Mosaic Gardens Journal

news, photos and inspiration

Dog Gardens and Catios June 26, 2010

Filed under: garden design — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 4:00 am
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Moso & Faro sunning in the main garden

Like many of you, we love our garden and we love our pets, two big mutts, Moso & Faro, and we know that it can be hard to find the right balance between freedom for the dogs and a tidy, happy garden.  When designing spaces for other dog-lovers, we sometimes include a separate fenced area for the pooches.  The separate area to romp and… take care of other business… keeps the dogs contained and the plants free from pee-burn, trampling and munching (even well-behaved dogs *love* ornamental grasses).  There’s no reason to give up on good design in a dog area, however.  Our dog run doubles as an orchard, and we grow grapes on the bull wire fence that separates the space from the veggie garden.  The pea gravel is easy to clean, and it doesn’t track in on wet paws.

So far, we’ve only designed “dog gardens,” but judging from this New York Times article and slide show, we may get a chance to design a “catio” one day.  We find some of the enclosures in the photos a little aesthetically overwhelming, but we’re sure that there are more subtle options.  While the article focuses on the benefits for the cats, there are advantages for birds and other native wildlife, as well.

What do you think?

Our orchard & dog garden

Studies in Texture at the Bancroft Garden June 24, 2010

Filed under: friends,garden design,photos — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 4:15 am
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Our trip to Northern California was brief, but we are so glad that we made time to visit one of our favorite gardens.  The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA is a mecca for hortitexturephiles and garden lovers of all stripes.  We wrote a short post about the Bancroft Garden last year, but we may not have been emphatic enough in our praise.   It is magical.  You should visit.  Soon.

As you probably know, a sunny summer afternoon is less than ideal for photographing gardens, but Buell managed to get a number of fun shots and (we think) a few pretty darn good ones.



Bancroft Teaser June 23, 2010

Filed under: friends,photos — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 5:10 am
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We’re just in the door from a whirlwind trip to California.  Buell took some gorgeous photos at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, which we will post ASAP.  Here’s one of our favorites to tide you over:

Agave flower at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Back soon!



It’s Succulent Day! June 17, 2010

Filed under: garden design,our garden,photos — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 4:37 pm
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This year's small container arrangement in our garden

Buell arranged our succulent and conifer containers last night.  The arrangement looks great, hunh?  Finishing that arrangement feels like the beginning of summer, our garden’s best season.

These little pots make a big feature at the center of our upper gravel terrace, and a strong focal point at the top of the stairs from the stock tank terrace.  In many cases, we advocate using large containers to anchor your potted arrangements, but enough small containers can have a real impact.  These containers range from around 6 inches to around 20 inches in height.  Most of them are hand-coiled Vietnamese pots with an ash glaze, but there are a few odds and ends that we’ve picked up over the years.




The garden this morning


Public Gardens June 15, 2010

Filed under: friends — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 5:56 pm

Gary in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The new herb garden at the BBG

This weekend, Rebecca received a terrific email from her stepmom with photos of her Dad at his weekly volunteer gig in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden!  Dad helped finish the new herb garden at the BBG, and he’s looking forward to helping maintain and develop it for the future.

If you’re ever in New York with a little time, we highly recommend a stroll through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  It’s a fantastic, huge garden with formal areas, rolling park-like sections, a Japanese garden (see my photo from fall ’08) and the coolest greenhouse pavilions.

The Japanese Garden at the BBG

Public gardens are a tremendous asset to their communities and the larger gardening world, and we all have a debt of gratitude to the dedicated staff and volunteers who build and work in them.

While Eugene doesn’t have sprawling botanic gardens like the BBG, we do have a few fun public gardens, like the Sebring Garden in Alton Baker Park.  One of the largest rock gardens in North America, the Sebring Garden is now 12 years old and packed with fascinating, unusual plants.  The garden was built and is developed and maintained by the Emerald Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society.  Even if you’re not sure you want a true “rock garden,” rock garden plants tend to be low-water, smaller varieties, perfect for many urban spaces.  If you’re looking for a great way to support public gardens and learn from some of our area’s most knowledgeable plantspeople, volunteer a few hours in the Sebring.  Or, if you just want to expand your knowledge about wild and wonderful plants, attend some of the NARGS meetings, trips and other fun events (check out this cool camping trip).


Picture Postcard Gardens June 11, 2010

Filed under: garden design,photos — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 4:02 am
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Our June 2010 postcard


Our newest postcard features a few photos of our work (learn more below) and addresses for our website and this journal.  If you’re new to the journal – welcome!  Once you’ve learned about the photos on the card, we hope you’ll keep reading.  The newsletters are a great place to start, or you can take a quick scroll through our last fourteen months of photos, ideas and news.  We update every few days during the growing season, so we hope you’ll check back soon.

To learn about our Mosaic-designed, 100% recycled-paper postcards read more here.

But for now, on to the pictures!





This rusting metal wisteria arbor shades our clients’ west-facing seating area.  We designed the steel frame to be sturdy enough to support a mature vine, but aesthetically light enough not to overwhelm the plant’s beauty or the view.  When the vine drops its leaves for winter or the vine is cut back hard, the arbor provides a clean and (we think) attractive structure on its own.  If you like the arbor, you might enjoy this post with photos of some of our other custom metal features.

A little courtyard makes the perfect outdoor dining room for clients who love to cook.  The garden is just outside their kitchen, where they spend much of their time, and screened from their semi-busy street by a redwood fence.  We built the redwood fence and stone patio, installed the plants, and even designed the cool metal furniture!  Learn more about this pocket garden in our  6th newsletter, Sit. Stay., where we share some ideas for designing a great seating area, and in a post about our furniture designs.

A big, hand-coiled, Vietnamese urn and rustic basalt path anchor this pretty garden.  Our client requested a cottage-style planting with as much pastel floral color as her voracious deer would allow.  We balanced the seasonal color with bold foliage for year-round impact.  This garden has some great ideas, and we’ve 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 gardens.

Thanks for reading!  We hope the card and journal provide inspiration for your garden, or at least a few minutes of fun.  If you would like to learn more about Mosaic and how we can help you create your garden, visit or call 541.434.6467.


New “About” Page June 9, 2010

Filed under: News — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 5:50 pm

We just changed the text on the “about” page on our website.  Check it out!


For the Birds June 6, 2010

Filed under: garden design,our garden — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 5:11 pm
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Cedar waxwings on our Kniphofia northiae flowers

Some of our favorite garden visitors are birds.  The garden moves with their hopping, fluttering and bathing and their songs and twitters are a soundtrack for our work.  Part of the fun of watching birds is that you never quite know what they’ll do next.  Yesterday, Buell saw a jay dive into our stock tank pond and paddle around, hop out for a moment and then do it again!  Kniphofias are usually a hummingbird thing, but two years ago, waxwings mobbed our Kniphofia northiae flowers.

There are a few plants that bring birds back year after year.  Many of them are well known, but here are three of our favorites that may not make the common lists.

  • Sambucus – Our ‘Black Beauty’ flowers and fruits reliably, and is absolutely covered in waxwings when the berries are ripe.
  • Eccremocarpus is a red-flowered vine that is a hummingbird magnet.  We can work and watch just a few feet from the vine in our veggie garden, and the hummers are too happy to mind.  If you thin the seed pods, you’ll find that the vine flowers through the entire growing season (if you don’t, you may find a few baby vines spread around your garden…)
  • Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ proves that hummingbirds aren’t complete color snobs.  Its deep blue flowers vibrate with hummingbirds throughout the summer.  Interestingly, we’ve found that while newer plants will die in a hard freeze their first winter or two, established plants survived even last year’s serious cold snap.

A last word on birds: our native bird populations are dwindling, particularly the species that forage on or near the ground.  There are many, many reasons for this, and there are many ways to help.  Planting bird-friendly gardens and using few or no pesticides (organics first, please) are a great start.  As far as the birds are concerned, the more bugs the better!  Another thing you can do is to bell your cat or find another way to minimize their bird kills.  We love cats, but a few of they are not native to our area and the native birds have not evolved the tricks to escape their efficient hunting.  We also minimize cat (and raccoon!) traffic in our garden by netting off their favorite pathways and blocking off the gaps under our fence.


ContainerMania June 2, 2010

Filed under: our garden,photos — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 8:38 pm
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This simple container planting is an effective screen and a pretty feature

Container plantings are a great way to add whimsy, color, screening and focus to “hard” areas of your garden, such as patios and decks.  Somehow, though, while gardeners enjoy the initial rush of buying and planting, they are often underwhelmed by the result.  While we have plenty of ideas about the best plants and styles of planting for containers, how to plant them, and so on, we think the most important aspect of container plantings isn’t the plants at all….  Here are a few ideas for finding and laying out the perfect containers for your project.

  • We’re loathe to use the word “pots,” when great containers have been made from stock tanks and garbage cans (AKA dustbins).
  • Bigger is usually better.  We like to cluster a few pots of various sizes.  Often the tallest pot in our clusters is 36″.  Taller pots bring the plants closer to eye level, rather than calling for attention from knee height.
  • We’ve said it many times before, but simple forms are the way to go.  Ornate pots create a busy visual effect that distracts from the cool shape of the pot and all of those great plants.
  • Pull it all together.  Rather than spreading your containers out, one here, two there, cluster them together.  Even small pots can have a big impact when drawn into a big mass.
  • Location is always key.  Take time to find the perfect spot and layout for your carefully selected containers.  Prioritize the views from important windows, doors and paths, and spend time moving the empty vessels around before you start to plant.  A few inches to the left or right might help everything come together perfectly.

A gallery of container plantings for a little inspiration:

Happy Containerizing!


Slowly but surely…. June 1, 2010

Filed under: our garden,photos — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 6:57 pm
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Summer is coming.  While the wet, cool weather has many people wondering if the April showers will end by July, the plants are quietly preparing to surprise us in warmer days to come.  I saw our first waterlily bud this weekend, and the heat-loving plants have pushed a surprising amount of growth in the last week or so.  It’s possible that this rainy spring will bring us a summer to remember.

One of our waterlilies on a sunny summer day