Archive for Sunday, August 23, 2009

Perspectives key in garden design

Monarch butterflies are attracted to the many flower types planted at the Brandon Woods garden. George Osborne Landscape Design maintains the garden.

Monarch butterflies are attracted to the many flower types planted at the Brandon Woods garden. George Osborne Landscape Design maintains the garden.

August 23, 2009

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The Brandon Woods garden is owned by Brandon Woods Retirement Community and a private party.

The Brandon Woods garden is owned by Brandon Woods Retirement Community and a private party.

The Brandon Woods garden offers a different perspective from any point of view. Above, a small pond is recirculated under a walking bridge.

The Brandon Woods garden offers a different perspective from any point of view. Above, a small pond is recirculated under a walking bridge.

The true beauty of a garden is all in how you look at it, and a good designer knows to consider every angle.

A multitude of pleasing perspectives is just one of the reasons I like the garden at Brandon Woods. Another reason is closely related: Although the expansive, parklike setting is located along the street, its beauty is hidden from drivers by extensive plantings, including Armstrong maples, Scotch pines and upright junipers.

The garden is owned and cared for through an agreement between the retirement community and a private party. The private party hired George Osborne Landscape Design several years ago to improve the garden, and Osborne’s company has maintained it since.

The vivid hues of red and coral impatiens immediately draw the eye if you are entering the garden from the neighboring street and lead the viewer down the paved path to a pool of bubbling water that closely resembles a natural spring.

“A water garden needs to fit into the garden itself,” Osborne points out, and the spring and pond he has created certainly lives up to that standard.

As water flows from the bubbling pool, it enters a small stream, passes under a footbridge, then pours into a larger pool complete with goldfish, water lilies, lotuses, and water cannas all in bloom. Water hyacinths and water lettuce float on the pond’s surface, and submerged plants help to filter the water.

Creeping jenny does what its name implies around the border of the pond, and a nearby bench invites visitors to stay awhile to enjoy the gurgling of the stream.

Visitors who enter the garden from one end of the retirement community side might first notice a few tomatoes and cucumbers planted along the perimeter for the residents to enjoy. Beyond the veggies is a curving landscape filled with the rich hues of blooming annual and perennial flowers.

From the other entryway on the retirement community side, furrowed tree trunks stand like friendly sentinels along the path. From this angle, I felt more like I was entering a quiet woodland garden rather than the bold and brilliantly colored one I had just seen.

Serviceberries and redbuds, both understory trees in the forest, grow happily in the shade of taller species.

Osborne has also planted nectar and food sources for butterflies and butterfly larvae throughout the garden.

Another key to guiding the eye is to use groupings of the same species of plant. A cluster of Matrona sedums attract the viewer with their deep red stems and upright habit. On a grander scale, a large area planted with plume poppy borrows attention even though the poppies have finished blooming this season. Earlier this summer, the plants held tall, creamy spikes of flowers above their dinner-plate-sized leaves. Plume poppy is not for the faint of heart — it can reach heights over 6 feet and spreads easily in the right environment.

I am guessing that the view from each of the windows that face this garden provide a different insight to the beauty of the garden as well.

— Jennifer Smith is the Douglas County Extension Agent – Horticulture for K-State Research and Extension. Contact her or an Extension Master Gardener with your gardening questions at 843-7058 or dgemg@sunflower.com.

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