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Showing posts from 2018

Breathing Space

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The following is an excerpt from a post on the blog, Creative Countryside. The post isSolitude, Spontaneity and Sanity  written by Sarah Hardman.




"Give yourself a bit of breathing space, time to reset. 

By wandering up that footpath – even if you’ll be turning back around again after ten minutes – you’re doing something very important. 



You’re switching off. 

From the requests of others, from conversation. Instead you’re tuning in to the seasons and the details around you: nature. The sound of birds and buzzing insects and the wind in the trees. 

The smell of the earth and sun-warmed grass, the feel of leaves as you brush past.



 Indulge your curiosity. Reset. The obligations and their accompanying emotions: stress, resentfulness, mild anxiety: they can be let go for a little while as you take some time for yourself and savor your surroundings."







'Being There' - Garden Wisdom for the Ages

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One of my favorite movies is "Being There," a 1979 film starring Peter Sellers. 

It was directed by Hal Ashby, adapted from a novella by Jerzy Kozinski.

 Sellers plays Chance, the gardener, who tends the grounds of an estate in Washington, DC.  



Chance has the mind of a child (the role is a forerunner to Forrest Gump) and knows only two things:  gardening and TV.

  He is reclusive and illiterate and has lived and worked on this property his entire life. 

When his boss, the Old Man, dies at the beginning of the film he finds himself on the street and is soon inadvertently walking the halls of power and prestige. 





His encounters with highly placed people are very funny. They are charmed by his simplicity and honesty. 

They think 'Chauncy Gardiner' is a wise and profound man who uses metaphors of the garden to answer deep and thorny questions, when, of course, gardening is all he knows.



He quickly rises to public prominence and becomes a media sensation. The film  exposes a soc…

Why I Design Gardens

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The design of the landscape is all encompassing. 

It includes urban spaces, civic squares, meeting areas, parks, gardens, linear nature corridors, waterfronts and more. 


Landscape design can be defined as an outdoor area that is molded and manipulated for an intended outcome. It can be stark, sleek and bold. It can be quaint, cozy and comforting. The common denominator is the modification of outdoor space.


What? No plants? Well, landscape architecture should include plants in my opinion.   But the definition doesn't necessarily include them.


With that said, you can follow your own star as it relates to landscaping.  Concrete plazas are your thing? Then so be it.

Co-creating with Nature is my mantra.

I prefer natural elements. Rocks. Trees. Soil.  Flowers. I celebrate the idea that we are one with the earth.  

Landscape design can enhance a feeling of unity with our environment and remind us of the reasons we must facilitate its survival. 

That is why I design gardens.




Red Obelisk European Beech Tree - A Tree for Tight Spaces

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Red Obelisk European Beech is a 2015 Cary Award winner and for good reason:

it is a narrow, columnar tree with wavy, lustrous, burgundy-black foliage all spring and summer. And it is a great deep red exclamation point for your garden.

!  !  !  !  
 Ideal for tight planting areas, it can grow 40 ft. high and no more than 10 ft. wide after several decades. Tolerant of urban pollution so it is good for city landscapes. 


It is a pest-free cultivar, shows good tolerance to road salt, compacted soils and a little light shade (which reduces the intensity of foliage color).

In fall its foliage turns coppery-bronze, holding for weeks, eventually dropping to display a distinct winter-branching outline against the sky.

Plant it  for a strong vertical accent. Or use several trees to form a hedge.




Red Obelisk is quite tolerant of soil conditions - it needs adequate drainage but other than that, fares well in almost all soil types. It  prefer lots of sunlight. 

Red Obelisks are able to handle temperatures …

Sun Loving Sedums for Your Garden

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SunSparkler™ SedumsIf you have a hot, dry garden and want almost 2 months of vibrant color then try Chris Hansen's collection of  brilliantly colored, quick-spreading, ultra-tough and long-lived sedum cultivars  - SunSparklers™.  Zones 4-9.


SunSparkler™ sedums stand up to cold as well as heat, and once established, do not mind poor soil fertility or long periods of drought.


They are great for containers that you often forget to water ( me...).


And there is no better plant for sunny banks, slopes, and rocky garden spots.


These perennials may reach 6 to 8 inches high and spread 18 inches wide within a single season. Butterflies adore the flowers and deer may avoid nibbling the leaves ( it depends). 
Sedum 'Cherry Tart'

'Cherry Tart' has cherry-red, 6" high foliage and 3 season interest.  Deep pink blooms appear in late summer (opening in clusters 5 inches wide) that butterflies love. In mid-fall the red foliage is ablaze in all its glory.

Given good drainage it will no…

Bring on the hummingbirds! 'Major Wheeler' Native Honeysuckle

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For hummingbirds plant something RED.  'Major Wheeler' honeysuckle is a selection of a native honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler') that produces a blanket of tubular, reddish orange flowers from late spring through summer.   Hummingbirds like tubular flowers so this profusely red blooming, vining plant is a hummingbird magnet! Grows in Zones 4 -8. They bloom on the previous year's growth as well as new growth so pruning is easy and regular pruning is not required. They grow from 6 ft to 10 ft. long.  You must provide a trellis, fence, or post with wire grid for support for this marvelous vine. It is noninvasive, unlike some other honeysuckle vines. And it is DEER RESISTANT.  Later, the red berries attract goldfinches and robins. How great! It is rarely troubled by insects, diseases, or deer. Bingo.

Pink Perfume Bloomerang® Syringa -- The Next Big Thing in Lilacs

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Lilacs are classic spring-flowering shrubs. 

Their reliable blooms and sweet fragrance make them a favorite plant and associated with the best of spring.


There are many varieties of lilac out there. I just planted a  new lilac called Pink Perfume Bloomerang®.  It is dwarf and bushy and reblooms with sweetly scented flowers that cover its branches in spring and continue blooming on into frost so you can enjoy the delicious scent of lilacs again and again.

Pink Perfume Lilac has delicate flower clusters of reddish purple buds that open into heavily fragrant, soft pink flowers.  It grows 4-5′ tall so it is perfect for small gardens, pots, and terraces.  Plant one at your  front door to welcome visitors with its heady fragrance.  Remove spent blooms promptly to encourage reblooming. 
It even makes a great small hedge. Plant in full sun.  full sun and neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Bloomerang™ is mildew resistant.  Yay!





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Garden Gnome, anyone?

A few years ago, the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK declared that the banned garden gnome was now allowed to be part of the Chelsea Flower Show.



Tackiness be damned! Garden gnomes for all! 

 Garden gnomes, those funny little white-bearded creatures, 
are associated in England with the landscapes of the not-so-rich and the unfamous.  

According to English gardening maven, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen,
 “Gnomes are very symbolic in English gardens as an anti-class statement."


Born to be Wild Gnome
Anti-class? anti- posh? 
These happy little garden sprites (or small and creepy men, depending on your point of view) are reminders that we are all free to fashion our gardens, our little bits of heaven, in our own way.  

I remember, growing up in Brooklyn, walking by many a 'bathtub Mary' in the chainlink bordered front yards of those lucky enough to have a front yard.  

They would take a cast iron bathtub  (tossed out in favor of newer, lighter ones) and set it vert…

Ode to Spring - by e.e. cummings

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O sweet spontaneous by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962) O sweet spontaneousearth how often havethedotingfingers ofprurient philosophers pinchedandpokedthee, has the naughty thumbof science proddedthybeauty, howoften have religions takenthee upon their scraggy kneessqueezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceivegods(buttrueto the incomparablecouch of death thyrhythmiclover thou answerestthem only withspring)




Cherry Blossom Time - The Tradition of Hanami

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The Tradition of Hanami When I lived in Kyoto, Japan I was lucky to see Hanami in action.  In Japan, the seasonal blooming of cherry trees is celebrated nationally in an event known as hanami(flower-viewing). 
The practice of hanami is centuries old; it began during the 8th century, when it referred to the viewing of the ume, or plum tree.

 But  later hanami was synonymous with 'sakura' - cherry - and the blossoming of the cherry trees was used to predict the next year's harvest.


Hanami was a time to perform rituals marking the start of the planting season. These rituals ended with a feast under the cherry trees, and this persists to today.  

Starting in late March, television weather reporters give the public daily blossom forecasts, tracking the "cherry blossom front" as it progresses from the south to the north. 

Families, coworkers, and friends rely on these to quickly organize hanami parties as the cherry trees begin to bloom locally.



 Parks like Tokyo's famo…