Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Education with an Expert – Why You Need a Garden Designer in Your Life

A few months ago I was walking the aisles of the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, inspired by all the great ideas on display. But I had a garden conundrum of my own, and I couldn’t figure out how to solve it.

Color match--golden oregano 28Origanum vulgare 27Aureum27 - edited

Twenty-two years ago I had planned and planted my garden. Two long borders, one in sun and one in partial shade, are cut by a swath of lawn between them. The problem? I couldn’t get the borders to relate to each other. They were like two children, fighting for attention across the grass, hollering, “Look at me!” Because of the different light conditions, I couldn’t solve the issue by planting the same things on each side.

If I were doing a new garden, or a major renovation, I’d probably get a landscape architect or designer on board. But what I needed at that moment was an expert to tell me how I could upgrade my space. That’s when I met Kristen Rudger, a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD).

She was in the California APLD booth, set up like a comfortable deck with tables and chairs. You could buy a thirty-minute garden consultation. I wasn’t sure my problem could be solved so quickly, but I thought I’d give it a try.

From a rough sketch of my garden, Kristen came up with a fix. “It’s about uniting both sides using the classic tools of texture and color,” she told me.  For texture, she suggested that I mirror the existing feather reed grass (Calamagrostis ‘Karl Forster’) on the sunny side with a planting of the grass-like flax lily, Dianella caerulea Cassa Blue® on the shadier side.

Paired with Huechera 27Lime Ricky27 - editedFor color, instead of trying to match flowers for both borders, Kristen suggested repeating colorful foliage. I could use the eye-catching golden oregano already growing on the sun side and pair it with gold-leaf coral bells (such as Heuchera ’Lime Ricky’) in the other bed.

Bingo. In that brief visit, I came away seeing my garden with new eyes. If you have a garden or greenhouse challenge, perhaps it’s time to call for a consultation yourself. The APLD website has a search feature to locate a designer near you. The cost of an education with an expert is well worth the price in saved time and money down the line—plus, there’s that much more garden enjoyment.