This blog post concludes a series of posts following the installation of a design project by B.B.Barns Landscape. Post one, which includes the before pictures and the overall idea of the design, can be read here. Post two, which is the installation process, can be read here.
The design is the creative work of Amy Nies, landscape designer for B.B.Barns Landscape and the inspiration of Jason Hanna, Customer Relations Manager.
(To read more about our landscape services, click here.)
This particular design follows the design techniques of Thomas Rainer of Phyto Studio in Washington, D.C. and author of the book, Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes. For more information on Thomas Rainer and his visionary designs, read here.
The emphasis in this design is on the use of plugs (blog post two discusses the significance of plugs). As you look over the before and after pictures, notice how the mulch disappears and in its place are groundcovers (grasses and sedges) and perennials (coreopsis, catmint, foam flowers, and black-eyed Susans), then shrubs and trees. The goal is denser plantings to reduce maintenance for the homeowner, and create a more ecologically friendly and natural garden. Nothing looks more unnatural than landscapes full of mulch but no plantings. The pictures below show the process, please click on each picture for more on the design, and refer to Nies’ design for plant names.
Already, without much plant growth in this first season, the beds look more natural. As Rainer said, “You don’t see little circles of mulch in nature.” No, you don’t. That doesn’t forget the mulch entirely, but minimize it as the designer and gardener (the homeowner) begin to work together toward an ecologically friendly, but still aesthetic, environment. The title of one of Rainer’s blog posts is Nature In The Future Will Look More Like a Garden. Based on the premise that nature is being urbanized at an unprecedented pace, a pace that suburbia is not attempting to mitigate at present, Rainer believes the long, grassy continuance of America’s backyard is the logical place for nature’s restoration.
If nature is being developed and is no longer “out there” then the landscape designers and horticulturists, who take their cues from nature, have a responsibility not just to create visually pleasing gardens, but to create ones that mimic nature. A stark difference from the tree, shrub, perennial, and annual we plant in our garden beds. Rainer’s work suggests that suburbia is severely under-planted, and our circles of mostly mulch are proof. Planting dense plant populations creates less work for the homeowner in the long term (short term, until the plugs, have filled in, the weeding will be more intensive) and is more visually appealing while aiding the need for diverse, pollinating plant population.
The design above, inspired by Rainer’s vision, is the first of many B.B.Barns Landscape hopes to install using this technique. As we look to the future of gardening, we also look to the future of nature, since nature may now be in a garden.
Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach, and blog writer.
B.B.Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.
Bsnner picture provided by Thomas Rainer of Phyto Studios.