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05 May 2018

Amorphophallus (Araceae)

Name derived from the Greek Umorphos «informe» and phallós «foul», due to the polymorphism of the appendix of the spadix. Plant with tuberous rhizome, from which the great upright inflorescence is born, long before the appearance of the compounded leaves, which do not appear in any case before the end of the flowering. The species are almost all Asian, except some African ones, and they are only partially cultivated for their gigantic proportions and for the unpleasant smell of the inflorescences that is emanated, as from other plants, to attract the necrophilous insects, like pollinators of pollination.

Amorphophallus bulbifer, a plant with tuberous rhizome from which the great upright inflorescence is born.
Amorphophallus bulbifer, a plant with tuberous rhizome from which the great upright inflorescence is born.

Cultivated species of Amorphophallus:

A. bullnfer, with green, red or pink inflorescence, carried by a stem about 30 cm high; A. rivieri (Hydrosme rivieri, proteinophallus rivieri), with 25 cm wide tuber, inflorescence with reddish spadix and green and purple spotted macula; also the stem, which reaches the meter height, is mottled. The leaves, which appear after flowering, are each carried by a long, marbled, root-shaped petiole and fanned out; he is originally from the Cocincina; A. titanum, of Sumatra, is one of the largest Araceae, with long petioles up to 5 m and the main lobes of the 3 m wide leaves; it is not cultivated.

Cultivation:

the A. need a minimum temperature of 10-13 ° C and a compound made of equal parts of fibrous earth, the earth of leaves, peat, manure, and sand; drainage must be excellent. Half-shade, frequent waterings in summer, moderate in the intermediate seasons and absolutely suspended from November to February to allow the period of rest. The multiplication happens for bulbs that are formed around the main tuber, detached and invaded in late winter. It can also be sown in spring at a temperature of 24 ° C.


Read also: Amorpha (Leguminosae)

02 May 2018

Gardening for children

Approaching children to the world of nature is a difficult thing for those who live in modern cities suffocated by cement.

It is however very important to give them the opportunity to get closer to the natural world from an early age so that they can learn about it, love it and respect its beauty and order because they feel the need not to disturb its balance from the very first years of life.

So let’s start our children for a while to the practice of gardening: we will accustom them to contact with Nature and its world, we will stimulate our creative capacity and give them the chance to have fun in a healthy way, in the open air, in a new dimension, more positive for their training.

The child is led to follow the patterns of behavior offered to him by his parents: seeing them work, intent on taking care of plants and flowers, he will naturally try to do the same.

Gardening for children

However, it prefers to be autonomous and this means that it is advisable to reserve a piece of garden for it or, if you do not have this, put some vases on your balcony or terrace.

With a suitable orientation and encouragement from the parents, the children end up trying a little enchantment and the satisfaction of gardening; they will work their tiny piece of land with much greater enthusiasm than they would have tried to remove the weeds from the big garden on Father’s behalf.

As the boy grows, his personal garden or his cultivations in pots will be for him a motive of growing interest and satisfaction.

Location and size

The angle reserved for children must be chosen to keep in mind the general layout of the garden and, if possible, must be located near the house: particularly important this last, especially when children are still small, to be able to monitor them with ease; besides, the boys like to have the feeling that their garden is part of the whole garden and that it is not something that parents prefer to hide and ignore.

The area reserved for children should not be too big, otherwise, it will be heavy to remove the weeds, nor too small, otherwise the plants will end up forming a confused heap: the appropriate size could be about one square meter, or a bit of more if the child is big and active.

It is necessary to help him clean the area and prepare it for the first sowing, but the boy should be encouraged to do as much as possible alone, explaining the “how” and the “why” as the work progresses.

Tools

The problem of tools can be a difficulty, as there is no middle ground between the normal adult tools, bulky and potentially dangerous in the hands of a boy, and the toy tools, not very resistant and in practice useless.

Children should be taught to use terrace tools first and then carefully school, we will switch to adult gear, perhaps with the shortest handle.

Gardening for children tools

How to keep the enthusiasm

The children and young people are not very patient and it is, therefore, necessary that they get quick results so that their enthusiasm remains intact and they do not have the temptation to unearth the seeds to see “how things are going”.

The Easter violets, Matthiola incana or the lberis umbellata are very suitable plants for a very young beginner: both the one and the other can be planted in order to draw the child’s name or the initials.

Just trace the letters in the flower bed with a stick and then sow the seeds, quite sparse, along with the furrows; if it is possible, it is good for the child to do it alone.

Once you have explained and shown some basic principles, the little gardener has to organize his own piece of land; further suggestions, advice, and aid must be given only if they are requested or if they appear to be truly indispensable. Another plant that is easy to grow and which gives quick results is, between the years, the nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus).

Climbing varieties can be arranged on supports formed by reeds that are to be planted in the ground at the center of circles of 25-30 cm in diameter; two nasturtium seeds should be planted in April, approximately at a depth of two and a half centimeters, at the base of each reed. When the seeds sprout, the weaker seedling should be removed (it can be used to replace those that have not germinated) and each plant, growing, is induced to wrap around the reed.

After the removal of dried flowers, the plants will continue to bloom abundantly throughout the summer.

Tropaeolum peregrinum, treated as a resistant annual plant, can be used in the same way; the seeds are opened outdoors in March or April; it is a plant that needs lots of water during its growth, and this is appreciated by children who like to give frequent waterings.

The colorful marigolds (Calendula officinalis) also develop rapidly and are found in many varieties, simple and double, in colors ranging from deep red-orange to pale lemon; Clarkia elegans, annual, they will be used for Christmas decorations.

Edible plants

Great will be the satisfaction of children in finding the products of their crops on the table.

Sage, Salvia officinalis, and basil, Ocymum basilicum, like the violets, can be arranged in such a way as to compose names or initials and, among other things, grow quickly.

But we must be careful to arrange the dense seeds; it is not necessary to cover them with the earth, just press them gently with a piece of wood: the result is obtained about fifteen days later.

Even the radishes are developed soon: a short row will have a remarkable success and it is possible to maintain a succession by planting them at intervals of two weeks.

Carrots, peas (preferably in the dwarf varieties) and pumpkins can also be grown if space permits; potatoes, on the other hand, require more attention.
Programming

It is important to foresee the needs of the garden and of the individual plants: the simplest plants to be cultivated in preparation for the following season are the biennials and those treated as such.

You can start with the violacciocche and do not forget me.

Lunaria is another nice biennial: the purple or brown covers of the flat siliques can be removed with thumb and forefinger, and uncover a silver membrane ideal for decorations.

The biennial plants should be sown in mid-summer, the seedlings are then thinned out and later transplanted.

They are going to be transplanted again in November and permanently put to stay, where they will flower in spring.

It is easy to place some bulbs on the ground: even department stores sell many varieties of tulips and hyacinths at a good price.

A diary to keep

 When the need for simple planning has been made, it is necessary to convince the boy to keep a diary of his activity as a gardener and the results obtained.

In this way, when the flowers bloom, the little gardener will see the date on which they were planted, you will realize the speed with which certain plants grow and die and the time when others flourish.

Through a carefully kept diary, it is also possible to note a great deal of interesting information that is very useful for accustoming the boy to observe what happens in nature.

You can learn many things by comparing the dates of the harvest from one year to the next, or the weight of the fruits obtained from one summer to another; at the same time, certain errors can be detected, such as incorrect color distribution, and corrected if necessary the following year.

The diary may also be useful to note the appearance of butterflies, moths and other insects that can be seen in the garden, with drawings and descriptions: the child must also be helped to distinguish between useful and harmful insects.

Reproduction methods

Once the reproduction of the plants has been learned through sowing and division, other methods can be considered.

Cuttings are easy and interesting to prepare: certain plants, such as willow, oleander and ivy, quickly put roots in the water and can be used to illustrate the underlying principle propagation by cuttings.

The simplest cuttings, to begin with, are those of African violets, for the leaf with petiole, and of Coleus, which easily put up roots all year round.

Cuttings can also be made from carnations and placed in a sandy mixture around the rim of the vase; they will take root and produce seedlings in exactly the same way.

Easy to prepare are the cuttings of plants with aerial roots like the Scindapsus, the Philodendron, and the Syngonium.

Propagation by propagation can be taught in its simplest form, cultivating the trajectories; the stolons can be marched in late spring, in open terrain.

When the roots are formed on the “daughter” plants, the stolen is cut and the new seedling is planted.

The most complex margins, which require the preparation of the stem of a plant at a point where new roots must be developed, can be shown, for example, with the Ficus.

Indoor gardening

Who does not have a garden, can also create a reason of interest for the boys growing plants at home, or on windowsills.

It is possible to create miniature gardens with containers of all kinds: terrines, pans, painted tin cans can be designed in many different ways, like real gardens, and can be varied much more often than these.

Also, you can use pieces of stone, shells, and walnuts; the ryegrass can be sown in the middle of them to form a small path or path, which is drawn with the scissors that are used to cut the paper. Very suitable plants for a miniature garden are dwarf, saxifrage and sempervivum conifers and other small ones that can be placed between the stones.

In due course, you can plant small bulbs such as daffodils, cyclamen, and crocuses.

Among the stones you can put some moss, to hide the bulbs, after having planted them, until the shoots emerge.

The moss must be syringed, for the purpose of watering it, once or twice a week, depending on the atmosphere of the room in which the miniature garden is held.

When going for walks you can collect pebbles and stones of all kinds, covered with lichen, to decorate the small garden. The roses and small Sedum will gracefully enrich these gardens.

For younger children, you can place fruit seeds in a pot: from the seeds of orange, lemon, loquat, apricot, date, pear, and avocado will grow tiny trees.

But we must bear in mind that the avocado needs a little more heat to sprout. You can get amazing pineapple plants; cutting the top of the fruit, when it is still fresh, dipping it in a plate full of water for 48 hours and then putting it in a pot.

The upper parts of the carrot can also be treated in the same way.

06 Apr 2018

Alisma (Alismataceae)

The name derives from the Greek one used by Dioscorides. The genus includes marsh plants that live in ponds and ditches.

Alisma plantago-aquatica, marsh plant with compound inflorescences, which lends itself well to greening the margins of ponds or the edge of ponds.
Alisma plantago-aquatica, marsh plant with compound inflorescences, which lends itself well to greening the margins of ponds or the edge of ponds.

Cultivated species of Alisma:

A. gramineum is a more clearly aquatic species than the others; there is a var. submersum in which only the inflorescence usually emerges and the linearilanceolate leaves remain completely under water; Alisma lanceolatum (about 40 cm), with pink flowers in summer; Alisma plantago-aquatica (up to 90 cm), plantain of water: it has a tuberous root, a bushy habit; the inflorescence that can also be high m 1, carries small white or pink flowers with 3 petals and 3 sepals. It is indigenous in almost all of Europe and therefore perfectly rustic. It also has a pronounced heterophylla: the submerged leaves are ribbon-shaped and those emerged lanceolate and carried by long peaks, while in some varieties the emerged leaves are rather large and sagittate.

Cultivation:

due to their rusticity, the Alisma lend themselves to green margins of ponds or the edge of ponds where, however, the water does not exceed 50 cm; it spreads, however, with great ease and can therefore become a pest. A precautionary measure is to cut off the inflorescences before they emit the seed. It can be multiplied by division or reproduced by seed, which germinates easily, in jars with fibrous soil and fragments of coal, keeping them just covered with water.

04 Apr 2018

Albuca (Liliaceae)

The name probably derives from the Latin albus, in relation to the fact that the first, discovery had white flowers. a genus to which rustic or semi-rustic plants belong, bulbous, with white or yellow flowers, found in tropical and southern Africa.

Coming from tropical and southern Africa, Albuca nelsonii has white flowers, slightly perfumed and with a characteristic waxy appearance.
Coming from tropical and southern Africa, Albuca nelsonii has white flowers, slightly perfumed and with a characteristic waxy appearance.

Cultivated species of Albuca:

A. altissima (50-60 cm), whose flowers are white and bloom in April; A. aurea (40 cm), with yellow flowers that bloom in May; Albuca fastigiata, up to m 1 in height, with white flowers in May; Albuca nelsonii (m 1), with white flowers in April-May.

Cultivation:

the bulbs can be placed in light and well-drained soil outdoors, possibly in a sunny corner and little exposed in the colder regions. To protect them from frost they are kept in the greenhouse or at home, using a soil composed of two parts of the fibrous earth, a part of sand and a part of peat and leaves, mixed in equal parts. They are invaded in November, placing three or four bulbs at 6-7 cm deep for each 10 cm diameter vase; they are kept in the dark until the beginning of the germination; during the growth period they are watered freely, but this operation is suspended after flowering. The flowers, slightly perfumed, are carried by a rigid scape that rises above the ribbon-like leaves. Outdoors the bulbs are planted at the end of winter, at a depth of 10 cm and are removed in late autumn, after the fall of the leaves. In the milder climate regions, they can be left on the ground, with light plastic protections or other.

19 Oct 2017

GARDEN DESIGN HOW TO DESIGN WITH PLANTS

There are various classes of plants that can be used for various occasions for your garden design. They include shrubs, annuals, bulbs, trees and perennials. When making garden design plans with plants, you can focus on just 1 or 2 plant groups to get a contemporary look or you can select from all plant groups to ensure that there is interest all year long. To have a beautiful garden, you can select plants of various colors, textures and shapes. The plants must work well with others in the garden and landscape.

Definition of Plant Groups in a Garden Design 

Various plant groups have different functions in a garden design. Landscape designers need to understand how each group of plants can be combined in a garden design to create a pleasant effect. Large shrubs, climbers and trees are used as the structural background of a planting scheme by offering various height, color, depth, structure and depth. Midrange plants like grasses, bulbs, herbaceous perennials and small shrubs are good for defining garden design styles and providing seasonal attractions with their foliage and flowers. Groundcover plants create blooms at a low level and a low mat of leaves while focal plants provide attractive accents making borders and vistas attractive. Biennial and annual plants will put on an attractive show from spring to early fall and they fill up the gap between the other plants that are more permanent when they are placed in borders.

Garden Design | Creating structural features with plants

Structural Plants

Permanent structural plants are used to contribute to the form and shape of a garden. They include hedges, shrubs and trees. To get a good garden design plan, a landscape architect must know how to position and identify these plants.

Evergreen plants serve as interesting plants all year-round. Deciduous shrubs and trees provide colorful foliage in the fall and attractive displays of flowers in the spring. Hedges are good for shelter, privacy and defining boundaries. Deciduous hedges allow a lot of light in and they provide color while evergreen hedges make for colorful displays while providing great backdrops for other planting groups. Evergreen or deciduous hedges could be informal or formal by considering their flower types, leaf size and colors. Leafy shrubs also provide green foliage backdrops for groundcover and smaller midrange plants like hedges. Structural plants can be used to lead the eye around a garden or to block and frame views. Shrubs and trees can create a visual link between a landscape and a garden by extending the display. When plants are repeated, they create connections between various planting areas and various parts of a garden.

Structural plants have various shapes and forms. They could be loose like weeping pears, laburnums and garryas; textural and spiky like hollies, mahonias and yuccas; rounded and neat like photinias and choisyas. Various plants can be manipulated to create various artificial structural effects like climbers over arbors, arches, pergolas and walls. Yew, holly and boxwood can be clipped into topiary shapes, spirals and pyramids.

Focal Plants in Garden Design

The focal plants are used to catch the eye in a border or bed at the end of a pathway or in the center of a lawn. Focal plants have a particular foliage form or shape and they are evergreen. Some focal plants could be seasonal that perform for a short time of the year providing accents when they are needed.

Focal plants can be used as signboards to direct a guest around a garden or guide the eye to some focal points. White-stemmed birches, acers, cardoons, yuccas and phormiums will let the eye focus on a particular point away from unattractive features like dirt and others.

Garden design Creating focal plants

Midrange plants

Midrange plants are medium in height and they rely on texture and shape of leaves for interest more than their flowers. Their seasonal flowers could also be a very useful feature and could make an interesting statement a lot of them are used in a border. When midrange plants are grouped together, the ones with strong foliage forms like hostas, rodgersias, acanthus and ligularias can be used to create bold paintings. They can also be used to separate plants with foliage forms or looser flowers.

Midrange plants are good contributors to the structure of a garden.  A lot of them are perennials that die in late fall and appear again in spring. They can’t serve the same purposes as permanent woody plants.

Using midrange plants Garden design

Groundcover plants

Groundcover plants are highly ornamental plants that provide a tapestry of form, color and texture. They help to suppress weeds by creating a blanket over the soil. It is not only low-growing groundcover plants that exist. They are of various sizes and shapes. The most important thing is that they provide a dense canopy.

Cool shady areas are good for groundcover plants like hellebores, bergenias, Geranium macrorrhizum, epimediums and ferns near a wall with moist soil. Dry, sunny areas are good for plants that can tolerate droughts like sedums, dwarf genistas and helianthemums. Leafy groundcover plants include catmint (Nepeta), thyme, Santolina chamaecyparissus and Hebe pinguifolia.

Seasonal Interest

Various plant groups can be combined and those with seasonal highlights can be selected to create a garden design plan that is attractive all year long.

In the winter, berries of hawthorns, stems of dogwoods (Cornus), hollies, willow (Salix) and viburniums provide color while sarcococcas and witch hazels (Hamamelis) provide lovely flowers. Instead in the summer, bulbs, flowering perennials and annuals provide a range of heights, colors and flower shapes. In the fall, acers, cotinus, trees, shrubs and cotinus all provide foliage color. They can be used with asters and other late-flowering perennials. In the spring, bulbs like crocus, hyacinths, daffodils, muscari and tulips provide color while flowering trees like magnolias, plums, crab apples and cherries bloom.  


Also read: All You Need to Know About Soil for a Landscape Architect.