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Monday, 26 July 2010

Behind The Scenes - Coastal Dune Garden - Follow Up

I mentioned in a previous post on a Coastal Dune Garden we completed, that I would follow it up with some photos, so here they are:

This is where we started - no level area. Trees screened the house in front, but also blocked the view.

Berms now hide the house below, and give additional height for the plants to grow on. The area, now level, provides ample room and gives a feeling of space and openness.

Aloe vanbalenii, is one of my favourite aloes. The amazing changes in colour of its leaf from apple green to burnt red is only just surpassed by its spectacular flowers. When they're grouped together they look their best. I used mainly succulents on the front of the 'dunes' because of their neat look, and easy maintenance. They handle the wind and poor soil normally associated with beachfront properties.

Behind the dunes, I planted swathes of grass, to create a soft backdrop to the 'harder' looking succulents. I also wanted the grass to create movement, almost like water washing against the beach.

I interspersed the grass with Eucomus, Gladiolus, and Watsonia which will create little spots of colour in amongst the predominantly Melinis nerviglumis grass. Watsonia is quite rare, and on the endangered list, so I try and use it wherever I can, and as close to its natural habitat as possible.

Behind the grass, I planted Plumbago, and a pocket of Leonotus leonurus, which the vervet monkeys are apparently loving. Sunbirds are also a common visitor to the spires of nectar-filled orange flowers, which remind me of little miniature fireworks.

Round-leafed Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is nestled in between the large rocks that we placed close to the top of the dunes. We really sweated while trying to manouvre these massive stones down to the lower garden without damaging them, ourselves or anything else.
Although rocks are seldom found on actual dunes, they do create an immediate sense of permanence to the garden, that the plants will eventually grow into.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Best Way To Landscape Your Website

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting a whole bunch lately? That old idiom has been coming to mind quite a bit recently "Make hay while the sun shines". Its a great piece of advice, especially for us procrastinators, who might rather be blogging than tackling any tough tasks.

Another task that I have been tackling in the last few weeks, has been the pruning and replanting of my landscape website. Its been a project that I have been working on bit by bit for the last year or so, but I felt that it was time to make a concerted effort to finish it.

As I've gotten it closer to where I want it, I've realised how similar creating a website is to landscaping a garden:
  1. Its essential to have a plan of what you want the finished garden/website to look like.
  2. Before you start figure out who will be experiencing the website/landscape.
  3. Use the best tools you can afford.
  4. Its important to have a theme that brings everything together. In a garden, you could have more than one theme depending on the size of the garden, but if you do, it could leave the visitor confused.
  5. Figure out the structure first, and build onto and around that.
  6. Simpler is often better.
  7. Don't make the landscape/site too busy or distracting, it leaves you feeling unsettled and less likely to enjoy the experience.
  8. Repetition of certain elements throughout the site/garden is important to give the eye some familiarity
  9. When its looking messy, and you're feeling a little overwhelmed, don't give up. Its usually just on the other side that you'll start to see the end in sight.
  10. Look at your use of colours carefully - complimentary colours are really restful and harmonious, contrasting colours are bold and exciting.
  11. Make sure you do as much research as possible before you start, and if you're unsure of any code/application/plant, do some more research.
  12. Experimenting is how you learn. Place the plant/code in your website, and see how it looks. If it doesn't look right, be ruthless and pull it out - it'll get harder to do when you build other plants/code around it. If you feel bad about pulling it out, you can always give it to a friend - a gift of 'html code' is always welcome. (ok, maybe I'm pushing the similarities too far there.)
  13. Ask experts for advice (if you can afford it - hire a professional to do it for you), and get feedback from friends, but trust your instincts too.
  14. Have fun doing it, but don't let it consume you - everybody needs a hobby, no-one needs an obsession.
I'm currently at number 13. I would love some feedback about the website. Feel free to be as critical/honest as you want. Personally, I think its the best landscape website I've ever seen - but hey, I might be biased ;-)

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