MaryAnn's Corner

The Japanese Maple Garden Gets its' Start (written for the Master Gardeners)

When John and I moved to Euclid we found a barren wasteland. Originally, we looked at condos, since we were both in aviation at the time. We were convinced that we wouldn’t have time or even be interested in yard work.  But after looking at more than 20 houses we knew we had found our home.


We started small and, within a couple of years, became addicted to plants and gardening. Every weekend was spent plant hunting. We’d come home & slowly increased the size of our beds!


One thing led to another and after some serious health issues with both John and I, I realized that I couldn’t go back to my job as a Flight  Attendant. John was disabled and, knowing that flying was taking its toll on me, encouraged me to take a leap of faith to start my own business - Garden PHD / Practicing Horticulture  Differently. 

John and I give multiple garden tours of The  Japanese Maple Garden during the growing season and I am frequently asked how to take what we’ve achieved in our garden and apply similar design ideas and principles to different settings.


Here are some tips to remember when you’re wondering how to update your own garden.  Remember that Form, Color & Texture are your best friends. If you mix form and texture, you will achieve an interesting aesthetic, even when most plants are different shades of green. This will create a mood of tranquility and can even have a modern feel as you repeat form throughout.  Adding pops of color with brightly colored leaves can help draw the eye but, also, can say a  lot about a homeowner’s personality and taste. 

I always tell garden visitors and clients alike – do what feels right for you. You have to live with your creation and what is pleasing to one person is not necessarily what is pleasing to the next! 

Let’s face it, there are always changes to be made. Whether you’re a lover of all plants and in need of the latest beauty, your garden requires a plant replacement or you’re yearning for changes, our gardens are always evolving.


When modifying your garden, remember these four principles: Form, Color, Texture &  REPETITION. Each principal on its’ own will offer interest. Combining two or more of them will add a sense of cohesiveness in your space. 

When you visited our garden, you would have noticed the curved walkways. Curves are used  to beckon the garden visitor on a slow journey  through the garden - form, color, texture and  

repetition all work to draw the eye beyond. 

Think about the movement of your beds – the different views from different locations. What you see from one angle may only slightly show from another, allowing plants to be revealed. 

“Hide & Reveal” is a Japanese gardening technique. The idea is that, as you are slowed by the curves, you shed the stresses of everyday life and when you arrive at the destination, you are free to enjoy the fullness of tranquility and beauty. In addition, the visitor pays attention to their surroundings.  

In the Japanese Maple Garden, I have tucked plants here, there, and everywhere. Slowing the journey through the garden gives the visitor the chance to see the variety of plants on display.  

Some gardeners think they have to layer plants from tall to short. I would argue the opposite.  Instead, tuck plants in wherever you can. Not only does layering help with weed control, but sitting in or near the garden provides an entirely different perspective. Plants that couldn’t be seen when you walk by can now be appreciated when you’re lower and farther away.


HOW THE JAPANESE MAPLE GARDEN GOT ITS’ START Click here for the full article.

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