Mar 202015

Rose in the Rain

by Avis Licht

I have many favorite times of the year in the garden. What’s looking beautiful, (Roses in late Spring) what smells great, (Lilacs and Jasmine in early Spring), what’s ripe (everything in every season!), how the ground smells after a rain. Almost every day brings something new to enjoy in the garden. BUT, I have to say the Spring Equinox holds the most promise and excitement for me.

After the dark and cold of winter, (which was not very dark or cold this year), the excitement of Spring, with its promise of buds, new leaves, green hills, even the weeds jumping for joy out of the earth, holds a special place in my heart.  If ever there was a time for Hope, this is it. The sun rises a little earlier each day and sets a little later. There is more light, more growth, more Potential – for the garden and for us. Change happens in spite of us, and sometimes hopefully, because of us.

Here are a few photos from my Equinoxial Garden. HAPPY SPRING.  Let’s get growing!

Douglas Iris

This Douglas Iris is native to the California Coast. I love it.


Marvel of Four Seasons Lettuce – under protection from the birds.

Chard Stalks

Rays of red light are rainbow chard stalks


Broccoli in a pot. Even the smallest patio can have beautiful vegetables.


row cover and drip irrigation

My broccoli babies. In warm weather you can cover your beds with row covers, and irrigate with drip irrigation

Lettuce seedlings under grow lights

Seedlings get started early under grow lights.


Borage in the rain

Borage in the rain



Feb 242014

by Avis Licht

A curved path creates wonder and surprise. You can't see what's around the corner

A curved path creates expectation and surprise. You can’t see what’s around the corner.

When designing your garden, in addition to the obvious considerations of sun, soil and site, you want to make it beautiful  with harmonious color and form and movement . To this I want to add Expectation and Surprise.

I was happily reminded of this when a friend took me on a new hike. She said it was special.

We went to an ordinary looking trailhead and walked up the dirt road through the trees and across the hills.  At a certain point we came to a place in the road that had recently been worked on, with very large stones laid at the edge of the road. Two small seasonal creeks came together and went under the road through a culvert as is common here. Before going across the road my friend turned hard right down a trail.

“Where are you going?” “Just follow me,” she said. So I did.  After just a short walk down into the woods, we turned around, looking back to the road – excuse the phrase – Lo and Behold! we saw the most amazing stone egg sculpture set under the road and surrounded by a 360 degree circle of stones.  The sculpture was more than 6 feet tall.

The surprise was enormous and added to the joy of the vision in front of us. It was so out of the ordinary and so unexpected that we couldn’t stop exclaiming.

Andy Goldsworthy Egg

The Surprise in the Culvert

Although we cannot all present a surprise of an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture on our property, we can surprise our visitors with unexpected beauty and form. A fragrance, a place to sit, a view that is slightly hidden and then unfolds is a sweet gift.

Imagination and Surprise

Imagination and Surprise


Sep 282011
Fountain provides the sound of water

Fountain provides the sound of water

When designing  a garden, you want to consider all your senses.  In this  post on landscape design I talk about landscaping for all your senses:  sight, smell, hearing and taste.

The first sense is visual. What looks pleasing can vary widely between people.  Some people prefer clean, formal lines, some prefer the wild and wooly chaos of a natural setting.  And there’s everything in between. When designing your own yard, be sure to look at magazines and books with gardens.  You’ll find that certain styles will really appeal to you.  You’ll keep coming back to the same type of garden.  Take these design elements and work them into your  landscape.  You may live in Portland and love the Southwest desert look, and in that case you’ll have to make some real adjustments in plant choice. But you can still get the Feel of the southwest.

Paths leading you into the garden

An informal garden with paths leading you through the gate

Designing for smell let’s you consider plants  that have wonderful  fragrance.  Many vines such as jasmine, clematis and roses can transport you to another world as you walk under an arbor.  Bulbs such as narcissus can naturalize in informal areas and provide cut flowers.  Night scented plants such as Datura and Nicotiana will do their work after the sun has set, and while you’re sitting quietly on your deck.

A trellis planted with fragrant vines

A trellis planted with fragrant vines is wonderful to sit under

Shrubs such as Daphne odora, Mock Orange and Citrus can be reliable evergreen shrubs that look good all year long in the garden and when they bloom provide heavenly smells.

Be sure to find places in the yard for fragrance, but don’t put competing plants in the same place.  Some folks find too much odor overwhelming.

When thinking about the sense of hearing there are different kinds of sounds to consider. For some folks, sounds of cars, traffic, trains, trucks can be a problem and the challenge is to mask these sounds.  To do this you can create dense hedges, walls or build a fountain with moving water.  These methods can help, but not always completely hide your problems

The sounds we want to encourage are bird song, wind rustling throughsoft leaves and sometimes the sound of moving water. When planting, be sure to create habitat for your song birds with shrubs and trees that encourage them to feed and nest nearby.

Finally, we come to the sense of taste.  For the Edible Landscape that surely should rise right to the top of our list.  The other day one of my sons came home after a long time away and started eating his way through the garden, starting with an apple from the tree along the path, then in delight he looked down and saw some ripe strawberries. He headed further along and started right in on the heirloom tomatoes.  I mean it was really funny watching him load up before he ever got in the front door.


Who can resist a ripe strawberry?

Food in the garden doesn’t always mean going into the vegetable garden.  With beautiful edibles in the landscaped portion of your yard, folks slow down to look and taste what’s there.  It’s fun and excuse me for adding, healthy too!

A quick review reminds you that when designing your yard, put in plants that feed  ALL your senses, eyes, ears, nose and mouth.


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