Here in New England we are so used to all kinds of snow- early snow, light snow, fluffy snow, heavy snow, wet snow, spring snow. Well after 2 Nor’easters in a row, it is a good time to see how spring snow can affect your landscape. When planning a landscape design my first question to the homeowner is “Where does the snow go when your clear your driveway or walkway?”. Then I make sure not to plant anything there! But another area to really take notice of is where the snow falls off your roof. This can be especially damaging to evergreen plants that tend to break under the weight of snow sheading off. And also pay close attention to the north side of the house, or shaded areas where snow will linger longer with out sunshine. Homes with metal roofs can be great for not having to worry about snow build up or ice dams, but those heavy spring snow slides can do real damage to plants below. Taking snow into consideration when planning your landscape is a must in New England! There are many plants that can withstand being crushed and they bounce right back, or some can be easily pruned and will grow to size again quickly with out looking misshapen. Of course there is always the wooden teepee, burlap, or plant protector that can help shed the snow or hold your plant together from getting splayed open. Summer comes soon enough and the thoughts of snow are far from our minds once we get to be out enjoying the landscape. So planning ahead for winter can save the heart ache of seeing your favorite plants taken out by snow.
The chance of frost is finally gone! Time to put out your annual color! Container gardening is a great way to add color and interest to every yard or entry way.
The multitude of annual choices at any garden center can be daunting. But there are a few simple tricks that can make your containers look extraordinary:
Thriller, Filler, Spiller:
An easy way to construct an annual color container is to think in terms of thriller, filler and spiller. The thriller element gives height to the container, and adds drama. This plant could be a tall flowering annual such as a bright red salvia, Purple or white angelonia or colorful snapdragons. The thriller plant could also be something with tall and interesting foliage like a dracaena spike, or elephant ear. Filler plants are meant to fill out the middle of the container, adding color and texture between the tall drama of the thriller and the trailing grace of the spiller. Great filler plants are nemesia, ageratum, geraniums, marigolds, impatients and short varieties of coleus. The spiller plants cascade over the edge of the container adding grace and a feeling of abundance to any container. There are great flowering and interesting foliage plants that can be used as spillers. A few of my favorites are petunias, million bells, bacopa, trailing vinca, sweet potato vine and lamium. Following the Thriller, Filler, Spiller rule is an easy way to create containers that are bursting with color and interest.
Simple Color Scheme, Add interest with foliage textures:
Another trick to creating beautiful and eye-catching container gardens is to keep the color palette simple. Although it is tempting to fill your containers with all of your favorite colors, choosing just one or two colors will make them more impactful. This also makes shopping simpler. Focus on one core flower color and then accent the color with interesting foliage plants, like variegated vinca, chartreuse coleus or the silver leaves of trailing licorice plant. Interesting foliage plants add an element of surprise and upgrade any container design.
Follow these few simple rules and soon you will be creating gorgeous containers like a professional! Designing containers is a fun way to play with color, shape and texture and is a great way to hone your design eye.
After a long drab winter, there is no better place to enjoy the bursting colors of spring than Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, Boston. Great for a day trip or a weekend exploration, the Arnold Arboretum is the most colorful gem in Boston’s Emerald Necklace.
Boston is surrounded by a fabulous network of parks and public green spaces that bring communities together and provide opportunities for residents and visitors to explore natural spaces surrounding the city. For horticulturalists, from professional to amateur enthusiasts, there is no space more inspiring than the Arnold Arboretum.
An arboretum is a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. The Arnold Arboretum was fist established in 1872, when the whaling merchant, James Arnold, transferred a portion of his estate to Harvard university “for the establishment of an arboretum, which shall contain, as far as practicable, all the trees [and] shrubs . . . either indigenous or exotic, which can be raised in the open air.” Since then, this amazing public space has acquired over 15,000 plants and each “has a story to tell, and is preserved as both scientific and horticultural specimens to enrich our understanding of biodiversity” Each plant is labeled and arranged throughout the property in collections. The collections include lilacs, magnolias, beeches, lindens, crabapples, roses, peonies and many more.
One of the most popular collections is the Explorer’s Garden. It contains the most outstanding specimens of tree peonies, giant stewardia, a hundred year old Chinese fringe tree and a grove of dawn redwood.
At any time of year, I love to wander around the arboretum, discovering trees and shrubs that are new to me or re-discovering old favorites. But the best time is in the spring, when the Arnold Arboretum is bursting with flowering Magnolias, lilacs, dogwood, apples, and many other species. Breathing in the fresh air, filled with the fragrance of spring blooms is an invigorating way to start the season and find inspiration for this year’s coming projects.
Check out the Arnold Arboretum’s website for an interactive map, more information and upcoming events: