Friday, January 7, 2011

A Simple Design Tool

To help me (and my clients) envision what a design will look like in the ground, I like to use a simple tool.  I create a montage of photos of the selected plants in an arrangement similar to the plan.  My goal isn't to try to make the montage exactly like the plan, but rather to get a quick picture of the plants in relation to one another and in the overall picture.  I have fairly good visualization skills, but the people I'm explaining the design to often don't.  And I find that it's very helpful to me as well.  The complexities of a planting design are difficult to keep in your head and I often find myself rearranging things a bit based on the montage.

A rendered drawing could provide a more accurate depiction, but who has the time for that kind of detail?  There are some drawbacks - the montage shows everything in peak bloom at once, which will never happen in reality.  If you have an extensive photo library and the time, you can prepare seperate montages for different seasons.  

The montage shown above depicts the plants in the sketch plan in my Choosing the Perfect Plants post.  Did anyone notice that I forgot to list Siberian Iris in the plant list in that post (noted as IS on the plan)?  Notice that the photos are arranged in a casual representation of the shape of the planting bed.  Did I mention that this is only a quick picture? 

For posting, I've only used photos I've taken, so the plants aren't the exact cultivar and the Siberian Iris doesn't have flowers, but I think it's a helpful representation for planning purposes. 

After reviewing the montage, I think I'd like to see some more blue between the Stella D'oro Daylilies and the Coreopsis.  Although I have contrast in foliage form and texture, I'd also like to see more contrasting foliage color and fall interest.  Perhaps I'll add some Agastache or ‘Jack Frost’ Siberian Bugloss which I've been reading about - see "My Wish List is Growing" - and/or Blue Plumbago. 


Siberian Bugloss
Blue Plumbago fall foliage

Blue Plumbago

 





  



Have fun planning and then re-arranging with ease on paper!

20 comments:

The Whimsical Gardener said...

This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing...so helpful and easy!

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

I am a visual person so this idea is very useful. Thanks for sharing!

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

I too add montages for certain clients. It really gives them the magazine look they are accustomed too. Many people can not read a plan and this can be a great help. Plus you gave readers a little tip they can use in their gardens.

Chris said...

Cat: Thanks for stopping by and Happy Birthday to your son! :) Treasure the days - they go so fast.

Karin: I'm glad you like the idea! You can use it with your plans for plant additions next spring.

GWGT: Yes, it's a helpful tool for describing a plan. You work on some ambitious plans, based on your recent blog post!

carolynsshadegardens.com said...

I don't do garden design except my own but I think this is a great idea. At my nursery, I often pull all the plants for a potential bed out of the rows and group them on the pavement as I think they should be planted with proper spacing and everything so the customer can see how they go together (my friend Joan developed this technique). Then the customer takes a photo and is all set to plant. I can do this because I am open by appointment so the customer gets my full attention. I love Brunnera 'Jack Frost' but Brunnera 'Diane's Gold' would look fabulous with your montage. Carolyn

Chris said...

Carolyn: Your method is great for your situation where you have the plants at hand. I'm sure your clients appreciate it! I was limited for this post to the photos I have taken, but your suggestion of Diane's Gold is a good one - in my head I was seeing golden foliage as well.

joey said...

A great idea, Chris ... I often refer to my many collages as a reference to what is blooming when and to see if they are happy and return, so important in a perennial garden.

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Chris, Wonderful idea! I love your blog and will return. Pamela

Chris said...

Joey: I'm sure your collages are very helpful as a record of the garden throughout the seasons and year to year. Thank goodness for digital cameras and the ability to take endless pictures!

Pam: I'm so glad you stopped by and look forward to future visits from you and visits to your delightful blog.

debsgarden said...

Great idea! Similarly, I often stick photos from garden catalogues next to each other to test out color and foliage combinations.

Ramona said...

Chris that is a great tip to use a photo montage when designing a plant bed or vignette! I am completely a visual person, so it helps me to see the color and texture combination with the montages. I will continue to build my plant photobase.

Chris said...

Deb: That's a great idea, too! I hope your Fuju persimmon tree is fairing well in it's new home!

Ramona: I appreciate your visit and am glad that you like the montage idea. Pictures are so helpful in design. I guess that's why we all love books, magazines and blogs!

Meredehuit ♥ said...

Beautiful idea... Blue Plumbago is always found in my gardens, for the cobalt blue in the Summer and bright copper in the Fall.

fer said...

Very nice idea! I want to make a better plan for how to arrange the little balcony, I think this will help a lot, thanks

Chris said...

Meredehuit: Blue Plumbago is a great little plant - I'm glad you like it too.

Fer: One benefit of a balcony garden is that it's easy to rearrange your plants, huh? Have fun!

Alistair said...

Great idea Chris, I have a lemon coloured Day Lily, very striking just don't know the name of it I am going to list it soon, with your knowledge you may be able to help me out.

Andrea said...

That's a great idea and very informative, and your photos are informative also to me who has different climate than yours. We have lots of blue Plumbago and i am amazed at the color it does in autumn, here it is evergreen.

Chris said...

Alistair: I'll look forward to seeing your lemon daylily on your blog. Plant identification isn't my strength, but I'm sure someone will be able to help you out.

Andrea: I appreciate your visit! It's so interesting to see gardens from around the world with such varying climates! It would be wonderful if Blue Plumbago was evergreen here, but at least we get to enjoy the fall color.

Plantaliscious said...

Hi Chris, that's a great idea, though I need to amass more photos to make it work for me, which means planting the plants that I would use the montage to help me arrange... Ah well, I will file it away for the future, bound to come in handy.

Chris said...

Plantaliscious: Deb had a good suggestion in her comment - she uses photos from catalogs to create her planning montage. Perhaps that would work for you, too.

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