Before & After

Sometimes it is just plain hard—or even impossible—to visualize how to use the space in our yards to maximize enjoyment and create the garden of our dreams. I spent hours looking down on my back yard thinking, “What can I possibly do to better define my wild, mushy, shady garden?” before making major changes.  (Note to self: Invest in a landscape designer to help with the front yard.)

I peruse magazines and books, ask the opinion of my gardening friends, visit garden shows and gardens, and attend Hardy Plant Society lectures looking for inspiration. Photos of this before and after garden from is a fine example of the possibilities that exist for a landscape. I could be wrong, but I suspect there was an intervention by a garden designer somewhere in the process in order to make such a complete and wonderful transformation. [Editor’s note: After writing this blog entry, I learned that the before and after photo is of Portland’s Darcy Daniels’ home. She is a wonderful landscape designer and is owner of Bloomtown Gardens so I’m not surprised I was impressed with the result!)

Before Photo: Darcy Daniels, Bloomtown Gardens

After Photo: This front yard planting is filled with plants that look good in all seasons to create an ever-changing display. Autumn and winter can be tough seasons to plant for; look for fall-blooming perennials and small shrubs and trees with great fall foliage to get through autumn. Look for small evergreens, grasses, and plants with interesting habits (such as corkscrew willow) for winter good looks. This planting also takes advantage of color to create extra impact. The contrasting purple-and-chartreuse color theme looks great and personalizes the garden. (Admittedly, painting the house helped, too.)

The Yard, Garden & Patio Show, presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers, provides opportunities for inspiration. And you can take it one step further: the Showcase Garden designers and contractors will be on hand to answer questions about the challenges you’re facing in your garden. And there are many other designers with booths on the show floor. There’s bound to be at least a few elements in the Showcase Gardens that re-shape your perspective and encourage you to look at your landscape a little differently. As many gardening friends remind me: a garden is never finished (even when you think it is!).

Here are some of the designs for this year’s Showcase Gardens. Check the show website for more information on the gardens. Come to the show and vote for your favorite.

Join us for lots of inspiration on February 28-March 2 for the 2014 Yard, Garden & Patio Show at the Oregon Convention Center.