About Karen Chapman

A total plantaholic; I just can't resist! I've also learned that dark nail polish hides soil beautifully....

Posts by Karen Chapman:

WIN my NEW Container Gardening Course & MORE!

 

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Click on the image for a course trailer, details and more

I’m so excited to announce the launch of my BRAND NEW online  class Container Gardening to Suit Your Style, filmed for Garden Gate magazine earlier this year. This class goes far beyond the basics of teaching about soils and fertilizers although I do cover that. I teach you to understand and interpret the key characteristics of SIX unique design styles, planting up examples of each, including waterwise, tropical, and contemporary. The downloadable Resources offer even more ideas for plants you may want to explore as well as full planting plans.

You’ll own the class forever, can watch it whenever you like, on any device. You can even ask questions via a private Facebook Group that will be set up for students to share their questions, successes and more.

Intrigued?

Watch this trailer and get a sneak peek at the content and designs!

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Click on the image to view a video trailer and read all about the course

I’m sometimes asked what my favorite tools and products are for container gardening. I thought that was such a great question that we made a video to show you! Click on the image below to hear what I said.

Click on the image to learn about my Top Tools for Container Gardening

Click on the image to learn about my Top Tools for Container Gardening

Here are the links for the key products I featured in case you want to put then on Santa’s wish list!

MooPoo tea

DeWit garden fork

DeWit garden trowel

(Gift set of 3 DeWit garden tools)

Corona comfort gel bypass pruners

Hori-hori knife

Basic feed scoop

V-shaped scoop

Enter to Win!

Enter to Win!

‘Tis the season of giving, so in that spirit and to celebrate the launch of this class I’d like to offer one lucky winner my course for FREE & a sampler pack of MooPoo tea, alfalfa tea for roses and horse manure compost tea from Authentic Haven Brand !! If you watched the trailer on my Top Tools & Products you’ll know this was featured and I never start the gardening season without checking I have a good stock on hand!

To enter just leave a comment below and tell me which design style appeals to you the most: year-round beauty, contemporary, waterwise, soft & romantic, big, bold & beautiful or Asian inspired. You may have got some ideas from watching the main video trailer….

I’ll draw the winner at 9pm PT on Tuesday December 12th  2017 and notify them by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email (by 9pm Thursday December 14th) after which an alternate name will be drawn. Comments left on social media will not count.

If you just can’t wait ….

or would like to buy this course as a gift for the container gardener in your life, you can get $50 off the full price by entering the coupon code KCHAPMAN at checkout. Incidentally that is the BEST price I have seen – so take advantage of the opportunity!! You can get details and purchase HERE.

Good luck everyone  – I’m excited to play Santa!

CONGRATULATIONS to the winner Cecilia who has been notified!

 

 

Your 2018 Gardener’s Gift Guide

Carefully curated gifts for the garden lovers in your life.

For the Book Lover

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You can’t possibly go wrong with this; five star reviews, recommended by the Royal Horticulture Society, sold in all the best bookstores and botanical gardens:  Gardening with Foliage First (Timber Press, 2017) is suitable for beginners or experienced gardeners alike. I can even send you signed bookplates to include if you order soon! Just email me with your mailing address and tell me how many you need.

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This may be called a magazine, but I can tell you Garden Design most definitely comes into the ‘book’ category in terms of quality, stunning photography, in depth articles and lack of advertisements. Order a subscription as a gift and you’ll get FIVE issues for the cost of FOUR when you use this link or call (855) 624-5110 Monday – Friday, 8 – 5 PST and mention this offer.

 

For the Container Gardener

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My brand new online course  Container Gardening to Suit Your Style launches on December 4th and can be purchased as a gift  for yourself or a friend! With over two hours of ‘watch when you like’ instruction, plant lists, resources and interaction with other students and myself in a private group, this is a fun way to gain confidence and improve your skills as a designer. Suitable for all levels of experience from beginner to professional.

Full details of this Garden Gate magazine course plus a video trailer can be found  HERE. (Once you enter the basic email information you’ll be taken to the purchase page where you have the option to purchase this as a gift).

And as a special gift to MY readers and subscribers, I’m giving you a $50 discount!! Just enter KCHAPMAN as a coupon code.

 

For the Urban Homesteader

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We all know someone who keeps chickens, has bees, or grows vegetables – check out the many useful and fun gifts that Stumpdust has to offer. Honey pots, garden tools and chicken ornaments are just a few of these handcrafted gifts turned from salvaged wood in our very own barn here in Duvall, WA. Yes, that’s right, the Stumpdust Santa is non other than my super-talented husband Andy. He has even agreed to offer friends of Le jardinet a special discount. Type the coupon code SANTA10 at checkout to receive 10% off your order of $75 or more. Coupon expires December 7th so don’t wait too long!

For the Garden Photographer

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As digital cameras  have become easier to use and less expensive, more and more gardeners have discovered the delight of taking high quality photos of their gardens to create cards, e-books, wall art, or simply to share with friends.

A tripod is an indispensable piece of camera kit, enabling you not only to avoid camera shake, but also to take superior low-light shots and frame up the scene in a more deliberate way. I LOVE my lightweight, super-portable MeFoto RoadTrip tripod. It fits easily into my carry-on or can be strapped to my camera back pack, is sturdy enough to manage my 18-135mm lens, is fully adjustable AND even converts quickly into a monopod for those scenarios when there isn’t room for a full tripod (think garden tours, narrow paths…). Lots of pretty colors too! Highly recommended and great value.

 

Congratulations – shopping complete! Time for a cup of tea and a warm mince pie.

Disclaimer: this post contains some affiliate links

Lessons from Chanticleer – when a Path becomes an Experience

The Teacup Garden features exotic plantings

The Teacup Garden features  plantings with a tropical flair

Have you ever visited a garden that literally took your breath away? The sun was barely cresting the horizon when I drove into Chanticleer Garden, affording the merest glimpse of what I would ultimately see. Although I had enjoyed slide presentations, photographic blog posts, and books on this unique place I still gasped a little as I entered the renowned Teacup Garden.

Yet as a designer I was looking for more than just photo opportunities – I was looking for ideas that the home gardener could glean and re-interpret to suit their budget and style, and that is where Chanticleer both excels and sets itself apart. So with that in mind, I’ve distilled my 500 images down to a handful to illustrate some of the many design tips that inspired me, focusing in this post in what is often overlooked for artistic expression – paths.

Pathways

The simplest path can be made more interesting by the addition of a sweeping curve

The simplest path can be made more interesting by the addition of a sweeping curve

Every garden needs paths as a means of getting from A to B. Whether utilitarian (getting the garbage cans to the sidewalk), leisurely strolling paths or directional (the primary path leading guests to the front door for example), there is an opportunity to add a level of detail and artistry.

Obscuring the final destination by curving the path and adding billowing plantings adds intrigue as shown in the photo above.

If the path necessitates a more abrupt change of direction, why not enhance that? In the photo below, notice how the spiral theme is repeated on the low stone wall, the pavers and the handrail. The introduction of new materials (stone pavers cut into the path) adds interest which is especially appreciated since one needs to slow down to turn the corner.

Why merely turn a corner when you can do this?

Why merely turn a corner when you can do this?

Incorporating new materials or a design element at a transition in the path can also help visitors find their way, such as the circle detail indicating a side path to the Tennis Court Garden. Notice how this secondary path continues in pavers, again distinguishing its purpose.

The circular motif makes it clear that this is an intersection

The circular motif makes it clear that this is an intersection

Bridges

What happens when your path needs to cross a seasonal stream, dry creek bed or culvert? Do you head to the nearest box store for the ubiquitous Japanese style bridge? Chanticleer designs and creates far more exciting ideas to get us thinking of the possibilities!

The stone-topped bridge shown below is in the Asian Woods. Notice the bamboo-inspired detail on the railing. This combination of metal and wood craftsmanship is a recurring theme at Chanticleer.

Asian-inspired brudge

Asian-inspired bridge

In another area, the organic form of the surrounding forest inspired these trunk-like posts. Notice the cobble detail in the pathway enhancing the experience and transition.

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Tree-like posts support the railing on this bridge

 

Steps

Changes in elevation necessitate a series of steps or a ramp. Once again Chanticleer seizes the opportunity to add artistic detail.

The Gravel Garden was alive with color and movement when I visited late October. Billowing clouds of pink muhly grass competed with bold stands of seedheads from black eyed Susan’s (Rudbeckia sp.) for my attention, as did architectural specimens such as beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata) and late blooming asters. Clearly I was not looking where my feet were going – my head was on a swivel!

Glorious color and exciting textures in the Gravel Garden

Glorious color and exciting textures in the Gravel Garden

This garden is carved out of a hillside. The designers at Chanticleer knew they needed a clear, safe path to navigate the steep, rocky terrain – but they also knew how to make it beautiful.

Creating a journey - not just a path

Creating a journey – not just a path

Wide, shallow steps, clearly defined by stone ledges help the distracted visitor explore the garden with ease, while the casually curved route transforms this from a flight of steps to a memorable experience.

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View of part of the Gravel Garden from above

Plants are allowed to encroach lightly onto the pathway, softening the hardscape  while the choice of materials integrates the steps into the gravel-topped landscape.

Steeper flights of steps may need a handrail – an opportunity for the Chanticleer artisans to get creative once again. Just one of many examples is depicted below, organic plant forms inspiring the design.

Creating a journey, not just a pathway

Inspired design

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Fern fronds, woodland mushrooms – and a snail adorn the base of this delightful railing

Chanticleer is not just a garden. Every detail, every moment is memorable. Yes, there are wide open vistas, remarkable foliage combinations, pleasant walks, colorful flower-filled borders, an inspiring vegetable garden, reflecting pools, portals, outstanding use of ‘borrowed views’ and axial sight lines. Chanticleer is all that and more. It is an experience.

When to Visit

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Notice the detail on the bench that overlooks the cutting and vegetable gardens….

I was fortunate to be able to visit before the gardens closed for the winter and am grateful to my friends Bill Thomas and Dan Benarcik for granting me early morning access. The gardens re-open to the public on March 28th 2018. Full details and directions here

Perfect Holiday Gift

This is a garden you need to visit often. Check out the website to get a sense of what each season offers – and still expect to be surprised.

If you live within easy traveling distance of Wayne, Pennsylvania, I recommend you treat yourself and a friend to a 2018 season pass.

Live farther away? I love their latest book The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer (Timber Press, 2015). It would be a truly inspiring gift for any occasion and any gardener and is choc-full of dreamy photos by the talented Rob Cardillo. Use my affiliate link to find out more and to save a few pennies:

The Little Purple House

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There are whimsical gardens and then there is Lucinda Hutson’s “Texican” garden – an unapologetic explosion of color that is pure FIESTA. Brought up in El Paso, Texas she regularly traveled to Mexico and central America whose colors and traditions continue to influence her. Lucinda loves to make everday life a fiesta and encourages others to do the same, whether it’s with festive cocktails…vibrant garden-to-plate dishes…or creative design ideas from her “Texican” artisan cottage and gardens.

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Set amid a row of more typical Austin homes, the vivid purple facade of her 1940’s cottage offers a hint at what lies both within and beyond but nothing could have prepared me for the extravagance of lush tropical vines and billowing flowers that both framed and engulfed a series of garden rooms.

The front garden was a jungle of rampant plant growth where dozens of flitting butterflies added to the vibrant display.Of course Lucinda had to take this a step farther and introduce her  own life-size version….

A guardian butterfly flutters in the breeze

A guardian butterfly flutters in the breeze

I wonder if Lucinda ever takes a moment to bushwhack her way to this cozy nook and contemplate her magical kingdom?

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Themed vignettes

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Succulents reminiscent of seaweed frame a mermaid, swimming in a seashell adorned grotto

Each themed room was reminiscent of a fantastical sidewalk painting, straight from Mary Poppins. My hurried snapshots, taken on an intensely sunny day cannot even begin to do justice to these kaleidoscopic displays but I’ve given you some great links at the end of this post which include Lucinda’s own images taken in optimal lighting. Be sure to enjoy those!

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Decorative plates edge the kitchen garden

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Every party needs music!

One of Lucinda’s offices is in the garden. Opening the door is an invitation to enter her Stairway to Heaven, a remarkable mosaic showpiece.

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“Stairway to Heaven”

Colored walls

Heading deeper into the back garden a cluster of buildings painted in equally bold colors provide Lucinda a series of additional canvases for her artistic touch

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Colorful oil cloth was used to cover these shelves, instantly waking up the dark purple wall

A weathered wooden curio cabinet holds

A weathered wooden curio cabinet holds Mexican tiles

 

One of my favorite wall displays was the collection of Mexican children’s chairs, which Lucinda uses to perch tools or coffee cups as the need arises.

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Using vines

Vines play an important role in this garden, taking the eye skywards while introducing more color and framing scenes.

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Bougainvillea catching the morning sun

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Why grow one vine up a birdhouse when you can grow two????

The perfect color echo

The perfect color echo

Tiny details

No opportunity is lost to add party flair.

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If you’d like to learn more about Lucinda, and see fabulous photos of all her garden check out her website.

You may also enjoy her book Viva Tequila!, a festive blend of inspired recipes for fabulous drinks and dishes, lively personal anecdotes, spicy cultural history, and colorful agave folk art proverbs and lore. It would make a wonderful gift for the party lover in your life, or anyone interested in anthropology. Check out my affiliate link below:

Best Drought Tolerant Perennials & Annuals – that are Deer Resistant Too!

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A corner of my fall garden featuring reliable deer resistant and drought tolerant selections

Still stinging from your last water bill? Good news! As promised in my last post on drought tolerant trees and shrubs, here is my report on those annuals and perennials that came through our crazy 2017 PNW summer with style. That means they coped with:

  • three months without rain
  • no irrigation or hand watering (although annuals received water every few days for the first month after they were planted)
  • clay soil that bakes dry like a river bed in summer
  • many weeks with 80′ – 90′ temperatures and several days over 100′
  • daily visits from hungry, inquisitive deer
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My front garden features a broad selection of drought tolerant, deer resistant plants including many of those recommended here

All the plants listed were planted in the ground – not containers.

Perennials

Arkansas blue star (Amsonia hubrichtii)

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Mingling with Petite Licorice (Helichysum petiolare ‘Petite Licorice’)

What can I say? It is outstanding. if you see it – buy it. Buy lots. At least three – or thirty. Plant, stand back and wait for three years. Then thank me. Details and lots of great photos here. Combination ideas in our latest book Gardening with Foliage First.

Kudos Mandarin hyssop (Agastache ‘Kudos Mandarin’)

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I have grown many varieties of hyssop over the years (Agastache sp.) but few survive my  clay soil that bakes in summer and becomes a sticky goo in winter, so I consider them  annuals in my garden. Kudos Mandarin hyssop surprised me – all of last years plants returned with vigor! The hummingbirds and I were most impressed. You will be too.

Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

Love, love, love this perennial that self seeds politely in gravel or soil and creates a magical scrim effect in the garden. Looks fabulous no matter where it lands but I especially love it in combination with orange flowers. The photos above depict it combined with butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and Flasher daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Flasher’). In another part of the garden I have it with an orange blooming cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa ‘Bella Sol’).

Details for this fabulous perennial here and check out the combination called Golden Threads in Gardening with Foliage First for  ideas too. WARNING: This has been listed as invasive in some areas – check before planting.

Zagreb tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’)

IMG_4503 I have several varieties of tickseed in the garden but Zagreb is my favorite for its feathery green foliage that turns gold in fall and its sunny yellow daisies.

Sea holly (Eryngium sp.)

I need more of these! Of those shown I currently have all but the last two in my garden. Here’s the rundown: Sapphire Blue (Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’) is my favorite for color and its gentle self-seeding which gives me free plants (- have to love that)! I do like Neptune’s Gold (Eryngium xzabelli ‘Neptune’s Gold’) for the chartreuse foliage but the leaves seems to get a fungal disease mid-summer and I have to cut them back which is disappointing. I wonder if other gardeners/areas fare better? Jade Frost (Eryngium planum ‘Jade Frost’) has lovely variegated foliage but I am noticing some reversion. The delicate flowers are attractive though. Rattlesnake master is a different species (Eryngium yuccifolium) and looks stunning! Best for the middle of a border as it is taller and the lower leaves can get significant slug damage if not controlled. Wonderful architectural plant.

On my serious wish list is Silver Ghost (Eryngium giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’), seen in Portland and totally lust-worthy! Also shown is one that I suspect is Miss. Wilmott’s Ghost -(Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’) the classic I first grew in England. (Feel free to correct my ID though if you recognize nuances I’ve missed).

Overall the beauty of this species to me is that although they would be happier in sandier soil, they  thrive in my clay garden with minimal care – even in half day rather than all day sun. Drier climates can enjoy the seed heads well into winter too (Hint: there are two fabulous combinations in our book Gardening with Foliage First that showcase Sapphire Blue and our book cover shot/combination includes Neptune’s Gold!).

Blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.)

These have surprised me. I grew the first two varieties (Arizona Sun and Arizona Apricot)   from seed last year and enjoyed them in my vegetable garden where they went from seed to gallon sized, blooming plants in less than six months. You can read about them and get design ideas here. This year I transplanted most of them to other areas of the landscape where they were subject to tough love i.e. no water and lots of deer. A few didn’t like being transplanted but most did just fine and looked fabulous despite benign neglect – and clay soil! (We’ll see what happens this winter in the clay soil though – that may be the kiss of death) I don’t have Fanfare Blaze (the last photo) in my garden but included it as it is just so darn pretty!! A friend had this in her container last year and both the color and petal form was really eye catching – another one for my wish list!

Whirling Butterflies (Gaura lindheimerii ‘Whirling Butterflies’)

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A haze of blooming Whirling Butterflies surrounds a glass birdbath created by Seattle artist Jesse Kelly

For sheer flower power and pure romance in the garden you can’t beat Whirling Butterflies. The slender stalks of blooms dance in the slightest breeze, forming an enchanting scrim effect that is utterly feminine. They would prefer sandier soil but cope with mine. In fall I trim lightly to about 24″ then put up with the less than attractive stalks all winter. In spring when I’m sure there are no more frosts likely I cut down to the uppermost bud – or about 12″ if I want to manage the mature size (which can be at least 4′ tall in my garden). Blooming starts late May and the plants still have lots of flowers even now in early October.

Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’)

A ‘must have’ for every shade garden – you NEED Jack Frost! And yes there is a fabulous combination idea in Gardening with Foliage First.

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Silvery stems, fragrant leaves and blue flowers. Lots of named varieties of Russian sage to choose from with varying heights to suit every site. I treat pruning the same way as my whirling butterflies (Gaura sp. )above.

Other honorable mentions:

Variegated lemon thyme, hardy succulents, sedges (Carex sp.), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Annuals

Spider Flower (Cleome sp.)

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Taller varieties of spider flower are great for filling a gap at the back of a border during summer. Shorter varieties work well for the front of the border. Attract bees and butterflies and make great cut flowers too.

Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare)

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Seen here with Lime Glow barberry (in its remarkable rosy fall color)

I rely on this inexpensive annual for a rabbit resistant, deer resistant, drought tolerant summer groundcover in my large garden. One 4″ plant can quickly fill a space at least 3′ x 3′. Several varieties including a soft lemon-yellow and a mini-leaved form. There is a great idea for this in our book Gardening with Foliage First too! Details of this annual here

Rockin’ Playin’ the Blues sage (Salvia longispicata x farinacea ‘Rockin’ Playin’ the Blues’)

I haven’t grown a sage yet that isn’t drought tolerant and deer resistant, but this annual from Proven Winners was a new variety for me to test this year and I give it full marks for appearance, bloom power and low maintenance. At a glance it is similar to the well known Victoria Blue, but it’s stature is greater and color deeper. Looking at the hardiness rating this may be a perennial for many – but an annual for me. Loved it as part of an informal floral meadow effect in the front garden this year (second photo above).

Honorable mention

Jasmine alata, Jasmine tobacco (Nicotiana alata ) – an heirloom variety with unforgettable jasmine-type perfume in the evening.

Save money on your water bill next year by replacing your thirstier plants with these~

Resources

You may have noticed our book Gardening with Foliage First mentioned a few times….. Seriously if you haven’t got this yet, why not? There are 127 great ideas in there! Buy one for your BFF for Christmas while you’re at it!

For more ideas on drought tolerant plants do refer back to my last blog post which includes links to several other outstanding books that cover different parts of the country.

For more ideas on deer resistant plants, Ruth’s book is a great start:

You’ll have to wait for MY next book on Deer Resistant Drama (working title only) for inspirational deer resistant gardens from across the country (Timber Press, 2019). Be sure you sign up for my newsletters to hear when it is released.

 

Note: These Amazon affiliate links save YOU money – and earn me a few pennies