Home make over – Sierra Madre.

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After the pool was installed it was time to design a low maintenance landscape. My choices were: French lavender, Salvia leucantha, Muhlenbergia rigens with a sinuous pathway of river rock. The drip irrigation is beneath the two inches of mulch which serve as a weed deterrent as well as keeping the soil moisture from drying out.
This project will grow in nicely in about 6 months and soften up the pathway’s solid edges.

Mike Brown Design
Sierra Madre 2013.

Salvia leucantha makes a terrific statement in the garden…

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Make sure you give your Salvia leucantha plenty of room to spread – as it will do. It usually tops off at about 6′ wide by 3′-4′ in height. Full sun and well drained soils are best, otherwise it gets leggy in the shade. Cut back to the ground after blooming (usually January)..this will allow sunlight to penetrate the lower stems and flush out again when the weather is warm. In climates like Southern California, Arizona and Florida cut back after bloom and it will usually start to regrow immediately.

A whimsical color palate of summer flowers…

This colorful summer garden I designed for Descanso Gardens started with a fall planting of perennial salvia and echium. I then added poppies and gaillardia in late spring. Last years self seeded linaria will never disappoint you as they always come up and if you look close you will see a few left over foxglove, pincushion and snapdragon from my early spring planting. To the right I added a mass of ornamental grasses. The upkeep was fairly easy as the density of the planting and mulch kept the weeds at bay as well as kept the soil from becoming too dry.

If you have any questions please address them to greengardenguy@yahoo.com. I’m Mike Brown your garden consultant and host of projectgreenscaping.com. I hope to be seeing you around the garden!

Photo credit and design: Mike Brown

Saving water by planting a climate appropriate garden!

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Here is another example of what you can do by removing your lawn completely. We took out the large Crepe Myrtle along with some very thirsty sod and created an informal climate appropriate garden. We installed: Miscanthus ‘morning light’ ornamental grass, Festuca ‘glauca’, Ceanothus, Santolina, Salvia leucantha, a Michelia champaca and an Acacia baileyana. We placed a weed barrier beneath the mulch for weed suppression and any errant grass that may try to re-grow. This is more than 2 years after the installation. (I’m not a fan of red mulch but in this case it actually helps to make the plant material stand out.

Photo credit and design: Mike Brown

Summer gardens mean lots of work and color payoff….

Start your summer annual gardens in early spring and watch the magic unfold. For those on the east coast as soon as the soil temperatures heat up to 60+ degrees plants are on a mission to grace your garden. In this garden I planted Cleome the previous season (they self seeded and here is the design they came up with). Along with them I planted Rudbeckia and allowed everyone to tackle the elbow room together…plants can get along too you know. As a bonus for being well-behaved -they got a weekly dose of compost tea (made with sea-kelp and earthworm castings)….they got a root drench and a foliar splash too! Oh, you might see an errant snapdragon or two as well.

Enjoy your whimsical summer! :)

Photo and design credit: Mike Brown and Mother nature at self seeding.

Sometimes a small flower bed clean out can make all the difference.

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After many months of seeing this unruly flowerbed my client called me in desperation wanting to do a simple clean out with a water wise design. I suggested that we keep the Crepe Myrtle for some height and take out everything else. I chose Santolina and Lavender and placed two inches of mulch to help the soil retain some moisture and suppress future weeds. The look was simple, inexpensive and done in one afternoon. And now when she arrives home each day after work a nice detailed and purposeful garden awaits her. If you have an un-kempt flower bed awaiting its make over – contact me at Project Green-scaping and you too can have some instant gratification.

Design and photo credit: Mike Brown of Projectgreenscaping. 2013

Shades and tones of violet, grey and green…

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These heavy concrete containers are perfect for my clients contemporary home in Venice. They are heavy though so make sure before you fill with soil and plants you have them placed exactly where you want them. I used a combination of succulents within the violet and maroon shades and filled with Festuca glauca, Scabiosa and Sedum ‘Angelica’. It will most likey take about 3 months before the sedum cascades over the sides of the containers but the full sun will help give them a running start! Have a wonderful day and “I’ll be seeing you around the garden”!

Design and photo credit: Mike Brown of Project Green-scaping. 2013.


When using large scale containers….

IMG_5532When choosing large plants that will accentuate a deck or patio area make sure that the containers are large enough to allow room for continued growth and plant maturity. A rule of thumb is to provide a space of at least 4-5 inches from the side of the root ball to the side of the new container. Otherwise, you may be having to transplant or place your specimens into larger pots sooner than you think. I use cactus mix for nearly all my container plants…it is porous and allows for quicker drainage of water to the bottom of the container. And of course, I always drill a few extra holes in the basin to expedite water away from the roots.

Design: Mike Brown with Projectgreenscaping. 2013

Be creative with your containers and plant choices…

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This galvanized container is filled to the brim with phormium, sedum, fescue and beautiful blooming calandrina. The container has appropriate drainage and is coated with a sealant to prevent interior erosion of the metal. In addition, ¬†I used a very porous soil to expedite water away from the roots as these plants do best in well drained soil. These ¬†containers can be seen at the hip and down to earth Farmer’s Daughter Hotel on Fairfax Avenue, West Hollywood.

Project green-scaping is “Greening the world, one container at a time”!

Design and photo credit: Mike Brown