Monday, February 25, 2008

Simply Stunning

Where did Simple Simon get the number 3.14 from? He met a pi man going to the fair !!

Horticultural simplicity refers to the practice of limiting the number of competing textures, colours and sizes within each separate landscape theme and is often expressed by the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetheart.

As strange as it seems, with so many trees, shrubs, and perennials to choose from, keeping it simple is a lot harder than it sounds. The big idea is to pick a theme and then choose two or three colours, textures or sizes, which are repeated throughout the landscape. A classic example of simplicity is found in the traditional English rose gardens, where the dominant feature is roses, with little else to complicate matters, except for an occasional fountain or park bench.

Even when a theme is selected, it is of utmost importance to group together plants which exhibit the similar characteristics. Randomly distributing masses of different shades and shapes can produce “botanical vomit”, a displeasing situation that can actually detract from the peace and tranquility that most gardens seek to create. The rule of thumb is that groups of different flowers should only be planted adjacent to one another is when their respective bloom periods do not overlap.

It if a more complex landscape is required, or more than one theme is desired in the same area, then it is necessary to create “rooms” where the individual gardens are separated by vegetative partitions that use hedges or vines to create the “walls”. Connecting two disparate gardens requires a “doorway” such as an arbour or two vertical pillars in order to visually prepare the viewer when moving from one contrasting motif to the next.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Town In Sakatchewan

February 18, 2008

Why do street hockey players have trouble focusing in later life? They have to reset their goals every time a car goes by!!

The goal of a landscape design is to establish a collection of horticultural and architectural elements that personifies the character of the homeowner and his family. Some of the principles utilized to create superior landscapes include unity, simplicity, and balance.

Landscape unity refers to the relationship of a house to its surrounding yard and can be broadly divided into two different motifs; formal and informal. Formal is best described as those designs that exhibit straight lines and right angles in all aspects of the construction. Most urban houses have horizontal parallel siding, right angle corners and square or rectangular windows. A log cabin or a stone house are both examples of informal construction because the lines created by the rock and the logs are irregular in nature.

In the horticultural world, uniform rows of trees in shelterbelt could be considered formal while random positioning of trees in a natural forest is a good example of an informal planting.

Mixing motifs can lead to as much disaster in a landscape as they can in interior design. Situating single or groups of informal boulders in front of a formal house looks as odd as combining Victorian chairs with a brass and glass table in the dining room. The positioning of dissimilar elements can actually make a yard look worse than doing nothing at all.

Unity can be achieved to creating harmony between the house and the landscape by using element styles in the yard such as height, size, texture and colour that closely matches that of the building.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Putting the Fun In Fundamentals

February 11, 2008

Why did students at the horticultural school coat the administrators with glue? They want to stick to their principals!!

The purpose of a landscape design is to blend the art of combining colours and textures with the science of plant propagation to achieve an aesthetically pleasing exterior that is an accurate reflection of the character of the homeowner and his family. A proper design is always built around the residents, not the residence.

Since the actual house is inanimate, it could care less what trees and shrubs surround it. The people who live in the house on the other hand, are extremely concerned about the specifics of the design because the landscape often represents the first impression that many visitors will have. Having a landscape architect compose a design based on the size of the lot and the shape of the house is like a doctor writing a prescription based on the fashion of your clothes and the style of your hair.

The first principle in designing a landscape should always involve discovering the specifics of the people who live in the house. Unlike gunfighters, a savvy designer always asks questions first, and draws later. It is absolutely imperative to ask and discuss a long list of questions regarding favorite colours and fragrances, allergies, pets, children, ages, work schedules, frequency and style of entertainment, amount of maintenance and a whole host more before even a single line is put on the plan.

By completing this rigorous questioning, the landscape designer is then able to offer ideas pertaining to the wants and needs of landlord that will maximized his or her enjoyment of the property for years to come.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lineman for the County

What happened when the tree touched the power line? It was a shocking experience!!

While many people establish shelterbelts to increase crop yield, reduce home heating costs and to provide habitat for birds and mammals, it is important to consider the proximity of overhead power lines before planting the first tree.

Since most rural overhead lines are not insulated, any conductive material that touches the wire will cause a short circuit from the line to the ground resulting in a brief intense discharge of power that can fatal to bystanders in the vicinity. While most of the electric company awareness campaign is directed at farmers moving tall farm machinery such as augers and implements, it is actually trees planted too close the power lines that cause most electrical disruptions. As surprising as it make seems, trees that grow into power lines cause more than 70,000 hours of outage per year

Although some high voltage wires can be as much as 50 feet above the ground, most rural service is carried on poles that rarely exceed 25 feet in height, making them easily reachable by most trees grown in north central Alberta, such as poplar spruce and pine.

To make matters worse, on rainy or extremely humid days, the tree does not actually have to touch the line to initiate electrical transfer. During conditions of high relative humidity, the electricity can actually arc over a distance of several feet from the line to the conductor in a similar fashion as an arc welder.

Therefore it is imperative that there is a minimum of four feet of daylight between the ultimate height of planted and the overhead line