August 25, 2011

Traditional Landscapes for New Jersey Gardens

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Interest in traditional gardens has grown greatly in recent years.  Many people have realized that these gardens are based on principles that have evolved over hundreds of years and are relevant and inspiring today.  Also, the increased appeal of preserving and restoring older homes has led to a desire to create appropriate period landscapes.  Our Landscape Architects and Garden Designers at Live Oak Landscape are professionals who have studied in detail the architecture of the house to design beautiful gardens to enhance that architecture.

Most traditional American gardens reflect both geometric and naturalistic elements.  Many of the great garden designers of the last century were masters of both schools of design and knew how to combine and apply the principles of each as the situation required.  Gardens in the early 20th century were often influenced due to a variety of newly available plants.  In particular, the perennial flower border was raised to new aesthetic heights by the English garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll.  Her compositions were masterpieces in color, texture and shape.  In collaboration with the great architect Edwin Lutyens, Jekyll created some of the most inspired and beautiful gardens in western civilization.  They have the order and structure of geometric gardens, the sweeping irregular lines of naturalistic gardens and the exuberance and vitality of original designs.  Jekyll’s work was widely appreciated and continues to have wide appeal and charm today.

Traditional gardens rely on constructed features as well as plants to create harmonious effects.  The largest and most important features are the found plane itself which can be manipulated through grading and the house, which may be linked to the landscape by an appropriately designed porch or patio.  In successful designs, view from major windows and doors and access between indoor and outdoor space are carefully considered and Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers are specialists.

August 18, 2011

Japanese-Style Gardens in New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 7:09 am

The tranquility and harmony that are sought after in Japanese gardens can be very valuable to sooth problems of stress and pressure.  The Oriental message that less can be more is very comforting. Japanese style gardens are understated suggestions of natural scenes that in addition to being decorative, are meant to encourage contemplation and meditation.  Relatively few elements are included, and emphasis is placed on the natural beauty of each rock, plant, or structure as well as on the harmony of the scene as a whole.

While the Eastern philosophy of garden design may seem unusual to Westerners, the plants themselves are often familiar because the Japanese climate is similar to that in many areas of the United States.  Mosses, bamboo, hostas, irises, many types of ferns and azaleas are commonly used, as are the  many plants whose English common names indicate their origin, including Japanese maple, Japanese holly, Japanese forms of white pine, flowering cherry, and wisteria.  Evergreens are heavily relied on, often pruned or trained to appear old because maturity is valued by the Japanese.

Landscape and architecture are inseparable in the Japanese tradition of garden design.  Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers have studied the traditions of the Japanese garden and can design a space of any size to create feelings of tranquility.

The refreshing simplicity of a Japanese garden is not difficult to achieve, but it does require careful thought about perception and scale.  We create the illusion of space by placing large plants or objects in the foreground and decrease their size toward the back of the garden.   There are several styles of traditional Japanese gardens.  In the hill and pond garden, one of the oldest styles, the hills and ponds are man made, shrubs are shaped to echo the undulating forms of mountains and clouds and the trees are pruned to look old and windswept.  In the tea garden, there is a stepping-stone path, representing a mountain trail, leading to the ceremonial teahouse.  A stone lantern and water basin are usually included and the plants are mostly subdued evergreen.

A stroll garden features stepping stones, stone lanterns and often a teahouse or pavilion, but its main feature is an irregularly shaped pond with islands.  A courtyard garden is a variation on this theme, including a few carefully placed plants and perhaps stepping stones and lanterns, as in the tea garden.

August 14, 2011

Herb Gardens in New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 10:42 am

The Herb Garden in its current form, is a direct descendant of the ancient Greek or Roman kitchen garden and the medieval monastic collection of plants, grown for use in flavoring food, making medicines or perfume and used for decoration.  These purposes allowed such gardens to include roses, lilies, honeysuckle and other plants that now seem to belong in the flower garden.  With the contents of the herb garden usually limited to plants with some culinary or aromatic value, the standard plants include rosemary, parsley, sage,  marjoram, thyme and many mints.  Angelica, bay, chervil, dill, fennel, lemon balm, lovage, rue and tarragon are not only grown for flavors, but for their texture as well. Herb  plants themselves may not only vary from small annuals like basil and sweet marjoram  but also to low growing shrubs like thyme and tall, stately herbs like angelica and fennel. 

The attractions of herb gardens come from the variety of color, shape and texture of the foliage; silver, gray, golden or variegated as well as plain green. Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers offers good designs that will make use of complementary plants to enhance each other.

The modern revival of the taste for herb gardens is probably the work of Eleanour Sinclair Rohde (1882-1950) whose books and articles, published in the 1920′s and 30′s encouraged others to pay attention to this group of plants.  She also designed many herb gardens.

August 8, 2011

Greenhouses for New Jersey Gardens

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Used today principally to grow, propagate and display useful and decorative plants, in its beginnings, in Britain in the late 16th century, it was used only for overwintering tender greens, hence “greenhouse”.  The name which was then used synonymously with “conservatory” (to conserve greens), is attributed to John Evelyn.

Gardeners required greenhouses because they wished to have more greenery around them in what were then mostly barren winters, so they bought from abroad, bays, oleanders, myrtles, oranges, aloes and variegated hollies which would stand out in tubs during the summer and be brought indoors for the winter.    After early experiments with wood, those early greenhouses were made mainly of brick or stone with opaque roofs and heated with primitive smoke flues or indoor enclosed stoves.

The 18th century influx of plants from many parts of the world gave both the amateur gardeners and early botanists every encouragement to find the most efficient greenhouse to protect the hard-won, much travelled tender exotics from British weather both in summer and winter.  So it was by experiment that glass roofs became standard, correct angles for roofing were determined and the efficiency of span, lean-to, and curvilinear roofed houses were worked out; heating by hot air, steam, and hot water all had their protagonists while ventilation came to be realized as an important and integral part of any greenhouse.

Our Landscape Architects and Garden Designers at Live Oak Landscape have had great success in designing  beautiful greenhouses.  We have wonderful ideas to make your greenhouse work for you both in summer and in winter.

August 4, 2011

Whimsy For Gardens in New Jersey

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Whimsy in the garden can take many forms: an amusing anecdote engraved on stone, a  funny scarecrow in a vegetable garden, or an animated topiary figure.  Whimsy is a way of reflecting a garden owner’s personality.  For example, Harvey S. Ladew, founder of the Ladew Topiary Gardens, near Baltimore, loved foxhunting so one of his more amusing topiary pieces show a fox chased by four hounds and rider, shaped out of Japanese yew.  In a summerhouse that used to be the ticket office for the Savoy Theater in London, Ladew had a secret bar hidden behind a mirror for entertaining visitors and a couch with a cushion that read “Love Thy Neighbor, but do it discreetly”  In another area called the Orchard Garden, he placed a pair of statues representing Eve tempting Adam with an apple.  Elsewhere, a pleached statue of Buddha ensures the gardens are interdenominational.

Garden gnomes are whimsical ornaments and though many folks would not be caught dead with one in their garden, Albert duPont, founder of Nemours Garden, Delaware, an imitation of Versailles Palace, created a village of gnomes, mushrooms and witches.

But perhaps the most whimsical garden of all is the coastal property of New Zealand artist Lindsay Crooks, who created colorful three-dimensional animated figures for decorating the outdoors, offering them for sale and giving them appropriate names like “The Weeder”, The Planter, and “The Sunbather”.