Michael Lee Landscape Designs http://mllandscapes.com Custom landscape designs for homeowners Sun, 21 Aug 2016 04:00:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://mllandscapes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/favicon.png Michael Lee Landscape Designs http://mllandscapes.com 32 32 What To Do About Winter http://mllandscapes.com/winter/ http://mllandscapes.com/winter/#respond Fri, 22 Jan 2016 15:44:59 +0000 http://mllandscapes.com/?p=120 Continue Reading →]]> There’s nothing we can do about the winter weather, which for us in the Northwest is neither sunny California nor snowy Michigan, but a rainy, green and gray in between. Fortunately, the mildness allows us to brighten the gloom with color in the garden.

Flowers, variegated leaves and colorful bark are our remedies for the dull winter landscape. I like to place them to show from both inside and out and group them around walks and entries where you always come and go. Then you can’t miss their good cheer.

Here are some of the best:

Calluna vulgaris ‘Robert Chapman’

Calluna vulgaris Robert Chapman

This summer-blooming heather shines brightest in winter, when its lime green foliage takes on flaming tones of orange and red. Easy in sun and good-drainage, spreading 2 – 3 feet.

Camellia sasanqua / WINTER CAMELLIA


An evergreen shrub of many forms and flower colors, all excellent year-round plants. Small, shiny leaves are the backdrop for a long season of flowers in white or shades of pink and red. Taller ones make nice small trees, others are relaxed enough to train on a wall or fence. Happy in sun or light shade.

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’


After a blaze of golden orange fall color, the leaves of this 6 ft. shrubby dogwood drop to reveal branches of the same color, ending in twigs of fiery red. The amazing display harmonizes with most other winter flowers- blue iris, gold witch hazel, pink hellebore. Unlike other ‘twig’ dogwoods, this does not want wet soil.

Grevillea victoriae / ROYAL GREVILLEA

Grevillea victoriae

From Australia, a 6 – 8 ft. evergreen with handsome gray-green foliage and spidery clusters of orange-red flowers from fall to spring. This fast-growing hummingbird magnet needs only sun and good drainage.

Hamamellis mollis / CHINESE WITCH HAZEL


A small tree of elegant, wide habit and large, rounded leaves that turn gold in fall. The big show is in winter, when branches are lined with spidery clusters of perfumed yellow flowers. Give it moist soil and light shade.

Helleborus orientalis / LENTEN ROSE


Hellebores are tough evergreen perennials with handsome foliage and a long season of showy flowers in artsy tones of pink, cream, plum, slate blue and white on 12 – 18 inch stems. They thrive in dry light shade.

Iris lazica / WINTER IRIS

Iris lazica

This and its cousin, Iris unguicularis, make large clumps of foliage all year, studded in winter with beautiful lilac blue flowers. They grow 15 in. high, in sun or light shade and need no water.

Jasminum nudiflorum / WINTER JASMINE

Jasminum nudiflorum

Deciduous sprawler excellent for making a waterfall of small yellow (alas scentless) blooms over a wall. Also trains well on a fence, colorful from Christmas to St. Patrick’s Day. Drought-hardy in sun or part shade.

Mahonia x media / WINTER MAHONIA

Mahonia Arthur Menzies

Under this name are several hybrid cultivars, exotic Asian versions of Oregon grape. Imposing clumps of toothy leaves are topped, in late fall and winter, with big brushes of fragrant yellow flowers. (Watch out for hummingbirds!) These grow 6 – 8 ft. tall in part or full shade.

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Design Considerations http://mllandscapes.com/considerations/ http://mllandscapes.com/considerations/#respond Fri, 06 Feb 2015 22:33:30 +0000 http://mllandscapes.com/?p=48 Continue Reading →]]> In over thirty years practice, I’ve learned a few things:

Low-maintenance is key.

Even the most passionate gardeners want to cut routine gardening chores. I design with this as a given. Reducing or eliminating lawn is an important step in this direction, replacing it with drought-hardy plantings is another.

Chemicals are unnecessary.

I encourage clients to go organic, and my garden designs facilitate this.

Sustainable is more than a buzzword.

For example, the concrete pavers I like to use, when set in sand over crushed rock, allow the vast majority of rainwater to percolate into the ground rather than running into our waterways. They are made in the Northwest from abundant local materials.

Color and fragrance captivate.

My gardens usually have something in bloom every day of the year. Other plants chime in with colorful foliage, bark or berries. Fragrant flowers and foliage add a delicious element, too. I like to use winter-flowering plants near entries and windows so you can enjoy the color and fragrance ( and hummingbirds!) easily.

Comfortable surfaces for walking and relaxing are a must.

Cracked concrete, sagging decks or humpy lawns are no place to enjoy the outdoors, and muddy trails and shifting stairways are uncomfortable if not dangerous. Fixing those is the first priority.

Making the most of outdoor living space is a top priority.

I have many years experience finding space for sitting, playing and entertaining without sacrificing all your greenery. Leveling a sloping lawn with retaining walls and drought-hardy plants gives you more living space and way less upkeep.

Opinions on such issues as privacy vs. views and sun vs. shade.

Opinions vary even within one household. Usually a garden needs some of each rather than a compromise. The same holds with plants. Lush foliage or minimalism ? Palms and flamingos or strictly native? We can work it out.

More people than ever want to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

I have always worked edibles into my designs and have laid out many a raised vegetable bed. Clients often underestimate the time and attention food plants require, but careful selection, proper location and drip irrigation can make it deliciously rewarding.

Most clients have only a partial view of the possibilities for their outdoors.

It’s my job to show you the range of spaces and details, plants and materials we can use to make your garden exciting, satisfying and personal.


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Value of a landscape design http://mllandscapes.com/value/ http://mllandscapes.com/value/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 22:40:04 +0000 http://mllandscapes.com/?p=1 Continue Reading →]]> Whether your landscape is simply the setting for your home or your primary center of activity, it needs to be beautiful, functional and easy to care for. My design work aims at all three, plus the important fourth one: affordable.

Working with your needs and wants and guided by the best environmental practices, I will present you with a creative design that reflects your personality. I offer a range of services:

-For small projects, a consultation may be just what you need. For two hours, I will answer your questions, make plant lists and sketch a plan for the space. The charge is $300.00.

-For larger projects, and any requiring structural work such as retaining walls or decks, the charge for a full plan will depend on time needed, with typical fees of $800.00 – $1500.00. After I present the plan, if there are changes needed, I will make those and present a revised plan at no added charge.

-Once you approve the plan and are ready to have the garden built, my contractor and I will put together a proposal for the work. I will be there to supervise the entire process, from design to finished garden, and answer any questions that come up.

Thank you for visiting. I look forward to helping you create the garden you’ve always wanted!

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