Q&A - Birch Tunnel

Have a question? Want more frequent updates? We’d love to hear from you! Read more here and write us in the comments or at mosaic@mosaic-gardens.com.

Last week, Brooke left a very nice comment and a couple of good questions:

I am in love with the birch tree tunnel -- how beautiful! What type of birch trees are those? What is the system that is holding them up? How would one go about replicating this amazing design?

The trees are good old Betula jacquemontii, or Whitebarked Himilayan Birch, a fairly common landscape tree in our area.  In this shadier area of the garden, we wanted the trunks of the trees to stand out, and this birch had both the eye-catching light bark and the tolerance for cool, moist (but well-drained) soils that we needed.  We should note that this is the first time we've used this tree for this application, so it isn't yet "proven," but, as you can see, so far so good!

The structures are round steel tubes that we had bent to a specified radius.  Believe it or not, there are shops dedicated just to bending metal!  If you wanted to replicate an arch like this, you can talk to a pipe bending company or you may have better luck a local metalworker who can oversee the project for you (most pipe benders are not accustomed to working with homeowners).  Alternately, you may be able to carefully fabricate a supporting structure from a smaller diameter metal, such as rebar, but it is very difficult to get and keep a perfect curve and straight sides.  No matter what your method, be sure to make the "legs" of your arch extra long, in order to sink them below grade in concrete.

Design-wise, this is obviously not a new concept.  For centuries, landscape designers have understood the power of focusing attention with geometry, and our take on the allee is nothing new.  When considering a feature with this aesthetic weight, it is vital to get your lines just right.  Make sure your "tunnel" is straight and centered, and carefully consider the views or focal points at the ends.

This is our only allee, but the balance of soft and hard lines in a metal arch can create a striking effect in many spaces.  Below are a couple more photos of arches we have created.  If you missed it, you can get another view of the arches in our last post.

Thanks for the questions, Brooke!





Q&A - photo request

Have a question? Want more frequent updates? We’d love to hear from you! Read more here and write us in the comments or at mosaic@mosaic-gardens.com. Our last post prompted a great comment from Jennifer:

"I check out garden blogs mainly for the pictures – the more the better!"

Point taken!  It's a bit early and rainy for great new photos of our gardens, but your words will inspire us to start shooting sooner rather than later.  For now, we hope a scroll through this link to some of our biggest and best photo posts might bridge the gap.  And, thanks to Jennifer, here's a view of the coast garden we haven't yet shared.  Enjoy!



Mosaic Journal 2.0


Surely someone has a question about this picture....

Hi there,

2010 was a fun, busy year for Mosaic. Unfortunately, the regular newsletters and frequent journal entries fell by the wayside.  Each post takes a lot of thought and time, two commodities that can be in short supply when we're both working full time in the field. We'd like to find a way to get things moving again, so we have a proposal for you: you ask, we answer.  Do you have a question about a plant, a previous post or a design concept?  We'd love to hear from you! You will give us a topic or starting point (often that's the hardest part), and you and other readers will get new ideas, information and a picture or three.

We'll continue to post new photos and news, but we hope you'll help us keep the content fresh and interesting for everyone. Just post a reply below or send an email, and we'll get right on it. No question too small.  Deal?

If you want to hear from us, but don't have a question in mind, here are a few questions from an earlier Q&A to get your juices flowing.  If that doesn't do the trick, a quick scroll through our archive or our newsletters may pique your curiosity.

We look forward to your questions!

Rebecca & Buell

PS Email subscription (in the box at right) is a great way to keep up with our irregular posting schedule.  You'll get a message from wordpress for each new entry and no spam from us.  : )


Mosaic Q&A - Sunset April 2008 Border

Have a question? Want more frequent updates? We’d love to hear from you! Read more here and/or write us in the comments or at mosaic@mosaic-gardens.com.

A question from colder climes:

I cannot tell you what an inspiration the border [featured in the April 08 Sunset] has been for me! I am writing you to find out what the other plants are besides those listed in the article. I live in Northeast Wyoming do I imagine some will not work in our zone, but I will try to find similar color or texture matches for our garden.

Thanks! We've included a scan of the article and a plant list below. While some of the plants shown are not hardy in a cold climate, your inclination to focus on texture and color will definitely help you create your own striking border. When designing with plants, we focus on creating a palette, rather than a plant list. In the border shown in the Sunset photo, purple, silver, cream and white create a simple color palette. The playful feeling of the border comes mainly from the contrast of foliage texture - big Hellebore leaves, arching grasses, spiky iris, soft lavenders - while the spherical forms of dwarf Sitka spruce anchor the space through all seasons. One final idea worth noting is that we used small groupings of plants to create waves of foliage, rather than a jumble of individual specimens. This simplifies the visual effect, as well as the maintenance!

Sunset April '08 photo plant list (all deer resistant in our area):

Helleborus x sternii Iris sibirica (not sure which variety, b/c so many are similar) Cotinus 'Royal Purple' Lavandula stoechas Picea sitchensis 'Papoose' Carex m 'Aureovariegata' Miscanthus s. 'Variegata'

We very much enjoy hearing from you, and we look forward to more questions!

Mosaic Q&A - Austin photos

Have a question? Want more frequent updates? We’d love to hear from you! Read more here and/or write us in the comments or at mosaic@mosaic-gardens.com.

Below is a comment we received a few weeks ago, that we thought would be a fun addition to the Q&A:

I’ve admired your Oregon garden in several magazine spreads and have known about your inspirational design website for a while. But I just found your blog and am working my way through it, enjoying your beautiful garden pictures. I garden in Austin, your former hometown, and would love to see more images of Buell’s Austin garden. Have you posted any other pics of it–or do you plan to?

We've re-posted the photo that inspired this question request above (originally in this post). We lived in Austin before our move to Oregon in 2002. Unfortunately, we only have a couple of good photos of Buell's garden, but they do show what you can do with low, almost no additional, water plantings in a hot climate. Good inspiration for all of us in milder regions, don't you think? Here's another photo of the garden, with a better look at the Goldsworthy-inspired "Beehive" sculpture Buell made from recycled limestone.

For fun, we put together a gallery of some of Buell's work for Gardens, a landscape architecture design-build firm in Austin Texas. Obviously, we have different plant and materials palettes in the Northwest, but the threads of contrast in planting and strong, enticing hardscape carry through to our work in the PNW. Click on thumbnails for larger images.

[gallery link="file" columns="5" orderby="rand"]

Would you like for us to discuss a photo, design concept or plant in greater detail? Please leave a comment or write us at mosaic@mosaic-gardens.com. We very much enjoy hearing from you, and we need your help to make the Q&A a success!

Mosaic Q&A - Picea pungens 'Globosa Nana' and other dwarf forms

[Edit: Hi!  This page gets a lot of traffic, so we thought we'd make sure you knew about the rest of our journal .  We update regularly during the growing season and hope you'll check back in.  Thanks for stopping by!  Mosaic]

A journal reader from California had a question about the "gray/silver plant in the left foreground" of the photo at left. The photo originally appeared in Newsletter #4, in which we discussed how to create lower maintenance gardens. The plant is Picea pungens 'Globosa Nana,' a dwarf form of the Colorado Blue Spruce, and it is a soft-looking, deer resistant, drought tolerant, low-maintenance all star. We use a variety of Picea pungens dwarfs, whose silver to blue color and compact, rounded forms add form, color and texture to our gardens throughout the year. We will use single large specimens or let three to seven pungens dwarfs dance through lower plantings. Below is a gallery of Picea pungens at work in our gardens - click for larger images.

Thanks for the question! Look forward to reading more!


[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]


Ask Mosaic - a winter Q&A

Do you miss our more frequent growing season posts? Do you have a question about our work or one of our gardens, but haven't known how/when/where to ask? We'd love to hear from you! For at least the next couple of months, we hope to make the journal more interactive by responding to your questions and thoughts on the site.

Take a moment to inquire about any Mosaic-related subject in the "comments" section of this post or email us at mosaic@mosaic-gardens.com. We'll respond to your question directly, and, most of the time, we'll post your question and our answer on the journal. We hope this experiment will bring more frequent updates (it's up to you!), offer fun new ideas for your gardens, and help us get to know you better.

Of course, we will never share your personal or contact information, and you will not be added to our mailing list unless you request otherwise.

We look forward to your questions and comments!

Rebecca & Buell