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.

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August 8, 2011

Greenhouses for New Jersey Gardens

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

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.

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August 4, 2011

Whimsy For Gardens in New Jersey

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 9:50 am

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”.

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July 27, 2011

Shade Gardening

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 2:07 pm

One advantage of a shade garden is that with foliage taking precedence over flowers, it is easier to create yearlong interest.  Many foliage shade plants, from low growing pachysandras to the tall evergreen conifers that created the shade in the first place, have persistent foliage and will be attractive year-round.   When our Landscape Architects and Garden Designers plan a shade garden we include a nice portion of evergreen, both broad-leaved and needles and include not only the usual trees and shrubs but also other plants that retain their foliage all year.  If only one-fifth of the plants hold onto their leaves year-round, you will already have a surprisingly colorful garden in winter.  Fortunately, we have a vast list of those plants with persistent leaves.

Colorful or unusually shaped or textured stems and trunks also add off-season interest.  Papery River Birches, striped-bark maples,  gray-barked beeches and corkscrew hazel – all may shed their leaves yet still offer winter interest.  Plants like peonies and many hardy geraniums have colorful fall hues that can also add interest to the shade garden.  And an abundant planting of spring blooming ephemerals we call bulbs, many of which adapt perfectly to shade, will bring us full circle to the shade garden in summer once again.

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July 24, 2011

Container Gardening Ideas for Your Landscape

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 7:45 am

Container gardening allows you to put plants in the soil less areas of the garden – along the garden paths, on the stairs, in the sitting areas and even on the tops and sides of walls and fences.  Our Live Oak Landscape Maintenance crews not only design creative containers, they will maintain them as well.

Pairs of pots have a natural place as markers on either side of front entrances, gates, flight of steps or midpoints of a path.  Think of them as sentinels, and give them lots of presence: for example, plant them with trees that have a strong outline or interesting branching structure or with any plant that has bold foliage or flowers: or use fancy large pots and set trellises inside them.

Mediuim and small containers look most effective in groups.  You can make a strong focal point with them, perhaps to take the eye off of a less attractive feature in the garden, or use them to dress up an entrance, a plain patio or top of a wall.  You may be able to arrange many different plants artistically, generating a balance of form that satisfies the eye.  To keep moisture from staining decks or patios and to prevent the decay of wood surfaces, elevate pots on wood blocks, cleats, terra cotta feet or trivets.

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July 19, 2011

Evening Gardens Created for New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 9:52 am

Filled with silver foliage and white flowers, the evening garden is designed to brighten up dusk and shimmer in the moonlight.  With few color contrasts, the garden is a place of serenity by day, but at night it is full of the play of shadow and glistening highlights.  For gardeners who spend their days away from home, the evening garden offers a scene for peaceful strolls or quiet relaxation.

Some evening gardens rely on a foundation of blue-gray or variegated foliage plants for their brightening effect, while other consist largely of white-flowering plants.  Pale foliage reflects evening light.  White blossoms flow resplendently in the moonlight, especially those with large or doubled petals. Garden rooms, patios, and sheltered corners of the landscape are especially pleasant in the evening.  They provide a sense of privacy and seclusion.  A garden room also provides a setting for tender, container grown plants that need protection from hot summers.

At Live Oak Landscape Contractors, we have the right mix of landscape architects and landscape garden designers to make your garden glow at night.  With April Showers Lighting professionals providing the correct lighting patterns for your landscape, you will truly enjoy your evenings filled with beauty, peace and quiet!

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July 13, 2011

Well Designed Landscapes for New Jersey Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 2:29 pm

Even homes with tidy, well-kept surroundings often suffer from a lack of planning.  Their owners design one small area as a need or problem arises, or they go on a shopping binge in a nursery and bring home a load of plants to “find a place for”.  Often the result is a spotty landscape design – a little of this, a little of that, and nothing to tie it together visually.  Time and money are wasted on plantings of the wrong scale or in the wrong place that later must be torn out.

To avoid costly mistakes, Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers devise a detailed scheme.  The object is not to make a carbon copy of someone else’s design but to know which plants thrive in your area and to discover some pleasing visual effects that you had not thought of.   As we develop this plan, we look at the architect of your home, the kind of life style you lead and talk to you about ideas on landscape features.    We then  tie it all together to make the big picture. Many owners of the homes that we have landscaped refer their friends to us knowing that we will create another beautiful garden for their enjoyment!

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July 8, 2011

Difficult Landscape Solutions in New Jersey Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 12:45 pm

With ever increasing difficult weather patterns in our state of New Jersey, plants will have a tough time surviving unless you know the “right plant for the right place”.  Live Oak Landscape Garden Designers know exactly what to do for the following difficult situations:

Moisture Loving Plants – Perennials include Sedges (carex), Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia) – Shrubs include Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) and Virginia Sweetspire (Itea Virginica).  Trees include Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) and Musclewood (Carpinuis caroliniana).

Shade Tolerant Perennials – Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria).  Shrubs – Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii), Hydrangea, Serviceberry (Amelanchier grandiflora). Trees include Eastern Redbud (cercis canadensis), Dogwood – Japanese (Cornus Kousa) and Eastern (C. florida).

Perennials for Full Sun and Dry Soils – Yarrow (Achillea), Purple Coneflower (Echinaceae purpurea), Sedums and Gayfeather (Liatris spicata).  Shrubs include Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) and Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria). Heat and drought tolerant trees include Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa) and Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus).

And the list goes on!  There are so many unusual plants, shrubs and trees  for New Jersey Gardens  and we at Live Oak Landscape go out of our way to make your landscape different from all others.

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July 7, 2011

Deer Resistant Plants for New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Deer-resistant Plants — admin @ 7:12 am

Most of us in New Jersey have been visited on an occasion or two by our world famous deer!  And, as we all know, when deer get hungry, they will eat anything.  However, Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension, have put out a fact sheet number E271 that you can download from their website, www.njaes.rutgers.edu/extension, click on Lawn and Garden and you will see the Issues section.  You can get an enormous amount of information on  plants they have listed in the Rarely Damage and Seldom Rarely Damaged categories that might just be what you are looking for.  Categories are Annuals, Biennials, Bulbs, Ferns, Groundcovers, Ornamental Grasses, Perennials, Shrubs, Trees and Vines.

Our Landscape and Garden Designers at Live Oak Landscape will be most happy to go over a list of those plants that would be appropriate for your garden.

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July 2, 2011

Shady Site Solutions for New Jersey Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 9:00 am

The easiest way to solve a problem is to turn it into an opportunity.  Our garden designers at Live Oak Landscape match the right plants to create the easy care garden. 

Whether you are dealing with dry or moist shade, you’ve got a perfect spot for a dazzling wildflower and woodland plant garden.  We start solving shady site problems by identifying spots that receive different amounts of shade during the day and by getting a realistic picture of what parts of the garden are in shade all day or only part of the day.  Not all sites are created equal!  A site can have light, filtered shade or deep, dark shade.

Our landscape architects have a complete list of those plants that thrive in shade, including Oakleaf hydrageas, variegated Solomon’s Seal, Fingerleaf rodgersia and Goat’s beard, just to name a few.  A textured shade garden might include Desdemona bigleaf ligularia, Japanese painted fern and climbing hydrangeas.  A native plant garden might include Crested iris, Allegheny spurge and Cygnet foamflowers.  A Victorian shade garden would include Soft shield fern, Repandens English yew and Variegated English Ivy.  Shade gardening does not need to be boring and we at Live Oak Landscape Contractors have all the necessary tools to make your shade garden exciting!

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