Bunny Mellon's Best Garden Design Tips
Journey to the horse country of Upperville, North Carolina, and you will be captivated by Oak Spring, the estate of Rachel "Bunny" Mellon. Although she died in 2014, she left instructions to preserve her home, garden, and library. If you can't make a road trip to visit the Oak Spring Garden Foundation (open to visitors by appointment only), then here are a few of the legendary style icon's best-kept garden ideas.
1. Add a Focal Point
Good contrast and unexpected shapes are the keys to creating a visual point of interest. Bunny used tall trees to draw
eyes into the distance. A wishing well and container move your attention around her garden. In small yards, insert the unusual—a bright orange pot in the shade will do the trick.
2. Stick to What Grows Easily
Want to know the best plants for your garden? Wander around locally. Great ideas abound in older neighborhoods (and even at gas stations) where plants and shrubs have been thriving for years with very little care. For that reason, they should be invited into our garden beds.
3. Espalier Your Trees
This is easier than it sounds. Plant trees against a trellis, and tie the limbs to it with twine or something soft—never use wire, which can cut your plants. Trim about twice a year.
Shape Sturdy Plants Into Curvy Topiaries
To make a simple version, choose a plant with a strong main stem like a scented geranium. Pot it, attach the stem to a bamboo stake, and remove shoots from the bottom two-thirds of the plant. Clip the top to create a rounded shape. Voilà—done.
5. Include Objects Too
Decorate the outdoors as well: A sturdy piece, like this iron horse in a wooden barrel filled with flowers, turns a plain path into a welcoming entryway. In winter, a red ribbon tied around the horse's neck adds color to brighten up the dreary season.
6. Cultivate A Little Overgrowth
The fleabane, verbascums, and plume poppies throughout the garden weren't planted—they were left after others were removed. They grow happily when they're fed and watered. Snap off seedheads to keep them in check.