arrival_experience_banner.jpg

Monique Allen

Recent Posts by Monique Allen:

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: Annual Gardens

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 garden

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: Garden Watering

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

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: Garden Tips

Bulb care: How to get the most out of your bulbs, now and later

Bulbs are perhaps one of the most valuable and productive friends a flower gardener can have. Cared for properly, they seem to automatically provide life and color in a bleak landscape after a hard winter. They are springtime incarnate.

But after bulbs finish flowering, there’s the ugly aftermath. Faded, collapsed petals; wilted and yellowing leaves and stems. What’s a gardener to do?

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the anatomy of bulbs to learn how to properly care for them and determine an appropriate time and technique for cleaning up that mess while still supporting the health and vitality of the bulb.

Topics: Bulb Gardens

7 Must-do’s For Landscape Curb Appeal That You Will Love

In the real estate business everyone talks about curb appeal but, you ask, what the heck is that anyway and what does it have to do with me? Seriously, who cares about what the curb thinks?

Actually, everyone cares about curb appeal -- even you as a property owner to some extent – and especially anyone buying or selling a property. We may think we couldn’t care less about what other people think about our curb appeal, but the truth is how you feel about the look of your property influences how you feel about your home – and your home life.

Topics: Local Landscape

3 Tips for Busy Homeowners: How to Have a Well-Tended Landscape

Most traditional landscape management has been based on principles of control rather than cooperation. Historically, gardeners have worked hard to achieve what they considered “natural perfection.” Lush, well-tended flower beds and perfectly-shaped shrubs and hedges bordering thick, green lawns.

Of course, all this “perfection and control” takes a terrible toll – on the gardener and the landscape. Hours of backbreaking labor is needed to weed, prune, water, and tend needy plants that don’t really want to be where they’re planted. Tons of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers are applied in order to keep everything and everybody in line. As a result, landscapes are all too often ecological nightmares.

Today, it’s appropriate to consider entering into a new relationship with the natural world. Taking a step away, if you will, from everything that we’ve collectively (mis)learned about “proper garden care” and how a cultivated landscape should look. Gardens need to be less wasteful and more environmentally benign.

Topics: Landscape Tips

First 6 Steps to Create the Garden of Your Dreams

If you love the outdoors and growing things, I’ll bet that, at one time or another, you’ve dreamed about the perfect garden – what you’d plant, how it would look – and then you thought “how would I ever manage to maintain something like that?” It’s easier than you think.

In fact, it’s possible to create the garden of your dreams that is both beautiful and manageable. However, it’s easy to make just a couple of mistakes that turn that garden of perfection into a garden of woe.

There are six landscape basics that come into play with the perfect garden and when they are addressed, maintenance becomes totally manageable:

Topics: Garden Design design

Understand your landscape by breaking it down into layers

Your landscape can be a confusing place. As spring’s thaw gradually reveals its details, it can be difficult to comprehend all of the aspects of your gardens and landscape. However, there is a way that you can simplify and categorize it that will make understanding it significantly easier.

I like to break down the landscape into five main layers or niches as a way to organize my thinking. It’s helpful to understand these niches before you go out to do any landscape assessments – say, after winter or a storm to uncover the damage done or before you do a big project and want to use your assessment as a basis for discussion with a landscape professional.

These layers/niches will help you categorize information and plan for the work needed to best maintain your landscape and to make the best decisions around changing it.

Topics: Landscape Site Analysis