2013 Boston Flower and Garden Show Delivers Sights and Sounds of Spring

First of several posts.  Lots to share!
Spring GardenThe Seaport World Trade Center was abuzz yesterday morning with gardeners putting the finishing touches on their Flower Show displays.  The show opens today, March 13.

I dodged a forklift, piles of soil and a Zipcar backing into place but the activity did not interfere with my sense of enchantment.  The garden displays this year are rich – in color, design and size.  Beautiful flowers and trees are nestled along stone Imagewalls, patio spaces and above moon gates.  The sound of water is everwhere – in falls, pools, fountains and spouts.  There are parrots, hens, a rooster and a pair of sleek grey birds that look like small emus.   And there are plenty of hidden flower delights if you look keenly, like fairy houses near Hobbit holes and gentle beds of helleborus.
There are a several small displays.  The Hellleboruswindow gardens in the back of the main hall are delightful as is the Massachusetts Horticultural’s old-time flower display, complete with wash board and clothes on a line.  Overall, every display is evokes a smile and a deep inhale.
The Show’s first display as you enter the hall shows garden entertainment at its finest.  It’s a lush, multi-section outdoor patio with a man-sized Patio with BBQ and BarBBQ grill and stone bar with table seating for four and more at the bar.  It took me a minute to take in and appreciate the surrounding garden but there’s no denying I’d love to have this look in my back yard (if Patio with WaterfallI had one).  The BBQ space flows to a raised covered patio section with comfy chairs, a fireplace and two waterfall chutes splashing into a pool.  The chutes really got my attention. Overall, the display and its beautiful and lavish flowers and trees set the mood for a perfect summer evening.

One of my favorite displays at the Show is another outdoor patio surrounded by lush, aromatic plants.  Designed by Maria at Interiors by MS, the focal point is a vertical garden of herbs and geranivertical garden long viewums with a water feature of four simple copper spouts splashing into a large pool.  Maria told me that a vertical garden can reduce the temperature around it by 15 – 20 degrees. Comfortable, earth-toned furniture sit low and humble under a stained-glass pergola.  There is a pleasing, subtle aromas coming from the lavender, mint, roses and more that ring the relaxed space.  I could so live in this space.  That’s it for now.  I’ll share more pictures and details in my next post.
This year’s Boston Flower Show delivers on the sights and sounds of Spring.  It opens today, March 13 and runs through Sunday, March 17.  Go if you can!

Boston Flower Show Opens This Week!

ImageIt’s almost time for the Boston Flower & Garden Show!  I must admit I get so excited when the show opens.  It’s like going to Oz.  First it’s that lovely, earthy smell of mulch as you walk through the doors.  Then the vivid carpets of color from flowers in full bloom bunched close, overflowing from pots, arranged neatly.  Somewhere close by water is splashing from a fountain or wFountain and Urn of Succulentsaterfall.   And the people are abuzz – walking, talking, oohing, aahhing and yes, shopping.  The show always delivers inspiration and gets me all jazzed with new ideas for my own garden.
The Bost564on Flower Show returns to the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston this week!  It opens to the winter-weary public on Wednesday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, March 17, 2013.
This year’s theme is ‘Seeds of Change’ and will showcase new plants, methods and materials to increase the beauty, bounty and the ecological friendliness of gardens and outdoor spaces.
Since I’m a member of the Garden Writers of America, I plan to visit the show on March 12th during the Media tour.  I’ll write a ‘first look’ blog post with photos later that day.  Just for City Garden Ideas readers like you!
Tickets to the show are $20 for adults and $10 for children.  To buy tickets, click here.

TONIGHT! Want to be a Landscape Designer? Panel Discussion at BPL

Design with NatureSorry for the short notice but there is a great panel discussion tonight (March 6th) at the Boston Public Library called “So You want to be a Landscape Architect…or Landscape Designer.”

The event is free and the discussion will take place at the Boston Public Library Orientation room from 6pm-7:30pm.  Three landscape architects and two landscape designers at different points in their careers will discuss their education, practices, and thoughts about the field.

Heather Heimarck, Director of the Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College, will moderate.  For anyone interested in landscape design, this event is not to be missed!

Vertical Gardening Lecture – ‘Transforming Naked Walls with Nature’ – Enter to Win Tickets

Hello all and happy 2013!
Are you familiar with vertical gardening? The practice has been around for decades but interest in it has been growing for the past several years.

Living wall planter by Pamela Crawford

Living wall planter by Pamela Crawford

Vertical gardening differs from walls of ivy.  We’re talking about self sufficient living walls of plants that get their water and nutrients within a vertical structure and not from the ground.

I’ve loved the idea of vertical gardening for years… even before I knew it had that name.  Perhaps it’s because Boston has so many flat brick walls facing the alleys in the Back Bay where I live.  I always imagined something beautiful could be done with these blank canvasses.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the walls flowering in the summer with morning glories, mandevillas or hibiscus?  Ah, what a delightful sight that would be!

Vertical Garden by Patrick Blanc

Vertical Garden by Patrick Blanc

So when I read about Patrick Blanc, the inventor of the Vertical Garden, speaking on April 24th at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston called “The Vertical Garden: Biological Design and Urban Architecture”, I immediately bought tickets to attend.   I also bought another two tickets to give away to one lucky City Garden Ideas reader who is interested in vertical gardens.

That’s where the contest comes in.  Here’s what to do:

Hanging Gardens in Miami by Patrick Blanc

Hanging Gardens in Miami by Patrick Blanc

Comment on this post by March 15th and tell me – in 100 words or less – why you want to attend this vertical gardening lecture.

  • Tell a story about an experience you had with vertical gardening
  • Share something that inspires you about vertical gardening
  • Let me know why you want to  learn more.

Patrick Blanc says he’ll reveal ‘his methods for transforming naked walls with nature.”  This I have to see!  Hope you’ll enter to win or just buy tickets through the MFA.

And remember, Spring begins March 20th and it’s getting closer every day!

Other contest information:
One entry per person.  Entries will be reviewed and one winner will be chosen on March 22nd.  The decision of the judge (that’s me) is final.

Take 2 – The Balcony Gardener – Gift Recommendation

The Balcony Gardener

The Balcony Gardener

Hello… Sorry about sending out the empty post!  Pushed the Publish button by mistake.

With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share a gardening book I recently found at Annie Bells, now K Colette, a store filled with interesting things in Portland, Maine.

The Balcony Gardener is a website and the name of an easy-read, tip-rich book that would be perfect for the beginner or intermediate gardener.  Isabelle Palmer is the author and, like me, loves beautifying small spaces.  I bought the book for $19.95 but see it on Amazon for $13.57.  You can also buy signed copies on The Balcony Gardener website.  The book contains useful tips about gardening basics like soil, tools and pots.  Plus very helpful chapters on growing herbs and other edibles.

As the inside book jacket says, “Even with the smallest of outdoor spaces it is possible to create a beautiful garden, be it on a balcony, roof terrace or window sill.”  I couldn’t agree more!

If you have a city gardener on your holiday list, this book is worth checking out.  If you have a favorite “go to” gardening book, please share!  We welcome your comments.  Enjoy the day!

Final Days to Plant Bulbs for Spring Blooms

Yellow Daffodils SpoutingHello Everyone!
If it’s color you crave during those early Spring days in March and April, then don’t delay.
It’s time to buy those daffodil, tulip, crocus, iris and other bulbs and get them into the ground before it freezes!
Here in Boston the soil is still moist and pliable but we’re fast approach consistent nights of below freezing temperatures.  The best time to plant bulbs is after the first frost.  That is happening soon – if it hasn’t happened already where you are.

So, what bulbs should you choose?  Think about color and texture.  Most bulbs come with a photo or are in a bin with a picture of of the bulb in full bloom. Choose the ones that appeal to you.  Remember, smaller bulbs produce flowers that bloom earlier in the spring, and the  flowers are small, like the crocus.  Larger bulbs, such as tulips, bloom later and produce larger blooms. Make sure the bulbs feel firm,  are clean, and not spotted or moldy.

Be prepared.  Planting bulbs takes time.  I just read about the Bulb Bopper.  It’s a device to help with the planting.  I haven’t used it but, if you’re planting more than 30 bulbs, it might be worth a try.

Begin by digging the hole.  For large bulbs, the norm is eight inches deep and six inches apart.  For smaller bulbs, six inches deep and three inches apart with pointed ends up.  When you buy your bulbs, check with the garden expert to confirm these measures.
Here are easy steps to follow:

  • Dig a hole for the bulb
  • Add fertilizer (MiracleGro or similar)
  • Place the bulb in the hole
  • Replace the soil
  • Add water
  • Cover bulbs with 2 – 3 inches of mulch for protection
  • Check soil every four or five days and water if dry.  Don’t water daily.  This will rot the bulb.

Planting bulbs is usually the final planting activity before winter comes.  It’s the last chance to get your hands in the soil and plant for the new season.
Get out there and do it!  You’ll be glad you did!

See Spectacular Gardens at Old South Church

Rushing to an appointment a few days ago, I stopped in my tracks to watch a bird nibbling on a huge leaf of kale growing in the lush garden in front of Old South Church in Boston.Old South - Bird on Kale Can you spot that  smart bird in the photo below?
Then I just had to pause and appreciate how beautiful all the plantings were in this urban, street-side garden. 
Big, bold foliage and flowers with colors and textures to brighten the spirit of every passerby and herald in the fall season. 
The volunteer gardeners at Old South do outstanding work.   Think about it.  Old South Garden with Hibiscus in Bloom Two gardens – East and West  – planted and thriving on Boylston Street in Boston, probably the busiest area in the city!  I absolutely love the huge, white hibiscus (‘Kopper King’ hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and the Helenium autumnale ‘Moerheim Beauty’.  How do I know these names?  On display outside Old South are posters that list every plant and flower by name with a photo.  What a resource!  These gardens are truly a gift to all of Boston.  My sincere thanks to all the superb gardeners and volunteers who tend them.  Keep up the great work!

American Garden Award Winners Announced!

Hi Everyone.  Just had to share these hearty beauties with you!
The 2012 American Garden Award just announced the flower winners of their annual contest.  Each year six flower varieties are chosen by their breeders for their great garden performance.   The varieties are planted and put on display at participating gardens and the public votes for their favorite.   These are the winners and should be contenders for your garden next year. My favorite, by the way, is #2.
And the three winners are:
Grand Prize Winner
Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz™ Sunset’ from Ernst Benary of America
Begonia Santa Cruz™ Sunset lights up your garden with an abundance of scarlet/orange blooms. Its elegant softly cascading form is perfect for hanging baskets, urns or mass plantings in your garden. Surprisingly heat, drought and rain tolerant, this summer beauty thrives in any location from full sun to shade.

Second Place Winner (My Favorite!)
Gazania  ‘Big Kiss™ White Flame’ F1
from Syngenta Flowers

Gazania Big Kiss™ White Flame has huge white and rose striped flowers that cover full, bushy plants. This carefree, heat loving and drought tolerant annual loves the sun and thrives in tough conditions, all summer long. Extra large flowers and plants make high impact displays in garden beds or containers.

Third Place Winner
Petunia ‘Surfinia® Deep Red’
from Suntory Flowers

‘Finally, the true deep red petunia gardeners have been searching for! For 20 years, Surfinia® has been the best-selling vegetative petunia series in the world, offering superior garden performance with no pinching or pruning needed. Enjoy ‘Surfinia® Deep Red’ in container gardens or in the landscape from spring through fall.

Rose of Sharon – A Late Summer Bloomer

Rose of Sharon blooms through a wooden fenceRose of Sharon in 'SconsetIt’s early September and so many of the bright spring and summer flowers have faded into memory. 
Thank heaven for the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus).  This hearty shrub offers late summer color.  Blooms can be pink, purple, white, blue, red, even lavender, depending on the variety.  If your garden space has lost its color pizzazz by mid-August, consider planting a Rose of Sharon this fall or next spring.  The shrub is easy to grow and low maintenance.  Best of all, it will provide great color and texture in the waning days of summer.

Staying Power and Story of the Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckias)

So sorry I’ve been MIA. Back now with much to share!
Let’s start with a lovely and tough city beauty – the Black-Eyed Susan. 
Black-eyed Susan's poking through a black iron fenceFor the past several weeks I’ve been noticing the abundance and health of this perky perennial in gardens all over the neighborhoood. With so many colorful flowers past their peak, these bright yellow and sometimes purple flowers with the dark centers are finally getting attention!  I did a bit of research on these wildflower stunners and found out they are long-lived, low maintenance plants with a tolerance for clay soils. They prefer full sun but tolerate partial shade.  When they are planted in large groups, butterflies love them.  One article I read said they are considered bioremediators.  It seems that their roots and foliage tie up toxins from the soil and air.  What a great benefit for a city flower! 
Now here’s the back story on Black Eyed Susan.  According to the American Meadow website, the name first appears in an Old English romantic poem by John Gay.  It begins:
All in the downs, the fleet was moored,

Banners waving in the wind.
When Black-Eyed Susan came aboard,
and eyed the burly men.
“Tell me ye sailors, tell me true
Does my Sweet William sail with you?”

To read the whole poem and more, click here.
You may have heard of Sweet William. It’s the name for another flowering plant.  It appears that if you “seed wild Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) with common Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), they’ll bloom beautifully at exactly the same time.”  Now that’s romantic!  Great flower, great story. 
Til next time… keep your garden watered!