While “the devil is in the details” may be a popular expression, when I encounter a particularly exciting design detail, I’m more likely to hear angels sing.
Along with 36 other enthusiastic garden designers, earlier this month I spent a day touring gardens in Lafayette, Oakland and Piedmont, California. As you can imagine, so many of us tromping around the garden in the bright sunlight made it difficult to get the kind of magnificent landscape shots most garden blogs seem to boast. (Side note: is EVERY garden blogger but me a crackerjack photographer?) Often, however, it’s the little things that capture my attention and provide me with fresh inspiration for my own designs. Here are some of the design details that caught my eye.
Charming vignettes were tucked into the corners of many of the gardens and ranged from contemporary, to rustic to sleekly sophisticated.
Amazingly the next four photos are all from the same garden. This was a large estate, and the range of seating is an effective way to show how the homeowner and designer Laurie Calllaway managed to set different moods in different portions of the garden.
Plants tucked into hardscape was another interesting part of the tour. I’m not sure how this groundcover was trained, but the effect was perfect for the cottage garden setting.
Other details from this garden that I admired are the deep grooves between the flagstone, which really made the stone stand out. (Although one of my contractor friends on the tour pointed out how difficult it would be to keep clean. Spoilsport.)
This might be old hat to some of you, but I’ve never used steel edging in a design before. It's a small detail, but I love the crisp edge it gives next to the gravel.
Although it’s not visible in the photo of this no-lawn garden, designer Patricia St. John explained that (like me) she prefers a mortared path for a primary entrance. Because the homeowner was concerned about the roots of a nearby mature Chinese Pistache, a dry-laid path was chosen instead, so Patricia used a steel border to add some formality (comment from a different contractor – about five times as expensive as composite benderboard. Although to be fair, this time I asked.)
Probably my favorite detail of all was in a contemporary garden designed by Katrine Thomas and Mary Fischer, who chose a mix of different sized pebbles for the water feature, thereby creating a much more appealing space. (And yes, there was more contractor discussion about the price of the larger pebbles.)
So there you have it – my ground’s eye view of most enjoyable tour!