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Garden Inspiration

February 15, 2023


Seed catalogs and availability lists begin trickling into mailboxes and inboxes in February at the same time the world outside looks grey and white, begging for a bit of color.  For those with an extensive mental plant pallet, visions of favorite flowers and foliage may pop in and out of mind – to be arranged and rearranged like chess pieces. Perhaps a peonyhere or a coneflowerthere.  A quick glance through the catalog and the shopping list is burgeoning with more plants than they have room for in their current garden, so a new bed is born.   

For others, new garden elements and designs don’t always spring forth from a blank slate.  ‘Borrowing’ from the pallets of others may be the inspiration you need to create your own beautiful garden.

Planting design inspiration can come from many places.  Garden visits are best, to view scale and observe plant combinations in various light and growing conditions. But when garden visits aren’t an option, images from books and internet searches are an easy way to find inspiration.  I often choose the longest line at the grocery store so I have time to pursue the newest garden trends and leaf through magazines in search of great plant combinations. The images below may also help to inspire.  The accompanying plant lists will allow you to steal the look from some of my favorite gardens at the Arboretum.

Inspiration for Spring

Deep purple flower – Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)

White flower – Tiarella cordifolia (foam flower)

Light purple flower – Geranium maculatum (wild geranium) Fern fronds in background – Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)

Small yellow flower w/ reddish heart shaped foliage – Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ (barrenwort)

Deep burgundy and mauve flowers – 

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Shrub in bud – Carpinus betulus ‘Columnaris’ (upright European hornbeam) Bluish green emerging shoots – Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ (fragrant Solomon’s seal)

White flower – Tiarella cordifolia (foam flower)

Pink flower foreground – Glaucidium palmatum (Japanese wood poppy)

Yellow flower – Stylophorum diphyllum (wood poppy) Pink flower in background – Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart)

Inspiration for Summer

Pink flower in foreground – Echinacea ‘PowWow Wild Berry’ (purple cone flower)

White perennial – Pycnanthemum muticum (mountain mint)

Pink flower in middle – Hibiscus Summerific ‘Berry Awesome’ (rose mallow)

Sedge in foreground – Carex flacca ‘Blue Zinger’ (blue sedge) White flowering shrub – Hydrangea paniculata ‘Quick Fire’ (panicled hydrangea)

Orange flower – Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)

White flower – Calamintha nepeta (lesser calamint)

Grass – Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’ (blue grama)

Light purple flower in background – Geranium

Tree – Platanus x acerifolia (London  planetree)

Red flower on left side – Lychnis chalcedonica ‘Burning Love’ (Maltese cross)

Orange flower in foreground – Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)

Reddish Coral colored flower in middle – Echinacea ‘Sundown’ (coneflower)

Yellow flower – Heliopsis helianthoides (false sunflower)

Grass – Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) Conifer in background – Juniperus virginiana (common juniper)

Ann Rzepka Budziak

Ann Rzepka Budziak

Director of Horticulture

Ann Rzepka Budziak is the of Director of Horticulture at Holden Forests and Gardens’ Arboretum campus in Kirtland, Ohio. She has dedicated over two decades of her career to public horticulture and has worked in all phases of plant design and installation from site preparation, to seed collecting, propagating and landscape maintenance. She previously maintained the Arboretum’s Eliot and Linda Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden, Henry Norweb Jr. Tree Allee and Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden. Ann oversees the Arboretum’s highly skilled horticultural team and operations for over 80-acres of cultivated land, combining her expertise in horticulture, landscape design, and ecological restoration.

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