are/were you a planner or an evolver?

ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5February 26, 2013

how did your overall design come to be ...

thumbs up to the drawer-outers.. but i am an evolver ...

i think i start with my lawn mower .. rider and all ... and over a season .. i start to realize where i have trouble mowing.. like around large trees ... so the first thing is large mulch rings around those .... [when i moved to 5 acres.. and spent 6 hours mowing and 5 hours weedwhipping ... PER WEEK... the first summer.. i soon realized that the 'design was going to go heavy towards NEVER pulling that weedwhip out of the barn EVER .. lol .. and after that first summer.. it has sat rusting in my polebarn .. and i got the mowing down to about 2 - 3 hours .... i am not sure.. because i never really do it all at once anymore ..]

then comes other problems with mowing .. and more mulch ...

then start connecting in all those circles.. to make bean-shaped beds..

well.. the next thing you know.. i have all these paths.. and large beds..

and you know what happens next.. road trip for conifers ...

once we have a new bed.. big plants toward the lot line.. or the middle ... a yellow next to a green with a blue on the other side.. trying to space for 10 years .. variegated to mix up solid colors .... [and it looks really weird spacing with one gallon babes ...]

throw in considerations for a spreader/horzontalis ... verticals ... droopers/pendula ...

and dont forget about textures ... one pine .. one abies .. one concolor.. etc ... cant do too many of one together.. texture can get just as monotonous as color ...

and it all just kind of 'evolves' ...

and of course.. dont forget ... the prime specimen in each bed has to die repeatedly ... ruining any particular devious plan ... see any of my references to Chief Joseph or skylands in my z5 ... lol ..

so.. just in plain english.. how did your 'design' evolve ...

and again.. to be clear.. i am not implying/inferring that planners are different .. to each his/her own ... for me.. its just really hard.. to plan ART ... planning is trying to make a SCIENCE out of ART ... and for ME.. thats a no go ...

but then.. is, what i do.. at inception.. really art.. of just digging holes and planting things to fill space ... that ends up art [????] ... and i really dont have an answer for that ... neighbors often say.. mostly just to make conversation .... you CAN plan out a garden for me.. and i am usually dumbfounded as to how i would even make a 'plan' ... its just so foreign to me ....

coffee buzz.. you are going to have to take it from here ...


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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Evolver! And in retrospect, while it would have been simpler to have had a plan or schematic to begin, I would not have learned nearly as much as I have from the endless modifications (or let's just call it ripping things out and beginning again). And I know that if I had had a plan, it would have not accommodated my changing tastes. I think that plans work well for the hardscape - hard to make a driveway or patio 'evolve', although it's not out of the question - and the irrigation and drainage. After that, for me it is my version of painting. The best way that I can describe what I do it to say that I paint with plants. And one more problem with having a design, at least a very specific one, is that it doesn't allow for what really drives me as a gardener, which is that I am a plant geek. The biggest challenge that I have is accommodating all of my treasures into an harmonious collection. I have developed a series of guidelines that I use, but would love thoughts from others on this topic, which I gotta believe is a challenge for many people on this forum!
Thanks for getting the blood flowing this morning, Ken.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:15AM
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I started out as a planner with a plan. Decided that it wasn't enough, or I didn't like this here, or hey that looks good, lets do some more, or where can I put some of these. Ended up as an evolver.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:45AM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Does that mean that you evolved into an evolver? :)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:13AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

The last area of planting (20) cultivars I drew a plan and stuck to it. The rest began with a Chief Joseph near my home and I went plant for plant, picking and choosing, and planting. No plan whatsoever.

My windbreaks were decided early on. Picea omorika running the distance of my road. Thuja 'Hetz Wintergreen' up my drive on center of 8' of space to my neighbor (ideal plant). Then Green Giant across the other side. My fourth side is screened with oak cultivars, mainly.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:53AM
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Over-planner. I like mass plantings so I try to have multiples of everything I get.

The monkey wrench that gets thrown in is when I see something at a nursery I have to have.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:22AM
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I'm a major planner. I plan things to death. My kids tease me about all my lists. So when it came time for my major remodel of all the gardens a few years ago, that was no different.

Then after I was done and most all of it died.....I became a complete evolver. lol


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 12:09PM
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I feel I need to chime in as I'm sure this thread for dedicated to me :)

I am a planner, I can't help it and I don't think it will ever change. IN fact, I'm pretty sure I am OCD as I too have lists for everything and symmetry is kind of a big deal for me. You should see my itineraries for vacations!! That doesn't mean that I'm not an evolver as well. I think that most things we do in life is comprised of both, but some people have a tendency to do one more than the other.

To me, and I am still new, a garden or the yard is like the forgotten room of the home. When you are redecorating a room, I highly doubt that anyone can just go to paint store and pick out paint without bringing some paint chips home to co-ordinate/plan. But after you pick your paint and your flooring from floor samples and possibly your cabinets that you've measured and picked out from samples...nothing really stops you from heading to Home Sense and seeing a vase or a decorative item that would fit perfectly with the room you just "finished".

My plan/sketch of the garden is just that. I'm planning the beds and where I need to plant trees for privacy from the neighbours etc...but that doesn't mean I have every plant planned or that I might not add some additional trees/shrubs above and beyond the ones I feel I need.

There is also a big difference between your yard and mine. With 5 acres, you probably don't have privacy on the other hand, I need to plan what conifer I need (based on height, width etc...) and where it will go so I know it will do its job of blocking unwanted views.

You also have lots of yard to do with what you please. I have a big yard, but not 5 acres worth and I need to account for the vegetable garden my eldest son wants to make, the playset I need to make my home daycare more pleasing, and ample amounts of grass for the kids to play on. I need to choose plants that will not kill a little person (like the yew I was considering planting close to where my future playset will go). I need to keep in mind that my three sons will be walking to and from school for the next 15 years and that I need a pathway from our backdoor to the back gate. Above all, I want everything to be something that flows well, uses the space to the maximum advantage and is breathtaking so I can enjoy my hardwork once I am "done".

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Dang! I can barely plan to go to work everyday!
Maybe thats why im always changing or moving things around. If i plant it once and it stays put for many years ...then ive hit a home run. Many of my conifers are on a test spin or in a holding pattern.Alot has to do with limited space but im not complaining. Always a work in progress. Definitely an evolver!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 2:21PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Planning and evolution are not mutually exclusive, the nature of plants and planting makes evolution unavoidable. You can allow for this in your planning.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:25PM
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I like to dream up things and then try to realise something by memory . Not much of a planner. I once said on this forum that I thought gardening was plastic art... I might as well have been talking to a fish-tank ! Glad you mention painting !!!
It's all about the pleasure principle,I think, at whatever level or scale. Evolver!!! T.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:31PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

A bit of each. Evergreens on the house's NW/N side & along the road for shelter/screening. Deciduous generally elsewhere & on the west side for summer shade.

Overall I wanted to overplant so that hopefully more will persist after I'm gone or left. New residents typically cut down far more than plant -- places where I previously lived are examples.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:39AM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

I am a planner/evolver:

I plan at first, spending hours meticulously laying out designs. Then, I scrap the designs and plant everything by the "hmm, this looks good here" method.

I have to say, I am guilty of moving plants more than twice. (or three times... or four times...)

So, even though I plan, I usually end up evolving.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:24PM
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Planning is for commercial properties, not my yard!

If it were not for so many plants dying while I "was" learning, I wouldn't have near the variety I do now and probably wouldn't have got the bug so bad. Now that I have winged it the past 3 years, I can't imagine actually spending time drawing a big plan out and then having major losses due to our ridiculous drought and high temps the last 2 summers. No thanks!


    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:12PM
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Over the years I think my planning has devolved :o)

I used to plan beds out in full detail. Now, I plan only the largest anchor plants and other key elements, with vague ideas of what the fillers will be. Otherwise my plan for a is more of a theme, which could be a focus on plant type (either a genus I'd like to showcase or plants that need shelter vs. bulletproof plants for more exposed sites), or a focus on colors or textures (or contrasts), vantage point, etc.

In practice, my approach involves obtaining at least three times as many plants as I need for a bed. By now, they've been obtained long in advance and live on in containers. The largest plants (the "anchors") are easy because they comprise the plan. They get planted first. Everything else, I need to lay the pots out on top of the bed to actually see how things look with each other, finalize placement, while keeping in mind the overall conception of the bed. If something doesn't look right, try something else.

After the bed is completed, I maintain all the extra plants in containers until I'm ready for the next bed. They may become the future anchor plants. Or they can be used to fill in for plants that die.

This approach is not well-suited for most, since the container plants do require more care. Truth be told, I love having a collection of container plants (in spite of the extra work), so maybe my "philosophy" is just a rationalization for more aquisitions than are strictly needed.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:42AM
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EDIT: Remove duplicate post

This post was edited by maple_grove on Thu, Feb 28, 13 at 10:29

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Ken, I plan on evolving till my dying day! Love the question,and love the replys you have gotten here. I planted to fill beds after removing turf,lots of common stuff! Then I found the ENABLERS, what great lessons they have taught! I plan on pulling the common stuff and planting the not so common.How is that for a plan?GREAT THREAD!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:09PM
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I planned the big picture, the details evolved. As Bboy pointed out, planning and evolving are not mutually exclusive.

We have to be adaptive. Big tree blows down. Change of plans. Nice neighbors move out. Row of townhouses or neighbors from hell move in. Change of plans. Injury or illness affects mobility. Change of plans . Run away car goes through fence and garden. Change of plans. Patch of sand right next to patch of clay affects growth rates of identical plants next to each other. Change of plans. Fabulous find at plant sale. Change of plans. Parents die and plants precious for sentimental reasons must be rescued. Change of plans.

Life is what happens while you were making other plans.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 4:32PM
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A nursery owner friend of mine made a comment to me once that has always stayed in the back of my mind. As I was obsessing over what I might not be buying, and how much space I had he told me "If you buy everything at once and fill all your space you will deprive yourself of the joy of searching and finding new treasures for your garden."

PLAN to leave space, so that your garden can EVOLVE!

How many times have we all found a new 'favorite plant'?

The journey is often it's own reward. Happy trails everyone!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 9:39PM
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Hooray! A planner & scrapper of plans as well? Will have to return to this thread I've bk-marked TIME is a huge shortcoming ~ have just read a bit & will want to put in my devaluating cent ... for now FWIW a justification (am way past halfway into Octuagenary) :

âÂÂPlanning is one of my great amusements, and even of those things which can only be for posterity, for a Septuagenary has no right to count on anything beyond annuals.â ~ Samuel Brown 1813

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:17PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

As the dowager remarked to the uppity young landscape designer, who was recommending a beech allee and a yew hedge: My dear young man, I don't even buy green bananas!

Sometimes ya just gotta be spontaneous.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:46PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Septuagenary is new one I hadn't heard. Funny thing is that I take that approach now, although I'm not relegated to annuals quite yet!

I have far too many plants in a given area based on their mature sizes. Its a travesty for those that leave so much open space between plants when they don't have the space. Enjoy them now and remove those that don't perform or don't seem to have potential. Other treasures can move if needed. I like to be pleasantly surprised rather then be let down by a plant I've searched high and low for and dedicated space to.

The only plants I plan for are are those for screening and those where I need a plant of a particular color, shape, size or texture. Otherwise I get a plant I like and I find a spot for it that works!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 2:10PM
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I am an evolver. After taking a conifer garden tour in 1998 I decided to spend my extra time and money and give it a try.

I knew nothing about conifers. Never the less I went to my local nursery and purchased a Picea alcoquiana "Howell's Tigertail'.

I am self taught in landscape design so I began to create my garden one island or area every year. For me I would sketch my design on paper so it would flow and give balance to what was already done. I would then lay out that given area with a garden hose to do the final cut in.

Conifers and deciduous plants came 1-2 at a time till I had what I thought looked good.

I finished my 2 last islands 2 years ago. Counting up the years I am now in my 15th year.

The Picea alcoquiana "Howell's Tigertail'. I finally removed it last year. It had survived 2 relocation's just so I could keep it and after all it was special. This dwarf had exceeded my ability to deal with it. Sooner or later they all reach that point and you move on.

Would I do it again? You bet. There's a longer story to tell here and I couldn't begin to get it all on one page. No help was offered to me. I did all the work myself and it came off very rewarding. Nothing tops the unique beauty and color of a conifer garden.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 4:52PM
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