Friday, December 4, 2009

More Fall Faves

This "pig squeak" or Bergenia cordifolia is a great addition to any garden. Not only does it provide great interest throughout the growing season but it is also one of my favorite perennials for fall and winter. The leaves persist long into fall turning from green to a deep red. They provide a great contrast against the brown and grey of the fall landscape. These almost tropical looking perennials will slowly multiply and become a great mass. I especially like them amongst granite boulders.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Favorite Fall Plant

We may have lost some blooms to the early October snow, but we still have some plants blooming and it's almost Thanksgiving. This one is Lamium which we've seen bloom late into the season multiple times. I also like how it fills in around the boulders. I would recommend adding this plant to your rock gardens, shade gardens or they would be nice as a border plant.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Beautiful Fall

My apologies for the lack of blogging lately. We have had a surprisingly beautiful fall here in Omaha, which has allowed me to be out working on fall landscape clean up for my clients. I thought, with the early snow, that this fall might be pretty rough, but it has been really nice!

We also have moved our business back into our home this fall. We are very excited about the future of Olive Branch and reorganizing the business in order to better serve our clients and be able to focus on designs and projects without the distraction of the retail side of our business. We are still available to special order outdoor furniture, sculptures and pottery for anyone interested. We really enjoyed having our studio in Rockbrook Village and will miss the community there, but my wife and I are looking forward to the opportunity to work from home.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Staircases in the Garden

Here are a few examples of staircases that we have designed for some of our clients. I know the gardeners out there will be disappointed for the lack of plants, but it is still nice to show a good foundation for a garden. I love stairs in the landscape because they give a person a destination. They can lead someone to a patio, a sunken fire pit, a water feature or simply another area of the garden. They can also frame a landscape as in the top photo and cause a person to pause and take in the view. They also offer so many possibilities as far as container gardens, lighting display and even a place to set the pumpkins in October.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Renovation Project

Today we installed a small ornamental grass and perennial garden at my parent's house. We ripped out several overgrown evergreens, various overgrown shrubs and shrub roses. Unfortunately, I didn't get before photos, but you can see one overgrown evergreen in the third photo from the top. (Ripping that out tomorrow). The large grasses will eventually grow rather tall and add some interest through the winter. We also had the challenge of hiding leftover stumps. The grasses and perennials that we chose should do a really good job of that. The yarrow will thrive and add a nice swath of color. We also chose a trial geranium, in the final photo, that has been tested to be hardy to zone 6 (we're zone 4/5) so we'll see what happens with that. I guess since it's my parent's house, I can get away with being experimental! Hopefully, we will luck out and they will do really well.

There are still some finishing touches to be done with this project. We will, of course, rip out the evergreen shrub at the corner and attempt to save the greens for my wife's holiday decorating. Then we will extend the yarrow around the corner and possibly add a unique, small evergreen which I have yet to choose. Any suggestions? We will also add some bulbs for spring color, a fresh layer of mulch and possibly a sculpture nestled somewhere in the grasses.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Landscape Photography Part 2

Here are a couple more of our favorite detail shots from our recent photo venture. It was nice to capture the impatiens in their final glory days. Look for these and many more new photos on our website soon!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Landscape Photography

My wife and I both really enjoy dabbling in landscape photography. We have been pursuing it more lately since she started working with me this summer. These are some of our most recent photos that we took for a local landscape contractor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is it still Fall?

This has been an interesting fall so far. It has already snowed four inches. Today there was a little sleet and the leaves have only just begun to fall from the trees. A taste of an early winter is helping me to appreciate every morsel of fall that I can get. It's also going to help me get all the garden chores done quickly this weekend before it's too late! It's a little sad to see the annuals and vegetables die, but there is something to be said for getting a little rest from the garden for awhile. I hope you will be able to enjoy some of your favorite fall activities before winter weather takes over. Check out an aspen leaf painting by my wife if you need a reminder of fall.

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."
- Eric Sloane

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Three Phases of Landscaping

Phase 1: Landscape design. A landscape design helps a person visualize the potential of their outdoor space. Whether you hire a professional landscape designer or come up with your own plan, having it on paper will help you in the long run. The design can help determine the installation phases and the overall budget of a project. A comprehensive plan includes not only plantings, but also elements such as decks, patios and water features. These elements provide the backbone for a great landscape. A beautiful outdoor space can be accomplished in one season or over many years and can add a great deal of value to a property.

Phase 2: Landscape Installation. Having a landscape design will help you prioritize the phases of your landscape. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can chip away at it as time and money allows. If you choose to have it professionally installed, they can use the plan to estimate the different phases of your project. It is important to install the major landscape elements first, such as decks, patios, pools and retaining walls. Large elements, such as these, cause the biggest disturbance in a garden during the installation phase and provide a backdrop to all other elements. A good landscape company will implement the design while keeping longevity and function in mind. It is crucial to maintain proper drainage, quality craftsmanship and correct planting techniques.

Phase 3: Landscape Maintenance. Once you have installed your outdoor living space, there will be some maintenance needed to keep your garden looking its best. Decks need staining, shrubs need pruning and mulching will be needed at least once a year. Even the lowest maintenance garden will need some seasonal upkeep. In order to keep plants healthy, weeds will need to be controlled and the soil conditioned. Providing a fresh layer of mulch (three inches deep) will keep weeds at bay and provide nutrients for the soil. As a garden matures, plants will need to be divided and reorganized to prevent over crowding.

Olive Branch can help with all of your landscaping needs! Here at Olive Branch, we are passionate about the landscaping process and we provide landscape design services, installation and garden maintenance. We would love to give you a space worth coming home to!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nebraska Autumn

My wife and I like to venture out to get inspired by nature whenever we can. I always find that it helps my designs when I observe how things grow in nature. Here are some of our best shots after visiting a nearby lake last week. The prairie is really beautiful in the fall. I hope we can get out again!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fire Time

It is now officially cool weather in Nebraska. This is a fire pit area we created for a Street of Dreams home back in 2006. I was just thinking it looks like a nice spot to visit right about now. Not without marshmallows and cider, of course.

This is a really simple fire pit design. Sometimes simple is best. We were going for a really natural look, almost as if you stumbled upon it while walking in the woods. Wouldn't that be a nice surprise?

There is nothing better than a good fire during crisp autumn weather. Wish I could go build one right now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beautiful Container Combination

Spotted this container combo at a restaurant in Kansas City this past weekend. Thought I would share it with you and maybe try it next year! I love how the 'dragon wing' begonia peeks out of the lime coleus. I also like how they combined two different types of coleus and the creeping jenny underneath. Gotta love surprise inspiration.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Patio and Landscape Upgrade

With this particular design, we were challenged to make a small yard more functional. We chose an otherwise awkward, unusable space in the side yard to feature a new concrete patio. Although it isn't yet furnished, it will be a nice spot to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and talk with the neighbors. This patio will function almost as a substitute for the traditional front porch.
We extended the patio into the backyard in order to have a more private place to sit and also a place to hide the grill. The backyard is small, but we left plenty of green space for the dogs, for play and for future gardening. Once the plants grow in and the patio is softened with some container plantings, it will be a very enjoyable little spot.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beware Arachnophobes!

You know it's fall when the spiders start making their presence known! We found this spider spinning her web on our porch last night. When we left the house this morning, her web was complete and there she was waiting patiently for her prey. She is very large and beautiful! She is an argiope aurantia otherwise known as the "writing spider" because of the intricate zig zag down the center of her web. The males are actually much smaller and are only seen when it is time to mate. They are not poisonous so no need to rush to kill them! They are actually quite common all over the world, so you may find one in your garden one of these days! Has anyone else seen a "writing spider" lately?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Master Plan for the Garden

This is an example of a detailed master landscape plan. There are many ways of shaping an outdoor living space. For many, it happens over years of hard work and a few mistakes and victories along the way. (That is how my wife and I do it). For others, a major overhaul may take place in one season. They want it done so they can spend their time enjoying their space. We design master plans for both types of people.

Often, a client wants to chip away at their yard over the years, but they need a plan to guide them along the way. They will be able to refer back to the design whenever they want. Having a design done with their specific needs in mind will help to ensure proper plant placement and hopefully save them some time and headache in the future.

For those that are professionally installing a landscape in one season, it is crucial that a professionally designed plan be followed. The above plan includes many different elements including a paver patio with an outdoor kitchen and firepit, a kid's play area, a driveway with coordinating paver banding and, of course, several perennial gardens. Having a plan helps the homeowners and the different companies involved in the installation to be on the same page at all times. It also helps the landscape installation company work more efficiently. If the homeowner is concerned with plant placement (one would hope..) a design will keep things on track.

Most gardeners love the process of planting and working the garden over a lifetime. I love to experiment with plants and see what works and what doesn't, but a landscape design sure does help to visualize a project and keeps one from making a potentially expensive mistake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The scabiosa are still going strong in our yard this year. The "black night" scabiosa is such a striking color. They are a great flower to plant for a cutting garden. They last for quite some time in a vase and look really beautiful when paired with hydrangeas and roses. In the garden they can kind of flop over, but would look really nice in front of or on top of a rock wall. That way, you would be sure to see the blooms. Scabiosa are also surprisingly tough, our dog trampled them more than once this year and they still look great!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rockbrook Art Fair

Come visit us during the Rockbrook Art Fair this weekend! We have local art on display in our store as well as beautiful containers and garden art. We would love to see your smiling faces!

Saturday 10-6
Sunday 10-5

Rockbrook Village - 108th & Center
Olive Branch Integrated Outdoor Design (across from Great Harvest Bread Co.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Backyard Pathway

Here is a smattering of images taken of the "wedding" project we completed last week. A big thanks to VIP Outdoor Living and David Jordan Remodeling for the amazing work they do implementing our designs. We had a very important deadline on this project and due to rain, we were pushed to the wire. We completed it Friday afternoon, a few hours before the wedding rehearsal. phew. It is good to be challenged and know that we can accomplish quality work in a limited amount of time.

There were many big decisions to be made by the homeowner and she didn't have the luxury of time that most people do for such a large project. She did a great job and has great taste. She has a unique home for small town Nebraska. She is inspired by all things Asian which was fun to include in the design.

The pathway and the fence include bamboo pieces from CaliBamboo. This is the first time I have edged a garden with bamboo and I think it does it's job beautifully. It won't be the last. The homeowners also love copper (notice their copper windows) so we decided to include copper panels on the fence. These will patina naturally over time. The fence and pathway were designed to direct visitors to the homeowners garden which includes a beautiful pond and waterfall. Previously, people would just walk straight across the lawn, bypassing much of the plantings and garden space along the way to the pond. Now they will have to slow down and enjoy the journey!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Functional Garden Art

We had this handrail made for us by the talented artist Diane Mattern. She is a local artist here in Omaha and we actually carry a handful of her sculptures in our shop. Diane has an eye for rustic garden art and we love to use her work in our client's landscapes. She does amazing arbors and will even do a unique detail on a garden gate. We have enjoyed our new handrail since April and we have watched it form its beautiful patina over the summer. We are so excited to see what it looks like in the snow!

Of course, as a landscape designer, I am a little more concerned with my client's landscapes and projects during the warm months. You can see in the bottom photo that we are working on our front porch. We have been slowly chipping away at it all summer. It should be completed soon and we will post some pictures for you.

I am also very busy this week with a project in Fremont, NE. There is a wedding in their backyard this Friday (yikes) and due to the recent rains in our area, we are rushing to complete it! We will have it done though and I look forward to posting about it soon.