TRANSFORMATION TUESDAY by Robin Kramer

This is the first in a series of posts in which we will show the transformation our projects undergo from initial site visits, through to the day the sod goes down.  We like to continuously visit the gardens that we design, adding and refining as they mature and evolve.

This particular project was located across the street from the ocean in Westport CT, set on less than half an acre of land.  The site proved to be challenging, not only with the amount of land we had to work with, but also the fact that the house was built directly into a very steep hillside.  Through strategic planning of tiered stone walls, terraces, grass areas and lush planting beds, we were able to create a relaxing seaside environment that was conducive to outdoor entertaining.   

Before the house framing went up, tiered walls were built into the hillside creating planting beds that would be viewed from the second and third floors of the house.  A row of Linden trees were planted in the upper tier of the walls (upper left corner of photo).

Before the house framing went up, tiered walls were built into the hillside creating planting beds that would be viewed from the second and third floors of the house.  A row of Linden trees were planted in the upper tier of the walls (upper left corner of photo).

A view to the water from what would eventually become the fireplace seating terrace and pergola

A view to the water from what would eventually become the fireplace seating terrace and pergola

The house and outdoor fireplace as seen from across the road

The house and outdoor fireplace as seen from across the road

Steps up to the fireplace terrace are built, and raised planting beds added to the facade

Steps up to the fireplace terrace are built, and raised planting beds added to the facade

Monolithic bluestone steps are installed to the front entrance

Monolithic bluestone steps are installed to the front entrance

Pavers are added to the parking court

Pavers are added to the parking court

Plantings of boxwood spheres, grasses, and mixed perennials are added to the tiered beds, as well as low boxwood hedging to soften the stone walls and foundation of the house.

Plantings of boxwood spheres, grasses, and mixed perennials are added to the tiered beds, as well as low boxwood hedging to soften the stone walls and foundation of the house.

Tiered wall planting scheme

Tiered wall planting scheme

A native species planting buffer of Ilex Glabra is added along the stone wall as required by the town for coastal properties.

A native species planting buffer of Ilex Glabra is added along the stone wall as required by the town for coastal properties.

Wisteria, Miscanthus and Gaura are added to the raised planters below the fireplace seating terrace.  Hedges of privet are added to separate the first floor of the house from the road.

Wisteria, Miscanthus and Gaura are added to the raised planters below the fireplace seating terrace.  Hedges of privet are added to separate the first floor of the house from the road.

Planting beds with Hameln grasses and perennials are established, and stone edging installed to separate the pathway from the planting areas....

Planting beds with Hameln grasses and perennials are established, and stone edging installed to separate the pathway from the planting areas....

After

After

The Privet hedge succeeds in screening the road as seen from the front door

The Privet hedge succeeds in screening the road as seen from the front door

An outdoor shower is installed for rinsing off after a dip in the ocean

An outdoor shower is installed for rinsing off after a dip in the ocean

Furniture is added underneath the pergola, along with planters of crisp boxwood

Furniture is added underneath the pergola, along with planters of crisp boxwood

A view from the dining area to the tiered beds as they mature

A view from the dining area to the tiered beds as they mature

WINTER WALLOP by Robin Kramer

The clocks have been turned ahead and we are officially 1 week away from spring. However, a Nor'easter is scheduled to hit New England on Tuesday. It is difficult to welcome a winter storm in March but I do love a well designed garden after a serious snowfall. The sun sparkling on freshly fallen snow with a bright blue sky is pure magic! So stock the refrigerator, light the fire and enjoy what hopefully will be the last snow of the season. 

 

The sun finally shines.

The sun finally shines.

The importance of structure in a garden. 

The importance of structure in a garden. 

Hand stacked walls add brilliant texture to the winter garden.

Hand stacked walls add brilliant texture to the winter garden.

Great garden ornaments.

Great garden ornaments.

Smile... spring is coming soon!

Smile... spring is coming soon!

EXTERIOR DESIGN FOR AN INTERIOR DESIGNER by Robin Kramer

It is exciting to see one of our past clients, Eileen DesChapelles, launch her own interior design business. ED INTERIOR DESIGN.

A few years back RKGD designed two simple but inviting exterior spaces for her home. The property suffered from a variety of overgrown trees that were messy and creating far too much shade. Once we cleared away the problematic trees we were able to regrade the rear of the property, add a simple retaining wall and create a level area for seating and dining.  The new sunlight afforded us a lush lawn for ball throwing and a mature row of flowering pears created the desired privacy from the school yard across the street. The new trees also deliver a fantastic spring show when in bloom and offer winter fruit for the many birds attracted to Eileen's property. Out front we capitalized on the late afternoon sun by creating a conversation seating area with layered hedges for privacy. Continuous bloom perennial beds offer a flowering interest, as well as, a warm welcome as one arrives at the front door. 

 

The Rear Yard Before 

The Rear Yard Before 

The Rear Yard After

The Rear Yard After

Seating and Dining Area

Seating and Dining Area

Chairs by LOLL

Chairs by LOLL

The Conversation Area in the Front Before

The Conversation Area in the Front Before

Conversation Area in the Front After

Conversation Area in the Front After

Spring Bloom

Spring Bloom

FROZEN FEBRUARY by Robin Kramer

February is a challenging month for all of us that love gardens. The ground is frozen and the landscape is looking pretty dreary. However, on February 14th the focus will be on flowers. Approximately 110 million roses are sold each year. At RKGD it is the one time of year that we welcome red flowers into our hearts.

If you are looking for a little inspiration here are a few of our favorite Valentine's Day bouquets from florists we adore. 

Love is the flower you've got to let grow. John Lennon

Spectacular Red Roses from Elan Flowers, New York, NY

Spectacular Red Roses from Elan Flowers, New York, NY

Scarlet Allure from Winston's Flowers, Greenwich, CT

Scarlet Allure from Winston's Flowers, Greenwich, CT

Jewel Bouquet by Belle Fleur, New York, NY

Jewel Bouquet by Belle Fleur, New York, NY

Perfect Peonies from Flowers Of The World, New York, NY

Perfect Peonies from Flowers Of The World, New York, NY

P L A N T S E L E C T I O N S by Robin Kramer

R   K  G  D  '   S     P  I  C  K  S     F O R    T H E    U P C O M I N G S E A S O N

Each year dozens of new cultivars are introduced by nurseries and growers, giving us endless options when selecting material for our projects.  We like to incorporate high impact 'en masse' plantings in our designs, using a limited selection of species with an emphasis on tried-and-true performers.  This year's trends have seen improved forms of certain species and new dwarf varieties, with a focus on low maintenance and drought tolerance.  Below are RKGD's top picks for the 2017 season. 

 

Robin Kramer Garden Design Blog 2017 Plant Selections

Baptisia 'Vanilla Cream'

Blooming in late spring, with long panicles of pale yellow opening to creamy white, Baptisia 'Vanilla Cream' puts on a stunning display.  Drought tolerant once established, this perennial has beautiful foliage and seed pods once the flowers have gone by, providing interest all season long.

 

Clematis 'Madame Maria'

When in need of a vine for trellising or an arbor, Clematis is a favorite of ours-and this variety is one of the most stunning yet.  With large double white blooms, tinged with green in cooler temps, we cannot wait to include this gem into a design this season.

 

Robin Kramer Garden Design Blog 'Plant Selection'

Buddleia 'Pugster Blue'

With a profusion of fragrant, oversized blooms, this is an improved compact variety of Buddleia with thicker stems for better winter hardiness than previous varieties. Commonly called Butterfly Bush, this perennial is sure to attract pollinators of all kinds. Cut back the dead flowers to promote continuous flowering from mid-summer through to the fall. 

 

Hydrangea Quercifolia 'Gatsby Moon'

This Oak Leaf Hydrangea variety is noted not only for its foliage, but also its abundance of tightly clustered white blooms that fade to pale green.  Larger than most Hydrangea species, they will do best with room to grow.  These hardy shrubs are beautiful in the garden and perfect for use in a bouquet.

 

Anemone Hybrid 'Dreaming Swan'

Delicate, nodding white flowers with a 'painted' lavender blue reverse side, this shade loving perennial is  a gorgeous relative of the 'Wild Swan' series.  Plant en masse in a woodland border for a show stopping display.

C o n t a i n e r S t y l e by Robin Kramer

Planting containers are an excellent way to add detail and personality to an outdoor space, whether it is on a small city roof terrace or flanking the front entrance to a grand home.  See the ways RKGD has used various styles of planting containers, and the materials in them, to customize our projects.

 

These large scale painted wood planters add drama and a sense of arrival to this formal Greek Revival facade and entrance landing.  Planted with Boxwood 'Lollipop' topiary and annual 'Diamond Frost' Euphorbia for a profusion of blooms.

 

Use sandy, well draining soil and place in a sunny spot for Lavender to thrive, as in these zinc containers, which will patina over time creating a truly one-of-a-kind finish.

 

Usually used indoors, we placed these beautiful fig trees on a covered porch out of the direct sunlight.  The Palm Boxes from McKinnon & Harris are the perfect scale for trees such as this.  They are underplanted with lemon thyme for a carpet of sweetly scented greenery.

 

Custom length, galvanized steel inserts were added to these aged wire-work window box frames outside our client's kitchen window.   The mix of Lavender, 'Limoncello' Supertunias, and 'Diamond Frost' Euphorbia created a long lasting display for our clients to enjoy from both indoors and out.

 

An explosion of blue Agapanthus fills this antique planter, which is original to an early 1900s Jacobean Estate.

 

These glazed ceramic planters from Europe are topped with tightly clipped evergreen boxwood, perfectly paired on this sunny balcony. 

 

DSC_5346.jpg

Handcrafted woven willow frames by Nick McCullough were the perfect addition to this kitchen garden, flanking the BBQ island on either side.  A mix of annuals, herbs, and even a tomato plant filled the planters, creating a charming vignette- and easy picking.

 

The dining area of a swim and tennis club was updated with new furniture and surrounded by low, linear planters separating the dining from the pool area.  The containers are filled with Hameln Grasses and white blooming Angelonia for a summery, care-free look.

 

Boxwood tables were added to this custom color, powder coated aluminum planter for a clean, modern edge.  The  containers were placed on either side of the front door of the residence, working with the wide clapboarding on the house. 

 

Oversized bowls with a zinc patina were placed on top of the driveway entrance pillars to this residence, giving us the opportunity to fill them with seasonally changing annuals.

 

 

Simple evergreen trees create a welcoming winter arrangement in these tall zinc containers.  The pyramidal shape of the trees mirrors the shape of the tapered planters.

 

W H I T e G A R D E N by Robin Kramer

A    F  R  E  S  H     S  T  A  R  T     I N     T  H  E    N E W      Y E  A  R 

The color white symbolizes new beginnings, a clean slate, positivity, serenity, goodness, and hope.  If one pays close attention, the white garden can evoke all of these feelings through its subtle shades, scents, and life cycle of its flowers.  As the year comes to a close, we stop to reflect on our accomplishments, and look forward to starting anew with the possibilities the coming year will bring.  The following is a collection of our most cherished white flowering bulbs, annuals, and perennials, starting with the Snow Drop in Winter, through to the Japanese Anemone in Fall.

 

SNOW DROPS 

   

 

 

SNOW FRILLS HELLEBORE

 

TRIUMPHATOR TULIPS

ALLIUM MT. EVEREST

 

CAMASSIA ALBA

 

WISTERIA

 

WHITE RANUNCULUS

FESTIVA MAXIMA PEONY

 

ANNABELLE HYDRANGEA

 

ANGELONIA SUPER WHITE

 

ERYNGIUM YUCCIFOLIUM RATTLESNAKE MASTER

 

SWEET AUTUMN CLEMATIS

 

JAPANESE ANEMONE HONORINE JOBERT