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A Fine Gardener Digs into the Truth About Soil

It’s tough for soil to get any respect. To most people, it’s just dirt. But the truth is, soil is a miracle, a universe unto itself right under our feet. It may seem weird at first, but the soil is essentially a living thing, teeming with bacterial life (mostly in a good way) and tiny critters that enable plants to thrive in a wide variety of conditions and environments.

Topics: Ecological and Sustainable Landscapes Landscape and Garden Maintenance Seasonal Garden Interest

Getting Ready for Summer in Your Garden: 4 Tips to Prepare for Long Days & Heat Ahead

Here’s a timeless gardening truth -- after spring cleanups are completed, and mulch is refreshed in the gardens, most homeowners do not do anything more to support or prepare their landscape for the long hot days of summer.

The reason is simple. We have escaped the winter doldrums, and spring is such a gift that we accept it gratefully and simply sit back and enjoy it. Leaves spring out, the grass grows, and trees and shrubs are flowering. We are lulled into thinking that we don’t need to do anything more. But sooner than you think, the blooms are gone, the weeds explode, and you stand there, stunned, saying “what the heck happened?”

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest

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

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

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

Three Expert Steps To Assess Your Spring Landscape

March 20th is the first day of spring and each first day of this season can be wildly different from the year before. We’ve had years where we’ve been tucked under six feet of snow and others where the crocus are forcing their way up and out of the soil and the forsythia are threatening an explosion of yellow flowers.

This time of year is hard on gardeners and garden lovers because we are itching for some color in the garden and warmth on our backs and faces. The March winds (and snow in the northeast from the blizzard named Stella) can still be blowing strong, the temps still a little bitter and the ground a bit frozen, but boy are we ready. 

Topics: Designing Gardens and Landscapes Seasonal Garden Interest

How to Weed your garden Like a Pro: Part II

In Part I about weeding your garden like a pro, we discussed mindset and approach. Now, it’s time to demystify all those weeds. What are they all about anyway? I mean, why do they even show up in the first place?

Let’s find out what the heck is going on with weeds.

Some say a weed is any plant you don't want. And on some level that’s true. If you have a specific design – a garden expression -- and an unplanned plant shows up, sure, you can call it a weed and pull it. But is it really a weed? Is a seedling from a maple tree or a Rose of Sharon a weed? Are the new little Black-eyed Susans or Verbena bonariensis blooming in the middle of the boxwood border really so bad?

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance Seasonal Garden Interest

15 Tips & Tricks to Help Prepare Your Commercial Landscape for Summer and Winter Months

For many businesses located in regions that experience seasonal extremes, such as New England, landscape design for commercial properties can present a particularly vexing challenge. What’s the best way to design and maintain a landscape that can not only provide a vibrant, colorful environment during the summer months but also easily handle the snow loads and bleak conditions of winter that most commercial properties experience?

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest Commercial and Public Landscapes

Shade Gardens

Shade Gardens - Flowers Accent a Lush Landscape

This garden in Wellesley, Mass uses all manner of plants to make this landscape into a lush display of color. The carpet of green grass is surrounded by blooming trees and shrubs as well as flowering perennials and ground covers. The success of this vista is in the composition of structure and texture. By mixing woody ornamental plants in with herbaceous plants a spectacular dance ensues that draws you in. Off to the right - just outside the frame of this image - is a sturdy hammock just beckoning for a visit. Can you imagine a rest filled afternoon amidst this garden?

Topics: Home Landscape Ideas Gardens With A Theme Designing Gardens and Landscapes Seasonal Garden Interest

Annuals Garden Landscaping Ideas

Annual Gardens - Fall Interest Plants for your Planters

There is nothing more beautiful than a planter refreshed with fall blooming annuals. Late summer can bring on a ratty look with those summer annuals. Why not enliven the planter display with the addition of mums, kale, pansies, and even some hardy perennials.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance Seasonal Garden Interest