Help with landscape for Norman revival house!

storybookgirlOctober 7, 2012

My house faces south in zone 9b. I was told from another forum that there are a lot of zone 9s here. We planted the boxwoods. And I like topiary stuff, but also cottage garden. I really love something that would give that storybook feeling. What would be ideal? There are a lot of squirrels that have been stepping on begonias that we planted and only 5 survived :( willing to rip out/move/add new plants. The right side has a giant golden rain tree so it is shaded and sunny depending on the time.

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Also, the soil is sandy, but not as lose as my backyard.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:39AM
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I would look at design books from the '20s and '30s and try to use plants and layout from that era.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:22AM
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I do not know what Norman gardens look like. It would seem to me that in a time when there was constant warring and invasions from neighboring kingdoms, vikings and such, that ornamental gardening would not be as common. Who had time? People were busy trying to survive. People (especially monks) tended to plant herbs, vegetables, grains and a few flowers. I do recall a history lesson that castle floors were layered with rosemary and lavenders to keep vermints at bay and because people didn't wash as often these sweet herbs helped to mask the smell..(even during the middle ages, Queen Elizabeth 1 reportedly washed 2x in a year!) So perhaps that's a good clue to use. Rosemary, thymes and lavenders.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:48PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Storybookgirl is asking for cottage garden ideas. I am not zone 9, so I thought some of you would have good suggestions!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Ianna, this is actually a Normandy style cottage, not Norman! The Normans were of course from Normandy, but this home is modeled after something much later. The style was popular in the early part of the 20th century.

There's a book called Storybook Houses or Storybook Cottages or something similar. I've seen it on Amazon. It may have some exterior inspiration.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 6:59PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

The cutest house ever! Lovely house, lovely colors.
What 9b are you in? It needs roses!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:45PM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

Not real sure about your zone for plants, but I would look at some Lavendar and perhaps some Heath/Heathers.
Cher Sunray Gardens

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:35AM
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located in central ca.

There is lavender right in front of the big window.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:51PM
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Also, I forgot to add that I would prefer to plant things that are not allergenic. I have really bad allergies especially this time of the season.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

What a cute house!

I would suggest googling images of cottages etc and seeing what calls you. I have stacks of books that when I am at a loss, I pull them out and look through them. I rarely design based on what i see in a book, but I find that it helps me figure out what I actually want. Once you have an idea of what you want, it is easier to think of the plant list. Also if you have certain plants you're allergic too

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:04PM
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What a lovely house, one of my favorite styles!! My comments will be general since I know little about plants in CA (though if I lived in a warm enough area, I would plant a lemon for ornamental value and cooking.) I agree with others that books, websites with photos, and even just driving around to look at others' gardens for inspiration will help you decide what you like. Below I have linked a site with lots of photos. You can just rummage through the landscape and exterior categories or you could add search terms. I didn't get much for 'norman' or 'norman revival,' but 'half-timbered' got some that were similar to your house in style and 'tudor' or the decade your house was built might be other possibilities.

I would rethink having a foundation planting here. I think the house is stunning and doesn't seem to have a foundation that needs covering, so I would plant away from the house instead of right along the house. If you are married to the idea of a foundation planting or if you have a front walkway from the drive to the front door that defines a planting bed, I'd make the planting relatively low so it isn't blocking/distracting from/interfering with enjoyment of your house from a distance, but could be enjoyed close up. Many houses which aren't so nice, need a foundation planting to cover up an unattractive foundation or distract from unappealing architecture, but I'd show off your home. I find the current planting distracting. I would put your gardens out farther from the house, perhaps a wide band (8-10' pehaps) along the drive and then another under your tree of part shade plants.

I'm concerned about the boxwoods' placement along the walkway. Different types of boxwoods reach differing sizes, but yours are close enough to the sidewalk that with a bit of growth they will be brushing folks' ankles as they walk up the front walk. I'd move them so that at there permanent size they will be a foot or more from the edge of the sidewalk so those walking up the front walk won't feel crowded, and you might need to plant them a bit closer to each other if you want them to grow together. Then cut or bury an edging an equal distance from the boxwoods on the side away from the walk and remove all the grass under and around them, mulch to prevent weeds and plant a low-growing plant to fill in between the boxwoods while they grow, such as thyme which won't bother the boxwoods. One of the hardest things for me as a gardener is to plant shrubs with their ultimate size in mind. It will feel a bit silly for now moving the boxwood back from the walk, but you will be glad you did in a few years unless they are a very very dwarf type. Also, I would plan on keeping them low so the front walk doesn't end up feeling like an alley in a few years. One more suggestion on the boxwoods; plant another couple of the same type of boxwood somewhere else on your property so the if something happens to one of your plants you will have a plant to transplant to fill in the gap rather than having to find the same variety a few years down the line and then plant a young plant that will take time to fill in. Or alternatively, rethink the boxwoods entirely in planning your garden. I have seen them used as a frame around or a backing to a cottage type planting. Deborah Silver, a Detroit area designer, frequently uses them, and often they are either framing or backing flowering plants. Here's a page with some examples, but you can search her blogs for 'boxwood' to get some other ideas.

About allergies,which I have lived with and gardened with for many years . . .
There are a couple of types of allergies: skin contact and pollen or other airborn particles. The types of plants that put a lot of pollen into the air are wind pollinated rather than bird/insect pollinated. Plants with attractively colored and shaped or scented flowers are insect/bird pollinated, and their pollen is too heavy to be blown around, so if you stick to plants with attractive flowers, your gardens shouldn't be a problem with pollen allergies. However, wind-blown pollen can travel for miles, so you can't avoid it from outside your yard. There are a few plants the cause contact dermatitis somewhat commonly and some that cause rashes only for specific people. Examples of the first type: Euphorbias and gas plant (Dictamnus alba) many folks find cause rashes if they brush against or get sap on their skin. Some plants that cause problems for me though not for most people include tomato plants (which are fuzzy, though I don't know if that is the root of the problem) and grass. I don't know if you know what plants in particular to which you are allergic, but for me, I avoid direct contact with known triggers (DH mows the lawn when I am away and he closes up the house before starting, and he turns the compost since I know I'm allergic to all grasses and the molds that live in my compost) but I have no problem with having a grass lawn or compost spread on the beds as long as they aren't getting stirred up. I wear long sleeves to tie up tomato plants and don't plant ornamental grass in my planting beds to avoid skin contact, but I really can't avoid tree pollen from maples, pines, oaks, etc, so on bad pollen days I don't spend much time outside. I remove ragweed, plantain and other weeds that I know have high pollen output and create problems for me before they bloom.

I don't know what your budget is, but often contacting a landscape designer to give you some general ideas which you then can actually plant may be helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: houzz home design

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 10:59AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I was thinking about your house this weekend, it stuck in my mind because it looks familiar. I would take your camera and drive around some neighborhoods with homes from the same era. Here in Santa Barbara, I would say the west side between Mission and Carrillo and San Roque between Alamar and Ontare.

I cruise around some days and get inspired by what others have done.

But, with the colors on your house and the SoCal location, I would think about adding Salvias and Lavenders. You can add bulbs here and there in the beds. NHBabs has a good point on the boxwood, maybe making the walk wider now is a good idea.

If you were thinking of a fence for the outer parameter of the yard, I would make a wide bed on the side of it and fill with a variety of flowering plants. White Iceberg roses with lavenders and salvias would set off your colors on the house and give you something to look at from the windows. Less lawn is usually better in SoCal due to water. If you like a more defined tidy landscape then you could line the new beds with those box wood.

Also, you have that cute Pine Tree cut out on the window shutters. You might want to consider some dwarf evergreen to repeat that detail but off to the edge so it does not take away from the house.

Very Cute house!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 1:19PM
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What a wonderful house! The turret and the shutters are so fairy tale/ will have so much fun, with this project :)

I have one word for you. Roses, roses, roses! Try the antique rose forum and ask which ones would do best in your area. There are a lot of California rose growers there...and they'll give you loads of good advice.

Now, to really get the storybook feel, I'd mix in other cottage garden plants, with the roses. I'm not sure which ones would work in your area, but again...there are some great posts on the antique rose forum about what to plant with roses, too. Lavender is a great choice, by the way. But, maybe I'm a bit biased :)

Oh, and the boxwood is wonderful, but maybe not along the path. You could use it to edge the front beds or maybe move them to edge the driveway.

If you like to garden...I'd make those front beds deeper and curve them a bit. Also, I'd do something with that 'secret entrance' on the right side of the house. (LOL)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Babs, great explanation of allergens! It's good to know we can appreciate flowers without running the risk of sneezing.

OP, I agree with moving the boxwood elsewhere. Once it grows, it will fence off the walkway, making guests feels they are closed in and walking up a hallway. It's also a little bit formal for a storybook cottage. Go for something softer and more welcoming. I've seen short daylilies used on either side of a walkway and even when not in bloom they are lovely.

You are in central California ... which part? Central Valley, central coast, or elsewhere? The climates and rainfall vary widely; therefore, so do the plants. There are many books on the cottages and gardens of Carmel; you might browse some of them. Be forewarned, however: lawns are NOT a feature of these gardens, as they do not thrive in the fog and shade!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:14AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

That is one, absolutely adorable house!!
A UK styled cottage garden would be so pretty in front of it! The trick is finding plants that mimic the same look as plants you love for an English Cottage Garden that will do well in your particular climate. If you haven't yet checked out Annie's Annuals website, you should! It will give you some great ideas!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 5:07PM
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Chris_in_the_Valley(z7 MD)

Great house! I agree that the boxwoods may be a problem. At maturity they will overwhelm the yard. I had a not so different house and the boxwoods crowded too much the path to the front door. Of course, by the time I lived there the boxwoods were >50 years old and I killed a couple cutting them back enough to get up the front walk. Seriously, move them at least 20 inches away from the walk if you keep them. Unless, of course, you bought a dwarf variety.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 6:22PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

You'll want to be more specific and use the Sunset magazine zone designations for where you are. Microclimates abound in CA.

Agree about losing the boxwood lineup along the walk. Too stiff and too close. Common beginner error (have done it myself, only with thorny roses! Dumb, dumb, dumb).

Boxwood surrounding one or two cottage garden beds is a charming design statement but needs to be integrated overall with a wide-angle view of your property. Right now you have a case of "edge-itis". You're planting everything around your hardscape edges as if you were outlining them with a magic marker.

Landscaping can be used to lead the eye up to the house and "frame" it. With such a strong architectural style, that's what you want to do. Planting things in a row along the edges of your house will hide it, not frame it.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:20PM
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