Saturday, January 5, 2008
Visualizing Your Next Garden - Green Thumb Sunday
What you're looking at is what I call a plant vignette. I use it as a way of studying how a finished design will look. Read on to see how this might help you as a designer and how to get 'er done.
This past week I completed a design for a great daring couple of clients. They provided a palette of plants as a starting point and I was very happy with their choices. Some fun, exciting plants. The front yard, including a secluded courtyard off the main bedroom, has an exotic flare with a few Australian chaps, and the back yard is more of a traditional cottage type palette.
After using the vignette technique to study the composition for myself (a quick and dirty process) I decided to go the extra yard for the client presentation (my treat) and dress up the "study" to help them understand the color scheme and character of the composition. If you have the time and some basic computer skills, you can do this for your own gardens as you try to develop your scheme and get a preview of how it all fits together. The idea is to get images off the internet, combine them on a page in the approximate proportions that they'll be used in the garden, and see how it all fits together.
The software I use is simple. On my iMac, running Safari as a browser, I go to Google Images and search for each plant I'm using in my palette. I've done the same thing on a PC using Internet Explorer, but I usually have to add a few steps. If you're not familiar with Google's Images search feature, just open Google and look for the tab. Then, when you type in Amaryllis, instead of getting text articles about the plant, you get lots of thumbnail photos of the plant (or of someone's cat they decided to name after the bulb).
Look for the photo with the higher number of pixel (at in the range of 200 x 200) and click on the thumbnail. That will take you to the site where that photo lives, then click of See Full Sized Image. Using my Mac, I can just click on the photo and drag it to my desktop. I have a folder waiting. It takes a while, but eventually I have a collection of photos of all my plants. Mind you, do not use these plants for any commercial purposes as you will be violating copyright laws.
Once I've collected all my plants, I open Microsoft PowerPoint. Yes, you can bring photos into Word, but it's a pain in the ass to move them around and rearrange them. If you have any PowerPoint skills, it's fairly easy to bring all the photos into one slide, crop and/or resize them, then arrange them as you see in the picture.
Here are a few hints to make this exercise valuable.
1) crop and size the photos to represent the character of the plants. If you are using Creeping Thyme as a groundcover, make a dozen tiny photos and group them together, proportionate to the other plants.
2) If you have a specimen shrub or tree you intend to use, have it dominate the slide.
3) Arrange the plants geographically on the slide - group them in masses similar to how you intend to group them in the garden.
This is only a start, not a master class, so you'll have to experiment. There are probably other programs that can do this, but I've found this set of techniques to work the best for me. Here are a few other slides.
Besides, what else to you have to do on a cold winter day?