Hey city gardeners! This site is for you!My name is Janine and I'm a dedicated gardener with years of hands-in-the-soil experience. My specialty is small space gardens in urban locations. There is all kinds of good information in here. Send me comments and ideas. Enjoy!
- Sorry to see her go… Parks Commissioner Toni Pollak Retiring February 17, 2014
- Fenway Victory Garden Tour July 27th! July 21, 2013
- Boston Garden Contest – Entry Deadline July 12th June 26, 2013
- Landscape Institute Offering Summer Courses May 22, 2013
- Selecting Plants That Grow – Encore Expert Advice May 16, 2013
Monthly Archives: August 2011
Just had to share the
latest photos of
my street-side garden.
The flowers are blooming their little hearts out!
Just look at the colors –
purples, pinks, yellows!
After a tough start, these plants are loving the rain and humidity of August.
I’m especially happy with the rose-colored dahlias, the black- eyed Susans (rudbeckia) and the Superbells Lavender (calibrachea hybrid).
The Lantana is also a wonderful surprise. This tall flower, in the back corner, starts as berry clusters and blooms into beautiful little bouquets of color.
And the Silverdust aka Dusty Miller is a great anchor plant for the front edges. They have thrived amid dogs and people.
As beautiful as my little garden is, it did not take any honors in this year’s Mayor Menino Garden Contest. I am looking forward to entering again next summer. My neighbor commented that the Contest judges seem to like height in a garden. Hmm. Next year I’m going to find taller, lusher and more colorful flowers to plant. What a great winter project… But that is a long way off…
Enjoy these wonderful August days and remember to water the plants!
So I’m reading the Wall Street Journal last Friday.
After such an up and down business week I needed some guidance.
In every issue, below the fold on the front page, is a humorous, slice of life story.
Friday’s headline caught my attention:
Bottle Trees Join Grand Tradition of Pink Flamingos, Garden Gnomes.
The Blooming Things are Good All Year, If You Like That Sort of Thing.
by Gwendolyn Bounds
The article begins, “It’s the ultimate in low maintenance landscaping: a tree that blooms all year long, needs no water or pruning and never dies. Sales of man-made “bottle trees” are flourishing among homeowners wanting somthing more interesting in the garden than a birdbath or a garden gnome…”
Apparently, bottle trees are a Southern tradition. From what I’ve read, placing empty glass bottles in the garden as a way to trap evil spirits is a Southern tradition. I found a website called www.bottletrees.com and, sure enough, this is a proud Southern company and they have been offering an array of bottle trees for four years. Who knew. And Gardeners Supply, one of my favorite companies for all things gardening, is mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article saying “bottle trees made in India are one of its top sellers in garden decor, a category that has been growing 15% annually.” Who knew again!
I do not recommend putting a bottle tree on a stoop in Boston… think liability. But it could be an option for a deck or patio. It could be a fun and vibrant nod to nature when the leaves are off the real trees and the snow starts to fly.
What do you think? Bottle trees – garden art or trash? Comments welcome!
Wanted to share with you a few of the classes, courses and field trips being offered in September by the New England Wild Flower Society’s Education Department. The September 17th Native Gardens class in Newton looks interesting to me. Seems like a great way to learn more about gardening in small spaces. Perhaps I’ll see you there!
For information on all the courses, visit http://www.newenglandwild.org/learn.
Saturday, September 17, 2011, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.,
Native Gardens in Newton, Newton, MA.
Instructor Risa Edelstein helps us learn how a landscape designer working with urban properties and their sustainably- minded owners can create enticing native gardens in small spaces. The first garden we visit, situated around a Victorian house, received a front yard overhaul, which was achieved by removing lawn and creating a habitat garden by adding many natives with four-seasons of interest. The second homeowner wished to make her garden as eco-friendly as possible, reducing its carbon footprint, reusing materials and creating habitat for wildlife. A walkway of recycled brick was installed, rain gardens improved drainage around the existing edible garden, and 100-year old recycled seawall blocks were installed as sitting walls. Shrubs from the front of the property were replanted in the back and a mostly native woodland garden was created under a red maple. Fee: $22 (Member) / $25 (Nonmember). Pre-registration is necessary, contact the registrar at 508-877-7630, ext. 3303.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Wildflowers in Fall, Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA. As a follow-up to our spring course, “Wildflowers of New England,” instructor Neela de Zoysa highlights flora in the last stages of the growing season. What fruits have been produced by spring wildflowers and how are they dispersed? What flowers are blooming in the fall and why? Which pollinators are active? The program includes a walk in the Garden, a power-point presentation to illustrate the key points, and samples for dissection and close observation. References for fruits and winter ID provided. Fee: $36 (Member) / $43 (Nonmember). Pre-registration is necessary, contact the registrar at 508-877-7630, ext. 3303.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 7-9 p.m., Design a Native Mixed Border Garden in the Fall, Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA. Your border garden can have four-seasons of beauty! Take advantage of ideal fall planting conditions to establish borders filled with native perennials, shrubs, vines, and small trees. Horticulturist and landscape designer Laura Eisener discusses how to artfully combine a variety of beautiful plants, and illustrates basic design principles you can apply to planning and planting a mixed border of any size and shape. Fall bargains abound in nurseries, and this is an ideal opportunity to begin fresh or redesign existing border areas in your garden. Fee: $26 (Member) / $32 (Nonmember). Cosponsored by New England Wild Flower Society, MA Audubon Drumlin Farm, and The Landscape Institute. Pre-registration is necessary, contact the registrar at 508-877-7630, ext. 3303.
Spend five minutes with Gray Baldwin, the personable owner of New England Garden Ornaments, and you can feel her excitement for cast limestone pots, concrete urns and lead containers from England. Listen to her tell the story of a carved rain spout or finding whimsical statuary and you can’t help but laugh along with her and share her delight in the pieces.
Her Sudbury shop at 81 Union Street is a bright and open space and well worth a visit. Open less than a year in this location, the shop feels a bit like high-end art gallery meets jumble sale. Sleek and tapered containers stand near squat and curvy pots. An ornate
garden gate leans against a wall, a dirt sieve is propped on a table by a Grecian urn, brass sundials sit on sturdy pillars and a family of English lead pigs lay in mid-squeal near the window. “Can you imagine walking into someone’s yard and seeing this pig family off in the corner?” Baldwin says with a chuckle. “That’s the whimsy I love of these guys.”
On the grassy back lawn, there are pots of every shape and size, garden edging, bird baths and water features. Inside and out, there are great options and ideas for every garden, especially a city garden.
“Sometimes when people have little corners where nothing can grow, it’s good to choose some piece of artwork or statue, make it the focal point, and be done with it,” says Baldwin.
For those with a bit more space and sun, “Make the investment in a good pot, perhaps a tapered planter,” she says. “Just make sure you choose a container that fits the proportions of your space. Think about groupings of three using pieces with different scale.
“One of the benefits of buying a beautiful container is you can leave it planted or unplanted. If you’re unsure, keep it simple and on the compact side. Build your confidence and when you’re comfortable, buy a container that you love.”
Baldwin bought New England Garden Ornaments in 2008 when it was located in bucolic North Brookfield. The move to Sudbury came in 2010. After a brief time at a warehouse on Union Street, Baldwin settled the business at its present 81 Union Street location. “Now we are percolating year round,” Baldwin says with a smile. “All this space and right next store to Cavicchios (a large garden center and nursery). I feel like a barnacle on a big old whale.”
Many of the containers and pots around the shop come from the United Kingdom, discovered by Baldwin during one of her three yearly trips abroad. The cast stone and concrete come from the United States.
Baldwin explains, “Dry cast limestone is different than wet cast concrete because it is hand packed and doesn’t have much water in the mix, just enough to hold it together. It becomes incredibly porous and can be a host to lichen and moss.
“When something is wet cast,” she says, “it’s poured into a mold, the machine gives it a good shake, and the slurry comes to the outside. The slurry doesn’t allow the lichen and the moss to take hold. The surface is too smooth.”
For a longer lasting container, “Get English lead. English lead is a blast,” Baldwin says with a glint in her eye. “I like to bring it in from England because they have very strict guidelines on what you are allowed to export and what you’re allowed to call lead.” English lead has to be 100% lead without any alloys that can loosen the bond – the key to lead. Baldwin points out that the only way lead is toxic is when we ingest it. “So use lead containers as flower pots, not as a vegetable garden.”
About her business, Baldwin says it’s a great adventure. The unique and classic containers in her showrooms are her top sellers.
Antiques also sell well. “Old pots, gates, spouts, furniture – all are going quickly.”
And then sundials go out. “There is a certain attraction to that strong architectural statement. And they look great during all four seasons.
People are paying a lot more attention to how their gardens look in winter.”
So what words of wisdom does Gray Baldwin have for small space, urban gardeners? “Build confidence first,” she says. “Start with something that you are comfortable moving, not a big investment, and add a little bit at a time. And find things that make you smile – perhaps a birdbath with a top that can be flipped over to become a mushroom in winter. Or find something that’s beautiful and small and you love. It all depends on what works for you and your life.”
So plan a visit to New England Garden Ornaments in Sudbury and take a look around. New items from Gray Baldwin’s latest trip to England will be in the shop in September. For more about English lead, go to http://www.negarden.com/_blog/Garden_Folly/post/A_History_of_English_Lead/ For details about New England Garden Ornaments, go to www.negarden.com .