garden Posts

Serene and Strong: Zen Gardens

By: Danielle Clockel

Everyone needs a place they can go to be still and quiet, and unwind from the stress of the day. For some, that place is a comfy chair nestled within a room in the home. For others, it’s a luxurious bath. And still others find their peace in nature. The garden has long been a place to go to reflect and regroup, and none is more up to this task than Japanese zen gardens. (I mean, it’s in the name!)

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

While they are called “rock gardens,” don’t think you have to completely forsake your beloved plants. Most zen gardens heavily feature stonework and pebbles, but mossy patches and petite trees are also right at home here.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Maybe you just don’t have a green thumb. Hey, we’re not judging you. Immerse yourself in the meditative process of raking intricate swirls (symbolizing ripples on water) into the pebble gravel of your rock garden. It may be neutral in color, but this garden has visual interest galore!

Minimalism may be a common theme in these kinds of gardens, but don’t fret, maximalists — you can still go big! Shapely trees, peaceful ponds, meandering bridges, different levels…this garden has it all.

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Photo courtesy of Damien Douxchamps.

You can still feature color even if you’re more into rocks than roses. Different stones have different hues, and arranging them in a geometric patchwork creates a fun, modern look.

Because of Atlanta’s climate, it’s easy for us to get wrapped up in landscapes full of lush greenery and bright flowers. But that’s not the only way to turn your outdoor space into a personal paradise! Just picture yourself in the quiet serenity of these zen gardens, and find your inner peace.

Proud Plants: Five Foliage Choices For a Modern Sculptural Landscape

By: Elisabeth Paulson

Here in the southeast, the spring flower power of azaleas, redbuds, and dogwoods have bloomed and left us in awe, but ultimately shed their petals. Now what?! Let’s consider a smattering of sculpture, texture, and sheen to complement our homesteads. Here are five plants that add a force of form to your modern landscape.

Photo courtesy of Plant Zone.

Photo courtesy of Plant Zone.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus. While we may not be beachside, we can still enjoy a palm. This dwarf windmill palm adds immense sculpture to any modern structure. Give it some space and let it swank up your garden.

Photo courtesy of Buchanan's Native Plants.

Photo courtesy of Buchanan’s Native Plants.

Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea.’ We’ve been admirers of the leopard plant’s glossy saucers since seeing them at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. While they will bloom a tall spike in late summer, we appreciate these round clumps sans flower as well.

Photo courtesy of K. Bourgondien & Sons.

Photo courtesy of K. Bourgondien & Sons.

Muhlenbergia capillaris. Cotton candy grass! Need we say more? Plant several of these together to get this dreamy pink cloud.

Photo courtesy of K. Bourgondien & Sons.

Photo courtesy of K. Bourgondien & Sons.

Colocasia esculenta ‘Tea Cup.’ The teacup elephant ear has an upright form that holds water. Well shucks, we’ve got these guys coming our way next week…fingers crossed for greatness!

Photo courtesy of Gardenista.

Photo courtesy of Gardenista.

Allium, allium, allium. What flower could be more shapely than this onion relative? Loving this combination with the delicate texture of fern fronds. Depending on the type, these can bloom early spring to mid-summer, and range from 8″ to over 4′. The allium millenium can even be planted this spring for those of us who can’t wait.

Get out there, take some risks, and bask in the stately/feathery/proud beauty of mother nature.

Before and After: Outdoor Planters

By: Elisabeth Paulson

It is hot out there, folks. If your planter boxes are anything like ours, the spring annuals have lost their pep and blooms are melting before your eyes. Fear not – we have the solution. Here are three of our own transformative foliage additions that are sure to last…as long as we remember to water.

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Our doorway planters were looking less than welcoming and needed a major facelift. We kept our healthy heavy-hitters (lambs ears and Heuchera) and added the eye-popping Kong Coleus, impatients for color, and potato vine as a trailer. Come on in!

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This modern zinc planter box has followed me from my Chicago rooftop to my current Atlanta backyard. Such a shaded area loves the hovering, paper-like Caladium ‘Aaron’ and sculptural addition of ‘Bossa Nova’ begonia. A fragrant geranium doesn’t have blooms but a satisfying citrus smell that keeps the mosquitos away. Kong Coleus made an encore appearance that should last through the fall.

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We love a wall planter – this one flanks my own front door and welcomes me home. Staghorn ferns thrive in a vertical position during humid summers, and ‘Mona Lisa’ lipstick plants are an experiment in this felted-pocket home. Finally, a mosaic plant adds a geometric stripe to the plant party.

Celebrate summer and switch out the old for the new – embrace depth in color and a variety of leaf shapes and sizes. Even if your thumb is less-than-green, you can achieve a fresh foliage facelift.