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Thursday, February 23, 2012

And......We're Off!

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Can you believe it's almost spring already! Well, if you ask the garden, it's been spring for a few weeks, as there is a plethora of fresh, new growth appearing at every corner. The past few weekends have been both relatively warm and dry...which are all the reasons I need to get out in the garden!

While Norm has been continuing work on the shed, I've started cutting back last year's growth on the grasses and perennials...and started digging up the front (east) parking strip. The winter rains have made the digging far easier than it was last summer when I dug up the north parking strip for some impulse purchases.

front parking strip feb 12 2012  1232
While the digging went quickly, the lifting and tossing of the sod was not super-fun. The heavy, wet soil weighs a ton...and after two tipped-over wheelbarrow loads, I finally figured out the amount of sod I could safely move in the wheelbarrow without it tipping over! Here you can see I've removed about 2/3 of the sod already...I figure in one more weekend I can remove the rest. Oh yeah...that's my sloppy, messy garden in the background...not exactly the picture of loveliness in mid-February, is it...deep sigh ;-)

front parking strip feb 12 2012  1233
While I'm really excited by the prospect of planting this parcel of land, it's somewhat bittersweet, as it's the LAST bit of free space I have on my property...eeeeeekkkk! I'm torn with wanting to cram in as many plants as I can...or having a somewhat coherent design.

Front HellStrip With path
Here's the plan I've come up with so far (the top side is the street side, the bottom faces the sidewalk). I'm debating putting a 1' wide gravel border on the street side, to allow for people opening and closing car doors. Without it, people actually wouldn't even be able to open their doors...let alone squeeze past the garden. It's a bit of a compromise...and I'm sure won't do away with careless drivers bashing the plants on occasion, but I'm hoping it will at least mitigate the damage that seems inevitable.

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Here's a legend for deciphering what those colorful blobs in the plan actually are. Nothing is set in stone yet (as I've not yet purchased any of the plants). I am growing some of the plants from seed (mostly the Knautia), while others I'm growing from cuttings or division of already established plants. I change the plan pretty much every other day as I think of a better way to arrange the plants, realize one of the plants would look better in a certain spot, or find a new plant I MUST have...so have to re-work the design to accomodate it!

As is typical for me these days, grasses will serve as the structure of the design, with various perennials filling in around them.

Of course, until it's planted (and even after than) everything is subject to change...as are most gardens! How about all of you...do you have any big plans/projects planned for this year?

81 comments:

  1. We will be ripping out an area up by the side walk pretty soon. Tough area because it gets late afternoon sun, but there is also a large maple there, as well. The grass has done poorly after we pulled out junipers when we moved in. Plus we have to worry about deer. I am not quite as organized (like, not at all) as you are with all your pretty little pictures, but I suppose that with it being your last open space you have to be very choosy about what you want there!

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    1. Yikes...that does sound like a tough spot...that mix of shade with hot afternoon sun can be problematic...I'll be interested to see how you tackle it!

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  2. I think your design looks great but I noticed everything you've chosen is more xeric than the Eupatorium 'Gateway'. Perennial Blue Mist flower (eupatorium c.) would be more drought resistant and still attracts pollinators. Just a thought! :o) I redesigned over half of my garden last fall so now I'm just anxiously awaiting the results. I'm in the process of redesigning/rethinking my container garden and have been scouring the stores for fabulous but affordable pots. I wish that combo went together more often! Oh yeah, I think the gravel idea is smart.

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    1. That is such a good point (and one I actually realized as well a bit ago). I'm totally not set on it (even though I LOVE 'Gateway'). I actually REALLY want to find that Blue Mist Flower this year somewhere...I remember seeing it on other blogs last fall and being totally jealous! I definitely want to focus on xeric/tough plants...I don't want to have to water this area very often :-) I agree about pots...why can't they be cheap AND fabulous!

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  3. Hi Scott,

    Lovely planning images, and I envy you if you're able to stick to them once it comes to planting!
    I often do similar drawings but then when it comes to planting time, I almost never follow them :D But it is fun to draw them out anyway ;)

    Looking forward to seeing the end result later in the year.

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    1. Me too! Hahahaha...I think I'll stick fairly close to this plan...or at least the general scheme of it...I'll probably buy about half the plants and see how that goes...I always think space is bigger than it is!

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  4. Is the parking strip part of your garden Scott or are you colonising it for more plants? I do liky your planting plan and you can never go wrong with the grassess. Like Liz I,m looking forward to seeing the photos later in the year.

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    1. It's separate from the rest of my garden (divided by the sidewalk)...and I agree...more grasses! I would like it if I was brave enough to do almost ENTIRELY grasses...but I fear I'm a bit of a flower fiend as well ;-)

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  5. How wide is your hell strip? I'm shocked (and jealous) that you could accommodate a foot of gravel. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

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    1. I was thinking the same thing, Heather. I'm looking forward to the reply.

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    2. DOH! I meant to put the measurements but totally spaced it! the space is about 36' wide x 4.5' deep (not terribly big, I know). That foot of gravel is only something I've been considering this past few weeks...when I realized if I didn't meet drivers halfway, the whole garden was likely to get stomped. Of course, my plants always change once I start planting...space in reality is always smaller than in plans, at least mine ;-)

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  6. Oh Scott what an opportunity! and I remember those days when I constantly changed design plans and moved plants around on pieces of paper. I wish I had started blogging years ago as gone are those days now in this garden as everything is maturing - but I always loved the buzz and excitment with starting a new plot.......... despite having to figure out what to do with the sods! If your new plot is anything like your backyard it won't be too long until I see lots of purple and floating grasses.

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    1. OMG...I bet! That is something wonderful about blogging...you can look back and see the progress of things...and the garden at different stages as it evolved. I'm also moving things around constantly in the garden...but you're so right...a new one from scratch is SO EXCITING!

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  7. The plan looks so pretty!
    What program did you use to make it?

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    1. Thanks! I actually used a program called InDesign (which I use for work)...made by Adobe. This isn't really what it's intended for (it's a page layout program for book, magazines, etc.)

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    2. Wow, it's from scratch!

      I thought there is some software for gardeners which has a plant database with these presets. I hoped such software has common and Latin names, mature sizes, colors, bloom times down to a week upon entering a zip code and the possibility of 3D modeling of a garden in time (is it 4D modeling already?).

      Too bad there is no high-tech solution that turns a novice into a landscape designer overnight.

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  8. Scott,

    I love your garden plan. That will be a very pretty strip.

    Yael

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    1. Thanks! I hope so...time will tell, right ;-)

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  9. Very nice and I love that you left a space to walk in for cars that park out front. Will be fun watching this come to life for you this year.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks! Yeah...it seems to be a necessary evil...I wish I could go right up to the edge...but I also want to be a good neighbor :-)

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  10. I can't wait to see it when it is all done. Parking strip (or hell strip) gardens are so fun! They are something you almost never see in the north east but are pretty common here in CA.

    Definitely park your car there and practice getting in and out to see if it is possible and maybe modify the plants that go in that area (tough grasses might be a good choice). Pavers for the approximate passenger door spot may be a good idea as well even though it cuts into the amount of plants you can have. Don't assume that strangers will avoid stepping on your plants as they get in and out of their car.

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    1. Me too...and you're so right...I never really saw them before I moved to Portland...they are everywhere here (and some of my favorite things about Portland Gardens). I will certainly have to do that...I figure once we frame in the bed, we'll make sure there's space for opening doors and walking by (and not an inch more, I tell you)!

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  11. Looks like a very cohesive plan...I'm jealous you have all that new space to garden. Is it pretty sunny? Seems like the Agastaches, sedums and grasses will do well there. And I agree about the gravel strip. As much as I love a fully-planted hell-strip, it IS hell trying to get out of a car next to one. The gravel will help guard against major damage to the brittle plants like the Agastache, and tie into your back sitting space nicely.

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    1. Yes...it's one of the sunniest spots on our property...and, amazingly, with some of the best soil...how wrong is that! That's kind of what I thought...I've had to scramble through far too many shrubs and rose bushes planted in hellstrips to know that not allowing for drivers won't garner me ANY fans!

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  12. Fun! New garden space! It's crazy how heavy that sod is. I've dumped many wheelbarrows full of gravel, sod, etc and it's always in the front yard. I always casually glance around to see if anyone saw me :)
    Love the plant choices!

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    1. Hahahahaha...me too! It's funny, but my first reaction is always to look around to see if I was spotted!

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  13. Your plan looks great, what software did you use to depict the plants? I just need to get my act together to cut down my grasses before they turn to mush. We are getting six inches of snow tonight, yuck!

    Eileen

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    1. Thanks! It's called InDesign (which I use at work). It's not really a "blueprint" program, but it used by designers for page layout. I JUST cut down my grasses this past weekend...there's still a bit of time ;-)

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  14. Your parking strip is going to look great, I bet. I just hope you aren't frustrated with people who park there not respecting the growing things. The Stipa gigantea should look very striking there. Your beds always look so beautiful, I wonder if maybe I should just steal this plan right now...

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    1. Thanks...and yeah...I will get frustated...but what can you do...those things really are out of our control, aren't they :-( I really hope the Stipa does well (I'm transplanting it from the back yard where it just doesn't have the room to really do it justice). You are more than welcome to "borrow" this plan ;-)

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  15. Wow even just your plan already looks colorful and beautiful. I am already excited to see the outcome, i am sure it will be lovely.

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    1. OMG...me too...can't wait for planting time!

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  16. Great garden plan! You're so organized! It will be fun to see it develop through the growing season. I have one garden plot in mind for some moderate overhaul. We'll see how that goes. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! I only wish I was as organized in real life as I am during the planning stages. Once I have a shovel in hand, all my plans seem far more fluid ;-) Good luck on your overhaul...that's always trickier, I think, than even planning a garden from scratch.

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  17. You know a Manzanita would fit in very well out there in hell. I can show you a couple in my neighborhood that have been wickedly pruned in a parking strip to look FAB and expose the cool sexy bark. Just sayin...

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    1. OMG...for sure! I'm actually using that Joe Pye Weed there to sort of "hold" the spot for a Manzanita if I find one I really like. I've been looking on the web all week, ever since the YGP show...and there are SO many different varieties...it's going to be tricky finding one with all the features I want (The blue-ish, oval leaves, mahogany bark, etc) at the right size (around 6' tall and no more than 5' wide) to fit there (flowers not so important). I would LOVE to see those in your neighborhood...and ANY advice you might have would be appreciated :-) So far, the one that looks most promising is Arctostaphylos bakeri ‘Louis Edmonds’ (found on Xera's site), but other sites have WIDELY varying sizes listed.

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  18. You're an energetic guy, Scott. We're having stunning weather in New York, wondering where winter went, but we KNOW it isn't spring, and won't be for us, for at least two more months. Good luck keeping the people from trampling your plants. Maybe you need some spiky plants with sharp points.

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    1. Hahaha...I certainly didn't feel like it the day after I dug up all that sod! Yeah...our winter was unreal this year...it just never got cold at all...and we had far less rain than usual (well, at least if feels that way)! Oh yeah...I've considered it...seriously considered it (the spiky plants). But I'm pretty sure I'd get sued by passers-by whose children lost an eye ;-)

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  19. Wow, I can't believe you can dig in February! It is always so exciting to start a new garden. I will be watching to see what you ultimately end up planting.

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    1. Hahahaha...that's EXACTLY what my dad (in Nebraska) said last weekend...I think he thought I was joking.

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  20. The new bed is going to look fantastic!

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  21. The plan looks great. Your sidewalk soil even looks good!

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    1. OMG...that's so funny you mentioned it...I think this is the BEST soil on my property...how wrong is that!

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  22. That's a nice planting scheme Scott!! Looking forward to seeing your updates later in the season, and how it compares to your design now :)

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    1. Thanks guys! I hope it comes even close to what I'm envisioning...and that my neighbors don't destroy it in the process :-)

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  23. Scott, I can't get over the rich brown soil you have. Took me a few minutes to get past the first picture as I was looking, longingly at the soil.
    That is a lot of plants for the strip of land. Can't wait to see it planted and growing. Bet it will be fantastic.

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    1. OMG Janet...me too...It's so strange, but I really think it's the nicest soil I have on my property...not the heavy, wet clay that I have everywhere else...what I wouldn't give for all my soil to be this airy! I'm crossing my fingers it all works out :-)

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  24. I draw a lot of projects too, even though I am a computer geek, when it comes to design a garden bed I am rather old fashioned and sketch it on paper with a pencil. I like it as much as the real planting part.
    If I was you I wouldn’t put any sedum or other ‘crunchy’ plant in there, if people walk on it you loose it for good, other perennials are easier to recover...
    The project looks amazig by the way!

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    1. If I were more patient, I would probably sketch it too...although I'm not sure where I'd have room to sketch it out at! It's actually super fun, you're so right...playing around with this design has made winter much more bearable :-) Good advice about the Sedum...I'll have to re-think some of my plant choices, I'm sure!

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  25. It looks like a wonderful planting plan Scott. It is going to be so lovely for those who will be passing your home or walking along the sidewalk.

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    1. I hope so...I really can't wait to see it big and tall and full of flowers!

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  26. A new garden area is always exciting! It looks great, and it will be fun to plant, especially since you're growing a lot from seed. I have a lot of projects I want to get done. I just need to get to work!

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    1. Oh yeah...I'm impatiently waiting for my seeds to germinate! I have a bunch of other projects too (not least of all, finishing our shed)...it's going to be a busy year for both of us, it seems ;-)

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  27. Oh my...I hope you'll have extra for the plant exchange.
    I've got a new area as well...at least after I pull the Vinca Major out.. hump.

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    1. Don't worry, Linda...I will still have some goodies for the exchange...mostly, I think I'll bring plants that just got too big for the space!

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  28. I like the design Scott. Now that the heavy lifting is over the fun will begin. Hoping you have marvelous planting weather. gail

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    1. You and me both, Gail! I do still have to finish digging the rest, put the border in place and pour the gravel...but really...not too bad!

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  29. We just got 8 inches of snow. I'm so jealous! Your design promises beautiful things to come.

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    1. Ouch...I can believe it...when I told my dad (who still lives in Nebraska) I was working in the garden that weekend, he was in pure disbelief! Stay warm...spring will be here soon, right!

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  30. Scott, You clearly have the garden showplace on your street. Your parking strip is going to look great.

    Here is how I solve the problem of running out of planting space: I go through phases and then when one phase ends, I dig up plants and start the new phase. I had an antique rose phase, a Miscanthus phase, a succulents phase, a natives phase, a native grass phase, and a prairie phase. Now I think I am entering a vegetable garden phase. Who knows what will be next.

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    1. Awww...thanks...I certainly hope so! I think you're so right...and I'm planning on giving away a few plants that I planted a few years ago...mostly because they simply got too big for the space I allotted for them. My problem, it seems, is that I have A LOT of guilt about getting rid of plants...I really must let go!

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    2. It is hard to give up your "children". I am planning to pot some of my excesses and give them away at a plant swap in April (with plans to not bring home anything new). I am not crazy about the idea of taking care of a bunch of potted plants until then, so I will probably be happy to get rid of those plants by then. Too bad you are so far away. I would give you some blue mistflower. I have a large clump to dig up.

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  31. The parking strip will be nice. Maybe you can start expanding into the neighbors' spaces afterwards. I've had trouble with people stepping on plants in the parking strips whenever I don't give the courtesy strip and a walk-thru or two. It means less plants, though, but so I always add as many plants as I can get away with. It's going look great.

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    1. Oh Ryan...that would be a dream! I have a fantasy that all my neighbors hand over their yard and gardens to me and we have a whole street of gardens...wouldn't that be amazing! I've totally been thinking about the access all week long and have started a revised plan that should allow for even more room for people getting in and out of cars...I even pulled our car up and measured exactly how much I needed to open the door and get out! It's definitely a compromise since it does mean fewer plants, however :-(

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  32. So exciting Scott.

    I love all that is associated with creating a perennial garden from existing lawn EXCEPT for the disposal of sod and 'bad' earth. So I ask where did you dispose of all those bits and pieces of sod?

    Up here (Canada) we often call that strip of land a 'boulevard'. I was never quite sure if it was ours or somehow the city has some sort of rights to its use. I should find out about this...

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    1. OMG...you know it! Such a pain! Right now, it's in an ENORMOUS pile in back of the house. I would like to compost as much of it as I can...so we'll see. I'm also getting another stock tank planter (or 2) this summer to put in our driveway, and will probably put some of the old sod in the bottom (on top of the gravel drainage layer) to fill some fo the space. I like "boulevard"...sounds MUCH more elegant! The land TECHNICALLY does belong to the city...but the homeowner is responsible for its maintenance. Portland is pretty lenient about what people do on them...as long as they aren't dangerous :-)

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  33. This will be good. Can't wait to see it in bloom!

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  34. Looks great fun here Scott - can imagine all the changes in planting order buzzing around your head all the time. A key is a great way to solve that one - should try that myself :-)

    Looking back at your previous posts your foliage one caught my eye. You've some nice plants there! Your comment about Heuchera 'Marmalade' caught my attention. I have it here in my Scottish garden where heat isn't usually a problem. My one plant has been lifted and divided again and again. I love this one. It is happy in shade here - maybe you have a cooler spot in your garden?

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    1. Thanks, Shirl...you are so right...any time I have a free moment, I find myself re-arranging the garden in my head! I do LOVE 'Marmalade', I think I just need to give it a bit more sun/moisture during summer...it's so lovely until the heat hits...I can't quite bear to part with it!

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  35. Hi Scott,
    Seeing bare dirt like that gets me excited, and seeing your plans is just as fun. That must mean I have gardening in my blood. I look forward to seeing how your new back area fares this spring, and how your new area takes shape. I wish I had the visual skills to make plans. I kind of make rough ones, but then, end up buying the plants I want, and then placing them around until I like how they look. I do end up needing to move some things around when they get full sized, but that could happen with more planning, too.

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    1. Haha Sue...it sure does...welcome to the club ;-) I never used to make plans at all...and I still rarely follow them completely, as I do tend to buy lots of things on impulse! Plus, you're so right, even when I think I've figured it out, I always end up re-arranging them later anyway!

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    2. I just thought of something. We have a height restriction in curb beds. Do you? I'm thinking ours is 3 feet. Most of my plants meet that requirement, but a few don't. It doesn't pose a safety issue, so I'm thinking it will be OK unless someone complains. I don't think anyone will in my neighborhood. I think people either like my yard or ignore it.

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  36. Excellent idea! You really doing a great job in your garden! Great collection of plants and information!

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  37. Hi! Wow, love your "plan." I am familiar with In Design and use it sometimes but how did you create all of those little symbols to represent the plants? Did you draw those from scratch or import them in? I'm motivated to try In Design to organize a plan for my new shade bed. That is my project for this spring. It's new last year but has a few plants already but some room to add fun stuff. I should "plan" it cuz otherwise I will end up with way to many plants to fit! Love your grass choices, I have several of them and they are fun. Over here in Boise, they get really big fast though! I end up needing to split them in just a couple of years it seems! Great job can't wait to see how it evolves.

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    1. Thanks, Andrea! Yeah, I "drew" them in InDesign and they just grouped the (just basic shapes I arranged). They aren't super-literal representations of what some of the plants really look like...but are just stylized enough that I know what they are at a glance...plus, they let me see if I have too many "spkes" together or too much pink together...helps me keep things organized! Believe it or not, even when i do these blueprints, I also end up with more plants than I have room for...I think it's my wishful thinking cropping up or something :-) Can't wait to see what you do with the new shade bed...woohoo for spring!

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  38. I love your selection of plants Scott. They look hardy yet beautiful at the same time. Definitely go for the parking strip, you won't regret it.

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  39. Love your legend! What a great design concept and including room for opening doors is a great idea. Here in Ohio we've had a warm winter and spring is coming sooner than I'm ready. I'm thinking InDesign might be something I need to check into.

    Have a great day!

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  40. I know how you feel about having a limited soace left to fulfill the creative urge; and the spaces are becoming more and more inhospitable to plants. christina

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