Design a Landscape To Be Seen Through the Living Room Window

I like to “paint pictures” with plants and I enjoy the fact that there are four dimensions to these paintings—height, width, depth, and time. With time and plant growth the painting is constantly changing. It is very nice, too, to have a “picture frame”—in this case, the living room window.

The "before" picture. What can we do to turn the view into a pretty garden picture?

The “before” picture. What can we do to turn the view into a pretty garden picture?

My brother, Tom and his lovely wife, Sheila live in a hilltop home in Weaverville, N.C. just outside of Asheville. When I visited last May, Sheila asked me to think about how to plant the front yard and hill in a manner that would create a hillside garden which would look good from her comfy couch in the living room. The garden would also need to serve as a screen. Sheila was a bit picky, too. She asked for a collection of evergreens with something silver, and to have some white flowering plants incorporated into the planting. I collected plants all summer and Dekie and I loaded the truck and took them to the mountains on September 13. We timed the trip around the fact that my sweet mother would also be visiting.

When we got there we realized that there was yet another problem that we had to deal with. The original “landscapers” had installed what I often refer to as a “close the loan special” and had planted not one, but three cute little gold mop cypress plants at the front of the walkway. I guess they didn’t know or didn’t care that these plants grow into giant trees. It looked like this:

This gold mop cypress is a pretty plant but it is too close to the driveway and the walkway

This gold mop cypress is a pretty plant but it is too close to the driveway and the walkway

I told Tom and Sheila that they would have three choices, Take the trees out, put in a new walkway, or prune and maintain the trees in a nice tree form shape that would get the foliage up above the pedestrian traffic. They wisely chose pruning. Dekie was a wonderful helper. We determined that there were three main trunks in the planting and we began taking off the lower growth to expose them.

We begin the process by isolating 3 trunks and taking off the lower growth

We begin the process by isolating 3 trunks and taking off the lower growth

Since there had been three individual plants in the original planting we tried to maintain the center trunk from each of them. I stood back to check out the progress.

Checking the progress o the tree pruning.

Checking the progress of the tree pruning.

When we finished Mom came out to give her approval. I explained that at this point in the shaping of the plants, the important part was that the tops of the trees remain uncut. When they reach nine or ten feet high we will trim the tops and the foliage will begin to grow sideways and form a canopy.

The finished pruning job on the gold mops. They can grow taller before they need the tops cut

The finished pruning job on the gold mops. They can grow taller before they need the tops cut

It was time to start on the main part of the design. The first thing I do in such a situation is to use my handy paint gun and paint a line to show where the bed will go. After the line is painted I spray all of the weeds and grasses to kill them. Working with the orange line gives me a good reference for spraying and design.

I love to use my paint gun to draw out shrub bed borders.

I love to use my paint gun to draw out shrub bed borders.

Sheila and I discussed the overall concept of the bank planting as well as the fact that phase two would take out a chunk of the planting by the walk way and replace it with grass.

I love to wave my hands around as I paint verbal pictures in the air.

I love to wave my hands around as I paint verbal pictures in the air.

Then I began laying out the plants. I had chosen a palmatum Japanese maple, dwarf butterfly bushes (buzz series) with white flowers, white hydrangeas (Emily Moliere and white oak leaf), Black Prince cryptomeria, Foster hollies (for red Christmas berries), “plum yew” (cephalotaxus), and for a big splash of silver blue I added an Arizona cypress “Carolina Sapphire.” It’s going to take a few years but this is going to be one fine garden.

Since I am recovering from a bout of carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand, Sheila made arrangements with someone to come in and install the plants later. My job was to lay them out and then it would be nap time. I got busy. Here is the layout from the side:

Plants set in place and ready for planting

Plants set in place and ready for planting

After the planting, the garden area will be mulched with shredded cypress mulch. The mulch will finish off the design and the view through the window will be delightful. Here’s how I left it:

checking the layout from the inside out.

checking the layout from the inside out.

Another view through the window showing the hydrangeas

Another view through the window showing the hydrangeas

You might also enjoy a previous article Landscaping from the Inside Out. Click here

Thank you for visiting John the Plant Man

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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Divide and Repot the Plants in Your Mother’s Day Hanging Baskets for Extra Quality and Quantity

Can you imagine how many flowering hanging baskets are sold for Mother’s Day presents in the United States? If I had to guess, I would say maybe a mazillion, more or less. Most of the baskets that you see on the market are of excellent quality, too. Here is a picture of the dragon wing begonia baskets that I bought for my mother, sister, and sister-in-law.

Mother's Day hanging baskets need dividing and re-pottine

Mother’s Day hanging baskets need dividing and re-pottine

Now, in order to turn out a mazillion good looking baskets on a tight production schedule, the commercial growers will use about four or five mazillion plants. The beautiful baskets that we purchase from the florist or nursery will more than likely have several individual plants in them. I looked under the foliage and counted four begonia plants in each of these baskets. I took the planting out of the basket and found that it was almost root-bound. It is unlikely that this planting would perform well for the entire summer without copious amounts of water. The plants just need more room.

The plant is almost root bound and needs dividing and repotting

The plant is almost root bound and needs dividing and repotting

I very carefully worked my thumbs and fingers into the root ball to break it in half.

Carefully break the root ball into two pieces

Carefully break the root ball into two pieces

I took each half of the planting and carefully split it further, ending up with four healthy, well-rooted plants.

The begonia planting has been divided into its four original plants

The begonia planting has been divided into its four original plants

My sister-in-law, Sheila, wanted a nice potted plant on each side of her entry steps so we decided to use two of the plants in each pot. The plants will love the extra room and will grow large and lovely in a short time. I was given two 12-inch clay pots. We filled them partially with potting soil and then I sprinkled Osmocote (a time-release fertilizer) over the mixture. The fertilizer is one of the main secrets to success.

Add a time release fertilizer that will keep the plant well-fed all season.

Add a time release fertilizer that will keep the plant well-fed all season.

I chose the tallest plant and set it to the rear of the pot.

Arrange the plants carefully for maximum effect

Arrange the plants carefully for maximum effect

We placed another of the plants to the front, looking for a bit of symmetry, and Sheila held the plants while I packed potting soil around them. With larger plants like these, this is a two-person job.

It is good to have a helper when planting the larger flowering plants

It is good to have a helper when planting the larger flowering plants

I would ordinarily prune these plants (see my article, “The basics of pruning”) but we decided to stake them instead and let them do their own thing.

Staking and loosely tying the plant will help it to root in nicely.Staking and loosely tying the plant will help it to root in nicely.

Staking and loosely tying the plant will help it to root in nicely.

My sweet wife, Dekie, helped me clean up the mess. She is well familiar with my magnificent messes.

Every now and then I get help with my messes.

Every now and then I get help with my messes.

Dekie really liked the planters.

These plants will be beautiful in a couple of weeks and should last all summer

These plants will be beautiful in a couple of weeks and should last all summer

If you do prune your begonias, you may wish to check out a related article on rooting the begonia cuttings

And here’s another article I wrote a while back about planting containers for summer color.

Thanks for visiting Johntheplantman

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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