE
  • You can also pin directly from terrain’s site: HERE

Some quick ideas for building your spring containers: More than just Pansies. We use a lot of pansies in containers, they are great for color, price and resiliency to spring’s temperamental weather. But build a container with more than just pansies.  Try an evergreen or edible like kale to mix up the texture and dimension to the container.  The container below includes some topiaries underplanted with pansies and a few deep pink heuchera to play off the mauve of the pansies. This was photographed and planted the same day, but in a few weeks the heuchera will have a bigger presence. Pin it to win it- terrain + Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Look for unique containers. These can either be vintage containers or items not initially intended to be planters.  I like to look for old barrels in either wood, galvanized or steel. The come in all sizes, but generally have a large scale or top opening to fill with with numerous plants. Remember to drill a hole in the bottom for draining before planting.  Below is a vintage grape crate from terrain.   Shop terrain, Pin it to win it- terrain + Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I will share some more container designs from this spring later this week, and reminders to pin to win!

Seasonal Color for Your Mood

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I am an advocate container and seasonal color for the ability to change your homes’ mood from season to season and introduce elements that provide a twist to the story of your landscape. This home in historical German Village is a great showcase how seasonal color can provide serious (and noncommittal) impact. The front yard space is about 7 feet deep and is planted with low, monochromatic and textural plantings. This was done intentionally to place the focus the window boxes and containers which are replanted four times a year with annuals and perennials. This frequent change allows us to change the mood and tones of the garden with the seasons and homeowners’ humor.

Summer 2014 – Color Explosion 

Seasonal Color for Your Mood, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Our color expert, Steve, and I created the combo for the windows to showcase an explosion of color. As you look at the house the two window boxes flank a central planter that is plant with Sterlitzia nicolai and Ipomea ‘Illusion Emerald Lace’.  The containers were kept simple with just two species because the window boxes behind were the real show in this case.

Seasonal Color for Your Mood, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Coleus ‘Dark Chocolate’, Lantana ‘Luscious Lemonade’, Begonia bolivensis ‘Waterfall Encanto Orange’,  Setcreasea pallida ‘Purple Heart’, and Dichondra argentea ‘Emerald Falls’, Seasonal Color for Your Mood, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

In this pair of window boxes you can see the amount of color and texture that is billowing over the edges.  Plant Identification (Starting from the top down) Coleus ‘Dark Chocolate’, Lantana ‘Luscious Lemonade’, Begonia bolivensis ‘Waterfall Encanto Orange’,  Setcreasea pallida ‘Purple Heart’, and Dichondra argentea ‘Emerald Falls’

 

Fall 2013 – Dark & Moody 

As we moved into fall the planters were planted in a monochromatic scheme of blue and purples.  Redbor Kale (Brassica oleracea ‘Redbor’ and Medusa Ornamental Pepper (Capsicum annuum) were used alongside pansies to add some fall flair.

 

Seasonal Color for Your Mood, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodSeasonal Color for Your Mood, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking at the planter with Redbor Kale, Medusa Peppers and Silver Scroll Heuchera and Setcreasea pallida ‘Purple Heart’

 

Winter 2013: Extened greens

Adding Winter containers are normally the most appreciated in Ohio when most landscapes are brown, grey and dull green.  Adding lights and hits of color always brings a welcomig impact that can stay long past the traditional Christmas decorations. The planters are filled with a Fraser Fir greenery, Southern Magnolia, Leyland cypress and scarlet curly willow.

 Fraser Fir greenery, Southern Magnolia, Leyland cypress and scarlet curly willow, Seasonal Color for Your Mood, Thinking Outside the Boxwood  Fraser Fir greenery, Southern Magnolia, Leyland cypress and eucalyptus:  Seasonal Color for Your Mood, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Looking at the front door we also draped the entry with a lush garland to welcome holiday guests and passersby. The garland and wreath at the front and embellished with eucalyptus, magnolia and Leyland  cypress  to tie in with the window boxes and planters.

Container Inspiration – Art Deco France

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This weekend McCullough’s loaned containers for the Columbus Museum of Art’s Art in Bloom event. Placed next to the museum’s entrance, the containers nodded to both the Art in Bloom event and the current exhibit Toulouse-Lautrec 1880 – 1910 Paris. We took influence from the vibrant color of Toulouse-Lautrec’s artwork and deco cast iron to compiling the flowers and containers we used. Even though the containers are created using traditional spring plants (plus some amaryllis we had blooming in our greenhouse), combined in a small 3′ x 5′ area, the impact grand compared to the same flowers often lost in the landscape bed.  Sometimes coming out of a long cold winter going overboard with color is required.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Why this works and what we used:

The grouping of three different containers allowed us to fill the entire vertical area will color.  The curly orange willows in the tall background container allowed us to provide height that is often difficult to get in containers.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art

 

This rusty cast iron planter with its decorative feet and crest gave us some history to the grouping of containers that lean more to the traditional and modern design. The low height grounds the grouping with the rich reds and yellows.  The amaryllis are a off season flower, but the large trumpet flower looked right at home with the tulips and pansies.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art

 

We added only two lily plants to this container, but provided the hit of orange to reference the curly willows. The deep red tulips, dark pansies and sweet potato vine reference the low cast iron container while the yellow forsythia bridges the height between the tall curly willows behind.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art

 

Here is the containers next to the door for full scale and impact.  These containers are good advocates for investing in containers for  home, business or event entrances.  They are a small investment with huge impact.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art

Ebay Finds for the Garden

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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