Mosaic Gardens Journal

news, photos and inspiration

Q&A – Birch Tunnel March 31, 2011

Filed under: garden design,photos,Q&A — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 5:59 pm
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Have a question? Want more frequent updates? We’d love to hear from you! Read more here and write us in the comments or at

Last week, Brooke left a very nice comment and a couple of good questions:

I am in love with the birch tree tunnel — how beautiful! What type of birch trees are those? What is the system that is holding them up? How would one go about replicating this amazing design?

The trees are good old Betula jacquemontii, or Whitebarked Himilayan Birch, a fairly common landscape tree in our area.  In this shadier area of the garden, we wanted the trunks of the trees to stand out, and this birch had both the eye-catching light bark and the tolerance for cool, moist (but well-drained) soils that we needed.  We should note that this is the first time we’ve used this tree for this application, so it isn’t yet “proven,” but, as you can see, so far so good!

The structures are round steel tubes that we had bent to a specified radius.  Believe it or not, there are shops dedicated just to bending metal!  If you wanted to replicate an arch like this, you can talk to a pipe bending company or you may have better luck a local metalworker who can oversee the project for you (most pipe benders are not accustomed to working with homeowners).  Alternately, you may be able to carefully fabricate a supporting structure from a smaller diameter metal, such as rebar, but it is very difficult to get and keep a perfect curve and straight sides.  No matter what your method, be sure to make the “legs” of your arch extra long, in order to sink them below grade in concrete.

Design-wise, this is obviously not a new concept.  For centuries, landscape designers have understood the power of focusing attention with geometry, and our take on the allee is nothing new.  When considering a feature with this aesthetic weight, it is vital to get your lines just right.  Make sure your “tunnel” is straight and centered, and carefully consider the views or focal points at the ends.

This is our only allee, but the balance of soft and hard lines in a metal arch can create a striking effect in many spaces.  Below are a couple more photos of arches we have created.  If you missed it, you can get another view of the arches in our last post.

Thanks for the questions, Brooke!






Q&A – photo request March 16, 2011

Filed under: photos,Q&A — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 11:30 pm
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Have a question? Want more frequent updates? We’d love to hear from you! Read more here and write us in the comments or at

Our last post prompted a great comment from Jennifer:

“I check out garden blogs mainly for the pictures – the more the better!”

Point taken!  It’s a bit early and rainy for great new photos of our gardens, but your words will inspire us to start shooting sooner rather than later.  For now, we hope a scroll through this link to some of our biggest and best photo posts might bridge the gap.  And, thanks to Jennifer, here’s a view of the coast garden we haven’t yet shared.  Enjoy!

Another view of the coast garden




Mosaic Journal 2.0 March 8, 2011

Filed under: News,Q&A — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 7:37 pm


Surely someone has a question about this picture….

Hi there,

2010 was a fun, busy year for Mosaic. Unfortunately, the regular newsletters and frequent journal entries fell by the wayside.  Each post takes a lot of thought and time, two commodities that can be in short supply when we’re both working full time in the field. We’d like to find a way to get things moving again, so we have a proposal for you: you ask, we answer.  Do you have a question about a plant, a previous post or a design concept?  We’d love to hear from you! You will give us a topic or starting point (often that’s the hardest part), and you and other readers will get new ideas, information and a picture or three.

We’ll continue to post new photos and news, but we hope you’ll help us keep the content fresh and interesting for everyone. Just post a reply below or send an email, and we’ll get right on it. No question too small.  Deal?

If you want to hear from us, but don’t have a question in mind, here are a few questions from an earlier Q&A to get your juices flowing.  If that doesn’t do the trick, a quick scroll through our archive or our newsletters may pique your curiosity.

We look forward to your questions!

Rebecca & Buell

PS Email subscription (in the box at right) is a great way to keep up with our irregular posting schedule.  You’ll get a message from wordpress for each new entry and no spam from us.  : )