Wednesday, June 3, 2020

For the Birds

For avid bird lovers, a new stone patio, for the birds, a new native landscape.

This flat site is a suburban backyard backed up to a forest. The design includes native flowers, shrubs and understory trees, in which birds can nest and forage for insects, seeds, berries and nectar. All are strategically placed so as not to interrupt views from the house and the patio.

Evergreen Inkberries insure some winter greenery as well as a berry harvest. Redbuds provide the patio with some shade in addition to their spring color. This variety of 22 different plant species supplies a diverse menu for a variety of song birds throughout their feeding season.

Creating habitat for wildlife in your yard can connect you with your local ecosystem, in this case an adjacent forest, and potentially extend a wildlife corridor.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A "Japanese" Garden with American Natives

Native gardens can take any form. This site is a small portion of a large waterfront property on Maryland's eastern shore. Much of the land will return to nature, but after spending 5 years in Japan, the homeowner wanted to bring the beauty and peace of traditional Japanese gardens home.

An new alle' of Zelkova trees  shelters the long driveway, hiding this secret garden to one side.

At the property lines, a backdrop of evergreen trees provides a privacy barrier. A long continuous hugelkultur (shown in purple) shapes the background perimeter of the garden at 2 sides. This sinuous berm mimicks the artificial "mountains" of Japanese gardens. These are planted thickly with deciduous canopy providing shade for adjacent understory trees.

To resolve a sheet-flow stormwater issue, a rain garden and small swales, hiding in planting beds,  harbor Willows and other water-loving natives.

A serpentine pathway (in yellow) leads one from the entrance "gate" through a variety of showy understory trees to the end of this linear garden.

The homeowner painstakingly selected American native varieties of trees and shrubs, which resemble common Japanese varieties she is familiar with. A few true Japanese species were included - Ginko, Japanese Maple and Zelkova - to give the garden authenticity. Native shrub and herbaceous layers will showcase a stone lantern and other decorative features, which act as destination points.

This garden functions as a nature sanctuary as well as a cultural archetype, enabling the homeowners to preserve wild plants while continuing their fond experience of the Japanese aesthetic.

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