Have You Heard about Cucamelons?

Have you heard about Cucamelons? Also called mouse melons? 

 This tiny watermelon look-alike from south of the border is grape-sized and tastes of cucumber with a hint of lime. They are going to be very popular soon, kind of like the 'ipad mini' of the vegie world...
Why? because they are pest free, drought tolerant, easy to grow, and a vigorous climber/trailer that produces masses of fruit throughout the summer! 

Its botanical name is Melothria scabra and it comes from Mexico/Central America where it is called sandita de Raton (little mouse melon). They have been grown there since Pre-Columbian times and need a sheltered sunny spot to grow. 

Their taste is unusual in that - first it tastes like cucumber but the aftertaste is something tart.. Karen Bertelsen of the blog 'The Art of Doing Stuff' describes it this way:
"When you bite into the mouse melon the first flavour you get is cucumber, but then your salivary glands do that weird thing where they kind of burn and cl…

The Story of the Gertrude Stein statue in Bryant Park, NYC

I once had a landscape client named Dr. Maury Leibovitz. He was an older gentleman and asked me to create a perennial garden for him in his large property in Greenwich, Ct. 

We had a lot of fun doing it. He enjoyed it greatly. During that time he gave me a tour of his estate's grounds and shared stories of  the magnificent sculptures that dotted the landscape.

 I learned that he started out as an accountant for  Occidental Petroleum Corporation and became an associate of the the corporation's late chairman, Dr. Armand Hammer. Leibovitz and Hammer shared a love of fine art and together purchased Knoedler Galleries and Publishing in 1971.

Maury shared stories of how he found certain artists. And one sculpture in particular he loved - Gertrude Stein by Jo Davidson.  He and I stood there  and admired it, set in a pastoral setting, and I listened to his stories. I told him that his gift was to share great art he found with the world. 

A few months later he passed away suddenly.  I was …

'Millenium' and 'Summer Beauty' Allium flowers - deer resistant!

Plant 'Millenium' or 'Summer Beauty' Alliums in the spring or summer.  Both of them provide gorgeous, butterfly attracting flowers starting in July -  deep green foliage, profuse display of pink to purple flowered globes.  Tough, reliable and deer resistant!

Allium 'Summer Beauty' really is a summer beauty with light pink-purple globe flowers in mid-July through mid-August. The leaves are slender and deep green.  It is hardy from Zone 4-9.

Allium 'Millenium' blooms about a week later and has slighter deeper purple blooms and is a bit shorter,to 12-20” tall. It is less hardy - Zones 5 - 8.
Allium 'Summer Beauty' and 'Millenium' are fool proof, blooming plants that look great with many other summer perennials like helenium and globe thistle as in photo above. 

The Glorious Sunflower - the Fourth Sister in a Native American Garden

In one of my earlier blog posts I wrote about the Native Americans'Three Sisters Garden (corn, beans and squash ) 

but I neglected to tell you of the Fourth Sister...a very important member of this family!
This is from Hubpages
"Fourth Sister, didn't look anything like her other sisters, although she was as tall and as slender as First Sister (corn) . That seemed fair to all, because Third Sister and Second Sister shared similar but different features. They could climb and run, while their other two sisters were forced to stand tall and proud."
Mother Sun explained that each sister had her job and each had to benefit from and protect one another.  But Fourth Sister's job was most important of all -- for she was the guardian of the North, planted firmly, to protect others from the robbers who soon would come.

The fourth sister was the elegant sunflower.

The Sisters are known to the Native Americans as the “mothers of life”  but they all need each other to survive.  C…

Ruby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea - A Great Plant!

So you want to plant a native shrub that tolerates half shade (shade in afternoon), has big blooms  in the summer and has great Fall color?

Oh yeah, and it should be compact, fairly minimum maintenance and grow to -20 degrees F.

And it should be reddish/pink.


Its 9" long flower clusters start out white, then gradually change to pink and then red, growing above the beautiful oakleaf foliage, which also turns an amazing mahogany red in the fall.   It grows to just 3 1/2 ft. by about 5 feet wide.  Zones 5-9.

Developed by the U.S. National Arboretum in McMinnville, TN in 2010, the compact Ruby Slippers is a cross between Snow Queen and PeeWee hydrangea and does not grow higher than 4 feet.

It is perfect for small residential gardens (such as mine). 

It also does well in planters and containers - perfect for balconies and decks!  And if you have a larger area, you can use them in a mass planting, as a striking hedge and in mixed borders. 


Serenity in the Garden - THE TALKS I GIVE

Serenity by Design Simplicity, Sanctuary & Delight In this engaging  powerpoint, I offer intriguing design ideas for enhancing any garden.   Learn why East is considered the ‘auspicious’ direction, how to use a ‘Golden Rectangle’ to create harmony outdoors, and which colors uplift our spirits in a garden. A very popular talk enjoyed by all - accompanies the book, ‘Heaven is a Garden” (St Lynn’s Press, 2014)    Plant Handout comes with the talk.

The Spirit of Stone – Ways to Use Natural Stone in the Landscape
 An illuminating and beautiful look at creative ways to incorporate natural stone in a landscape. The ‘spirit of stone’ offers tips for using sustainable stone in garden design, how to design a stepping stone path and ends with secrets of ‘reading’ a Japa