Hugging Your Home?
To many homeowners, a house without an edging of greenery around the perimeter is like a
painting without a frame. It's not difficult to find houses across the midwest and elsewhere that flaunt a row of evergreens--usually
junipers or yews-that were planted decades ago, and now are often overgrown, sickly or sheared into tight little balls and
cubes. "It's like parsley around the turkey," says landscape architect Scott Ogden, who, with his wife Lauren Springer
Ogden, wrote "Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens that Honor Plants, Place, and Spirit" (Timber
Press, 284 pgs., $34.95).
Ogden's family moved from Texas to Flossmoor, Illinois, during his high school years,
and looking back now he says, "I remember being shocked at the landscaping. In Texas, houses don't have basements
so people don't hide the foundations the same way."
It hasn't always been fashionable for houses to don a green
skirt. Like lawns, foundation plantings are a relatively modern concept in residential landscape design. Until the late-19th
Century, many physicians actively discouraged the use of foundation plants, warning that dark damp shrubbery pressing against
the house invited the dreaded scourge of consumption (tuberculosis). By 1870, the high stone and brick foundations of
increasingly large Victorian homes were softened and concealed with fragrant, showy shrubs that provided delicate, sweet-smelling
breezes inside and out on warm summer days. Mock orange, summersweet, lilac, viburnum, roses and fothergilla were
some of the popular shrubs planted under windows, at the corners of the house, and flanking doorways. Then as now, the
key to a good foundation is to keep plantings in scale with the home and choose plants that will thrive in the available light
and moisture conditions.
-- Nina Koziol, (c) http://www.thisgardencooks.com and the Chicago Tribune
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