Johnny Moore helped shape perennial garden vision Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, February 08, 2022 01:00 AM

Colorado Green Now“I love bringing the feeling of nature into the spaces people live in,” says Johnny Moore, designer at Tree of Life Landscapes, Mead. Moore created a design with four seasons of immersion and mystery for a client who wanted to remove most of the sod and create perennial gardens more suitable to the Colorado climate.

“Our vision was to create four seasons of interest. Color in the spring, summer and fall and in the winter a lot of texture and different hues of brown. There is a lot of richness and depth to the winter textures that can’t be seen in other seasons. Leaving the seed heads allows the birds some winter food. We are creating more than a garden. It’s an environment for not only us but the other inhabitants.” To Moore’s point, this property has earned National Wildlife Federation habitat certification.

Immersion and mystery
The design includes a walking area throughout. The walking area serves three functions: it ties the areas in the design together, it provides immersion from within the garden among the plants to enjoy them up close, and thirdly and importantly, it provides ease of maintenance.

Although some plants were originally planted “lightly” to give space for growth and spreading, and will eventually make it dense, another area bordering the neighbor’s yard was densely planted. From Moore’s perspective as the designer, the dense area was ideally suited for the immersive experience the walkway provides.

And there is more to the design of the path. “The walking path keeps going from the driveway adding mystery as it curves, providing an invitation to explore,” says Moore. “Every great garden needs an aspect of wonder and mystery.”

Plant choices and availability
Though the client approved the design and plant choices, Moore admits that he “underestimated severity of the climate on the hilltop of this property.” Whereas most of the plant choices worked, the Muhlenbergia variety he selected (Undaunted® Ruby Muhly, Plant Select) was not available at the time of planting and he selected one that was available. “We had horrible losses of those plants and replaced 100% of them with the variety originally selected, when it was available.”

Planting took place over two seasons. “Due to the timing of planting in the first season, some plants were not available when we needed them so we came back the next season to put them in,” Moore explains.

Perennial plant choices for the garden made the project inherently sustainable in that plants were either native or had been tested in the Colorado climate. Low-water drip irrigation was installed. Most require little to no water once established, yet to promote seasonal flowering and prevent the plants for going dormant, some irrigation is provided after they are established. There is also “the human factor” according to Moore. “Neighbors may complain to the HOA about the aesthetic of dormant, non-flowering perennials.”

Read the full article about this 2021 ELITE Gold award recipient for Residential Plant Design in the March/April issue of Colorado Green magazine.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green Now:
Look for these new CSU Top Performer perennials
Designer Dan Lee likes DIYers
Westminster High needs industry volunteers

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