Our Recommendations for Your 2019 Garden Design Inspiration

With a new year comes new inspiration for many things - and among those things is the inspiration for our garden.

We know you’re probably thinking of your garden too - after the holidays, it’s go-time for the garden for us - so we wanted to share some of our favorite inspiration for our garden designs.

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1. Gardens Illustrated Magazine

One of our favorite sources of gardening inspiration, Gardens Illustrated is THE magazine to get you excited about gardening.

From tiny residential spaces to big sprawling manors with double herbaceous borders to cut flower gardens to beautiful and immaculate vegetable gardens, there are gardens for everyone to love and feel inspired by.

I particularly love how they will break down a garden and identify the special types of plants (in stunningly soft photographs that are of course breathtakingly beautiful) so that you too can start planning your garden with those plants.

Although most of us will never have a giant perfectly clipped boxwood hedge, the gardens and plantings featured in GI are so inspirational that you can’t help but feel excited and in love with them - and they do undoubtedly have an influence on the plants we pick to grow and the way we garden.


2. Plants with Style by kelly norris

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If you haven’t read Plants with Style, you definitely should! I’m biased due to the fact that Kelly Norris is a good friend and influence on my design style (especially his awe-inspiring plant combinations from the Des Moines Botanical Garden) but even if I didn’t know Kelly, I would still sing the praises of this book.

Filled with the best of the best, the cultivars in the book transform plants that I usually wouldn’t think of planting due to their ubiquitous nature (lilies, gaillardia, pennisetums) into must-have pieces for the garden.

Kelly has a particular gift for describing plants in an entertaining and page-turning manner, taking you along for the journey as he discusses species. It’s almost like he’s recounting a story about old friends going on an adventure - you feel like you already know these cultivars and have grown them for years by the time he’s doing telling you about them.

You can buy the book directly from Kelly’s website (and learn more about him as a plantsman and gardener!)


3. Sarah Raven’s Website

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There are a lot of gardening supply and seed websites out there. Sarah Raven’s is one of the best.

Known for her bold and colorful gardens, there’s something so charming, so carefree, so very British about her style of gardening and choice of plants. You can’t help but want to just walk through her gardens. Just the way that talks about the flowers and plants in her garden, you can just tell that gardening is her passion and she knows her plants through and through.

I particularly love the way that Sarah is able to plan for a natural cutting garden that will allow you to have arrangements of flowers pretty much year round. Whether showing you how to cordon sweet peas, grow aquilegias from seed, or keep cosmos deadheaded, you’re going to get excited about your garden and color and cutting from your garden by visiting her website!


4. Visit your local botanical garden


Although we can give recommendations on gardening and plants, everyone’s climate is a little bit different. We grow the same plant differently in the Southwest compared to the Southeast, and even more so than the Midwest or East coast. There’s no better way to get ideas of the plants that will thrive and perform well than visiting your local botanical garden.

For instance here in New Mexico, we have the ABQ Biopark Botanic Garden and everywhere you look there are beautiful plant combinations. Whether you’re looking for something native, something xeric, or a lush and well tended Japanese garden, there’s something here for everyone to take inspiration from for the home garden.

While you don’t have to recreate the botanic garden in your own garden, you can take away great ideas that will inspire your planting ideas at home.


5. Head to Pinterest


We do love Pinterest for the way that it is a visual search engine. No matter what you’re looking for in a garden, there is something to inspire you there.

I’ve been a Pinterest user since it first started back in 2011, and the gardening pins have been extremely inspiring to me throughout the years. When I find myself in a bit of a muddle as far as what to plant or looking for plant combinations, Pinterest is always giving me new options or ideas.

One tip: it’s easy to get sucked into Pinterest due to the sheer amount of ideas - so it’s best to really focus on a specific type or style of garden (French potager, British herbaceous border, dry hot border) and go from there.


6. Take a walk in nature

Although I do love the work of many designers, Mother Nature is sometimes the most innovative and best designer that I know. When it comes to plant combinations, she sometimes will place plants together in a way that I never in a million years would have thought of.

Some of the designer greats - like Piet Oudolf- are inspired by nature. For the Lurie Garden for instance, Oudolf traveled all over the Midwest, observing the ecosystem and how the plants interacted together and grew together in their natural environment. Seeing how echinacea actually grew among the native grasses in the tall grass prairie, the ways that the plants grow, go to seed and then die, only to rise again .

If you’re in a designer rut, head out into nature. Use your eyes, check the nooks and crannies, the wetlands and the creeks to gain inspiration.

We wish you the best as far as planning and designing your garden this next year! We’re going to be working on several gardens ourselves this year - a dry Mediterranean garden, a native pollinator garden and a cutting garden among others - and we will be relating our planning and inspirations with you.