Creating Your Garden Wish List - Part 2

Creating Your Garden Wish List
Part 2 – Getting specific and turning your dreams into reality

by Janet Ennamorato, Creative Garden Designs Inc.

When creating your garden wish list, dreaming is great, but it is best to keep your dreams grounded in reality. Think of your day-to-day life and how your garden can enhance the things you love to do.
It is often helpful to jot down your ideas; make a list that you can refer to as you go through the process. This list should include:

•    Your desired theme or style - country garden, formal and ornate, french provincial, Zen, contemporary;
•    Reconsider the traditional thought of a manicured lawn; do you need or want this?  There are alternatives;
•    Landscape lighting - for those evening parties or simply to extend your personal use of the garden at night;
•    All season appeal - elements to keep your garden looking great in every season: garden plant structure/ornamentation and seasonal plantings;
•    Colour in the garden or a more subdued pallet?
•    Every garden needs a focal point, what should it be? A water feature, a fire pit, a beautiful garden sculpture?

•    Consider the sun, shade, soil quality and drainage conditions of your outdoor spaces. What is your plant hardiness zone? How will these affect your plant choices?

•    Is privacy important?  What garden elements can help you meet this need?
•    What specific structures do you wish to include?...a swimming pool, cabana, gazebo, pergola, privacy screens, a deck, stone patio or other masonry features?
•    How about an outdoor sound system, an outdoor kitchen, playground equipment, a pond, fountains or other water features?
•    Do you wish to invite nature into your garden? Are you interested in encouraging birds, butterflies and pollinators such as bees to visit?
•    Is an environmentally sustainable garden part of your dream? Fusion landscaping involves efforts to preserve rain water, reduce storm water runoff and the introduction of native plants and natural habitats for birds, bees and butterflies.

There is a lot to think about when pulling together your wish list! But by going through this process you will be in a position to begin considering the specific plants that you like and the specific structures and accessories that will complete your vision. In fact, you will have already done most of the work by creating a framework the narrows down your choices and slots them into your priority needs.
All that is required now is for you to explore online sites and offline resources such as books and magazines to find the specific items that you like and are consistent with the wish list framework you have established. And don’t hesitate to visit home and garden shows or nurseries during the off-season to help you out.
The final stage of the planning process will involve putting all of your choices together into a landscape “blueprint”. Here you may consider enlisting the help of a landscape designer, landscape architect or expert staff at a garden centre. At a minimum, they can provide you with a general plan and help with scheduling. If you choose, they can also provide you with a detailed design, timeline, budget and help find a contractor to bring your dream to life.

When approached the right way, this entire process can be great fun and should certainly not be overwhelming. In fact, much of the enjoyment of gardening and landscaping can come from this planning stage. It can excite you about new possibilities and provide you with a road map for practically achieving what you really desire. With proper planning there is no reason why you can’t bring your wish list to life and realize the garden of your dreams!

Janet Ennamorato is a Landscape Designer who has been working in the Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara Regions for more than 20 years. She is President of Creative Garden Designs Inc. and a board member on several committees of the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Association. Janet is also the current Chair of Canada Blooms, Canada’s national garden show. She holds degrees from the University of Toronto and from Ryerson University in Landscape Architecture and has been certified both as a Green Roof and Fusion Landscape Professional.