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    « Plants for Small Gardens: Weeping Trees go Vertical | Main | Wordless Wednesday: Hiking the Marin Headlands »

    January 24, 2012


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    Jocelyn/the art garden

    Terrific! Keeping just these 3 key ideas in mind will prevent more mass cluelessness!! Witty and well illustrated. Thanks for your insights, Susan.

    Glad you enjoyed it Jocelyn!

    rebecca sweet

    I have the same brugmansia in my garden right now - 3 of them, in fact - all artfully framing nothing. WHY do I DO this??? I can't stop myself!

    But your garden is palatial compared to my little patch! Tell you what, if you take yours out, I'll sacrifice mine. But you go first, okay?

    Robert Webber

    LOVE your humour!
    Fabo post Susan which combines amusement with so much sound sense.
    Thanks Robert! I was so tickled by the title of this month's topic I couldn't take it 100% seriously.


    I laughed over your last image and comment, Susan, but I'm inclined to think your brugmansia zone denial is worth it to have even just a summer of that beautiful view of it framing your garden. Great tips and a witty post, as always.

    Which is why it's still there. It was slated to be replaced by a Pineapple Guava this spring, at which point it naturally burst into bloom and didn't stop producing until November. We'll see whether I can harden my heart this year. :-)

    Susan aka Miss R

    You are so totally practical and I admire that. I'm practical with my clients, but in my own garden of experimental wonder...not so much!

    Pure self-interest. My goal is 100% happy callbacks. But in my own garden...well, let's just say that while the brug is my biggest example of zone denial, it's not the only one.

    Helen at Toronto Gardens

    Amen, sister. And when you live in Zone 5, there's a whole lotta denial goin' on. The only way to get around it is to think of things as annuals. Tho' that brug is a pretty big (albeit pretty pretty) annual!

    It grows fast enough, you probably COULD grow it as an annual and get your money's worth.


    The Brugies will surely come back to life. Mine looks just like Susan's right now bu I just noticed new growth on it. yay!

    I'm hoping so! But it's always so sad to see how one cold snap is all it takes to make them look like death warmed over.

    Christina Salwitz

    You pointed out some excellent points here. Zonal Denial s a BIG issue up here in the NW!!

    Zonal denial is big EVERYWHERE. I'm afraid no one is immune.

    Michelle D

    If you are given an exceptionally skilled photographer almost any house and garden can be a magazine dream space. It's all about composing an exquisite myopic shot and not trying to get the whole enchilada... that more times than not is resting in a syrofoam carton.

    # 2 on your list is a dicey but doable one to work with. It takes keen design skills to bring the ambitions of your client together with the realities of the site. Some of the best designs are those that stretch and challenge the designer.

    #3 Been there , killed that .

    Enjoyable post Susan

    Michelle, I have a very small courtyard garden that has been much photographed. One day my husband stopped by with me to drop something off. He was shocked (not in a good way). "You mean THIS teeny room is all there is?"

    There's always a way to fit more in, but at some point, a back yard starts to feel less like a garden and more like a rec room. If you wind up with wall-to-wall hardscape, why not just hang out in the driveway?

    David Cristiani

    Great points. #2 is priceless for being real. Magazine vs. reality...ha ha! I guess we designers make the magic, but it might not last past our photo shoots or staging!

    #3 zonal denial - right-on, though there's always the issue when the zone and plants in it are not researched nearly enough. I am starting a post of most commonly-used plants that thrive in my zone, yet are not listed as hardy!

    That's a terrific idea, David. I read and take classes all the time, but nothing substitutes for personal experience.


    Susan, I will definitely be using the line 'you live in a house, not a magazine' in the future. I'm glad you pointed out that many of the magazine photos are glamour shots, that garden doesn't usually look like that either!

    Rebecca pointed out that I should make it clear the reality shot is NOT one of my garden designs! It's actually a before shot. But even though it is far from a magazine that you can get, I wouldn't say no to relaxing next to a firepit with a cooler of beer handy...


    I wish the magazines would show more real gardens. Tired of looking for ideas at gardens that cost thousands more than I could possibly spend on mine.

    I hear what you're saying, but on the other hand, I do enjoy a little garden eye candy. :-)

    Gardening Rain

    Excellent advice and thankyou very much. I so often get online and think about ordering plants that are so beautiful...but not for my zone. I think to myself, maybe i can make them grow here :) HA!


    Love this - "When they requested a firepit at our final concept meeting, it was time for a reality check. Sure, I said, but only if we put it in the pool."
    I think we've all been there, Susan! Too funny. And I'm in a colder climate than you and Rebecca and I'm still longing for a Brugmansia. I've read that you can actually sink the trunk 2' underground so it will always come back from hard frosts in my area, but. . . I haven't tested the theory, as so many of my plant loves also have no winter interest. But the flowers! And the fragrance! Want!

    Andrew Keys

    All so true, and I LOVED your first photo. Yes!

    I'm a zone-denier myself, but I at least try plants that are way too weird for anyone else I know here to have tried them, and in microclimates around the house where they'll have a chance. Hits and misses, of course, but I'd never dream of planting any of them for a client unless I were certain of their hardiness, that's for sure.

    Scott Hokunson

    Garden photography is all about the angles, isn't it? The magazine reference is priceless, although not one many clients will like to hear, or believe until they see for there own eyes. Great advice!


    Wow, thank you so much.PS-I'm still here and I have blogs ready to post here in a jiffy. I took a huiats because the day job got the best of me. Thank you so much for your comment and for inspiring me to keep on keeping on.I love your blog :)

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