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.
Once April comes and the temperatures warm up and the days grow longer, most gardeners are itching to get into the garden and start working. One of the best things to tackle before the perennials have started to leaf out is dividing them. It doesn’t take long for some perennials to out grow their space or over shadow their neighbors. Dividing a hefty perennial may seem daunting, but like any task having the right tool is key! One of the easiest tools to use to divide perennials is a 4 tine spading fork. Actually, having two of these forks is what works. Once you have dug the perennial out of the ground, stick one of the forks directly into the center of the perennial mass, referred to as the crown. Then slide the second fork in, back to back with the other folk, slightly intertwining the tines. Once the fork are both in, pull the handles in opposite directions prying the perennial apart. This action easily pulls the perennial apart without slicing or damaging the roots. You can repeat this process a few times turning one large plant into three or four. It’s a great way to get more plants for your garden or give away to fellow gardeners.
Permeable Pavers is a term that is used that I found a bit misleading. The concrete pavers themselves are NOT permeable. It is the system that the pavers are installed in that create a permeable surface. Permeable surfaces are becoming more important as water issues such as storm water run-off and water recharge areas are being identified as environmental issues. Poor management of storm water and water recharge areas have many implications that effect our ecosystems and drinking water.
Impervious surfaces like roadways, sidewalks, and driveways don’t allow water to seep back in the ground and the water is often contaminated with toxins. This water is usually directed to a storm drain that dumps directly into natural water ways like rivers or coastal sites. This contaminated water kills off vegetation and changes the pH creating a detrimental situation. We rely so much on our water for not only drinking and crop irrigation, but for recreation.
Permeable paver systems allow water to seep down in between the pavers keeping the water on site. As it seeps through the ground most of the toxins are remediated by the soils and microbes. This allows the water to get to recharge areas that are so vital for drinking water.
Concrete pavers have come a long way in recent years and can make very attractive permeable driveways and they are being used in large commercial and municipal parking areas. It is easy to research from small residential to large city projects.
Living in Maine is a wonderful thing and as growers and landscapers we are extremely lucky to be part of a vibrant professional community. One of the many benefits of this community is the Maine Landscape & Nursery Association. MeLNA is a non-profit professional trade association with members from all over the state representing a variety of aspects in the green industry. Yesterday was the yearly winter conference and expo in Augusta. The day was filled with talks ranging from landscape design, landscape ecology, business techniques, field safety, and pesticide education. There was also the trade show where we can connect with our supplies, many who we have been in business with for years, and meet new vendors to the area. It is a way for our company and staff to remain connected to our fellow landscape friends and keep up to date with trends and changes to our industry. MeLNA is committed toward promoting, educating and representing its members, as well as to inform and educate the people of this great state.
MeLNA has become an advocate for the national ‘PLANT SOMETHING’ initiative that wants to hook the next generation into the benefits and joy of planting and gardening. Check out the link below for more information.
‘PLANT SOMETHING’ initiative http://plant-something.org/
We are proud to say that our founder, Mark Pendergast, has served as a president of the MeLNA board, Salmon Falls Nursery & Landscaping has been honored as a long time member, and one of our landscapes is featured in the photos on the MeLNA website. Below is the MeLNA website where you can access archived newsletters, learn about professional certifications, and the membership directory.
What is a Rain Garden? A rain garden is an intentional low spot, or depression designed to collect rainwater runoff. Rainwater runoff occurs when rain lands on surfaces like parking lots, driveways, roofs, or even compacted lawns that can not be absorb by the land.
Why collect rainwater runoff? Collecting rainwater runoff prevents water from flowing directly into open water bodies or flowing directly into storm drains. It allows the water to soak back into the ground reducing erosion, water pollution, flooding, and allows for groundwater to be replenished.
Why does it matter? Often rainwater runoff is contaminated with chemicals from vehicles leaking onto asphalt, road salt, and even chemicals on lawns. Many roads and storm drains are designed to remove runoff quickly, sending it directly to the closest water body with out removing these chemicals first. These chemicals are impacting water quality for people as well as the environment.Another form of contamination is sediment collected along the way which can accumulate in streams and ponds.
How does rainwater runoff affect drinking water? When rainwater rushes off to the closest water body it does not have a chance to be absorbed back into the land. Water absorption is one of the ways drinking water is replenished. If the contaminated runoff goes right into a drinking reservoir, this can cause trouble as well.
Are rain gardens easy to install? Yes, with some simple planning, rain gardens can be designed and installed for homeowners, businesses, and municipal landscapes.
Check out this video about rain garden installation: