Mosaic Gardens Journal

news, photos and inspiration

The Dobson Garden in Fine Gardening March 27, 2012

Ted and Nancy Dobson’s Asian-inspired garden is getting a lot of attention these days!   It is now featured in the May/June issue of Fine Gardening, where you can see some of Buell’s gorgeous photos and get a few ideas for your own small space from Rebecca’s article.  Subscribers will receive their issues any day now, and non-subscribers can pick up their copies at Market of Choice, Jerry’s and some of the bigger bookstores on or after April 3.

We are delighted for the Dobsons!  While we helped them lay the foundation of their garden, they have made it absolutely their own.  The garden reflects not just their eye for detail and hard work, but their joyful and peaceful personalities, as well.  Congratulations on a job well and beautifully done, Ted and Nancy!

Much more on the Dobson garden here.

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See the Dobson Garden in Sunset! January 27, 2012

Filed under: Garden Profiles,News,photos,Tricky spaces — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 10:28 pm
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Have you seen the terrific little garden on p. 44 of the latest issue of Sunset?  Ted and Nancy’s Asian-inspired space is getting a bit of well-deserved attention!

You can learn more about the Dobson Garden in these journal entries, *and* in the next issue of Fine Gardening, which will feature lots of beautiful, new photos by Buell!

ImageMuch, much more to come!

 

One to Watch October 28, 2011

Filed under: friends,garden design,Tricky spaces — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 4:39 pm
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The Dobson garden this fall

Even fall rains can’t get Ted and Nancy Dobson’s garden down.  This tiny, magical space only gets better with age and the careful attention of its inhabitants.  Readers familiar with the space through garden tours or the journal may note the beautiful new water feature at right, one of the Dobson’s summer projects.  Stunning, isn’t it?  It seems that we’re not the only ones who love this intricate and collaborative space, and you may get to see this fabulous garden in print soon (more details to come, of course)!

While photos may be worth a 1,000 words, a visit to this garden speaks volumes.  The Dobsons’ garden (and several of our other gardens) will be on the tour for the Hardy Plant Study Weekend next June 7-10, 2012.  Save the date and stay tuned for more information!

 

The Dobson Garden on Sunset’s Fresh Dirt! August 30, 2011

Filed under: garden design,Garden Profiles,News,photos,Tricky spaces — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 3:37 pm
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The Dobson Garden

Have you seen the Dobson garden on Sunset’s garden blog, Fresh Dirt?  Jim McCausland’s terrific article and photos offer a great view of the peaceful courtyard garden.  If you would like to know more, check out our earlier post on the space here.  Careful observers will note changes between our photos and Jim’s.  Like any great garden, Ted and Nancy are always refining their space, and we think it’s better than ever right now!

The Dobson garden will be on the Hardy Plant Study Weekend Tour next June.  More information on the Study Weekend to come.

 

Our deck on Sunset’s Fresh Dirt July 26, 2011

Filed under: News,our garden,photos,Tricky spaces — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 4:52 pm
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The galvanized stock tank planters on our deck got the attention of Sunset’s Jim McCausland during his recent visit.  The bamboo screen provides a soft, textural screen for the seating area and a lovely backdrop to the view of the deck from the house.  On clear nights, moonlight through the bamboo casts beautiful shadows on our walls.  Read about the screen and see some of Jim’s terrific photos on Sunset’s Fresh Dirt….

 

A Romantic Deer Garden? July 19, 2011

Basalt paths frame a Vietnamese urn in Joy's front garden

The side garden is shadier, but still produces sweeps of soft color

Our artist client, Joy, wanted a romantic, flowery, soft planting, in cool and pastel shades.  Her original planting  – largely thuggish ornamental grasses and traditional landscape shrubs – had never been quite what she wanted, and when she called us, she was hoping for something more in keeping with her craftsman house and painterly aesthetic.

We’ve built the garden in stages, learning the site and its voracious deer as we work our way around.  A large Vietnamese urn and basalt pathway in front are two of our rare hardscape additions, as Joy and her husband were happy with the existing patios.  As we’ve moved to different areas of the property, we’ve adjusted our planting style to accommodate lessons learned and changing preferences.  Where spring color was her first priority in the beginning, Joy came to love plantings that provide year-round impact.   In addition to our construction work, we develop the garden over monthly visits, through which we’ve gradually amended our original plantings, creating a garden that looks fabulous in every season, while still reflecting our original aesthetic, and that accommodates the unusual and ever-changing tastes of the local deer.

Another view of the side garden

This garden owes a debt to trial-and-error, and we could not be more grateful for Joy’s trust in allowing us to bring the garden to its current successful state.  We think we’ve found an elegant balance point between floral color, year-round impact, and, of course, deer resistance.  Our highest compliment is that we often find that many of our monthly chores are complete when we arrive, and Joy, who had never been a gardener before, eager to talk about the latest developments and future opportunities.

Joy’s garden is one of four or five of our gardens that will be included in next year’s Study Weekend tour, June 1-3.  The Study Weekend is a gathering of gardeners that rotates between Vancouver, BC, Seattle, Portland and Eugene, features talks from some of the planet’s best plantspeople and designers, and a tour with the areas’ best gardens. We’ll post more here, as we learn more, but if you’d like to know more soon, please contact the WVHPG.

As the small trees we planted in the courtyard have grown, we've amended the plantings to tolerate more shade.

The hillside along the driveway was our most recent planting (Can you tell Joy loves Alliums?).

 

Our Garden in July July 13, 2011

Buell took some terrific new photos of our garden last night.  What do you think?

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Open Garden!  We had a lovely day and were delighted to meet so many new friends.  If you missed the event, stay tuned to the journal and Facebook for future events.

 

 

New Photos of Watershed – The Exception That Proves the Rule June 15, 2011

Filed under: garden design,photos,Tricky spaces — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 3:40 pm
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The Watershed is a mixed-use commercial/residential building and a rare exception to our  residential garden focus.  We can’t say enough good things about the structure (green materials, local artisans, just fantastic inside and out), and we couldn’t be more grateful for the trust that the owners had in allowing us to design and plant their garden.  The plantings at ground level and on each of the many terraces are diverse, super resilient, and require very little water from the rainwater catchment system.  We think that the courtyard and rusting metal water feature are a strong, grounding center to an unusual,  beautiful space.  Buell took a few new shots of the garden yesterday, and we’d love to know what you think!

(More info on the July 9 Open Garden coming soon!)

The basin of this rusting metal fountain is about 5 feet tall

Not your normal, commercial sidewalk plantings

One of the raised courtyard beds with a rainwater catchment cistern behind

A playful street entrance planting

 

Newsletter #3 June 27, 2009

Filed under: garden design,Garden Profiles,News,photos,Tricky spaces — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 12:07 am
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What a wonderful June! We’ve had perfect working weather, fun projects and a terrific garden tour. Thanks again to everyone who came out to support the Symphony Guild at the Music in the Garden event. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

In this newsletter, we’ll share the transformation of one of the trickiest spaces we’ve ever seen, offer a few ideas from the resulting garden, and give a summer reading list of five of our favorite garden books. Be sure to scroll through the main journal when you’re done. In the last month, we’ve posted some great pictures, a guide to building simple and great looking tomato cages, a little about how we use metal in our designs and more.

i The Dobson Garden

Ted and Nancy Dobson are determined perfectionists. Everyone in their College Hill neighborhood watched with delight as they scraped, painted and pounded a neglected former rental house into an attractive home. Once the house met their exacting standards, they turned their attention to the yard, expecting to whip it into shape with substantially less effort and time than their house had taken. And then they called us….

Ted and Nancy Dobson's garden this spring.

Ted and Nancy Dobson's garden this spring.

All They Wanted Was a Container Garden


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Ted and Nancy's garden "before."

In our initial consultation, Ted and Nancy requested an irrigated container garden in their small back yard. The problem was hiding the irrigation. Previous owners had finished the basement of the house and poured concrete over the entire flat space behind the house. A steep hillside required a tall, cinder block retaining wall. Add in narrow dimensions and a stellar view of the heat pump, and, as you can see below, the space was irrigation-proof and less than attractive.

The contrast between dark, geometric wood and round river gravel strengthens the impact of both materials.

The contrast between dark, geometric wood and round river gravel strengthens the impact of both materials.

We used four main hardscape elements to create the Dobsons’ garden: gravel, ipe (a sustainably forested hardwood) decking, stepping stones and bamboo screens. In a tiny space, everything needs a purpose, and each of these elements blends form and function. A large, local river gravel covers the concrete and irrigation while still allowing water to freely enter the drain system, but visitors only notice its cohesive, subtle texture. The ipe decks give the Dobsons a place to enjoy their garden, and its rich color and strong lines contrast with the lighter, more natural feeling of the stone elements. We borrowed the excellent Japanese concept of using large stepping stones as both a stable walking surface and a way of focusing attention on the journey, rather than the destination, thus keeping energy in the tiny garden. Finally, simple bamboo screens frame an enticing view between separate two garden rooms – the seating area and the pathway or journey garden – and, oh yeah, hide the heat pump from the seating area.

Our design surprised the Dobsons, who had expected a quick meeting about irrigation, but it captured their imaginations. We installed the hardscape of their garden in spring of 2006. At the time, they were casual gardeners, planting a few annuals here and there and keeping a very tidy lawn. However, something in their new space set their prodigious energies and curious minds to work, and they elected to plant the new garden themselves. In the intervening years, Ted and Nancy have created a thoughtful, Japanese-inspired planting, which meshes perfectly with their cool, quiet space.

The gardening didn’t stop there, however. The front garden, which expands by the season, is a colorful contrast to the understated space in the back. Today, the Dobsons are regulars on garden tours and make long day trips to check out new nurseries. Every season finds them mulling over a new project and perfecting the existing plantings.

Bamboo screens frame an enticing view of the next room.

Bamboo screens frame an enticing view of the next room (this is almost the same view as the "before" shot!).

Three Ideas to Borrow

The Dobsons’ tricky space is a terrific illustration of some of our core design concepts. Below are three ideas that can help turn a difficult space into an inviting garden.

Think big, even in a small space. Ample hardscape makes a tiny garden more welcoming. Approximately 2′ wide stepping stones are an eye-catching invitation to stroll and the 8′ x 14′ ipe deck is a perfect spot for a glass of wine with friends.

Multitasking hardscape. Combining simple form with multiple functions keeps the garden cohesive and uncluttered. The Dobsons’ bamboo screens frame the view of their path, separate the garden rooms, provide a striking backdrop for planted arrangements, and screen the heat pump.

Limitations as framework. More often than not, careful and creative thought can turn an apparent disadvantage into a guideline for great design. The concrete floor of the Dobsons’ original “yard” is still under the layers of rich materials. What seemed at first like an unsightly, insurmountable obstacle became the inspiration for a terrific garden.

Summer Garden Reading

Here are five of our favorite garden design books for some summer inspiration. If you can’t find them locally (I’ve seen several of these available used), we’ve linked to online sources.

The Modern Japanese Garden – This book by Michiko Rico Nose is as much a study in simplicity, honesty of materials and effective use of space as it is a review of contemporary Japanese gardens.

Breaking Ground – The first garden book we loved, and one to which we regularly return for inspiration. A thoughtful introduction to ten contemporary garden designers by Page Dickey.

Gardens in the Spirit of Place – Page Dickey explores gardens that look to the surrounding landscape and culture for their inspiration.

The Essential Garden Book – As close to a “how to” as you can get in garden design, by Terrance Conran.

In the Company of Stone – Daniel Stone is a master in the art and craft of stonework, and this beautiful book by Dan Snow should be on every rock geek’s shelves.

Thanks for reading!

We’re already brainstorming for the next newsletter. In the meantime, bookmark the journal and check back every few days. In the next month we’ll share some process photos of the gorgeous, dry stack stone wall we’re building, and, hopefully, some new portfolio shots. If you want to be the first to know about the newsletters and Mosaic news, join our mailing list! We write once or twice a month at most, and we’ll never share your contact information.

Happy summer!

Rebecca & Buell



 

A brief photo history of our garden June 9, 2009

Filed under: events,News,our garden,photos,Tricky spaces — Rebecca Sams from Mosaic Gardens @ 4:08 pm
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Our front path from above

With the Eugene Symphony Music in the Garden tour coming this Sunday, it seems like a good time to share a short photo history of our space! We began hardscape construction in fall of 2002, put the first plants in the ground in 2003. The ipe deck we installed in 2004 completed the garden’s structure, but a garden is never finished. We make large and small changes to the plantings every year.

Our garden has been featured in Garden Design, Sunset, Pacific Horticulture and Fine Gardening magazines. A few of those articles are available on the press page of our main website and offer a much more complete account of the design of our space than we can offer here. For now, we just hope to entice you to visit the garden and support a great cause this Sunday!

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Click on the images below to enlarge.