If you’re still looking for a gift for your favorite gardener and want to make an impact in your local economy, too, here are a few suggestions that will tickle the fancy of that special green-thumb, regardless of the time … Continue reading
Gardening truly is a journey where you discover so much about yourself. For me, it’s been an adventure full of ups & downs. Successes that, if I’m being honest with myself, probably have less to do with me than I’d like to … Continue reading
Here in the northeast, Mother Nature played a big trick on us this weekend, sweeping through with a historic snowstorm – Snowtober.
Like many of you, I will be spending part of the day cleaning up my garden and assessing the damage left behind.
But in honor of the day, I thought I’d offer up a special treat and provide links to several posts about black foliage plants and using them in designed gardens, and containers. Happy Halloween, enjoy the feast!
♦ Awesome Black Plants for High Impact Containers - Fern Richardson at Life on the Balcony
♦ Black Colored Plants - Organic Gardening magazine
♦ Black Plants for Green Thumbs - University of VT Extension
♦ Deep Dark Plant for Halloween - Gen Schmidt on Landscapingnetwork.com
♦ Ten Favorite Black Plants - Rebecca Sweet at Gossip in the Garden
Note: Photo courtesy of http://www.provenwinners.com
It’s fall and that means it’s time to start thinking about planting spring-flowering bulbs to add color to your garden next spring. While the ready availability of bulbs is a boon for gardeners, it can also be a curse. There are so many new bulbs on the market it can be difficult to decide which bulbs are right for your garden.
Using Spring-Flowering Bulbs in Your Garden
Deciding where to plant bulb can be a difficult decision. Spring-flowering bulbs are an excellent addition to foundation plantings. Evergreen shrubs, a mainstay of many foundation plantings, are the perfect neutral backdrop for colorful bulbs. For maximum impact, plant larger bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, in groups of twelve or more so you have a noticeable splash of color.
Spring-flowering bulbs can also be planted under deciduous trees and shrubs. Timing the bloom of the bulbs with the flowering of an early-flowering tree, like redbud, results in a show-stopping combination. Early blooming bulbs, such as crocus, grape hyacinth, snowdrops, and winter aconites are good choices for planting in these areas. Since these bulbs are small in size, you’ll need to plant large quantities. Consider planting at least 50 – 100 of these smaller bulbs, depending on how large of an area you are trying to cover.
Perennials beds and rock gardens are also ideal spots for spring-flowering bulbs. With careful planning, you can have color in these areas for weeks before many perennials typically bloom. And the emerging foliage of perennials can hide the dying foliage of the bulbs. While unsightly, the dying foliage of the bulbs supplies important nutrients to the bulb so it will bloom again next year. Resist the urge to trim foliage will it is green fold it over to form neat little clumps.
After the bulb foliage dies back naturally, you can always plant shallow rooted annuals on top of your bulbs to fill in any holes in the border. Remember to plant bulbs in large, irregularly groups to ensure a spectacular show of color in the spring.
If you’re planting a small area, using bulbs of one color will have a greater impact and will make the space feel larger. Mixed colored bulbs planted in a small space will make the area seem smaller.
If you’re planting a large area, use two or three different colors for a strong statement and plant bulbs of the same or similar color near each other. Select colors that complement each other. If in doubt, separate stronger colors by drifts of pale yellows or off-whites.
Have fun with your spring-flowering bulb plantings but remember to put some thought into where you will plant your bulbs before you buy them. A little time invested now will pay big dividends next spring.
Sometimes, finding inspiration for your own garden is right around the corner. I found inspiration for a few design projects I am working on during a recent visit to Hollister House Garden in Washington, CT with some fellow garden designers from APLD CT. We were fortunate to have a behind-the-scenes tour of the garden by its owner and creator, George Schoellkopf.
Hollister House Garden is one of those unique little places you tend to find just off the beaten path. The garden is a project of the Garden Conservancy and the owner and the garden’s designer, George Schoellkopf.
Located on 25-acres rolling, wooded acres in Litchfield county, the gardens were designed to let the house truly shine. Inspired by the great English gardens of Sissinghurst, Great Dixter and Hidcote, Hollister House Garden is quite formal in its structure and layout but the choice of plants are quite informal.
According to George, ‘every piece of flat land you see was created’. The gardens are laid out on a diagonal so, as visitors pass through the various garden rooms, the house is never fully visible but always a presence. The property also includes a pond and a winding brook, which create unique design opportunities that George has fully explored. The garden is large but through the use of so many ‘rooms’, George has created intimate areas, many with hidden spots to sit and enjoy the garden.
If you would like to visit Hollister House Garden, be sure to check out the website for regular visiting hours. It’s definitely worth the trip. And if you’re not in Connecticut, you can always find gardens near you to visit on the Garden Conservancy website.
Garden enthusiasts in and around Connecticut are in for a special treat on September 10th. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers, Connecticut Chapter (APLDCT) is hosting a private, behind-the-scenes tour of Hollister House Gardens in Washington, CT. This special tour is open to anyone, you don’t need to be a professional garden designer or even have more than a passing fancy for gardening to join us.
The private tour will be hosted by none other than George Schoellkopf, one of the originators of the garden. In case you’re not familiar with Hollister House Garden, according it its website ‘it is situated on a sloped, beautiful terraced site in the rolling hills of Litchfield County in northwestern Connecticut. Hollister House is an American interpretation of such classic English gardens as Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, and Hidcote, formal in structure yet informal and rather wild in its style of planting’.
To find out more information and to reserve your spot, visit APLD CT’s website.
I hope to see you there!
This month on the Garden Designer’s Roundtable we explore the topic of Shade. Our guest is none other than Margaret Roach, author of several best-selling books and the gardening blog, A Way to Garden. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to get a private tour of Margaret’s garden last year with several Roundtablers and other garden enthusiasts and not only a pure delight, it was also a lesson in opportunities. From the design, to plant selection and especially plant combinations, Margaret had capitalized on every opportunity her garden offered her.
Many gardeners look at a shady area as a liability, not an opporuntity to explore a new palette of plants that might not work elsewhere in their garden. Granted, gardening in the shade may require a new mindset for some gardeners so I’d like to offer some inspiration for dealing with those shady spots that every garden has and quite possibly open your eyes to the joys of shade gardening.
A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.
– D. Elton Trueblood
I can say that in the shade garden we are dealing primarily with foliage, and that once you learn to look at leaves you’ll discover a world of unlimited diversity and beauty.
– Ken Druse, The Natural Shade Garden
Success with shade gardening is more a question of attitude than anything else. Don’t moan over what you can’t grow, learn to rejoice over what you can grow.
– Larry Hodgson, Making the Most of Shade
If you have a shady spot to plant a garden then you are fortunate indeed.
– Carolyn Harstad, Got Shade?
To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.
– Jane Austen
I invite you to continue exploring the subject of Shade by clicking on the links below:
Not only is this the time of year when Hollywood stars are receiving their awards, plants are being recognized for their contributions in the garden too. Every year, the Perennial Plant Association chooses a plant of the year and for 2011, the winner is…Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas Blue Star).
This perennial, native to the southwestern US and named after Leslie Hubricht who discovered it growing wild in a field in the early 1940’s, has very narrow, needle-like leaves that line the stem. From late spring through early summer, 3 inch wide clusters of small, light blue, star-shaped flowers are held above the short mound of delicate foliage. After blooming, it quickly grows to reach a height of about 3 feet. It is hardy in zones 5 – 8.
Amsonia hubrichtii adds a billowy, finely textured element to the garden. It eventually grows into a dense mass, similar to a small shrub. While the pale blue flowers can be useful in toning down adjacent brightly-colored flowers, and its foliage adds interesting texture all summer long, arguably the best feature of Amsonia hubrichtii is its fall color. The entire plant turns a stunning shade of golden-yellow and makes an ideal backdrop for fall-blooming perennials such as sedums and asters.
Arkansas Blue Star thrives in most gardens with little care. It is deer-resistant and is typically not bothered by pests or disease. Plant it in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. If it is grown in too much shade or in very rich soil, its habit will be open and floppy. This plant grows fairly large (3 feet x 4 feet) in zones 4 – 9 but it will not need to be divided for many years
According to the Perennial Care Manual by Nancy Ondra, young plants should be spaced 2 – 3 feet apart. But if you desire a fuller look sooner, space 12 – 18 inches apart but know that you will need to move them in a few years. Plants typically bloom by mid-to-late spring. Cutting Amsonia hubrichtii back by half after flowering will stop self-sowing and result in smaller, bushier clumps. Once established, it should not require watering except during long dry spells.
Plants can be cut back in either the late fall or late winter. Remember to wear gloves when working with Amsonia since stems release a white sap that can irritate skin.
Note: Photos are courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder
It’s that time again, when we reflect back on the past year. I thought I’d try something new this year and re-cap the five most popular blog posts of 201o - as chosen by you. The funny thing is I’m not sure why these particular posts are so popular – if I knew I’d write more just like them and get my stats to soar through the roof!
Regardless, I’d like to thank you all for your continued support of my blog throughout the year. A special thank you to everyone who’s left an occasional comment or two. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through your comments and visits to your blogs. I hope you’ll continue to visit again throughout 2011.
The number one post this year, and last year too for that matter, is this one entitled Amelanchier – A Multi-Season Star. If you’re looking for a native tree to add to your garden that will delight you year round and also attract all sorts of birds and bees, you can’t go wrong with a serviceberry. This small tree is definitely not a garden ‘one-hit-wonder’ like many other spring-flowering trees who shall remain nameless (weeping higan cherry).
The second most popular post was this one, Double-file Viburnum…Twice As Nice In Your Spring Garden. I LOVE double-file viburnums. I have 5 of them in my garden right now. I use them for primarily for screening, with benefits. They really do have something to offer the garden during all four seasons. I think, if I could have only one genus of shrub in my garden, it would have to be Viburnum. What would yours be?
The third most popular post was this one called Landscape Design 301 – The Principle of Balance. It was part of a series I wrote about the principles of landscape design. The series consisted of 6 different posts but, for some reason, this is the only one that made it in to the top 10 for 2010. Like I said, who knows what makes one post more popular than another!
My fourth most popular post was this one on Shade Tolerant Trees For a Small Garden. I enjoyed writing this post because I have a lot of shade in my garden and I’m always looking for small trees that will thrive in partial shade. I’m delighted to say I have an Eastern redbud and white fringe tree in my garden already and hope to add a pagoda dogwood in 2011. I have the perfect spot already picked out for it!
And the fifth most popular post of 2010 was this one called Adding Color With Berries. I’m pleased to see so many readers are looking for berrying shrubs. Not only do they add a punch of color, especially those that berry in the fall and winter, but they are also an important source of food for birds. One of my goals for 2011 is to add several more berrying shrubs to my garden. Aronia is still on the top of my list but I’m open to suggestions if anyone has any. It needs to be deer resistant and berry in partial shade.
I wish you all a happy and healthy 2011 filled with much laughter, joy, and success!
I have big news! I recently signed on to be the garden writer for a new online hyper-local newspaper called Stamford Patch. My column is called The Garden Patch and will be published on the first Tuesday of each month.
My inaugural article, Holiday Gifts for Gardeners, highlights local sources for gifts any gardener will love , and also use for years to come.
Are you hoping for one of the items on my list? If not, what’s on your wish list this year?