Rose City Park neighbor and garden designer Darcy Daniels of Bloomtown Gardens has developed an online web application called eGardenGo that aims to provide gardeners with the inspiration and resources they need to compose the garden of their dreams. The application soft-launched this spring and offers do-it-yourself garden recipes for every skill level. The site will soon be enhanced with personalized tools that will help users to organize their notes, photos and plant preferences.
“The site is young,” said Daniels. “But people are really enjoying it. As time goes on, we’ll continue to add more features and our library of plant combo ideas is growing and updated daily.”
Working in her neighborhood studio, Daniels has been designing gardens and helping clients to connect with outdoor spaces for more than 15 years.
“I’ve been fortunate,” said Daniels. “I’ve gotten to work with people throughout Portland and the Pacific Northwest to create gardens that their families can enjoy and that they can be proud of.”
Daniels is known for her rich, textural plantings and creative use of small spaces. Her company focuses on residential gardens with an emphasis on creating spaces for outdoor living and establishing gardens that can be enjoyed year-round. She also works as a garden communicator, offering lectures, teaching classes and photographing and writing about gardens.
Daniels’ home garden has been featured on national and regional garden tours and is a popular “walk-by” for strolling neighbors. Many of her clients’ gardens have also been included on regional tours, and her work has been featured in national publications, including Sunset, Fine Gardening and Better Homes & Gardens magazines.
“My husband and I have lived in the neighborhood since 1998,” said Daniels. “One of the things we like about Northeast Portland – and Portland generally – is that it still has intact, distinct neighborhoods with locally owned businesses. The area we live in is incredibly walkable, and the density and the quality of businesses has only gotten better in the years that we’ve been here. We try to shop locally when we can. We really like Beaumont Hardware, and of course, Garden Fever is a top-notch local nursery and neighborhood treasure.”
“When we bought our house, there wasn’t a garden. It was a blank slate,” said Daniels. “I didn’t know I was going to be a gardener. It snuck up on me. Our house had these unremarkable juniper bushes out front – and I was determined to take them out. Once I did, I realized I really didn’t know what to put in their place. I took a stab at it. One thing led to another and I discovered my passion for the garden. Gardening gave me something different than I was getting in my professional life at that time. I was able to reconnect with my creative side as I started painting with plants. I think everyone can have that experience and I hope my app will help more people to do so.”
“I got inspired to build eGardenGo because I’m passionate about helping gardeners be more successful,” said Daniels. “I think a lot of people who really enjoy gardening feel stuck when they think about all the choices they have to make in choosing plants. What will grow in the soil I have? What works in the shady part of my garden? What will look great in the late fall? Which plants complement each other well? My hope for eGardenGo is that it helps gardeners answer those questions, expand their creativity and have more fun as they’re making their gardens.”
The app is currently available online for free and premium features will be rolled in as the product evolves. Signing up for a free account gives users the ability to “favorite” plants and plant-combinations recipes.
“My North and Northeast Portland neighbors are in luck,” said Daniels. “Because this early version of the web app draws heavily on my design practice, the plant palette is heavily focused on plants that work for our area. It’ll keep growing to cover more of the country, but of course my personal preference will always be for planting combinations that work right here.”
To check out eGardenGo for yourself and browse its extensive database of possibilities, visit eGardenGo.com.
Plant Combo-making Tips
You can have fun making plant combos no matter what your skill level — it doesn’t matter whether you’re an expert or just beginning, choosing plants to grow together is always a satisfying challenge. But here are a few tips to help you along:
- Make sure your plants’ cultural needs are a match. This seems obvious, until you get to the nursery and you get swept away by all the inspiring plant choices you have. So a couple of crucial things to keep in mind are what they need in terms of light and water. Ask yourself: are you growing these plants in the shade, or will they have to withstand full sun? Do they both need about the same amount of water to thrive?
- Look beyond the flowers. We all love the color and variety that blooms on a plant bring, but that’s only part of the overall effect. Remember, plants may only bloom for part of the year — how do they look the rest of the year? So pay attention to a plant’s shape, color, and texture when you’re making combos.
- Think foliage. This is really an extension of the previous tip. When you’re planning your garden, remember to emphasize foliage, and have a goodly portion of your plant vignette be evergreen — or something that peaks in the off-season.
- Shop in different seasons. We all get the gardening bug in the spring, and it’s tempting to do all our garden shopping then. But if you shop in other seasons, you’re going to increase your chances of finding plants that hit the high notes in the off-season.
- Keep your maintenance manageable. Almost everyone I’ve worked with has wanted a beautiful garden that didn’t require constant maintenance. How do you achieve that? One way to do it is to choose long-blooming plants that don’t require excessive deadheading or other upkeep to look their best. – Darcy Daniels