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.
As we all become more aware of the environmental impacts farming, gardening, and landscaping have on our waters, habitats, and people lots of folks want to move toward organic methods.
‘Organic’ is a term that has taken on lots of meaning and can be interpreted in different ways. The assumption that going organic is the silver bullet to solving agricultural issues has lots of grey areas.
One of these areas is related to pesticide use. The assumption that ‘if it is organic then it must be safe’, is not necessarily the case. Many natural products can be toxic as well, and potentially more harmful than some synthetics pesticides.
The key to any successful pest management is knowledge. First, understanding what it is that you are trying to control. Second, what are the environmental factors that may be contributing to this unwanted pest. The third step is researching the best time and method of control. This process is called Integrated Pest Management(IPM).
Here is a link to find out more information.
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:
As summer approaches, I often think of those who have inspired me in the landscape profession. One of my favorites is Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959). She spent her summers in Maine as a child and then as an adult she made Bar Harbor a permanent residence. While she was educated in the great gardens of Europe, her love of the rocky Maine coast and the plants that thrived under those conditions gave her a unique perspective on the gardening world. I admire her most for her use of native plants whenever possible connecting the natural and designed landscape. Her accomplishments are great and varied with private residence and public projects all over the country with one of her most notable here in Maine. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller garden on Mount Desert Island is open to the public and well worth the visit. While in the area visit the Garland Farm, Farrand’s home for the last three years of her life, and visit the Asticou Azalea Garden. Before moving to Garland Farm, Farrand had an extensive garden that was dismantled. When Mrs. Farrand decided to dismantle her Reef Point estate in Bar Harbor, Charles Savage purchased the plants and build the Asticou Azalea Garden and the Thuya Garden in Northeast Harbor.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden https://rockgardenmaine.wordpress.com/
Asticou Azalea Garden http://gardenpreserve.org/asticou-azalea-garden/history.html