Posted on March 14th, 2013 No comments
Last year, we encountered a widespread, extremely destructive disease called Impatiens Downy Mildew, affecting Impatiens walleriana (common impatiens). It is an aggressive and easily spread disease that causes the plant to lose its leaves and eventually die. Some of you may have encountered this at your property last summer. Downy mildew is not easy to detect in its early stages, so by the time you know you have it, it’s likely to have infected all of your impatiens. The disease has impacted impatiens in other parts of the United States for several years now, but first became a problem here during the 2012 planting season.
Infected plants will develop yellow spots on the leaves and appear to be unhealthy. An examination will reveal white spores on the underside of the leaves, which soon will begin to drop from the stems. The disease can be controlled in a greenhouse environment with use of fungicides, but the effects of the fungicides lessen with time. Impatiens that appear healthy upon purchase can deteriorate quickly once they’re planted at home. Established, downy mildew spores can be spread by the wind, blowing from site to site easily infecting other impatiens. Fortunately, the disease does not spread to other plant varieties, including New Guinea impatiens. Because the disease is so difficult to prevent and control, the only real solution seems to be not planting impatiens.
Fortunately, there are many common shade-loving annuals that make great alternatives to planting impatiens. New Guinea Impatiens, Reiger Begonias, Coleus, Caladium, Tuberous Begonia ‘Non-Stop’ varieties, Impatiens Hybrids ‘Fusion’ series are just a few of the wonderful alternatives to select from
Perennials are also an excellent alternative to seasonal annuals. Although the upfront cost may be higher, selecting plants that return each year provides a lower-maintenance, longer-lived, sound solution. Two perennial groundcovers we recommend are Creeping Vinca, covered with periwinkle blue flowers in spring, and Lamium, a lower-growing groundcover with interesting foliage and lovely white, pink or purple flowers. There are many shade-loving perennials to choose from that bring color and are suited to different soil types. Dry shade areas will benefit from tough Hosta like ‘June’ and ‘Paradigm’, with fancy foliage and lavender colored blooms. Wet areas will allow Astilbe to thrive; ‘Purple Candles’ has bold fuchsia-pink flowers, while ‘Peach Blossom’ has delicate peach-pink. Well-drained conditions would work perfectly for Coralbells like ‘Caramel’ and ‘Tiramisu’, which have beautiful leaves of orange, purple, yellow and green.
Impatiens have been a garden staple for many years and it is unfortunate that the disease has decimated our area. We look forward to the day when a downy mildew-resistant strain of Impatiens walleriana is developed and we can confidently bring them back.
Posted on February 19th, 2013 No comments
Looking to get away from the dreariness of winter, with its barren trees and frozen, snow-covered lawns? Chicago has a warm and inviting respite, and it’s called Garfield Park Conservatory.
Unlike the North Side’s smaller Lincoln Park Conservatory, Garfield Park Conservatory is tremendous, sitting on four and a half acres in the redeveloping West Side at 300 N. Central Park Avenue. Designed by legendary landscape architect Jens Jensen in collaboration with Prairie School architects Schmidt, Garden and Martin and the engineering firm of Hitchings and Company, the building’s low, mounded architectural design is reminiscent of Midwestern haystacks. It was completed in 1907 and houses a mind-boggling array of plants from all over the world, grouped in a series of wonderfully designed, naturalistic landscapes. Enlightening, educational and always evolving, it is enjoyable for visitors of all ages.
Once inside the conservatory, you’ll be peeling off your winter wear upon entering The Palm House, a warm tropical paradise where huge palms tower over you to touch vaulted ceilings.
The Aroid House is home to what many will recognize as popular houseplants. Its hidden gem here is the Persian Pool, a tranquil, man-made lagoon with a sitting area, koi and yellow glass lily pads created by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden is an indoor setting for families and children to have fun, with spray bottles for kids to mist plants, interactive exhibits and a confined play area for toddlers.
- Want to take a glimpse of what Chicago might have looked like millions of years ago? Take a winding stroll through The Fern Room, with its various ferns, ancient cycads, mossy rocks and waterfalls.
We can go on and on, but don’t want to spoil the surprise. You can plan a visit to coincide with upcoming events happening at the conservatory. Street parking is meter-free, and there is usually space available in the free parking lot just south of the main entrance. There is no coat check nor lockers to put away your coats, so it helps to have a big tote bag to store them and carry along with you. A stroller can also do the job but can be unwieldy on stepstone paths.
A terrible hail storm on June 30, 2011 damaged countless glass panes of the conservatory, and a massive restoration effort is under way. Donations are welcome.
For more information visit www.garfieldconservatory.org.
Posted on January 16th, 2013 No comments
Our clients purchased this charming 1920’s Dutch colonial house with plans of making it their own.
The existing landscape consisted of a traditional front lawn with overgrown shrubs and a scattering of perennials. Our clients wanted to simplify the maintenance, add curb appeal and create a garden for all to enjoy.
After remodeling the home’s façade, they were ready for a fresh look for the front yard. We removed the lawn and plantings, saving some perennials to transplant. Removing the overgrown plant material revealed a beautiful stacked limestone retaining wall. A new paver sidewalk and sitting area were installed to provide a place for the homeowners to enjoy their garden and chat with passersby. Stepping stones tie the areas together and allow one to meander through the lush cottage garden. A mixture of evergreens, hydrangeas, roses, grasses and perennials were added to create a year-long showcase and welcome birds, bees and butterflies. Containers of colorful annuals, landscape lighting and drip irrigation complete the garden rejuvenation.
Posted on November 2nd, 2012 No comments
Nature’s Perspective recently completed construction of a restorative water garden at Three Crowns Park, a senior community in northwest Evanston that has served its residents for over a century.
In the early spring of this year, Ariel Schrodt, a new resident of Three Crowns Park, had a vision of creating a memorial garden for his late wife, Ellen. He wanted to recreate the pond that he and his wife had lovingly built together at their previous residence. He donated several tons of Chilton Limestone boulders that he had used to build his own pond.
Nature’s Perspective was contacted to work alongside the community at Three Crowns to turn his vision into a reality. We began the process with multiple concepts and renderings to show how his vision could be incorporated into a restorative garden.
Throughout the summer, the community at Three Crowns came together to raise funds by selling memorial pavers and other donor items. In late summer, the community’s fundraising goal was reached, and our design for a restorative water garden was selected.
We began construction in October. Being a large site, access was easy, but utilities were not. We were challenged by having to incorporate our garden into the existing irrigation system. Other obstacles included wiring a GFI outlet for the water feature, routing lighting cable, and securing benches to a solid foundation.
The end of construction coincided with the 5th anniversary of Three Crowns’ 2007 facility expansion. Despite the cold and windy weather on October 29th, many made it outside for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Restorative Garden Design Principles
Outdoor spaces of all sizes and settings are designed based on a set of principles. An outdoor area at a senior community must be easily navigable on paths of a smooth hard material. It must also allow access, circulation, and full use by persons with disabilities. Beyond accessibility, these photos show other design principles that came into play in this design:
These photos show how the layout invites exploration. The path was designed with materials that replicate the colors of a forest floor. It winds through other garden elements to create hidden views.
The senses are brought alive in this space, especially when viewed at night. Moonlighting is a landscape lighting technique that casts shadows of tree branches and leaves onto the ground. Here, moonlighting is used for wayfinding.
A memorial garden can be the perfect place for quiet reflection. Three seating areas in the restorative garden provide safe, protected areas surrounded by lush plant life changing by the season. We can’t think of a better place to sit and enjoy nature.
Posted on January 12th, 2012 No comments
With winter in full swing, we hope you enjoy the first of several case studies to bring you inspiration and ideas for your garden. Spring is only a few weeks away!
The owners of this charming vintage home, nestled in the heart of Evanston, love nature, gardening and entertaining. As volunteers at the Chicago Botanical Garden, they bring their efforts home to beautify their yard and attract birds and butterflies. But they were running out of room for their many plant additions, and also lacked an outdoor setting in which to relax and entertain.
To create more gardening space, we removed the lawn and converted most of it into beds. In order to “bring the party to the garden”, we added hardscaping. A curved bluestone path welcomes guests. A curved raised planter, built of the owners’ reclaimed street pavers and topped with rockfaced bluestone coping, sits along the path, near the back door. The planter brings herbs closer to the kitchen, at arm’s reach, and also doubles as seating. Stepstones off the path lead to a round bluestone patio in a location that surrounds guests with lush greenery, a perfect setting for bookworms and social butterflies alike.
With a colorful array of edible and ornamental plants, a bird bath and bird feeder, the garden provides food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise their young, and was recently designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation*.
*For more information on certifying your garden, please visit http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife.aspx
Posted on September 9th, 2011 No comments
Labor Day, the traditional end to summer, has come and gone. For us at Nature’s Perspective, we have started the fall season. The cool weather has added to the feeling that fall is here.
Fall is a wonderful time to establish new plantings or reconfigure existing gardens. Warm days lead to cooler nights and rainfall becomes more regular. Trees, shrubs and perennials have started to slow down growth and begin their winter dormancy. The leaves are starting to change color and drop, but below ground the root system is continuing to grow, repairing any damage from transplanting or the harsh summer. This continues until the ground freezes. Even the Kentucky bluegrass lawns are responding to the cool weather with fresh green growth, a last hurrah before winter. However, at this time of year we should actually THINK SPRING! Spring-flowering bulbs can only be planted during the fall. Everyone is familiar with colorful, showy Tulips and cheerful Daffodils that are the mainstay of the bulb garden. There are many other spring-flowering bulbs that are not as well known, but definitely should be in everyone’s garden. We created a list of some lesser known bulbs that are also resistant to deer and rabbits! Think about the possibilities of adding small pockets or large swaths of color to your garden starting as soon as the snow melts in March with Snowdrops and Winter Aconite and continuing until the Allium finish the show in June.
Listed in order of their appearance, you can count on the following bulbs to bloom and perform beautifully in your garden.
Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, do well in our area and emerge very early. The small, three-segmented, drooping white flowers are 5″ tall and stand out dramatically above their silver-green foliage.
Winter Aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, is another early bloomer. The solitary, yellow buttercup-shaped flowers grow 6″ tall and are surrounded by bright green bracts that look like a collar around the blossom.
Reticulated Iris, Iris reticulata, has little vibrant purple blooms with a gold stripe appear above thin-straplike leaves. 8-12 inches tall.
Glory of the Snow, Chionodoxa, are low growing plants, reaching 4-6″ high with grass-like leaves that appear the same time as the flowers. Star-shaped flowers face upwards and last two weeks or more, and are available in white or blue. (March/April)
Scilla, Scilla siberica, also called ‘Squill’, has vivid blue flowers and stands about 5″ tall. You can see some strikingly beautiful and very large drifts in many North Shore gardens where they have been naturalizing for many years. Some varieties are available in pink and white, but the blues are spring time knock-outs.
Windflower, Anemone blanda, is a charming border plant with daisy-like flowers that comes in a variety of blues, pinks, violets and white. The foliage resembles parsley and the plant stands about 6″ tall.
Grape Hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum, is the largest of the minor bulbs with tiny deep blue flowers densely clustered, like miniature grapes, on a firm stalk. The flower cluster is about 5″ long and the plant grows to 7″ or 8″ tall. They bloom a long time and produce a striking effect when planted in drifts.
Species Tulips, Tulipa spp., bloom in early spring and are smaller in size than the better-know hybrid tulips. Growing only 4-12” tall, they nonetheless come in many shapes and colors, and naturalize better than hybrid tulips in the garden. T. greigii grows 8-12 inches tall and blooms in mid spring, and is available in pink, yellow, orange, red, ivory and peach. T. linifolia grows only 4 to 6 inches tall with vibrant red flowers.
Camas Lily, Camassia leichtinii, is a mid-sized plant that sends up slender purple, star shaped flower stalks atop its grasslike leaves. Plant these in an undisturbed area, and they will naturalize in your garden for years. Foliage dies back in early summer. 24-32”h.
Crown Imperial, Fritillaria imperialis, are large plants that send out stately, impressive 3-foot tall flower stalks. Nodding whorls of colorful flowers in red, yellow or orange red are topped by a crown of spiky, glossy leaves. Great for the back of the border or in a location you want to make a bold statement.
Ornamental Onion, Allium spp., is naturally deer-resistant and comes in different forms and sizes. Purple Sensation Allium has 2? to 4? diameter purple globes on sturdy 24-30” stems in early June. Globemaster Allium is a tall and architectural plant, with, huge, globe-shaped purple flower heads on 3- to 4-foot stems. Beautiful next to peonies and irises.
Posted on June 30th, 2011 No comments
Looking for a dramatic plant to serve as a focal point in your garden? Think Black. Black Lace Elderberry, that is!
Black Lace™ Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’ ppaf) is fairly new to the United States, introduced in 2006. One could easily mistake this plant for an exotic Japanese Maple, given its lacy, finely-cut leaves that are purple-black in color. But unlike a Japanese Maple, it is easy to care for and thrives in full sun.
In early summer, creamy pink, domed flowers appear, contrasting beautifully with the dark foliage (the above photo was just taken in our nursery in full sun). The flowers will turn into black-red, edible berries in fall, which you can snack on, or leave for your birds to enjoy. An added extra is its deer resistance.
Black Lace Elderberry came to our nursery several years ago as a trial plant. It has proven to be very cold hardy. Its mature size is about 6-8 feet high and just as wide. It can be pruned yearly to maintain a preferred size, or trained into a tree.
Beautiful, easy to care for, adaptable as a focal point or a hedge and resistant to deer? Now that’s one plant you should know.
Posted on February 16th, 2011 No comments
We are proud to announce we have been recognized by the Illinois Landscape Contractor Association as a 2011 Excellence in Landscaping Award winner in the category of Residential Landscape Construction. This distinguished honor is unique because of its rigorous application criteria and that the judging is done by fellow landscapers throughout the industry.
A landscape upgrade for the salt-box style home fulfilled our clients’ desire for an outdoor entertainment space which harkened back to their New England roots. The small corner lot presented several challenges with regard to space allocation, site drainage, zoning restrictions, privacy needs, and providing universal access for friends and family members.
A full range of elements were brought into play to provide for the functional as well as the aesthetic imperatives of the renovation which included spaces for cooking, dining, entertaining, tool storage, trash storage, pet needs, alley access, screening views, flowers for cutting, a water element, and a traditional style— all within a footprint of approximately 3,000 square feet. Every aspect and system was removed, altered, or added, including grading, stormwater management, utility lines, structures, hardscape and softscape.
The sight and sound of water, as well as a source of shade, were pivotal to our clients’ enjoyment and comfort in their outdoor living space. Both of these elements were custom-designed and custom-fabricated to fit the compact space and to have particular performance features.
The fencing and the four support columns for the pergola are made of composite material to minimize maintenance. The flooring of New York bluestone and red clay paving brick has a warm color palette that marries well with the yellow frame house and imparts an east coast Colonial style.
A traditional picket fence replaces the old evergreen hedge and gives the garden the airier feel which our clients desired. It also freed up more space for flower beds which are filled with more than 170 perennials and 300 bulbs. The only remnant of the former landscape, a storage shed, was moved to a more discreet location toward the rear by the alley where it houses garden supplies. To address pet needs, a fenced dog run was installed in the back corner of the lot.
The paths and seating areas are set at the same grade and wide enough to maneuver mobility devices throughout. The old deck off the back door was replaced with a ramped surface of smooth clay pavers.
We thank our clients for allowing us to enter their project into the competition; our designers for their creativity and vision; and especially our foremen and crew members, whose hard work and attention to detail is unsurpassed.
Posted on May 7th, 2010 No comments
Are you aware of a hidden garden gem located on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, or of its historical significance?
This garden, a project of The Garden Club of Evanston, was established in 1915 to celebrate the ties between England and America. It also commemorated the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The Shakespeare Garden was designed by Jens Jensen, the renowned Danish-American landscape architect and conservationist who had an office in Ravinia. It is one of only two formal gardens that he designed. All of the trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and herbs in it were plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. The 70- by 100-foot space contains flowers, shrubs, trees and herbs well-suited to our Midwestern climate, such as old roses, hollies, daffodils, nasturtiums and rosemary.
The garden is maintained to this day by The Garden Club of Evanston.
Use this link to find out more about this urban oasis.
Posted on September 15th, 2009 No comments
The most commonly used spring flowering bulbs are the ‘major bulbs’ such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. However, there is a whole group of ‘minor bulbs’ that provide such reliable color that most gardens would benefit from including them when planning for early spring color. The bulbs are tiny and the plants are small, rarely more than six inches in height, so a large number of bulbs are needed in order to make a visual impact.
The term ‘bulb’ includes a variety of plants with a large storage root (or stem) from which the plant grows every year. These little wonders of nature require only moisture and rising temperatures to end their dormancy and begin to grow. This means that bulbs are generally an easy and fool-proof garden plant. Minor bulbs also tend to be very resistant to deer and rabbit damage.
Minor bulbs should be planted during the fall, in drifts or masses, about 3”-4” deep. They can be planted in flower beds or shrub beds where they’ll emerge and bloom before the perennials get started and before deciduous plants leaf out.
Some of the prettiest minor bulbs, listed in order of the appearance in a garden, are:
Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) Snowdrops do well in our area and emerge very early. The small three-segmented, drooping white flowers are 5” tall and stand out dramatically above their silver-green foliage. (March)
Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is another early bloomer. The solitary, yellow buttercup-shaped flowers grow 6” tall and are surrounded by bright green bracts that look like a collar around the blossom. (March)
Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxas) are low growing plants, reaching 4-6” high with grass-like leaves that appear the same time as the flowers. The blue star shaped flowers face upwards and has a central white eye, lasting two weeks or more. (March/April)
Crocus (Crocus) naturalize exceptionally well, creating an expanding carpet of bright colors as the years go by. Their purples, lavenders, whites and yellows are a clear signal that spring in on its way. These are the only minor bulbs that we’ve listed that the rabbits eat. (March/April)
Scilla (Scilla siberica), also called ‘Squill’, this vivid blue flower is about 5” tall. You can see some strikingly beautiful and very large drifts in many North Shore gardens where they have been naturalizing for many years. Some varieties are available in pink and white, but the blues are spring time knock-outs. (April)
Windflower (Anemone) is a charming border plant with daisy-like flowers that comes in a variety of blues, pinks, violets and white. The foliage resembles parsley and the plant stands about 6” tall. (April)
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) is the largest of the minor bulbs with tiny deep blue flowers densely clustered like miniature grapes on a firm stalk. The flower cluster is about 5” long and the plant grows to 7” or 8”. They are long lasting and produce a striking effect when planted in drifts. (April-May)