Friday, November 26, 2010

Outdoor Holiday spaces

I love the holidays, and I want to decorate and celebrate my home inside & out.  My husband and I are not formal people, and we live in a home that has a wonderful wooded setting which I have filled with lush, english gardens. 

This is a great time of the year to be planting shrubs, so for a Christmas tree on my veranda, I purchased a holly to plant after the holidays. 
I set it on the table that we dine on in the warmer months and decorated it with dried hydrangeas, small silver and white bulbs and tiny colored lights.

I can see this from my kitchen, so it is uplit  from below the table. This is also what I see when I get home, as it is between the garage, drive and house.  How wonderful to see this festive and natural setting awaiting me
after a busy day. 

On the cocktail table, I have used white containers with cuttings from the garden that should last through the season.  The additional berries in the arrangements are from the nandinas, which are throughout the gardens.
I always plant multiples of everything, so there are always plenty of flowers and berries to pick, as well as the fact that a half dozen nandinas on a small incline makes such a wonderful statement.  This is a planting tip that has always served me well.

Let me know how I can help you with your holiday decorating or fall planting.  Just send an emai to:
donna@donnacomstockinteriors, or attach your comments to this blog. HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Inviting Entranceways

Wondering what is around the corner
     The saying in real estate is 'curb appeal'.

Seasonal interest draws eye to entrance

Does your home have it?  Whether you live in a large home or small condo, the entrance is the first impression others have of your home.  It is a statement of your personality, and hopefully, a clue to what is beyond the front door.

      I have always tried to impress upon my clients during the construction and landscaping process, that the outside needs to blend with the inside.

      Are you more comfortable with things being symmetrical?  Do you have everything in pairs?
Then, you should probably have a front entryway that has matching shrubs,or possibly cupolas as shown. Even though this photo by me was taken at an angle, you can see that what is on the right side is matched on the left.  My impression would be that the people that live in this house are orderly, conservative and organized.

     On the other hand, the photo below is more artistic, with a mixture of textures, plants, and is asymmetrical.
I would expect the person who lives here to be creative, social, and spontaneous.

      What ever your style or personality, try to carry the color from the outside in. The color of your front door should coordinate with the rooms it opens onto and can be seen from the foyer
     If the style in the front of your home is formal, then the entryway would also call for more formality.
Always consider the style and structure of your home.  Georgian would certainly be more formal than a cottage.

    This is a perfect time of the year to do planting of trees and shrubs if you are in zone 6 or higher. It will give the plants a chance to establish their root systems before spring.  When you are planting, these are the essential elements that should give you success.

     Always purchase from a reputable source.

     Amend your soil.  It is not a good idea to put planting soil in a hole and expect things to live.  You must mix the existing soil with compost, manure, and I used pulverized bark or decomposed granite here with my heavy clay soil.  The roots need to have good drainage and air to extend out and get the nutrients they need.

     Dig your hole twice the width of your root ball, and plant at the height the plant was in the pot.  Make sure the hole should not be a  depression for water to collect in.  It should be slightly higher than the ground, because it will settle some.  After you do the planting in the amended solid, tamp it down and water it well.
You should be rewarded with a beautiful plant, whether it is a tree, shrub or perennial.  Remember that the first year goes to establishing the root system, so be patient.  Remember...'patience is a virtue'

Acharming entrance to small courtyard

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fall clean-up tips

Fall, beautiful, but labor intensive.  At least in the case of having beautiful garden beds, lots of old established trees dropping their leaves, and the perennials dying back.

My motto has always been " touch it once."
Therefore, I wait until after the first frost to cut back my perenniels.  Then I cut them down to about 3 " above ground level. I rake out the beds, trying to get all of the acorns I can, so the small trees with one leaf and a 6" tap root don't have to be pulled in the spring.  Then I shred my leaves and use them as a winter mulch.  Over the winter they break down as they protect the plants from the freeze and thaw process.

Any plants that had insect problems are thoroughly cleaned up and all the debris is removed so as not to reinfect the plant in the spring.

I have always tried to include plants that have at least 3 season interest, whether it is the branch structure and interesting bark, berries that hang on for color, or evergreens.  Including these along with decorative grasses add structure and interest to the winter landscape.  I also supplies the birds with nesting sites for the cooler season.

Speaking of the birds, I usually put my feeders out once most of the berries have disappeared and the frost had taken care of the insects.  Then I provide a variety of feeders and seed to attract a wide variety of birds.
They are a delight to watch for both myself and Sweetie our cat!  And then in the spring they usually stay, and that takes care of alot of the natural pests in the summer.  I think of it as a give and take proposition.
It is also important to make sure they always have clean water near a source of protection, such as a tree or shrub. I t gives them security when the neighbors let their cats roam.

This is also the time of the year when I do a light fertilizing of hollytone on all of my evergreens, such as hollies, azalias, camelias, ferns, and rhodies.  You will be amazed at what a difference all of this prep will do for the looks of your gardens throughout the winter, as well as spring which will arrive in a few months time.

And don't forget to put in some pots and baskets for winter color.  It will be great at your entryways.  Very welcoming for your guests, and truly not alot of maitenance.

With a little planning, your garden will look wonderful all year long.  The other day I heard a wonderful saying I would like to quote  "A little digging in the dirt buries alot of troubles"  So true!

Happy gardening....Donna

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Fall Garden

Fall, one of the most beautiful times of the year. 

People congregate on the Blue Ridge Hwy to view the magnificent colors of the trees.  But, I feel like I can look out my window and enjoy it every day. Of course I am not saying that it has such a large and wonderful WOW factor, but it is a small piece of nature that I love.

I love to look out the window and see the migrating birds stop for water and berries.  The squirrels are all busy hunting and burying nuts, and we have more than enough.  I wish they would take them all!

My garden is full of whimsy& planted to feed and protect the wildlife in the area.

I try to select my trees, shrubs and perennials with the thought of how they will relate to each other throughout the seasons.  Here in zone 7 where I live, we can have something blooming almost all year.
But flowers are not the thing that makes the garden interesting.  It is the structure,  the 'rooms' to view around the corner as you wander along the path.  I love to take a leisurely stroll and see what is happening.

In the fall, I still have my anemones in bloom, the hydrangeas have turned a darker color, and many of the shrubs and trees are full of berries for the birds to feast upon. The plants that add structure to the garden are the trees, shrubs that maintain their leaves or have interesting bark and shape.

And then there is the aroma of burning leaves.  I am probably the only person I know who enjoys raking leaves instead of using a blower.  I find the sound of it so annoying.  One of the joys of the season is the cool mornings, clear skies,& warm sunny afternoons.  Listening to the birds sing and the leaves russel is just soothing and peaceful.  It is a time to clear my mind of all the minutia that runs around up there!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Donna's Beautiful Garden: Garden tours

Donna's Beautiful Garden: Garden tours: "I think a garden gives you a glimpse of the person who tends it. It is truly a labor of love. My husband just spent the week-end in Savan..."

Saturday, November 6, 2010