I had the pleasure of listening to Lauren Springer Ogden and her husband Scott Ogden speak at the Pro Green expo yesterday. One of the things that I appreciate most about these two is the fact that they actually use PLANTS in their landscape. Too often we are seeing a huge splurge on "outdoor living spaces" that include hardscapes without plants to soften the area up. Now, I love some of the outdoor living spaces, and most people that know me know that I cannot wait to build our deck out in the back to be able to spend more time outdoors. But to me, what is the point of having an outdoor space if there is nothing to look at?
Lauren and Scott (look at me, I'm using their first names!) have what I believe is a half acre in Fort Collins, Co. When showing their slides, it looked over three acres because they have so many plants. Their use of texture, color, new plants and old inspires me to keep doing what I am doing in my own yard, along with offering the advice to my friends to do the same. Now, there isn't an ounce of grass (besides ornamentals) that I saw in their back yard. Not everyone is willing to forgo grass. However, they had plenty of gathering spaces within their yard to enjoy the sites.
Their key points were:
Putting plants first.
I explained a little about that above. If you're going to provide an outdoor living space, provide the plants to go with it. They said, "plants are partners in the design rather than subordinate to it".
Gardening where you are
Plant plants that work where you are putting them! Hot, dry areas...plant plants that will make it! There is nothing more frustrating than to keep planting every year because you like a plant there, but it's not the right place for that particular plant. If in doubt, ask! It's amazing how adaptable plants are here in CO, but they aren't superhuman. Find the plants right for the area.
Meeting climate challenges
Plant NATIVE. We all like to try new things as gardeners, and it gives us a cheap thrill. To have a successful garden, plant native plants that thrive with each other. If you have a large budget, plant those new plants. Otherwise, stick to the ones that have been around forever!
Plant a lot of one plant here and there. Celebrate the light that we naturally get in Colorado in those late summers. Have the plants play off of each other. Find plants that have , and plant them in a place that you can smell it! Since we have cooler summers, find those plants that really show off their stuff in the late afternoons and evenings. You will be rewarded!
Connecting with Oneself and others
Provide invitations in your garden. Have a bench far off to invite people to go through the gardens. Plant a large bush that people have to go beyond to see what's further in.
Provide plants that wildlife want to come to! Bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, other birds. This is a sanctuary for not only you, but for those that are living around you.
All in all, the shop was nothing that I hadn't heard before (I have read all of their books), but it enforces what I believe in as a designer. Plant what works, use the spaces you have wisely, and don't just plant for yourself!