Saturday, January 27, 2007

California Native Plant Garden Design Course - Part 2

We went to Part 2 of our 3-part landscape design class today at the Theodore Payne Foundation. We brought in our base plan for our house along with some bubble diagrams depicting some general ideas in the garden like a bird bath and a sitting area.

The course outline for Part 2:
  • Questions
  • Review - Start Creating Your Native Landscape Design
  • Select Materials
  • Develop Your Final Garden Design
  • Soil and Site Preparation
  • Irrigation Techniques
  • Individual Design Projects
  • Work Session
I didn't feel like I learned a lot today. The instructors went over different ideas for designing a garden, but they were very general. The main ideas were to create groups of similar plants, create curvy borders between planting areas, and to create focal points. This is useful, I guess, but I didn't feel like it was getting me any closer to designing my garden. I still have no idea what plants to pick.

I had heard before that native plants won't require any watering or soil amendments. Today, the instructors said that the plants do need watering in their first few years until they become established. They also said that in some cases, you should add compost or gypsum to the soil. One of the main reasons I am interested in a native plant garden is that I wouldn't have to do these things. I think I am going to try leaving the soil as-is and not watering and see what happens. I have planted a few natives already and they seem to be doing just fine with no watering and the unamended soil I planted them in.

At the end of the class, one of the instructors looked at the photos of your yard and our initial base plan. He didn't really have much to suggest except that we try to make some meandering curvy paths -- that seemed to be his thing -- and that we might want to put a tree or two on both sides of our front yard. I'm not sure if I'm going to take that advice since I enjoy being able to see a lot of the street from my front window.

On the way out, I stopped by the Theodore Payne shop to buy some wildflower seeds. I wanted a different color flower to compliment the orange California Poppies that I already planted. The woman there recommended Nemophila menziesii (Baby Blue Eyes). I think they'll look great next to the Poppies.

On the way home, we stopped at Langer's for the good ol' #19. We would have strolled in the park afterwards, but it was raining.


Brent said...

You're in a hurry to get to the plants part of your garden design it seems, but the other parts of the design are just as important. I wouldn't carry around preconceived notions of a garden on a grid - you'll gain much if you have curves. Even the shortest walkway looks better as a curve than straight.

Ken Weiner said...

I'm not really in a hurry to get to the plants. I am still struggling with the basic layout and am worried that I won't have anything I'm comfortable with before my next class. Designing a garden, or anything for that matter, is really difficult for me.

I can see why people like curves in a garden, but I don't consider it a fact that they look better. I often like gardens with straight lines and geometric shapes.

Have you designed a native plant garden? If so, do you have any pictures. I'd love to get ideas.