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Garden Design Ideas and DIY a build-grow-salad-garden

Hi Friends,
I don't know about you, but I love gardening. This year, since the chickens have arrived, I'd been at a loss as to how to go about the design of the garden in the back. I'd like to incorporate a few styles and blend them to create the perfect outdoor oasis for our family and pets. 

"Design—key plant elements or qualities (size, form, texture, color) in one of more design principles (size, form, texture, repetition, balance)
--Whether form or function depends on primary purpose, often both
Design for function
--Physical (wildlife, fragrance, edible, herbs, erosion control, a monastery garden of herbs or other)
--Mental (plants found in the Bible, in Shakespeare, a collection of a specific genus, or plants and structures to provide amusement and education for kids)
--Locations (foundation plantings, hiding corners, or along a fence or walk)
--Ecological (rock gardens and wetland or bog gardens)
Design for form/style
--Based on choice of plants, hardscape materials
--Reflective of place and time, so of cultural conditions
--Should fit site—aesthetics, culture—otherwise out of place, high maintenance, low sustainability" Leonard Perry, Extension Professor LINK

Here are a few ideas I am looking at:

One of the most copied and popular styles; follows very prescribed rules as with bonsai, reflecting control of man over nature; often around are lantern structures, bamboo water feature, zig-zag bridge, arched red wooden bridge, tea house and similar structures, pond, koi fish, waterfall or stream, clipped plants as in bonsai; often used are pines, azalea.

Often design elements, as in Penjin, reflect man in collaboration with nature; when seen, are often gardens and structures typical of Ming Dynasty (mid 1300s-mid1600s); levels, mountains, lake often with island or "boat" structure, waterways or waterfalls, temples in larger gardens; intricate detail and patterns in paintings on structures and in paving; founded on principles of feng shui, and often designed as a painting; focus is on rocks and water, then architecture, lastly plants

generally characterized by mass use of tough perennials like Autumn Joy Sedum, Goldsturm Rudbeckia, and ornamental grasses, popularized in the 1980s by Oehme and van Sweden; includes other styles such as historic and cottage gardens, or regional such as Southwest or Northwest; basically very diverse reflecting diverse cultures and regions

Can bring up various images, from the natural-appearing landscapes of Capability Brown of the 18th century (focusing more on large scenes and mass plantings of trees with ponds and sweeping vistas), to formal borders (often a result of using abandoned walled gardens in the 19th century and 20th), to cottage gardens (popularized by Gertrude Jekyll in the late 1800s). 

Italian/Mediterranean (including Spain)
Characterized by very columnar conifers, stonework structures and fountains, containers with flowering plants or citrus; pastel colors in pots, paving, structures and even plants; sometimes cactus and succulents in warmer areas; trees such as olives, grapes, bougainvillea, sunflowers, lavender, rosemary and similar plants for hot and dry climates  http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/pubs/oh75design.htm

 Here is a great HOW TO ~ DIY for building a box to grow a salad. I like this idea for the balcony or even for an area where plants are hard to grow. I have a North side that is barren and just won't take anything but weeds. I think a few of these along the wall will work just great! Inter planted and rotated so that some fresh leafy lettuce, spinach, bunching onions, radishes, and tomatoes are always growing from Spring through Fall.

Investigate your own garden "type" and add some new elements, plants and fruit trees for visual effect. The added bonus is more delicious home grown foods!! 

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