Beautiful Cape Cod Hydrangeas!

Purple Hydrangeas in Harwich, MAEvery summer I can’t wait to see the hydrangeas in bloom on Cape Cod. 
Just love those big globes of vibrant, showy, colorful petals.  For me, there are no better summer blooms.
I remain intrigued by the fact that the colors are determined by the acidity of the soil.   Pink occurs at a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.0., while blue occurs at pH 5.0 to 5.5.  Amazing!  Pink and blue hydrangeas along a white picket fenceOccasionally a hydrangea bush will sport both colors. Fabulous!  Found one here in Harwichport.   Check out the photo below.
If you’re interested in hydrangeas, take a look at this fact sheet from the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticultural Program.  They call hydrangeas “workhorses in the garden.”  White Hydrangeas
I totally agree.  They thrive in sun and partial shade.  The fact sheet gives great advice about planting, maintaining and using the flowers in dried arrangements.  I’ll be posting more photos in the next few days on this site’s Garden Photo tab.  Feel free to share your hydrangea photos. 
Have a wonderful day!
Lace Cap Hydrangeas

Click here for the link to the URI fact sheet!

Mandevillas and Dahlias – A Boston City Garden Finalist?

Street-side Tree Garden with mandevillas, dahlias and petunias
It’s official. I submitted my street-side tree garden into the City of Boston Garden Contest tonight.  There’s still time for other Boston residents to enter.  The deadline is Wed. July 18th at 5pm.

This summer has been a tough one for my garden.  Today’s submission reflects my fourth planting since April.  That’s well over my usual quota of planting through early July.
My current garden has lush, Red Mandevillas and Purple Dahliasred, mandevillas, purple dahlias, bright purple and yellow petunias, pink impatiens and lots of English ivy.

My fingers are crossed that my garden earns a Finalist position.  I’d love the judge to see the colors, textures and beauty that exists on a sidewalk in the middle of the city.  Good luck to all the entrants!

Boston Garden Contest Deadline Extended!

My Street-side Tree GardenHello All:
Good news!  The deadline for the City of Boston Garden Contest has been extended!  Nomination forms with photos are now due by Wednesday, July 18th at 5pm.
I encourage every City of Boston gardener with a window box, container garden or flowering yard to enter to win that Golden Trowel.  Just fill out an entry form online and submit as many as five (5) photos of your garden space.
Details about the contest and the nomination form are at: http://cityofboston.gov/parks/gardencontest/
Good luck to all!

Petunia Thief On the Loose in Boston

Container Garden with Yellow PetuniasAn alert to all city gardeners:
The Back Bay flower thief has struck again!
Last year, three gorgeous dahlias were plucked from our  street-side tree garden.
This past Friday night, an entire clump of yellow petunias was lifted straight out of our side-street container.
My husband is threatening to install a close-circuit camera!
I must admit this post does sound a bit like the game of Clue…. “He was in the alleyContainer with Missing Petunias with the dahlias from the garden!”  Wish it was all just a game.

In the larger scheme of things, flower theft is small potatoes.  We made a quick trip to Mahoney’s in Brighton to find replacements.  There I learned that flower theft was on the rise all over the city!  The young man at the register told me that I was the 11th or 12th person to come to the Garden Center over the past several days with the same lament.  Misery loves company.
Container with Purple PetuniasAnd yellow petunias?  Very hard to find, just in case you were interested.  Luckily, there were plenty of healthy and hearty Proven Winner purple and white petunias for sale.  Did some serious rearranging in all my containers.  Kept the tall, white “Crystal Peak White” False Dragonhead Physostegia (sometimes called Obediant Plant), removed the Shasta daisies and nestled the new petunias with the existing English ivy.  All the plants seems happy in their warm, sunny space. Fingers are crossed that the flower thief has retired for the season.  Here’s wishing that your flowers are blooming and staying where you planted them!  Enjoy!

City Garden Planting #2 – Daisies, Petunias and More

Daisies, petunias and garden supplies on the stoopChoosing plants for my garden is a creative and exciting process.  Visiting a garden center, discovering healthy plants with great colors and textures, arranging them together until they look just right…  that’s fun for me.  It’s a good thing I like this process since I have to do it at least three to four times between April and September.   City life is hard on plants.  
Last week I had to do something quick.  All of the impatiens in my tree garden and containers were wilted, leggy and needed to be replaced. 
I drove to Allandale Farm in BrooklineAllandale Farm Logo to purchase plants to add new color and variety.  If you don’t know Allandale, it’s Boston’s last working farm and worth the trip.  You can get fresh produce in the main building and usually they have a terrific assortment of flowers that thrive in city environments – vibrant pots of dahlias, daisies, impatiens, petunias and more.   Unfortunately, the flower selection this day was slim.  White Shasta Daisies and Yellow Petunias in Black Container It took some looking but I found six pots of lively white and yellow Shasta daisies and two hanging planters of yellow, purple and red petunias.   I thought I could easily break up the petunias and plant the flowers in the containers and tree garden.  Overall, the daisies look great and are doing fine.  The petunias… well, they are more of a mixed bag.   About half of the transplanted petunias are doing well.  The other half are struggling to thrive in one container and the street side tree garden.  Ugh.  I thought they looked hearty.  My bad.  My counsel would be to buy potted petunias.   Using flowers from a hanging planter as a shortcut might seem like a good, money saving idea but I don’t recommend it.  More replanting this weekend.   Need to get my pictures off to the Mayor Menino Garden Contest by July 13th!  Will visit Wilson Farm in Lexington to scope out their plant selections.  Really want dahlias.  More on Wilson Farm and my plant choices next time.  Enjoy!

Enter Mayor Menino’s Garden Contest – Deadline July 13th

Want a little recognition for your beautiful city garden or a neighbor’s garden? Is there room on your mantle for a Golden Trowel?
Come on, take a chance and enter Mayor Menino’s Garden Contest!  Simply take a few dazzling photos of your buds in bloom and fill out a nomination form. The contest is open to all Boston residents, businesses and organization gardens with amateur status.  Deadline is July 13th!  Five finalists are chosen in 10 categories.  Site visits are conducted to determine the winners.

I’ve entered the Garden Contest for the past two years.  Year 1 – my garden was a finalist. (I was so proud.  Even laminated my certificate)  Year 2 – nothing.  (I was robbed!  That’s my tree garden entry below.  Wasn’t it pretty?) 
So it’s Year 3.  And I’ve got my eyes on that Golden Trowel.  
I’m planting a few more flowers in my garden bed this week.  Need to expand the color palette.  There is currently way too much purple in my garden – purple pansies, purple petunias.  Going to spruce it up with some yellow and white daisies and red astilbe.  Maybe even a pink mandevilla or two.  I’ll share my submission photos in a few weeks.

“Boston’s gardeners work long and hard to beautify their homes, businesses, and neighborhoods,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This contest recognizes and honors these green thumbs who are helping to improve our city with their talents.”
Click here to get a nomination form.  Deadline for entries is July 13th.  For more information, call Lauren Patrick at 617-961-3051.  Good luck!

Cast Your Vote for the 2012 Flower of the Year

American Garden Award

Hello Everyone:
Here’s something fun to do…
Cast your vote
and help choose the most popular North American flowers of 2012!

This year there are six entries.  Voting is open until August 31st and the top three vote-getters will be announced this fall.  If you like what you see, all of these flowers should be available at your local garden center.

Angelonia angustfolia ‘Serena Blue’         Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’
by PanAmerican Seed                                by Ernst Benary of America
                  
Gazania ‘Big Kiss™ White Flame’             Petchoa x hybrida ‘SuperCal Pink Ice’
by Syngenta Flowers                                by Sakata Ornamentals
                
Petunia ‘Surfinia® Deep Red’                 Sunflower ‘Goldie’ F1
by Suntory Flowers                                 by Seeds By Design
               

There are two ways to vote:
– Visit Massachusetts Horticultural Society (or 27 other public gardens across the United States) and see these beautiful flowers first hand.  Then you can text your vote as instructed on the signs in the gardens or use the postage-paid postcards provided by the garden.
– Go to www.americangardenaward.com and click on the voting link.

My favorite is the showy Garzania “Big Kiss” White Flame Pink Ice.  If you’d like to share your choice, that would be great!

Create a Container Garden – New Video!

Hello Everyone: 
At the May 5th City Garden Ideas workshop, Ellen Abdow, the owner of Perennial Gardens, created a container garden before our eyes.  
Now you can see it too… Click to watch and be inspired:  http://youtu.be/snZwENQ7u1o.   

Remember Thriller/Filler/Spiller:

Ellen chose a fiberglass pot and these plants to create the container garden:

  •  a purple calla lily in the center as her tall “thriller”
  • begonias and impatiens to provide a bushy middle as the “filler”
  • and healthy ivy to trail down the pot as her “spiller.”

Ellen generously offered the container garden as a raffle item at the end of the workshop.  Congratulations to Liz K. who won the container and provided the picture above. 

Enjoy your garden!

Hostas for Sale – A Great Idea for Shady City Gardens

Do you have shady spots in your garden? 
Want to plant something that  gives the  space color and light?
Consider getting hostas!  There will be a huge Hosta sale at the Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham on  Friday, June 15 through Sunday, June 17th.  There will be thousands of hostas on display.  Colors include creams, golds, blues and mixes.  There will be large-specimen and small plants, along with many new and hard-to-find varieties. Knowledgeable staff will be on hand to help you choose the right hostas for your garden.
The greenhouses are located at 185 Lyman Street in Waltham.
For more information, visit www.historicnewengland.org, or call 781-891-1985.
Free admission.

Urban Gardening Ideas for Small Spaces

Hello Friends: 
I hope your gardens are growing and filled with beautiful, colorful flowers!
If you’re looking for more  information about small space gardens, check out this article, Urban Gardening Ideas for Small Spaces. ” 
I was interviewed for  the article and am quoted in it.  The article appears  in House Logic, the e-newsletter for the National Association of Realtors.   The writer, Iyna Caruso, offers good advice for planting in small spaces.  I particularly like her link to vertical gardening.  I’m fascinated with growing flowers on the vertical plane – trellises and walls.  Hope the article gives you another idea or two.  Enjoy!