Mosaic Gardens Journal

news, photos and inspiration

Newsletter #2! May 26, 2009

Filed under: friends,garden design,News,Newsletter,our garden,photos — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 2:11 pm
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Welcome to our second newsletter! In this edition, we’ll share how we select and place garden features and introduce one of our favorite nurseries – Dancing Oaks. If you haven’t visited the journal since our last newsletter, we’ve added a few posts, including some inspiration for those of you who share your garden with deer. If you’d like for us to post more often, please tell your friends about our journal and leave a comment. The more visitors and feedback we have, the more we’ll know we’re on the right track!

[Edit, 5/28: Don’t forget to visit the main page of our journal! We just posted some new photos, and there will be more photos and news to come.]

And… Save the Date!

We hope you will visit our garden on the Eugene Symphony Guild’s Music in the Garden tour on Sunday, June 14. Advance tickets are available at most local nurseries. Stay tuned to the journal for more information on how you can support the Symphony Guild, see seven Eugene gardens and meet Mosaic.

iFocus on Features

The stock tank pond from our roof, just above the living room window.

The stock tank pond from the roof above the living room window (don't try this at home).

Location, location, location.

The first step in placing a feature is to consider the points from which it will be seen. If the feature can be seen from the house, primary windows and doors are a great place to start. Sometimes the view from the house trumps all other considerations. The pond in our garden, for instance, is centered on our large living room window. On our sloping lot, most of the garden falls below the windows, and we wanted a large, powerful feature to draw attention from the house into the garden. Once we’d selected the location of the 7′ diameter stock tank, we designed the pathways and other hardscape around it.

A front window frames the view of a feature and the surrounding garden.

A front window frames the view of a feature and the surrounding garden.

Features can improve the house-garden connection in less structured spaces as well. A Vietnamese urn draws attention from the front window into the deer-friendly cottage garden. From another perspective, the basalt pathway splits, framing the view of the feature from below. Centering the feature on a primary garden path focuses attention and grounds the otherwise chaotic floral display.

d path

The urn is also centered on the basalt pathway below.




Think big!

Our number one rule of feature selection is more about substance than style. Even in small spaces, it’s important to use features that draw attention from in and outside the garden. In the space below, a 48″ tall Vietnamese urn stops the eye, where a smaller feature would not hold attention in the narrow space. Many of our features are 36″ – 48″ high and roughly as wide, and command attention in their carefully chosen locations.

Some features do double duty as furniture, screens or fire pits. A galvanized and powder-coated metal bench in the photo above anchors the other end of the rectangular gravel terrace. The sandstone bench we mentioned in the last newsletter is not tall, but its substantial form in combination with the backdrop of a rusting wall is a perfect, functional focal point.

While size is important, the design and feeling of a space may call for flexible thinking. If you don’t want to stop the eye, a low, broad feature, like a pond, will encourage the viewer to look across and into the garden, rather than stopping their eye.

Simplicity works.

We believe that simple forms make the best features. In a classical or contemporary space, clean, unadorned forms dovetail with the geometry of their surroundings. In spaces that overflow with plants or lack a formal framework, visual complexity would be lost in the noise. Clean, quiet lines balance the surrounding chaos. We have designed several features, including a rusted metal fountain at the new Watershed building and several stacked stone sculptures. When left to our own devices, we always return to the simplest forms. Click on the images below for a closer look.

Dancing Oaks has the best Kniphofias!

Dancing Oaks has the best Kniphofias

iDancing Oaks!

Leonard Foltz and Fred Weisensee are plant geeks with a sense of style. They comb catalogs and continents to find the most stunning (and the most bizarre) foliage, blooms and form. The selection and diversity of plants at Dancing Oaks is unbelievable, if a bit dangerous. Some friends who took their compact car for the first visit had to return the next day with a truck! The nursery is northwest of Corvallis, and well worth the drive. Once you’ve seen the display garden, chatted with the kind and knowledgeable staff and filled a few nursery carts, you’ll see what we mean. Dancing Oaks is open 9-5, Tuesday – Saturday or by appointment on other days. Please tell them Rebecca & Buell say hi! For more information, visit

That’s all for now,

but check back soon! It’s photography season, and we will post some of Buell’s 2009 shots soon. In the meantime, please share this journal with your friends and leave a comment if you have questions, requests or thoughts. And don’t forget about the Music in the Garden tour on June 14….

If you’d like to make sure your garden project is on the calendar for this year, call 541.434.6467 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to talking with you!


4 Responses to “Newsletter #2!”

  1. Ron Hodges Says:

    I visited Dancing Oaks on the 19th and found a few plants that I didn’t have and that were suitable for my conditions. Among the real treasures is Quercus dentata pinnatifida.

    Best wishes,

  2. […] planting beds, we believe in simple features and clean, strong lines in the hardscape (a concept that needs its own newsletter or three).  […]

  3. […] here, but a taste of the larger possibilities of this concept can be found in our newsletter about features, among other […]

  4. […] discussed different aspects of it in a recent post about “making a scene,” a newsletter about garden features, and a post with photos of three of our favorite deer […]

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