How to design your own Low-Maintenance Garden

Here we are again, with a new project and I’m very excited about it.I’m always excited about new projects, especially using low-maintenance plants to help my clients and you having a garden with no effort!

The place: a nice garden situated in Lake Como, in a small house part of an antique Villa, surrounded by nature but in desperate need of revitalizing.

My clients: a lovely newlyweds’ couple, transferred to an antique house a few months ago, they now have a nice and comfortable garden which needs some care.
They want to start this project step by step and that’s a nice decision when you are not sure what to do and how it will look in the end, so it is OK to separate the areas and visualize what you’d like before running to the nursery.

So, we decided to start with a small rectangular area, perfect for a flowerbed, situated right after the entrance door. This is the first thing they see every day, going in and out their new home so it was first on the list to fix.

 

It looks small but it has space for different dimensions shrubs and we are going to take the best of it

 

Former owners plant cherry laurel just to have some privacy from cars and some pedestrians but there’s still space for other plants there. So a nice way to start is taking a look at this old plants and make sure of two things:

  • First, we have to consider if we want to keep them, this can reduce costs, time and work.
  • Second, check for unhealthy plants, this way you’ll know if it’s worth to keep them, replace some of them or simply remove them.

 

The Project

For starters, I wanted to provide color and different textures, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know those are the most important things when designing a garden, in order to have a relaxed and “spontaneous” garden… and if you don’t follow me, then follow me, I’m here to help 😉

In order to make this area pop, we need (as I said already) color and texture, and we’ll get it from some special shrubs. You’ll probably know them already, but, the first one is going to make you remember grandma’s home: it is the Butterfly stonecrop. Before you think about grandma’s garden again (in a negative way), let me show you how it will mix perfectly in contrast with other structured plants. A touch of color will be given by mixed bulbs and tall vervains. Texture contrasts will be given using small shrubs to fill some angles and renew this old area.

Flowerbed’s floor plan
How it’ll look



Butterfly stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Brilliant’): formerly known as Sedum spectabile, is a perennial with compact shapes, cultivated in full-sun, part-sun, and well-drained soils. They look gorgeous in rock gardens and they give all their best in autumn. Couple with perennial grasses they’ll look amazing. They have light green foliage, pink blooms between September and October and they’re low maintenance. Drought and heat tolerant, they grow 45cm tall and 60cm wide.
Also excellent to grow in pots on a sunny terrace.

Sedum and Stachys ‘Primrose Heron’ flowerbed

 

Fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale): it is a low-maintenance/easy to grow grass. They are super resistant and tolerate any soil, so they’ll grow nicely in well-drained soil. They like full-sun or part-sun exposition and blooms from June to October. Green-grey leaves and light pink blooms that change colors in autumn. They grow 50 – 60cm tall.

Ornamental grasses

 

Purpletop vervain or tall vervain (Verbena bonariensis): this amazing plant will give a nice touch of color, highness and “air” with its long and thin stems. This is an ornamental perennial plant that grows well in well-drained soil in full-sun and part-sun areas, it has dark green stems that “die” in winter and re-grow again in early summer. It has small purple flowers that bloom from summer to autumn, sometimes they last until late October. It goes from 1-1.5 m tall and 30-90 cm wide.

Verbena bonariensis
Tall vervain and grass mix

 

Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina): small and compact shrub, ornamental with soft silver leaves. Perennial, but it also dries in winter and re-grows in spring. It makes stand up pink, blue and purple blooms,. It likes a well-drained soil although it also grows well in rock gardens in full-sun expositions. Depending on the species it goes from 30 to 50 cm tall.

Stachys byzantina’s silver leaves

 

Bulbs: you can mix and match whatever bulbs you want, always!. Things to consider: highness and colors. In this case, some purple blooms would go perfectly so I choose Allium schoenoprasum, but you commonly call them chives. This is a perennial plant that grows from 30 to 50cm, flowers are pale purple and has dark green grass-like leaves. It would grow nice in full sun and you can plant separate bulbs or in groups depending on the final look you want for your garden. I propose at least 3 bulbs together, they will multiply next year so it all depends on you, I like the informal look.

 

Lamb’s ear and chives working together!

 

The idea of a nice garden is to make it as natural as possible as if those plants grow spontaneously. Don’t be afraid to mix and match, it’s nice to have different shapes contrasts in your garden, so, if you have any questions, you know where to find me!!!

Grass border and chives

 

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Boost your productivity with these low-maintenance houseplants!

Hello there!

Here I am again with some more tips and ideas to help you transform your own space into a fresh and relaxed one with the use of plants.

This time I’m showing you a project for a Home Studio (or home-office, I just don’t like the word “office” anymore, be patient with me 🙂 ), my clients work at home and they weren’t feeling it, they were bored of the space, there was no life and it was affecting their mood and their way to engage with the space.
Sometimes we don’t realize that small changes can brighten up our day, that’s why I keep repenting we all need “fresh” spaces, where we can breathe and concentrate better, in this case: working better.

 

THE PROJECT 


They have a small studio, about 12 sq.m, it may seem small but they do have a lot of indirect light and I wanted to take advantage of that with the use of succulents, because, let’s face it, if you’re working, the last thing you want to think about is plant’s caring, and they will make the difference.

The project includes low-maintenance plants, each of them with a lot of character because sometimes, transformations require being bold, and these plants have everything we want.

I love sketching, so here’s a view from my client’s studio with some nature behind

 

PLANT SELECTION

 

Studio floorplan

 

  • Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
    Is an ornamental, evergreen, perennial plant. Evergreen means that even in colder seasons they’re going to maintain all their green leaves. Leaves grow vertically about 70 to 90 cm, dark green color with yellow edges when mature. It is perfect as a houseplant because it can tolerate low light and irregular watering.
    It will highlight every angle, and in this case, we’d placed it in a narrow niche to give the illusion of a taller space.
Sansevieria

 

  • Inchplant (Tradescantia zebrina)
    I chose this plant because of its colors, so beautiful and intense. When decorating, we also have to think about shapes and this one has it all.
    It grows well in indirect light and dry to wet soil, obviously, it has to be a balance, but you’re going to be fine with them.
    The falling shape makes it easy to find a high spot on a library, a shelf or in this case, the top of glass doors.
Tradescantia zebrina

 

  • Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria)
    Is a cactaceae family member, small dimension plant, they need direct light, but, indoors, it’s better to place them in a bright place but avoiding direct sun through glass windows, it can be too intense for them. They like breezy areas so it is ok to open the windows and let them have some air in summer.
    If you find the right place for them, they’ll bloom in summer, forming a little “crown” around your cactus, it’s really pretty and perfect for a bookshelf or in a high space so you won’t pinch yourself constantly 🙂 it also works perfectly by itself or in groups. Give it a try! it’ll make you love cactus.
Mammilaria

 

  • Zebra Cactus (Haworthia fasciata)
    Small but equally ornamental as any other big plant, it’s a succulent with chubby leaves and white reliefs on the bottom that cross the leave all over them with (like a zebra). It can grow from 5 to 10 cm and needs a nice amount of light during the day, but, as I said before, it is better if you can avoid direct sun especially in summer.
    It’ll look amazing in a small container with other plants, but this time, we’ll keep it alone. If you have clear walls (for example) it will stand out without efforts!.

    Haworthia fasciata

     

    There you go, now you have character and colors in a small room, with no effort, no added furniture, and practically no deep plant care. Plants make our life better and sometimes you just need small steps including small but full or style plants.

    Hope you enjoy this post and if you have questions, I’m here baby 🙂

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Italy’s Beautiful Gardens: Villa del Balbianello

We are in beautiful Italy, it’s summer, it’s sunny and there’re big quantities of gelato.

Last Sunday I decided to visit Villa del Balbianello in Lake Como (North Italy), somehow I always thought about this kind of places to be full of tourist and I rather go first to the “local” places, but, obviously, there’s a reason why they are so famous, and I’m glad I finally did it (after a long time, may I add).

Villa del Balbianello is part of the Italian National Trust (Fondo Ambiente Italiano – FAI) which owns a list of awesome historic buildings and gardens. Villa del Balbianello had existed since the 13th century and its firsts residents were Franciscan Monks. In 1785, the Villa was purchased and the changes in the building and gardens started, along with new owners until 1988, when its last owner died.

Guido Monzino, the last owner, was a renowned Milanese businessman, art collector and a passionate traveler who left the Villa, the Gardens, the furnishing to the Italian National Trust; He also donated a dowry which still helps to cover the Villa and Gardens maintenance.
Since then, they have renovated the Villa and partly turned it into a private Museum with Monzino’s art collection, memorabilia from his famous expeditions to the North Pole and the Everest (between 1971 and 1973) and, they’ve also renovated the Gardens.

Villa del Balbianello

The Gardens

This time I only entered the Gardens, the thing I love the most and what I wanted to show you.

The gardens frame the Villa, they’re developed in different floors and paths, as they follow the rocky mountain shape. From the beginning the big shaped Platanus acerifolia stand out, a nice Magnolia and alternating Hydrangeas follow the paths. Then, as you keep walking, the Lake takes control of the view, it just blends with the gardens like a perfect painting.

The most interesting thing about this garden is that, because of the rugged terrain, they couldn’t design a formal “Italian garden” nor a romantic “English garden”, so, they had to work and create paths around the Villa and make a unique space that gives you the opportunity to enjoy the lake from different angles. You really get to discover different scenarios just by descending the paths.

They made a pact, between the formality of the design and the “informality” of the nature when they design the Gardens.

Numerous statues guard the surroundings of the Villa and get to watch the Lake through every season.

Plant Selection

  • Wisteria sinensis: full of color in late spring and early summer
  • Hedera helix: covering some walls facing the lake
  • Agapanthus: that welcome you if you arrive by boat
  • Buxus sempervirens: elegant and a formal icon from antique gardens

You can use some of this plants to make your garden a “Royal Garden“, it’s always worth to invest in some strong and long-lasting plants, you’ll get your reward, trust me.

Agapanthus

Also, you probably recognize the name of this Villa because of its appearances on Hollywood films since 1990, like:

  • A month by the Lake (John Irvin – 1995)
  • Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones ( I said “probably”. By George Lucas in 2002)
  • Casino Royale (Martin Campbell – 2006)

Quick tip: if you don’t like crowded places, like I do, just try to go early in the morning, there’s basically no line, your photos will be better and the lights are really favorable in the morning, plus, if you want a summer selfie, your face won’t be all shiny and sweaty 🙂
You have to walk/hike (nothing complicated) a few minutes to arrive to the actual Villa.
Also, I took the bus to get to the Villa; It’s about 45min from the Lake Como’s bus station and the price was around 6$ round trip. Lenno is the name of the village and the bus stop.

 

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About “Fresh Lemonade Gardens” and some Green Love

When I think about Gardens, I immediately think of some open space, full of plants (it’s summer, obviously), maybe some white Hydrangeas, private area, seating comfortably with a cold, super fresh glass of Lemonade in my hand.
That’s it, talking about gardens always takes me to that place, that green and refreshing place where I drink Fresh Lemonade all day (apparently).

So, Fresh Lemonade Gardens represents a window for those green lovers, like me, who want to feel good and comfortable in their own gardens and green (indoor) rooms; in other words: having a nice space to relax with plants around. 

This is also a place designed for those who want to learn how to take care of their plants, take the first step or several more in their gardens, or simply, for those who want to keep their plants alive with no effort.

We can help you transform your space with:

  • Tips and ideas on social networks (like Instagram) to show you how to organize your space with the use of plants.
  • Information about specific plants and how can they light up your space.
  • Personalized design for your own space: each month, we will publish images about green and fresh solutions for yours or others home, real examples of real homes.
  • Short “one-on-one” sessions (30min max.) via Skype, where we’ll talk about your project. In each session we will dedicate time to facilitate yours and your plants life.

To sum up: We will help you transform your space, with personalized solutions, examples, images and a list of things you have to do to, we can have Skype talks to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have. Easy right?

Each proposed solution will be public, this way, everyone can have access to the information and use it as an example to create their own environments. We will try to get everyone to learn how to organize their own space with real examples.

We would love to help you design your garden, terrace or balcony, living room  or kitchen, lounge, workspace… you name it! We have got your back and your plants’.

 

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