Tag Archives: Patio

Simple, Straightforward and Serene Foliage

Sweet, Simple and Serene FoliageAs Team Fine Foliage recovers from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show week, the official launch to the local gardening public of Gardening with Foliage First and as of today Karen Chapman is officially a “Nana”, we’re truly in recovery. So this post about “simplicity” seemed SO appropriate right now. ūüôā

This shot above from the show last week was taken from the garden designed by Nature Perfect Landscape and Design, it was a crowd favorite for sure! But, for our purposes today, I’m only showing you this small portion of it even though there was MUCH more to it.

So why DOES this work so beautifully? It was SIMPLE! Groundcover plants were strategically used in this geometric patio design along with polished river rock and pavers. Small ‘Gold Moss’ stonecrop positively glows in this setting and having the black mondo grass as a contrast along with one of the many shades of Club Moss lining the wood pile/boulder seating space make it almost a magical detail that drew many many raves.

Simple, Straightforward and Serene FoliageThis small section from a garden design at the show also provided a great lesson in simplicity. Using golden sweet flag grass in multiples as a groundcover in this space looked sophisticated and would stay low around the spheres and dwarf rhododendrons. Designed by Jefferson Sustainable Landscape Management and Avid Landscape Design, the other elements in this display were fantastic as well!
Simple, Straightforward and Serene FoliageLast but certainly NOT least is “Mid-Mod-Mad….It’s Cocktail Hour in the Garden” another of my very favorite award-winning designs at the show from creator Father Nature Landscapes and designer Sue Goetz. Though I’m not showing you all of the display here, to further our point on simplicity, this one is a very good showing!

Proving the point that you don’t need 800 different types of plant material to have an excellent design. Sue chose to use lots and lots of Orange Sedge to surround and fill this space and bring your eye to the fire bowl, seating area and water feature in the background. Water loving umbrella grass sits in the water giving a nice vertical look on the colorful wall.

There you have a quick look at simple and serene ideas for using foliage repetition with a small palette of plants. Hope you enjoyed a few photos from the show, I’m sure you will see MANY more in future posts.

Cheers to catching our breath!

If you liked this post and want to see more ideas in our latest book Gardening with Foliage First that’s burning up the charts ūüôā Click here!¬†

City Living: Contemporary Design Ideas


The Northwest Flower and Garden Show attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year and the 2016 extravaganza was no exception. With twenty large show gardens, a bustling marketplace, a floral competition, over one hundred seminars and a kids treasure hunt, gardeners of all ages and levels of experience  are  inspired to transform their own space no matter how large or small into something truly special.

On a glass encased bridge with view of the Seattle skyline were ten City Living exhibits that I especially appreciated for the take-away ideas that they offered. Intended to represent a ¬†high rise apartment balcony, the designers were challenged with transforming each 6′ x 12′ space into¬†an outdoor living¬†space using materials that could be¬†transported through a homes interior.


The display created by Jason Jorgensen of Third Spring Landscape Design stood out for its contemporary aesthetic, marrying interesting geometric shapes with a restrained but youthful color palette and fabulous foliage. Here’s how to get the look.

Create a Picture Frame


Jason built a simple but sturdy pergola to visually frame the space while also creating a ‘ceiling’ from which to hang planters and string inexpensive lights. Treated¬†with a semi-translucent grey stain the overall effect is soft and warm.¬†Fresh sawn dark brown cedar, the default PNW construction lumber would have been too harsh a color for this setting. This stain adds a sense of instant age yet the lack of embellishments such as finials on the posts or tails on the cross beams ensures that style remains contemporary rather than rustic. The scene has been set.

Furniture Selection

Jason approached Room and Board¬†for use of this attractive Crescent sofa¬†upholstered in a warm mid-grey canvas. The choice of a white frame keeps the ¬†look fresh and avoids appearing¬†overtly masculine, something which pared down design can often do. White was also chosen for the Gehry bench, pressed into service as a coffee table and Kubik stool which serves as a side table, both unusual,¬†oblique¬†shapes. As such the bench¬†becomes quite the focal and talking point. Don’t be afraid of introducing one solid looking piece of furniture like this even into such a small space. It is functional (as a table or extra seating) as well as sculptural art. Selecting furniture that can be used in multiple ways is also important when space is limited. Flexibility and adaptability are key.

Container Selection


Keeping with the contemporary theme, the six, sleek, cylindrical containers  vary in height and color (grey and white) but notice how the two groups flanking the sofa are placed asymmetrically for interest. When selecting containers for a contemporary setting avoid fussy shapes, too many colors or additional decoration. Solid colors in a matte finish work well.

Behind the sofa, two custom planters interlock, allowing the designer to introduce more plant material but also bringing a bold splash of turquoise into the scene, a color which is repeated in the hanging hover planters suspended from the pergola. All these pots are from Pot Incorporated.

Plant Palette


Cool foliage and interesting textures are two hallmarks of contemporary garden design and this small space has great examples. With a total of eight floor containers¬†and three hanging planters it would be easy to introduce lots of different plants and colors. Instead Jason has kept to¬†a monochromatic¬†scheme of green and¬†white¬†with just a hint of¬†¬†gold (love this use of the conifer¬†Golden Spreader fir (Abies n. ‘Golden Spreader’)) and deep burgundy for contrast. The cylindrical containers on either side of the space are planted as mirror images of one another.

Foliage plants such as variegated Spider’s Web¬†Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’), fatshedera (Fatshedera lizei¬†‘Aureo Maculata‚Äô) and Ascot Rainbow spurge (Euphorbia x martinii¬†‘Ascot Rainbow’) mingle with grass-like Silver Shadow astelia (Astelia ‘Silver Shadow’) while darker cordyline¬†(Cordyline australis ‘Renegade’), evergreen mountain pepper (Drimys lanceolata) and the green bark of a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Shidava Gold’) add height.

The evergreen succulent Angelina stone crop spills over the edges of several containers while blue and white spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, grape hyacinth, dwarf iris and snowdrops add seasonal color. Two additional small Indonesian pots, found at a local import store were set on the floor and just planted with a few bulbs. These can easily be set aside or replanted as needed and are small enough to set on a table for a new look.

Finishing Touches


A few throw pillows in navy and white and a navy ottoman add an elegant touch while cobalt blue votives in a geometric metal frame become wall art as well as accent lighting.

The theme of this years show was America the Beautiful, so Jason has given a final nod to patriotic colors by adding a red cafetiere – and watering can.

Small this space may be but it is stunning in its stylish simplicity- LOVE IT!

Which show displays have inspired you? Do let us know by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page.

3 Elements of Style

20140525-CS_IMG_9777This small pocket-garden at the edge of a quaint courtyard has come to life by the use of color, art and of course nature. The narrow palette of foliage colors; silver or white, green and fiery copper are both sophisticated and delicate all at once.

The color scheme for this planting draws on the creme, white and earth toned interior colors of the home to bring the outside in and create harmony throughout the rest of the garden with a similar focus on light, white, and variegated or silver foliage. The flame colored Heuchera plays a role in this triad of style as the showy color tying it all together with a color echo on the new growth on the dwarf Pieris.
The use of the water feature brings in the sounds and movement of water as one vital element in this design. The actual water feature itself lends itself to the homeowners focus on traditional style.
The use of the boulders brings in the natural element of stone, as does the paver-patio and natural stones that create the path.

There you have it! Stone, fire and water, the three elements of style for this tiny gem of a garden. The KEY PLAYERS? I thought you would never ask!

Key Players

Peach Flambe Heuchera‘Peach Flambe’ Heuchera



'Little Heath' Pieris‘Little Heath’ Pieris



Brunnera 'Jack Frost'
‘Jack Frost’ Brunnera

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