arrival_experience_banner.jpg

The Top 25 Perennial Picks for Peak Performance and Low Effort

Okay, so maybe this month’s blog post title is a mouthful, but it’s an important one as we head toward peak growing season. Why? Because it’s all about the role of perennials in adding color and vibrancy to a garden without adding a lot of extra work.

Let’s face it – it’s hard to know what plants are good choices for hardiness and the ability to provide color and visual interest all season long. This is especially true for the non-gardener who at least recognizes the value of having perennials in the garden, but doesn’t want to get bogged down tending to them or end up having to hire a professional gardening service every week.

Topics: Home Landscape Ideas Seasonal Garden Interest

How to Divide Siberian Irises

Irises are highly popular flowers in many gardens and for good reason – they’re hardy, reliable, and beautiful. Many gardeners prefer them because, in addition to being graceful and colorful – after all, the word “iris” means “rainbow” in Greek -- they attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Among the over 300 species of irises worldwide, Siberian Irises in particular are popular because they are among the easiest to grow in a temperate climate like ours, easily adapting to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 to 8. While the name might sound like they prefer a colder climate, they are in fact a group of hybrid flowers developed from two blue-flowered Asian species. The Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica) sports amazingly long lasting flowers in a cool and consistent spring. Too much rain and heat will wilt flowers prematurely. The most common is ‘Caesar’s Brother’ (photo).

Topics: Landscape How-To Videos

Assessing Your Landscape - How to avoid big money renovations

Every landscape – both natural or managed – is dynamic. Nothing is frozen in time. Without proper, ongoing care, all built landscapes and managed environments will experience a slow and steady degeneration until the only remedy is complete renovation. Even with care the maturing and aged landscape of 15 plus years can start to outpace the space.

What’s needed to avoid major landscape surgery is periodic, year-round assessment that enables you to see and gage your landscape’s performance and determine what needs focused, more proactive attention and what can coast along with minimal care. Take notes and photographs to refer back to later in the year. Use them to review progress at each new phase and season and to act as a baseline for change. Keep in mind, that you can only put off care and change for so long. If you see an issue, address it as soon as you can.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

2017: The Seasons in Review

It’s that time of year when it’s interesting to look back and review all that’s happened in the past 12 months. Even in gardening and landscaping, a lot goes on.

Now, I’m one of those people who embraces seasonality. I love to witness nature slowly turning -- the changes each season brings to the landscape and all the living things in it. I, like a lot of gardeners, deeply sense the cycles of nature – the rebirth of spring, the growth and vitality of summer, the maturing of autumn, and the quiet slumber of winter. Each season brings its demands and rewards for gardeners and lovers of nature.

What has made me so happy about gardening in 2017 is that we really did seem to rebound from two devastating drought years. It didn't seem possible at the end of 2016 that we could recover so well from the damage of drought. But I think we did. Plants were thriving all over the landscape. Roses and hydrangea bloomed with abandon. Perennials, groundcovers, and annuals put on a fantastic show. Fruits and seeds abounded post-bloom -- especially the winterberries. This happy native plant is now in full, glorious display. You will notice them bursting with red throughout landscapes wild and managed. Maybe you have some in your gardens -- if you don't, you should.

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest

Grand Landscapes in Compact Spaces

Do you have a small space to landscape? That doesn’t mean you can’t think big. Many homeowners today find themselves working with smaller lots and bigger houses, often leaving them with relatively tiny areas to landscape. Frustrated by the lack of space, some simply give up thinking that they can turn their property into something fun and functional. Others, faced with a compact space, settle for a boring solution because they mistakenly believe that only rich people can afford to turn an uninspiring space into something beautiful and usable. Neither attitude could be further from the truth.

Topics: Designing Gardens and Landscapes

Fall cleanup: What to do with all the leaves?

To rake or not to rake – that has been the eternal question for homeowners every fall. Conventional thinking has always leaned toward picking up leaves; however, environmentally-minded folks make a good point when they claim that leaf litter is a natural compost and you should just leave leaves where they fall.

Both sides are right. The trick is, we need to reframe our fall clean-up thinking to reflect what it is we’re really doing -- we’re closing down our gardens and tucking them in for the winter. The goal is to stage your garden to help it transition into dormancy in the most supportive way so it can withstand whatever forces of winter are thrown at it.

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest

Why is a Garden a Symbol of Caring?

Nature has long been used as a symbol for a wide range of human emotions, relationships, and interactions. Life, beauty, death, decay, and renewal are just a few examples. As an extension of nature, gardens are perhaps a perfect metaphor for much of what makes us human. We care for our gardens much in the same way that we care for each other. We plant seeds, tend to young plants, feed them, nurture them, and watch them grow.

Much of who we are and what we do centers around how we care for one another on many different levels. Care is central to human existence. Without caring, life would be ugly, short, and devoid of hope and spirit.

Topics: Healing Gardens

Watering in the fall - why it’s good for your plants

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “when do I stop watering in the fall?” For some that might seem like a relatively simple question to answer – “summer is the season for growing and fall is when everything starts to die, so when autumn rolls around it’s time to stop watering, right?” Well, no, not really. The question – and answer – is a little more complicated than that.

Different plants have different needs. Fall is when shrubs and perennials get busy growing their roots. After spending the summer putting all their time and energy into leaf and flower growth, and then fruit and seed production, they use autumn to take better care of their root systems.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

Stepping Back: Tips for when life calls you away from gardening

Let’s face it. Life doesn’t always go as planned. Family and work issues crop up. Turmoil happens. And when life gets in the way of your gardening you need to be prepared to deal with it.

The good news is, if your landscape was well-tended before that unexpected surgery, parental crisis, or another unplanned event, your garden would be just fine for a period of time. Mother Nature will cut you a break because you've been so conscientious about tending to your landscape. BUT….her patience will only last so long. She waits for no one, including you, and that means that plants will continue to grow and that means ALL of them - even the ones you don’t want. It’s called succession.

Regardless of what’s going on in your life, some minimal threshold of care has to be provided to your landscape on a regular basis. Look at it this way – good dental health requires daily tooth-brushing. You may be able to periodically skip more involved and lengthy professional dental care, so long as you floss and brush. But you have to at least brush!

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

Spring into Summer Action: Completing Your Garden Plant Assessments

Here in New England, the growing season is in full swing after a cool, wet spring. For gardeners, the challenge has always been when to truly dive into active garden editing. In other words - when can we start tweaking in the form of digging, dividing, moving, adding and even chucking plants? Once the hint of warm weather arrives, many gardeners succumb to the urge to do everything at once and end up making rushed and often bad decisions…including buying plants with no plan of where they’ll be planted.

Here’s One Golden Rule of Gardening: Spring garden assessments should happen in the latter half of the season. In New England, that means after Memorial Day. Period. This timing gives your garden a chance to rebound from winter so you can see both the plants and the full composition of your garden. Trying to assess in March, April, or even May can lead to bad decisions.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance