Container Gardens (Sunny & Shady) in Chicago

I was so happy to create these shady and sunny container gardens for a repeat client in Chicago yesterday. (You can see what we did last year here and here.) The variety of color, foliage and blooms was so much fun to work with. Whenever I work on container gardens, I feel like an artist creating my masterpiece through the arrangement of the flowers and foliage. It’s great therapy too. 😉

This client has a shady area on her back deck and a sunny area near her front windows, so we used a variety of plants – some that grow well in the shade and some that thrive in sunny conditions. Whatever your light conditions are, there are plenty of beautiful (and colorful) options. Take a look at the pictures and let me know what you think!

shady deck container gardens

Pops of color even in the shade

shady deck container gardens

sunny window box container gardens

Sunny Window Box Container Garden

sunny window box container gardens

sunny window box container gardens

sunny window box container gardens

sunny window box container gardens

Love the variety of color in blooms & foliage

sunny window box container gardens

The view from inside

sunny window box container gardens

The view from outside – at times, a little scary hanging out that window, but we managed! 🙂

4 Seasons Recommends: The Hydrangea

hydrangeaHydrangea from my indoor garden

You probably recognize this type of non-hardy hydrangea from all of the garden stores and home centers. It’s a common indoor plant, especially around Mother’s Day. I love the hydrangea for more than just its blooming beauty though. This plant comes in a wide variety (many of which are suitable for outdoors) and can flourish in a wide range of light conditions. The adaptability and beauty of this plant make it one of my preferred choices for landscapes. Let’s take a look at some of the different varieties now.

hydrangea closeup

The non-hardy hydrangea is an indoor plant that brings loads of beautiful blooms right inside your home. This plant does best in indirect sunlight and usually requires consistent watering. The indoor variety is not as hardy as its outdoor counterparts and will eventually stop blooming. You can then replace it with a different indoor plant or a new hydrangea. This plant is nice for temporary decor or to give as a gift and is truly a beautiful blooming plant. Its outdoor varieties featured below are some of my favorites though, so please take a look!

Endless Summer Hydrangea, LurveysEndless Summer Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

Unlike the indoor hydrangea, the hardy hydrangea shrub that can be planted outdoors, is a very versatile, low maintenance plant that is suitable for almost any garden type. The hydrangea comes in a variety of colors and has a variety of bloom types as well. The lacecap hydrangea produces smaller berrylike blooms in the middle of larger flower blooms, giving it a lacy feel. Other hydrangeas come in a variety of shapes and colors and can accomodate almost any color scheme. My personal favorite is the Endless Summer Hydrangea because of its bright blue blooms (pictured below). Its vibrant spring color is hard to beat!

Lacecap Hydrangea, LurveysLacecap Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

One of my favorite ways to hide a fence or create a natural border for a garden is with the Climbing Hydrangea. Like most hydrangeas, this vine grows well in shade and full sun. Its versatility and beautiful blooms make it a favorite with many clients looking for a climbing plant.

Climbing Hydrangea, LurveysClimbing Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The Oakleaf Hydrangea is another one of my favorite shrubs because of its versatility and year round interest. Producing the characteristically beautiful hydrangea blooms in the spring, and brick red foliage in the fall, it’s red peeling bark add to this shrub’s year round interest. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is a generally low maintenance shrub which grows well in shade to full sun, making it also a very versatile plant.

Oakleaf Hydrangea, fall, LurveysOakleaf Hydrangea in the fall [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The Pee Wee Hydrangea and Munchkin Hydrangea are smaller versions of the hydrangea shrub that are great for compact gardens. The color choices for these shrubs is not as prolific as with the regular hydrangeas, but they are just as versatile and the blooms are just as beautiful. This is a great choice for a small garden, especially in the city where extra space can sometimes be a rare commodity.

Pee Wee Hydrangea, LurveysPee Wee Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

Hydrangeas can also be trained to grow in dwarf tree form, which can be purchased at your local nursery. These dwarf trees have the traditional spire blooms of the hydrangea but have been trained to have a stump and more treelike shape. It’s an untraditional look for the hydrangea that will certainly add unique interest to your landscape.

Hydrangea Tree, LurveysHydrangea Tree [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The variety and versatility of the hydrangea is almost unmatched. Regardless of the light conditions of your yard and the size of your space, the hydrangea is a great choice for almost every landscape!

Getting Ready for Summer Entertaining: Spruce Up Your Outdoor Patio

Spring is finally here! That means it’s the perfect time to start thinking about barbecues and summer entertaining outdoors. Here are a few key ways you can spruce up your backyard patio so that you’ll be ready for your first BBQ in no time. I found this helpful article on Houzz (while you’re there, check out my new professional Houzz profile!) that made me reminisce about all of my experiences sprucing up the patios of my own clients through the years. Here are some of the things I learned and some of the beautiful backyard spaces I enjoyed creating for them.

After you’ve given the patio an overall cleaning, swept, removed dead plants and any junk or debris left from last year or the winter, think about the overall look you want to create in your space. Are you fond of a certain color scheme or style? You can use the internet, take a stroll through a garden center, or hire a professional (wink, wink) to help you with the process of choosing plants that will compliment your taste and light conditions well. It is also important to consider the level of care you have time for and are willing to give to your plants.

rooftop01_a6

Adding container plants to the corners of your space can do a lot to soften the look of your patio while also adding pops of color and beauty to the space. I loved working on this client’s rooftop deck because I was able to add so much color through the variety of plants and different containers. If you need help choosing which plants are best for the light conditions of your yard, don’t hesitate to call and schedule a free estimate!

rooftop01_a3

Creating a border of container plants can define the edges, soften the look of a fence or even act as a fence alternative. I have created a variety of plant borders through the years for different clients. This client and I were able to choose plants that brought an understated elegance to their space that they (and I) love. I also made this space into a “moon garden” consisting of all white blooming plants that have a glowing effect in the moonlight.

backyard06_a3

Vines and trellises are another great way to hide or camouflage a fence. There are many varieties of beautiful vines and climbing flowers that can accomodate shady or sunny spaces. It should be easy to find one that would suit your taste and light conditions.

backyard_17

In this same rooftop deck I did for a client, we were able to create different spaces with the layout of the containers. It suited their needs and turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself.

rooftop01_a1

Here’s to another fun summer filled with family, friends and lots of backyard BBQs! I hope these few tips helped you think about how you can get your back patio ready for summer entertaining and maybe even gave you a little inspiration! Don’t forget to leave me any questions or comments below. I appreciate your feedback!