Monday, September 6, 2010

Wine and Design

Tuesday the 7th is my turn to host the monthly Wine and Designs for the local High Desert Design Council.  This is a group of interior designers, landscape designers, architects, builders and vendors dedicated to bringing sustainable design to the Central Oregon area.

This month we will be meeting at the residence I created the landscape design for two years ago.  It was a fantastic design combining the front and side yards of two properties, blurring the lines between "theirs" and "mine".  The landscape is also grass free, mulch free, deer resistant, filled with seasonal interest, water wise, low maintenance and wildlife friendly.

I will be highlighting this particular landscape but also talking about the different services Carlseng Design offers (consultations, conceptual and to-scale designs and gardening services) and presenting a slide show of some of the other local landscapes I have designed.

If you are local, please join us at 1524 NW Kingston in Bend.  I'll be posting some photos of the event to share with you.

As always, any questions you have about gardening drop me a line!  Take care.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I love my job

I love my job.  It may sound corny but it's true. 

A couple of weeks ago a client called me up to help her plant some annuals she had gotten but hadn't been able to plant because she had gotten sick.  She lives on a five acre beautiful property in the vicinity of a red tail hawk nest and the pair would present themselves every afternoon. 
She had a few flats of lovely annuals and basically let me get on with planting them into the containers on her deck.  I love putting together little vignettes of color!  And since I had seven or eight containers I could really get into doing a "variety on a theme".  How fun!
Next she explained that she wanted her front bed to be full of color, gave me a budget (a budget is very important for people like me as I enjoy nothing more than buying plants with other people's money...) and off I went to the nursery to select the best plants for her location.  When I got back and had everything planted in a subtle and attractive pattern, I couldn't help thinking that I am extremely lucky in my choice of profession.  I got paid to plant flowers!

But of course it isn't that simple.  I did repair and modify some irrigation and mulched the flower beds as well which created a lovely mix of technical work, manual labor and garden design.  I call that a great day of work.

Yesterday I got to go back up to another beautiful property near Sisters to help put the finishing touches on a garden that will be on the Sisters Garden Tour the 8th of July.  These clients have maintained a lot of the natural landscape and have worked hard to create an organic landscape that does not deter from the natural beauty of the area.  Their home is straw bale, full of soft corners and big windowsills and is embued with a sense of peace and beauty.  They thank me for coming to work and I thank them for having me there, I love being at their property.
I had been there earlier in the season to get things under control (mainly weeding) but also some irrigation work as well.  They had two big overhead sprays to water the edible fenced garden and it was quite inefficient.  I converted it to a drip/microspray system and then mulched the beds.  Those two things will go a long way to combating weeds and lowering water usage.
But going back yesterday and seeing the garden areas bursting with flowers and seeing the work I had done previously was extremely satisfying. 

I have found my passion.  I love my job.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's raining, do I still need to water?

All this rain has been great for the garden, Bend actually looks rather lush and it it weren't for all the pine trees I would wonder just where I am.

Whenever rain is in the forecast and the day looks precipitous, I always question whether to water my garden, preferring to let watering happen naturally (and to keep the water bill down). But I have been caught out by this when it doesn't rain enough and my plants are already rather dry.
Today was a good example.  It's actually rained a few times and quite heavily as well, but when I went to check the mail about midday, I kicked the top layer of dirt and underneath was all dry.  So far today's rain hasn't done much beyond keeping the dust down and moistening the soil.  I am still going to have to get out and make sure everything gets a deep watering.

If you're not sure whether you need to water or not when it has been raining, scrape the top layer of dirt or stick a screw driver in the soil to see just how deep the moisture went.  This is also a great argument for a Smart Controller that monitors the garden's moisture level and will irrigate appropriately without you having to do anything.

Remember, you are watering the roots of the plant and the water needs to get all the way down to them.  Deeper and less frequent watering is best for the lawn, trees and shrubs.  Encourage deep roots and you'll have stronger plants.

For more questions or if you are in need of gardening, consultation or design services please contact me.  Happy gardening!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gardening Services

I have added gardening to the list of services I offer.  So now you can get an awesome gardener, a consultation, a conceptual design or a design to scale, all with one person!

I must say that I am quite happy being back out hands in the dirt.  Gardening is what actually got me into design in the first place.  Way, way back in college I did all sorts of jobs to pay my way, and one of them was gardening.  I had a long time job working for an older woman whose home was on the high side of a small intersection at the top of a hill.  I could watch people come and go, see the birds flying out over the bay, watch the weather come in and out and check out all the critters in the soil.  I loved it.

When her son retired and moved to the neighborhood, I started doing maintenance on his property.  By this time I had graduated, taught for a couple of years, worked customer service for a corporation and was quite disillusioned with it all.  I found myself thinking of what I really wanted to do and took the plunge to start my own landscape design, maintenance and installation company.

It was an immediate perfect fit.  I had found my passion and couldn't have been happier.

When I moved to Bend in 2006 I decided to focus on design only.  Design offers such a great balance of being outside in landscapes, talking with clients, quiet creative time at my desk, and the technical aspect of choosing the right plants for the specific site and the clients needs.

Now with the economy as it is, I had the opportunity to get back out into the dirt and garden again.  This helps me stay in touch with issues of having a garden and brings me much happiness.

My current job is at a beautiful property out near Sisters, rather close to the Crooked River Grasslands.  This garden will be on the Sisters Garden Tour and the owners needed quite a bit of help weeding.  Being in close proximity to the grasslands, there is quite a bit of grass in all the beds.  I should have counted but I'm sure I've come across seven different varieties of grass.  I tell the difference by the root structure since that is what I am focusing on, getting the grass and roots out.  I happen to actually like weeding, I find it quite satisfying and I do find the root structure to be impressive, especially the rhizomatous root systems.
There were some shrubs as well that hadn't been pruned in a few years, and I must that they look so much healthier and happier now that I gave them a good haircut.

I have also been helping them to make their veggie garden irrigation system more efficient.  They had a couple of large overhead rotors watering the area and I have converted it now to a drip and microspray system.  Besides being more efficient and helping them to save water, they are no longer watering the grass and weeds that wanted to dominate the plot.

The area is fairly rural and natural and I have enjoyed the drive out to their home.  Along their dirt road I have seen Sand Lily, Native Larkspur Delphinium nuttallianum, Prairie Rocket Erysimum asperum, and a pale yellow and white flower that I am so far been unable to identify.  I'm sure there is more to come as the season progresses.

Why should you hire a gardener versus someone who does maintenance?  A gardener knows the in's and out's of your plants, how best to prune and when (remember to prune your Lilac after if blooms), can recognize flowers from weeds, and most of all will love your garden.

If you need a little extra help in your garden remember that I now offer gardening services.  Send me an email at to get your garden in shape for the season and to give it the love it deserves.

Monday, March 29, 2010

San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

I wish I could say that I was there but at least I have some images for you.  This link was sent to me by High Desert Diva and is full of stunning images of the show.  I love the living walls and the rolling/shaped lawns and the great use of different types of containers.  Do enjoy!
Mitchell Maher images of the SF Show

Monday, March 15, 2010

Portland Home and Garden Show

At the end of February I dragged my family to the Portland Home and Garden Show.  While my husband chased our toddler around I absorbed design and plants and was extremely in my element.

There were two buildings of home related products (my daughter loved climbing into all the empty hot tubs) and only one building of garden and of course I wanted more.  I have been to the garden show down in San Francisco which was held in the Cow Palace and was huge.  I loved it.  So I had my expectations set a little high for this event and was a little disappointed but as always, I looked for the positive in the experience and got some great ideas out of it. 

The Shop People, an industrial arts club of Portland, had their members displaying their wares and I saw these lovely dog sculptures which I think would be great in a garden.

The next craftsperson I came across really blew my socks off.  Art of Rain does a wide range of functional metal art pieces, mostly copper it appears, that raise the bar on functional art.  I was drawn in by his water sculptures and his downspouts pieces but his catalog shows range hoods for the kitchen, architectural chimney caps and sconces for the interior or exterior.

Here are some of his water sculptures, in the second photo, you can see one of his downspouts in the background - what a beautiful piece!:

These next images were created by Solterra Systems:
What I love about these designs is the use of the unconventional surfaces such as the walls and the roof.  I also love when functionality and aesthetics are married in such a fantastic way. 

Creating a green roof can significantly reduce the heat pool effect that occurs in cities and can also reduce storm water runoff.  In cities particularly, where space is at such a premium, green roofs enable people to have gardens and places to relax they would otherwise not be able to experience so easily.

These next few photos are all surrounding the Idea House and I apologize in advance that I do not remember the name of the designers involved in the landscaping.  Different sides of it showed different styles of design all of which I thought worked very well.

This image shows a great use of space in combining edible plants into the ornamental landscape.  Edibles are no longer relegated to their own section of the garden but can be incorporated into all your beds.
It's difficult to see but it's a mix o perennials, blueberry shrubs and an espaliered fruit tree (which I love).
If you are interested in mixing edibles into your garden please contact me, I would love to help you with that.
 We have made almost a full circle around the Idea House and I love all the modern design elements, especially this blend of rock, grass and metal here in this last photo, it just speaks to me in a certain way.

What you see here is just a portion of the space that The Bamboo Man created for the show.  He had a variety of bamboo product (fences, gates, etc.) and obviously can make almost anything out of bamboo.

 This is a fully furnished yurt as a destination for this more contemporary landscape.

This next one is called Dream Garden and was created by Natural Landscapes, it does look dreamy.

This last one is a sculpture by Ivan McLean:

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable show and I look forward to more and more shows packed full of plants and design.  
If any of these designs struck a chord with you, please contact me and we can discuss designing your landscape to fully reflect your style.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring has SPRUNG!

With the temperature hitting 50 degrees latey it sure feels like spring is on it's way.  My tulips are beginning to poke through the soil, the insects have started coming out from their winter hiding and I'm thinking it's time to paint the toenails again.
Wait, but isn't it just March?  Yes and this is one of the most unusual winters we've had in a long time but rest assured, the freezing and snowy weather will return, and hopefully before we all become too accustomed to these unseasonally warm days. Though, I am getting very, very accustomed to these nice days and the temptation to forget cold days is getting more and more difficult to resist.  But do remember, the only predictable thing about Central Oregon's weather is its unpredictability.

With all of that in mind, it is time to begin a bit of the spring clean up.  That means its time to trim back all your ornamental grasses and perennials and to get on top of your weeds.  There is a reason weeds are weeds, they are the most tenacious little buggers.  How they could have survived that deep freeze we had in December I don't know, but I'm predicting this will be a bad year for weeds (good for them, bad for us).  Make sure to stay on top of them because with this lovely spring weather they are really get a good start to the growing season.
My favorite weeding tool is the Hula Hoe.  It cuts the bottom of the roots of the young weeds and scraps along through the soil rather well and does a great job in pea gravel.  Just remember to get at the weeds while they are young and then it will be a much easier job.
Here is a picture of the Hula Hoe:
For cutting back your spent perennials such as your daisies, iris's, and the like, cut them back quite close to the root crown to allow room for the new growth.  For your grasses, cut them back leaving 1 to 4 inches of old grass depending on the size of your grass.  Idaho Fescue grass can be sheared back rather shortly, a string trimmer works great for this job. Karl Foerster grass is a larger grass and should have a few inches of old grass left.  You can use a hedge or string trimmer for the bigger grasses but just be careful not to let the string get tangled in the tall grass, that's a mess.

It is also time to prune your shrubs.  The first steps to pruning (same for trees) is to prune out any dead, broken or diseased branches.  Then take a look at the overall structure and see if it needs to be opened up. Some shrubs like to be prune well every year, but others can go a few years without any serious pruning.  
The spring blooming shrubs like Lilac should be pruned right when their flowers begin to fade since they form buds on old growth.  Redtwig Dogwoods are mainly grown for their lovely red color during the winter time, and that good color comes from new growth, so prune those now.  Prune out up to one third of the oldest branches down to the ground for the Dogwoods.
A good website for general pruning techniques can be found at Sunset Magazine Pruning Techniques ( I love Sunset Magazine!).

Now that you have your weeds under control and your plants cut back, it's time to add your yearly application of compost or bark mulch to help suppress weeds, retain moisture, and if using compost, add nutrients to the soil.
If you have fewer plants, just spread the compost around the base of the plants, but if you have a more densely packed area, spread the compost all around.  Remember that plants get their nourishment from the soil and the healthier your soil, the healthier your plants.  Compost is a better option for overall health of the garden.  Synthetic fertilizers are temporary fixes and create fertilizer addicts out of plants and deplete the soil over time.  Using compost and organic fertilizers works to create a whole web of happiness from the worms, to the insects, birds and bees who all work in unison to help you create a healthy and happy garden.

If you have more specific questions about your landscape, or would like to talk about getting a design, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Send me an email from my profile page.  Happy gardening!