Whitworth, of Plan-it Earth Design, created this rain garden in Portland, Oregon, between two houses, directing roof runoff from both into a dry streambed. She used plants such as heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), a mix of grass-like carex varieties and gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) — all plants that don’t mind moist soil — to soften the edges.
The best type of hedge for wildlife is one that’s been planted with mixed species that come into leaf, flower and fruit at different times. Since hedges become fairly permanent structures, decide in advance on the type of plant you want so you can tailor your choice to the eventual height of hedge you’d like. You can also create neat low hedges for a more formal look with rosemary or lavender, for example. Always check before trimming your hedges for any nesting birds.
The perennial beds include the following mix of natives, hybrids and pollinator-friendly plants: Beebalm (Monarda ‘Scorpion’), boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Mountain’), cornflower (Centaurea sp.), Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum), dense blazing star (Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’), fall phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘David’), hyssop (Agastache sp.), lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’), masterwort (Astrantia major ‘Moulin Rouge’), mountain fleece (Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Fatal Attraction’), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’), shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum ‘White Breeze’), stonecrop (Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’) and white turtlehead (Chelone glabra).
just like the coveted dining spot in your favorite restaurant, a garden booth can increase intimacy and a sense of seclusion while you’re dining outside. In this London backyard, a booth constructed of a brick base, raised deck flooring, slatted wood seat backs that double as privacy screens and wooden bench seating form a private corner nook for hosting dinner. A couple of seat cushions and throw pillows would make the space even more inviting.
Mature rhododendron, purple-leaved fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense) and large ferns were retained from the original landscape to add lushness and maturity to the design. For foliage color variation, the designers added gold and bronze Japanese maples, gold-green ‘Frans Fontaine’ hornbeams (Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’) and chartreuse grass-like Breeze mat rush (Lomandra longifolia ‘LM300’). A mix of flowering vines and perennials, including bougainvillea, geranium, Latin American fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus), anemone and ‘Kent Beauty’ ornamental oregano (Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’) provide seasonal interest.
Howard built a high fence at the rear of the lot. “We stained it darker to lose it slightly and planted a yew hedge in front,” he says. “This will grow to around [13 feet] high, which will help to reduce the noise of the trains and provide a green backdrop.” In front of the hedge, Howard planted a mix of ferns and euphorbias to brighten up the dark area.
The soothing water feature spans the width of the yard. The alcove behind the lower spout conceals the pump, and the pipework goes to the top spout, which is set into a slate surface. The pool is made of concrete covered in a couple of coats of pond sealant paint. Limestone gravel at the bottom lightens it up, and nontoxic chemicals keep the water clear.
Gardens using jewel-toned color palettes benefit from tones chosen from opposite sides of the color wheel (like orange and blue or yellow and violet). Pairing plants with foliage or flower colors in closely complementary hues makes each color stand out in contrast to its neighbors. For example, in this seaside garden by Bliss Garden Design on Bainbridge Island, Washington, dark purple ‘Caradonna’ sage (Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’) and cool blue ‘Little Titch’ catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Little Titch’) set off bright orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) planted close by.
In this woodland garden outside of Boston, landscape designer Matthew Cunningham banked the beds with pastel blooms mixed with plants that have silver to medium green foliage. Here we see white peonies, dark purple ‘May Night’ sage (Salvia ‘May Night’), lavender-pink ‘Globemaster’ alliums (Allium ‘Globemaster’), silver-leaved Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) and evergreen inkberry (Ilex glabra).
There are plants with deep taproots, those with shallow fibrous root zones and many that reach between. Putting plants with various root types together — instead of filling a bed with plants that all have the same root mass — will create zones of soil life at every level. Healthy soils increase plant health and sequester greater amounts of carbon from the air. I’m not a fan of tilling or adding deep levels of amendments to ornamental perennial beds — it’s costly and destroys soil structure and life. I do like adding a thin layer of compost and organic mulch (leaf mold, wood chips or the cuttings of dead plants from the spring cleanup) on top of the soil.
Shipman is pleased with her shed. She picked a design that has a door in the middle of the longest stretch. “It means you never have to reach into the depths, through cobwebs, to find what you’re looking for. Everything is visible and within reach,” she says. She positioned the shed against the center of the fence, rather than up at one end. “It means you create two secluded seating areas either side. Heaven knows why people so often put sheds in the corner,” she says. The shed has a sedum roof, meaning that, as well as being wildlife-friendly, it is attractive when seen from the upstairs windows.
The view from the back of the garden is a sea of blooms. From the left are Allium cristophii (globes), Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ (spires), Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’, Rosa ‘Mortimer Sackler’ (pink blooms), Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, Clematis ‘Rouge Cardinal’, Buxus sempervirens, and Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ (not in flower). Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, a yellow grass, is in the foreground.
“I used a wildflower border turf and, because I laid it onto ordinary border soil — rather than impoverished ground, which is what you’d often put it onto — it’s gone mad. The wildflowers are loving it! “It’s great for bees and butterflies, which, in turn, bring in birds, so I have tiny birds hopping about among the flowers too,” she says. “Spiders love it as well. It brings life and movement to my small garden.”
A big trend is to use path lights that look more architectural, rather than the traditional flower or mushroom shapes,” Mackell says. For example, the LED-powered BEGA bollard luminaires seen here have a simplified geometric shape, echoing the proportion of the home’s rectangular windows. They project light from two sides onto the lawn and the pathway.
rooftop sauna and wildflower garden The plants used are a mix of those on the homeowners’ wish list and other native plantings that would thrive in the rooftop space. These include ornamental grasses such as blue joint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), Muskingum sedge (Carex muskingumensis) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Other plantings include orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), longbract wild indigo (Baptisia bracteata), whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides), whorled mountain mint (Pycnanthemum verticillatum), nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum) and Short’s aster (Symphyotrichum shortii). “These plants are extraordinarily hardy,” Petty says. “They have to be, given the extremes of the region.”
The team solved drainage in three ways. First, the masons left small gaps between the dry-stacked stones to allow the rock walls to be porous to water. Second, on the hidden side of each wall is a crushed-rock system. Third, pathways between the stone steps feature crushed basalt gravel, which absorbs water rather than contributing to runoff.