Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Middle South

March, 2011
Regional Report


Garden Design
Julie Moir Messervy's Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love (The Taunton Press, 2009) is based on an intriguing concept. I too miss the days when neighbors were outdoors on weekends to cut the grass, tidy the flowerbeds, and visit over the fence. So yes, I want to maintain that contact with nature and community, and make my new space one that fits my needs and satisfies my soul.

To create such a sanctuary, Messervy first asks the reader to analyze the site and then identify their design preferences. It was no surprise for me to learn from the author's quiz that my design personality is expressive, personal, and relaxed, or that my aesthetic preferences include filled up (as opposed to spare), social, and intimate. Knowing that she could peg me with a few simple questions, though, gave me confidence in her method. I quickly jumped from preliminaries to the meat of the book.

Messervy's chapter, Big Moves, offers the most definitive help, with readers selecting a basic layout and then choosing an aesthetic arrangement and big idea (theme) to start the design process. Here, precise explanations and revealing photographs guide with assurance, helping readers visualize a variety of alternatives and ultimately understand which suits them best.

There's also plenty of expert guidance and advice in the detailed information that follows. In fact, Home Outside is the type of book that has you running in and out of the house for hands-on, or at least eyes-on, application. The author's design process is easy and fun, as well as productive. In short, the book is a valuable guide for anyone who wants customize their landscape.

Clever Gardening Technique

Grow Moss on Pots and Stones
If you've recently created a shady nook in your garden with pristine stones, pots, or other new hardscape features, you're probably yearning for a layer of moss to give your sanctuary that final bit of character. It can take years of patience for Mother Nature to grow this green patina, but gardeners can speed up the process by painting objects with a slurry of moss spores. To create a mush that will adhere, collect (or purchase) any species of moss that grows in similar conditions in your area and blend it with a thick liquid such as yogurt, buttermilk, or diluted potters clay. Aiming for a thin pudding-like consistency, use about one cup of moss to every three cups of liquid, then adjust proportions until they are the right viscosity. Thoroughly wet surfaces before painting, and keep them consistently moist with a spray mist until you see the tiny green filaments that indicate new moss is growing, usually about six weeks.


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