• Patrick Hughes

Bobbie Schwartz - Painting with Perennials

Recently I sat in on a talk by Bobbie Schwartz, an award winning landscape designer and garden author from Cleveland, Ohio. Bobbie gave an entertaining and stimulating oration called “Painting with Perennials – A Landscape Artist Perspective.”

I enjoyed Bobbie’s approach to the garden and landscape. She talked of moving away from block planting and transitioning to weaving perennials and other plants so that the viewer’s eye moves through the garden.

If you’ve read my blog in the past month you know that she captured my attention when she discussed how Piet Oudolf uses ornamental grasses like Karl Forester Feather Reed Grass to place what she referred to as “Punctuation Marks” throughout the garden.

Bobbie Schwartz - Author of “Garden Renovation: Transforming Your Yard into the Garden of Your Dreams.”

During the talk Bobbie drew parallels between elements of great works by artist such as Henri Matisse and other painters to illustrate how to create patterns in the landscape without planting in blocks.

She also stressed the importance of gardens with multi-season interest. I felt like I connected with Bobbie’s methods and style at numerous times thru her presentation. Planning for seasonal interest was one of those times. The goal is to always have something happening in the landscape. Whether that is plants in bloom, bearing fruit, fall color and even in decay something interesting is always happening in your garden and landscape. This doesn’t happen by accident. Good planning and design ensure there is always something to enjoy and look forward to.

Bobbie also had a pragmatic approach to the garden. Stressing the importance and necessity of good garden maintenance. Emphasizing there is no such thing as no maintenance.

Bobbie Schwartz detailing how she uses a sunchart with her clients

Another element Bobbie discussed was the use of a sun chart when beginning a new design to get a better understanding of the client's environment. I have had clients photograph portions of their yard at different times of the day. Bobbie's approach was simple and straightforward. A practice I am considering replicating.

I purchased Bobbie’s book “Garden Renovation: Transforming Your Yard into the Garden of Your Dreams.” It is full more than 250 inspirational garden photos and chock full of knowledge. I read it on the train ride from Portland to Seattle later in the week on my way to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I think it would be a great resource whether you are thinking of engaging with a landscape designer or bravely taking on your own project.

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Wheel and Barrow Landscaping Portland Oregon
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