Mosaic Gardens Journal

news, photos and inspiration

Happy Spring! Newsletter #1 April 26, 2009

Every day brings new leaves, blooms and ideas at this time of year. While starting new designs and watching previous years’ installations grow up and out, we thought it would be fun to share some more of our work online. We updated the portfolio and press pages of our website, and we’re starting this journal to share photos, upcoming events, and newsletters, like this one.

In our first newsletter, we are proud to introduce one of our favorite small spaces. Of course, you may have already met in Sunset, Fine Gardening, the Register-Guard or Pacific Horticulture! Joy Gregory’s garden is a perfect example of how a challenging space can become a terrific garden. Whether you’re ready to give us a call or you’re a do-it-yourselfer, we hope to offer inspiration for your spring garden plans.

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Gregory Meadow

i The Gregory Garden

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The Gregory garden "before" in 2005

Joy Gregory chose her North Eugene home with her son in mind. The house was a great fit, and the neighborhood was full of other young families. There was even a big meadow across the street that served as a natural neighborhood playground. The only problem was that Joy missed having a garden. The backyard was big enough for her son and the dogs to play, but did not leave room for much else. It would have to be the front yard, but where to start? As you can see in the photo below, the existing landscape was little more than a bland 900 square foot postage stamp of scrappy lawn with a handful of boring shrubs. With low expectations, Joy called for help.

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Welcoming and Private

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A six-foot wide sandstone path is centered on the large, planted urn. The combination welcomes visitors into the garden.

Joy was well aware of the limitations of her property, but she hoped we could create a garden that was welcoming to visitors while providing a quiet space for her to relax with her son or a friend. By using ample hardscape, focal points and some creative screening we were able to design the framework for accomplishing her goals. The secrets to enticing people into a garden are wide, welcoming pathways and large focal points. In Joy’s garden, a planted Vietnamese urn and six-foot wide sandstone path invite visitors into the space.

Creating a private space in such a small, open yard was a challenge. The only spot that was far enough from the sidewalk and main pathways was right at the property line, just beyond the neighbor’s front porch. We installed a 6’x9′ rusting metal wall to provide screening without enclosing the garden and let plants to the rest. A sandstone bench is a striking final note to the garden, as well as a quiet place for Joy and her son to enjoy the garden.

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A planted Vietnamese urn draws attention from in and outside the garden, while a rusting metal screen and sandstone bench offer a private retreat.

Foliage Power

In addition to the practical uses of her garden, Joy wanted fun, boisterous plantings that would engage her son and reflect her

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From bronze Carex in the upper left corner, clockwise to burgundy Heuchera, color is a year-round event in Joy's garden.

love of color and form. Of course, as a busy young mother, she needed a garden that was low maintenance. She seemed a bit surprised when we said, “no problem.” The key to a colorful and low maintenance space is to focus on foliage texture and color rather than flowers. Of course, some flowers happen along the way, but in the photo and list below are six terrific, easy plants that will catch your eye for all or most of the year!

Six Plants with Great Foliage

  • Carex testacea
  • Kniphofia northiae
  • Kniphofia ‘Shining Sceptre’
  • Euphorbia ‘Tasmanian Tiger’
  • Libertia peregrinans ‘Bronze Sword’
  • Heuchera ‘Obsidian’

Foliage is fun, but in our minds, it’s the structural and sculptural plants that complete Joy’s garden. Big grasses screen the seating area, while round, spiky and Dr. Seussian evergreen plants give the garden form and a little whimsy. Below is a list of five plants that “make” this little garden.

Structural Stars

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Upright, breezy Calamagrostis, tall, droopy sequoias and spherical dwarf Sitka spruce provide strong form and year-round interest.

  • Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendula’
  • Picea sitchensis ‘Papoose’
  • Phormium ‘Shiraz’
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’

Until Next Time

We hope you enjoyed our first newsletter! We’ll use this space to share news, photos and upcoming events as well as longer newsletter articles like this one, so please check in again. If you have questions about the Gregory garden or there’s anything you would like for us to discuss in the future (the design of our garden? deer plantings? small space design?), please leave a comment below. Until then, we hope you’ll visit the website for inspiration and magazine articles, including two about the Gregory garden.

If you would like to schedule your garden project for this summer or fall, please call (541) 434-6467 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Enjoy the spring,
Rebecca & Buell

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