Charlotte's Place
Landscape and Interior Decor Consultant
"a work in progress"
making home your favorite place to be
After a series of changes (on-going), hooks, and pockets, allowed us to utilize every square inch of wall there is, and there isn't much; there are more windows, and doors, than usable space. Try to maximize your storage, regardless of how small it is: there are lots of smart ideas out there (Pinterest), to show you how to do just that. E.g.:  stuff your winter boots with pool "noodles" ($3-dollar store); they require less room, keep their shape, and remain upright. If you put shoes/boots, toe/heel on a shelf, you will have room for more. I place clear, plastic bags, loosely over them, to keep dust out, off-season, and I can SEE them, when I need to. The unheated front porch was just cold, and awful, and then it was pretty, for a while. Now this room does a job, and quite well. If only I could wish away the "what was I thinking?" paint color. Use horizontal storage, when vertical is at a premium, and try to make furnishings as multi-functional as possible.  I recently bought plastic 'vacuum' bags, and turned a 2nd floor cubby, literally filled to capacity with duvets, pillows, etc., into an almost empty space with just 2, albeit horribly crippled, air-free packages that  sit under a shelf, affording me a HUGE amount of storage; what a great product. However, that said, later that day, the room, vacuumed, dusted and washed, was refilled, but I can see what is in there, and therefore recognize, another EDIT is due. And so it goes.
This was Helene and Jim's front yard, 2004, pre-digital photography. There was really nothing there. Jim hired me; I think I amused him with my enthusiasm. Right is their front garden this summer (2016), a far cry from nothing much, but there really isn't a LOT planted here except what is willing to grow in a very hot space which is never watered (seriously, never) and can tolerate the 'worst' soil ever! However, this space is very insect friendly, with Echinacea and Milkweed self seeding, perpetually, and a 'Tangutica' clematis that does likewise, knowing no bounds (it's just doing what the others are). This garden  works perfectly for the my lovely friends, and it requires occasional weeding (did I mention self-seeding??), and edging to keep the grass out.

Many years have flown by since I started off on my own in 2000, my level of energy has diminished and in 2013, I all but stopped. It only made sense  if I couldn't do what I did very well, I shouldn't be doing it at all. After all, no one wants a half hearted designer, and being unable to find people to help put my ideas to work, it seemed time to call it quits. That said, I'm not one, so I handed clients I couldn't keep up with to a good friend, fellow gardener; someone I trusted to look after them and I retained just a few friends/clients whose wants were small, and who had supported me when I "just couldn't do it". While in a classroom trying to explain the multitude of theories on weather changes and how it's affected everything we do in our gardens: I couldn't be more animated, but the physical aspect of being ALL of Charlotte's Place was impossible. After yet another surgery in spring of '16, I took much time to address the garden, cathartically, my garden, which had held it's own for 3 years but it had given all it could; I needed to step up. Those  friends/clients who I'd continued to help with their outdoor spaces, and didn't wish to disappoint, because they had been SO supportive and patient, were willing to wait their turn, 
Below are a few examples of before and after,  so you can see what can be done, and sometimes without doing much at all.
Hi!  I have determined I talk too much, and likewise, write, and my website, like my life, and all in it, required a major edit. It has begun. Call it a well, over due, 2017 resolution. This year I'm finishing some seriously overdue projects.  When teaching a landscaping, decorating, or de-clutter course, conversation, and much of it, is essential, but perhaps a website with too much information is simply too cluttered, too busy and overwhelming.
I hope this revised site (04.05.17) is easier to follow.

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Much like me, Candace likes to putter, but she's a busy, career woman with little spare time, and again, like me, her neighbors were finding their garden too much to handle, particularly with George's penchant for "annuals", and all that planning and planting. Candace and I work together to maintain proper spacing in this heavily shrubbed garden, and although I've done most of the work, Margaret has become quite eager to participate; learn how to look after garden. It was taken back to 1/3 of its' previous size, and a good portion of what was then planted, were shrubs. These hardier,  more architectural plants introduce interesting shapes, sizes, bark colours and growing patterns, some with amazing flowers but mostly, they provide interest in a space which, through the long winter months when, we forget the JOY that is awaiting us. If we'd just learn to be patient; start gardening - you'll develop a lot of patience; it's part of the job description, albeit I do not consider gardening a job, 90% of the time: There will always be some plain, hard work involved.

Below - what Candace saw, looking at her house/condo, and the view from her living room window, in 2009. Not much, is it?  However, after, and I won't say without a fair amount of work, and do-overs, in 2016. When we met in '09, her yard was the usual, either blank, and/or, typically boring, basic plant installations put in by condo builders. They had became less, and less healthy, so they were replaced, and not without a LOT of back and forths, with the condo-board, first. It caught on, and her neighbors, George and Margaret, decided they too had had enough of dead, and dying shrubs, and lack lustre curb appeal. The two front yards read beautifully as one unit, and more combined projects are in the planning stages.

OUTSIDE 487. The yard, and the house I moved into, in 1998, had absolutely nothing but POTENTIAL, and as a decorator, i went to work on the inside; something we are still at today - Yes, houses may be money pits, but there is much to be said for home ownership, and being able to do whatever you can reasonably afford, when it becomes affordable. With a long-time, 3 season porch, being renovated into an all-season room, we wanted a leaner look for the interior, and, likewise, outside. From the 1st photo, to the 4th, you can see much was dug up, and then given away, where possible, or left in IKEA bags, through this crazy weather (01/17), off in a corner somewhere. (Note: it's April 4th, and some of those abandoned plants are showing new growth.) 35-40% of the garden's plantings, including several large shrubs, were removed. It just felt better, and that made ME feel better: it will be a lot less work, and there are plentiful negative spaces, the likes of which I have learned to appreciate immensely: Less IS more!!! 
Years back, switching banks and mortgages, the assessor mentioned he'd never done a garden like ours. Left alone, he went on his way, but 15 minutes in, he returned, with the survey and asked, "is the garage still there?". Let's just say he learned quite a lesson that day, as I laughingly explained it was what was holding up the wall of green on the south, and west, side of the back garden. That was the 1st time I realized I had far, far too many plants, and I've been editing since, but not to this degree: This is a HUGE change.
I have loved every version of our garden, and almost all the plants that have come and gone, but the more I learn about plants, our changing climate, and the nuances of our own little, botanical world, I recognize not all plants, or the bazillion ideas, are feasible any longer. The neighboring Maples I tearfully pleaded for, which were then sawn in half, survived and 20 years later, are large trees. We have had full sun, then full shade, as they matured, and now, with bi-annual pruning, there is a pleasing mix of both sun and shade, and myriad micro-climates which are far too complicated for me to explain, even if I thought I could. The meteorologists are wrong more often than not, it's a coin toss as to what the next season, let alone coming year, will present: Things have changed and we need to do likewise. 
Gardening is like growing up. As teens, convinced we know it all, we do, and dress as it suits us. As young adults, we find money doesn't grow on trees, and working is how you get, and keep stuff. Then, getting older, the stuff we have isn't "us", the we, we are now, and we continue working to afford other stuff. Now, as we enter the 55+ era, our furniture isn't comfortable anymore, the wall colors are all wrong, our rooms poorly proportioned, and the windows need replacing, again. All this happens in our gardens, particularly with respect to constant change. Whether we, or it, changes, we want something different, and perhaps, now, it's because our bodies are suggesting we need to take things easier. Regardless, what once worked, and was perfect, isn't anymore, and something has to be done. The love affair at 487 isn't over; it's pretty much an old friend that has grown older with us, and it's wonderful.

INSIDE THE HOUSE - always put function first (this goes for the outside, too). If the space doesn't work for you, doesn't actually do a JOB, then you need to figure out a way to make it do what you need. It's doable; it's just a process, and sometimes that involves a lot of change, which some of us aren't comfortable with. Think about negative space in a positive way - the concept may just grow on you, like a wonderfully comfortable pair of shoes you could barely walk in, when new, and now your feet love them.