Smart Seasonal Color & More

Meet Shelley Threefoot Cowan, NatureScapes Seasonal Color Designer and Floriculturist.

Read Shelley’s Expert Picks which include some of the new plants she’ll be using this spring.

Download this month’s article by Shelley about what goes into planning seasonal color.

See award-winning color design in this case study complete with photos.

View a sample color plan and read why it is a good design.

Don’t miss the regular Plant of the Month feature and the new Customer Spotlight.

Seasonal Color Fun Fact:

NatureScapes planted 68,000 annuals in 47,000 square feet of flower beds in 2009,
and that was before merging with Landscape Maintenance Group!

Shelley Threefoot Cowan

Meet Shelley Threefoot Cowan
NatureScapes Seasonal Color Designer and Floriculturist

Shelley Threefoot Cowan is an award-winning seasonal color designer with more than 27 years of industry experience.

Prior to joining NatureScapes in 2006, she gained design expertise as a floriculture designer at Post Landscape Service, a seasonal color designer for commercial properties at Valley Crest, and a landscape designer at GreenSeason Group. Her seasonal color work has been recognized with multiple awards from Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association and the Georgia Green Industry Association.

Shelley has a bachelor of science degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and is a Certified Georgia Nurseryman. She also is a member of MALTA.

She resides in Lilburn with her sons, and in her spare time enjoys hiking, exercising, listening to music, and cheering for her hometown team, the New Orleans Saints.

Expert Picks!

There are hundreds of new annuals introduced each year. Shelley Threefoot Cowan, NatureScapes Seasonal Color Designer and Floriculturist, has selected a few new and old favorites she’ll be using in beds beginning in April.

New Varieties in the Palette

Cora Cascade Creeping Vinca
Vinca is known for its ability to not only survive, but thrive, in heat and humidity. Perfect for Atlanta! This newer vinca is more disease resistant and trails to fill large beds, sports large blooms, and stays full all summer.

Bada Bing and Bada Boom Begonias
These new begonias are well suited for dry areas, multiple light conditions and large beds. They are perfect for formal plantings with strong color and a consistent mound shape that endures all season. Bada bing – bada boom, they bloom as easy as the name implies.

Gold Lace Coleus
While this coleus variety is not new to the plant world, it is new to NatureScapes’ color palette adding another great option for stand-out gold color. It has an excellent growth habit and the strong bushy plants are heat tolerant.

  Post-Draught Debut

Varieties of coleus, impatiens (pictured left) and begonias are old favorites; however, they were temporarily put on hiatus during drought conditions. With eased water restrictions, you will see more of these plants – though sparingly – in NatureScapes’ designs.

Case Study: Good Seasonal Color Design that Beats the Heat

Client: Prescott Apartments, a 19-building complex on 21 acres of heavily landscaped grounds

Objective: Through the use of seasonal color, make Prescott stand out in the marketplace and maintain high occupancy rates.

Challenge: Design seasonal color beds within budget that will hold up to foot and vehicle traffic, and thrive in summer conditions including heat radiating off the asphalt and watering restrictions due to the drought.

Solution: Using the right plant in the right place, combined with a thoughtful fertilization and fungicide/insecticide program, was the key to an award-winning display of color. Off the main road, the front entrance full of bold color beckoned future residents inside while the hardy “color-brick-road” was easy to follow all the way to the leasing office.

Awards: 2008 MALTA Seasonal Color Distinction Award for a multi-family property and 2007 Southeast Regional Award for Best Flower Display by Prescott owners Mid-America Apartment Communities

A blend of several colors and textures is appreciated at this walk-by bed. It is important to choose plant material that will “pop,” yet blend in well with existing permanent color – all while not blocking the information sign. The combination of scaevola, setcreasea, begonias and caladiums all work great here with the maple, crape myrtle and gardenias.

Hot! Hot! Hot! Duranta and vinca thrive in these beds surrounded by hot concrete and asphalt. Working with the existing yucca, cannas and roses, NatureScapes met the challenge when choosing a compatible color scheme.

Elements of Good Design

This is a proposed seasonal color plan for a client of NatureScapes. What makes it a good design?

1. Plant hardiness! The plants in these beds not only have to hold up to the summer sun, but the heat radiating off the concrete around it. All of the selected plants are heat resistant and thrive in Atlanta’s summer conditions. If a plant doesn’t survive, these plant choices are readily available throughout the season making it easy to fill any gaps if necessary.

2. Bold blocks of color! The strong color contrast of yellow, magenta, and purple will ensure you don’t miss this property when you drive by. Also, like annuals are planted en masse to produce bold blocks of color, which makes a large bed more attention getting.

3. The right plant height! When planting around a sign, especially an entrance sign, how tall a plant will be at its peak is extremely important. In this case, the plants selected for the signage bed are low-growing so they will not block the property’s name or address.

Customer Spotlight

“I feel the personal relationship we’ve developed with NatureScapes allows The Arbors to look its best in all seasons.”
– Marlene Shacklan, The Arbor at Lenox Park, HOA Landscape Chair

THE ARBOR AT LENOX PARK – The recent snow was further evidence that the properties cared for by NatureScapes look beautiful year round. At The Arbor front entrance, left, pansies peek through the snow looking for spring, and right, snow clings to the pruned branches of a crape myrtle accenting its interesting shape.

Japanese Apricot
(Prunus mume)

Plant of the Month: Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume)

The Japanese Apricot, or Prunus mume, is a beautiful tree reaching 20 feet at most. This flowering fruit tree is one of a kind with its droopy branches and corkscrewed trunk growth. Its flowers are white, red, or a vivacious pink, blooming from late winter to early spring and create single or double blooms. Fragrant and long lasting flowers are only a meager portion of what make this tree so picturesque and charming. The tree itself forms gnarled branches and is often multi-trunked, making it incredibly unique and interesting to the eye. Following blooming, these trees also produce small yellow drupes, which are inedible but attractive. The Japanese Apricot prefers full sun and loamy soil. This deciduous tree is low maintenance and needs normal to moist soil to thrive. Uniform light is extremely important to the Japanese Apricot because if it does not receive equal light on all sides, it will not grow evenly. For flowering to be at its best with mass blooms, heavy pruning is a must after flowering. These gorgeous blossoms appear only after the green leaves have fallen and its shiny branches are bare with the exception of hundreds of fragrant little flowers.