Remodeling and Home Design

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    Welcome back, Garden chick! I also find inspiration from floral arrangements. It's helpful to see all the colors bunched together instead of spread out over a landscape. Your design idea sounds lovely.
    On another note, I received my first copy of High Country Gardens' catalog and though of you when reading about all their water-thrifty choices. I guess that's one reason why I'm glad to have moved from Santa Clara, California (aka paradise) to cold Spokane - we have more water here, so I can grow roses and delphiniums.


    Great bouquet. It uses some of my favorite colors. That dark purple is a challenge for sure. Neither is a Cal native, but right now in my garden there are arctotis varieties and an osteospermum in that color range. Neither demand gobs of water. I don't know that I've run across the coreopsis you show. I like it's more delicate take on yellow.

    rob (our french garden)

    Works beautifully. Often the issue for me is form rather than colour.

    Would you group these plants or weave them into each other?

    I think the Coreopsis would look superb bobbing in front of the blue oat grass and the plates of Achillea equally at home with the blue Salvia behind.


    susan (garden-chick)

    VW - I agree, every geography has its pluses and minuses from a gardener's perspective. I sometimes regret that I've become so informed and responsible about sustainable design - I can become quite nostalgic for the heady days when I included plants like Japanese Maples and hydrangeas with abandon in my planting plans.

    James - I am incorporating more natives, particularly with Troy's help, but am by no means an exclusive native plant designer at this point. Too many wonderful Australian and other mediterranean plants out there, plus most of the general public is just not ready to go 100% native. Is the osteospermum part of the symphony series? I had forgotten about them as an option, I seem to recall that there is a pale orange cultivar as well. Do they have a long bloom period?

    Rob - The Creme Brulee is both softer in color, better behaved and more "gardenesque" that some of the more common coreopsis, which I tend to think of as being rather dull and weedy looking. It makes a nice, moundy front of border plant. In terms of how I might weave them together, it would depend on the size of the garden. The plant I would be sparing with (unless we're talking a really big space) is the Achillea 'Coronation Gold'. It's a beautiful, deep yellow repeat bloomer that gets about 3' tall, but it is so bright and showy, I feel it can overwhelm the rest of the plants. I would probably use it more for spots of contrast, rather than plantng in drifts. I might also consider bringing in a front of border purple salvia like May Night which is smaller with a little more intense color. I agree form is often more difficult than color and along those lines, I would prefer not to see the oat grass blooming in this particularly combination, but not many gardeners will commit to cutting off flower stalks. Another option for a sturdier grass might be Leymus condensatrus, Canyon Prince Wild Rye. This gets about 5 feet, so gives you the option of repeating your color combination elsewhere in the garden, but with a slightly different plant grouping. Introducing a big leaf plant for additional texture would also add to the design, but can't think of a low water full sun option off the top of my head.

    Alright, now I've spent so much time thinking about this, I think I'm going to have to charge some of blogging time to whatever design client I use this concept with.



    Thank you for all this, and I will try to switch to Coreopsis 'Creme Brulee'; I have been planting 'Moonbeam' and will be curious to see the difference here. Of course I have to check Carolyn Singer's book first to make sure that the deer do not have a taste for 'Creme Brulee"....

    Renate (Town Mouse)

    Glad you're back! Maybe try a little blue-eyed grass with that? Not purple, but a deeper color. Regardless, I like that combination!


    Ha! Too funny! I do like the combination and where you find inspiration. Welcome back.


    Maybe Cosmos atrosanguineus could fill the purple-ish color role. Everybody loves a plant that smells like chocolate.

    Also Agonis flexuosa 'Jervis Bay After Dark' (depends on the scale you want), Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop' (touchy with frost) or Cordyline Renegade. These maybe moving to the black side of purple but should create contrast.

    The best example of a purple colored native would be Epipactus gigantea ‘Serpentine Night’ - Purple-leaved Stream Orchid.

    Who'd have thought there could be a fun side to grocery shopping.


    Ohhh delphinium are the best for great deep purple. Here in the NW we can grow them with no fear of having to water a lot...the sky does that just fine for us!

    I have never seen that Coreopsis before it is just yummy!

    Glad you're back and inspiring me!

    Wayne Stratz

    so what color combination really don't work?

    try quilt shows for color inspiration.

    are you really sure that your relatives don't read your blog?

    reading this I realize I spend more time thinking about color when I am in my studio than when I am in my garden.

    susan (garden-chick)

    To all - Your comments are great for reminding me about plants I've forgotten about (like chocolate cosmos) and ones I've never used at all but should consider (agonis and epipactus). Have you noticed that if you see a plant for the first time and it's a really crummy specimen (first time I saw a blue eyed grass, for example) you just kind of write it off forever? I think I need to revisit some plants from my past.

    DP, I like achillea moonbeam as well, and I believe achillea are considered one of the all time top pollinator plants, in part because each flower actually has many, many individual flowers.

    Wayne, love the quilt idea! There was a great quilt display at Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek and the approach to color and shape was pretty fearless.


    Susan, the osteospermum goes back a few years and predates my better record keeping so I'm not sure of its exact variety. Color-wise it's comparable to 'Soprano Purple.' Here it's in bloom maybe 60% of the year, winter through much of summer. Freeway daisies are pretty common, but some versions are distinctive enough that they wouldn't make a client think you're just giving them agapanthus.

    susan (garden-chick)

    James, I lived in Southern California for 20 years before relocating to the Bay Area. I think that might be why I rarely think to use osteospermum - I associate it so much with freeway daisies, but it's probably not viewed that way in this neck of the woods, and long blooming plants are always in demand.

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