Magazine article Sunset

Sinjen's Magic Carpets

Magazine article Sunset

Sinjen's Magic Carpets

Article excerpt

A venerable landscape designer shares his secrets for using ground covers imaginatively

Aladdin and Sinjen have at least two things in common. First, 'both get by fine using a single name. Aladdin jettisoned his surname; Sinjen, his given name. To his friends and clients, he's just Sinjen. Actually he prefers "Sin." The other link between these two legends? Well, both happen to be wizards with carpets. Sinjen's, though, are composed of living plants, not silken threads. A distinctive way of using ground covers has long been one of this landscape designer's trademarks.

Take Polygonum capitatum, whose cloverlike blossoms provide a solid blanket of color from curbside to doorway at a home in San Diego, for instance. Sinjen used the wash of pale pink blooms as the background color in the garden, then superimposed bolder materials - such as Tagetes lemmonii, which bears clouds of sulfur yellow flowers, and bronzy red-leafed Acalypha wilkesiana 'Macrophylla'.

Appropriately, Sinjen got the idea for this landscaping style while sitting on a carpet. Years ago, a friend spread out an old Oriental rug on the grass for a picnic, he recalls, "and I immediately started figuring out how I could create the same effect with plants."

P. capitatum was his first success, and it's still his favorite background plant for Persian carpet-style gardens. The plant is frost-tender but otherwise tough, blooms nearly year-round, and stays flat and compact when kept on a lean diet. Yellow-flowered Cape weed (Arctotheca calendula) is another of Sinjen's staples. …

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