Most consultations last 1-2 hours and include a walk-through of the garden, client objectives, brainstorming of potential beds and plants, targeting plants for removal or extensive pruning, exploring hardscape or edging options and steps to complete the project.
As every garden is personal and unique to the gardener and their site, I endeavor to fully understand clients’ plant preferences as well as their gardening style. I can suggest plants for a variety of garden styles, including low maintenance, deer-resistance, English perennial borders, Northwest natives, and woodland gardens. My personal preferences tend towards naturalistic cozy gardens with year-round interest.
For my do it yourself type clients, I offer suggestions on plant selection, hardscape ideas, pruning advice, or plant identification. I can also provide a list of suitable plants or assist with plant shopping.
While I no longer offer actual renovation services, I can assist clients to rethink the garden and create a list of changes and steps.
Renovating an existing garden is the opportunity to keep the best and favorite plants, rearrange valuable players and edit out plants that no longer serve.
Transplanting small trees and large shrubs allows one to make dramatic changes to the visual composition of the garden while maintaining a link with the maturity of these larger plants.
Adding in a variety of smaller conifers, perennials, grasses and compact shrubs – allows for diversity and year-round visual interest with contrasting shapes, colors, textures, and form.
Any new planting requires a commitment from the gardener to keep the new plantings well-watered for at least two summers so the plants can get established. This is especially true for mature shrubs and small trees that have been transplanted. I recommend deep watering on a regular but infrequent basis. Sandy soils would need water more frequently than clay soils. Even clients with irrigation systems need to be vigilant and apply extra water if needed.
Pruning Advice and Instruction
My pruning philosophy and practice enhances the natural beauty of the tree or shrub, so that when finished the plant looks more like itself, I endeavor to approach each plant with respect and kindness. If a plant is too large for its current location, or has been over pruned to “make it fit”, I will suggest transplanting or removing it, and replacing it with an appropriate plant that will “fit” the space as it matures.
In general, I advocate pruning with a “light hand” unless a shrub requires radical renovation (see below).
By making proper pruning cuts and respecting the natural tendencies of the plant we have a clear understanding of the map we are creating for regrowth.
People often forget that pruning stimulates growth. Improper cuts and over pruning foster disease and encourage reactive water sprouts and suckers.
Cass also explains the unwanted consequences of shearing. In general, I only shear plants that perform better in the garden with a proper shearing especially the heathers and lavenders. Some shrubs like boxwood and yews tolerate shearing and are famous for the topiaries created.
Radical Renovation pruning is reserved for cane growing shrubs that have tangled regrowth from repeated shearing. When cut to the ground, they are being asked to start over, and to grow into a natural shape. It can take 2-3 years for a plant to regain a mature size after this last resort technique.
Occasionally it makes sense to do radical renovation on rhododendrons or azaleas. It is important to make cuts 2.5 feet or less from the ground, to create a solid foundation for the regrowth. This technique is appropriate, only once, every five to eight years or longer. Your rhody will likely take 2 to 3 years to start blooming again. If your rhododendron is too large for its location, both rhodies and azaleas are some of the easiest shrubs to dig and successfully transplant.
Utilizing the tree’s own capacity to suppress vertical water sprouts, I keep upward facing branches to facilitate this process.
**All of these pruning techniques and terms are included in Cass Turnbull’s book listed above.**
If desired, I can purchase plants for the client, or schedule trips to a local nursery to shop with a client for plant selection, following a consultation and an understanding of site conditions and client preferences.
Design on the Ground
Once all the plants are obtained and the garden beds are prepped and ready for plant layout, I can create the design of the garden by moving plants to their spots. I no longer offer installation services, but can provide instruction on successful planting techniques.
Begin the Process
If you are interested in the services I provide and would like to collaborate, go to our CONTACT page and fill out a form.