Talk Dirt To Me

Gardening in Alaska presents big challenges, whether it's the extra effort in finding plants tough enough to survive our Zone 2-4 climate, communicating with like-minded Alaska gardeners, or keeping up with the latest trends, issues and solutions. We'll try to help with that. We'll also tour gardens from Homer to Anchorage to Wasilla to Willow whenever we get the chance, and post the best garden photos around. Presenting a forum about cold-weather gardening and for cold-weather gardeners is what we are all about. We hope you'll join us on the Talk Dirt garden blog.

Photographer and gardener Fran Durner ( writes the blog.

February Garden Calendar - 1/29/2010 9:28 am

UA Anchorage recognized as a Tree Campus USA - 1/27/2010 10:36 am

Stone walls provide beauty and exercise - 1/26/2010 8:43 am

USDA program for high tunnels offered - 1/25/2010 8:08 pm

Worms could eat your garbage too - 1/24/2010 8:01 pm

Wildflower Garden Club offers annual scholarship - 1/21/2010 1:08 pm

Where did you find inspiration last year? - 1/19/2010 3:57 pm

Zaumseils say farewell for now - 1/18/2010 3:57 pm

Small Gardens for Small Spaces

Audio slideshow of NW Flower and Garden Show
Sally Field audio slideshow

David Stevens has won an amazing amount of awards for his garden designs at both the Chelsea Garden Show and Hampton Court Palace Show in England. To bring a winning garden design to one of those shows you have to pack a lot of information into a very small space and do it in a way that is intelligent, articulate and makes the viewer want to take it home without overwhelming her.David Stevens signs books following a talk. Photo by Fran DurnerDavid Stevens signs books following a talk. Photo by Fran Durner

At Steven' talk "Small Gardens Designed for People" at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show he threw out the questions we need to ask ourselves when encountering a small yard: Where are the trash cans going to go? The bikes and the BBQ? Do you have kids, grandkids, dogs? Do you have a good view or a bad view? Where do you park the car? Gather that information (and more) about yourself and then see what have you got and what do do you want? Most people want a space that works for them and that they can relate to.

Following after a talk about color he had this to say to peels of laughter, "You can burn that color wheel on huge ceremonial bonfires! It was invented to confuse people!"

"A good garden should fit you like a glove and feel like old shoes," he said. "Small gardens need exquisite planning and design. The detail is absolutely essential." One of the tricks you can use in a small garden is to design a path that wends around and it will make the garden feel larger because you are taking the long way to get from point A to point B. Even though water conservation is becoming an issue, Stevens contends that water features can still be included in gardens if designed and used sensibly.

Mirrors can be used (carefully) to extend a view. "Gardens are art. Growing plants and having gardens are a way to expand our imagination." Stevens believes in exploring that art form.

In his own garden, Stevens like to plant simply - lots of grasses and drifts of plants with different shapes and textures. Not many flowers as he travels a great deal and he needs a garden that can take care of itself.

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