Sunlight Chart – Know Your Garden Exposure

Hello Everyone!
Knowing how much sunlight your garden gets will help you choose plants and flowers that will thrive in your space.
Check the chart below and see where your garden space fits in.  Always check the labels on the plants and flowers that catch your eye.  The labels will say clearly what level of sunlight suits them best.  Enjoy! 

•Full Sun              6 hours or more of direct sunlight (in summer)
•Part-sun              2 to 6 hours of direct sunlight
•Part-shade          1-2 hours of direct sunlight
•Light shade        Dappled sunlight, or shade below open sky


Shady Garden? Try Liriope, Astilbe and Ferns!

This past Tuesday, I passed two young gardeners from Winston Flowers  working on a shady corner yard on Marlborough Street.  I know this corner.  It gets mostly dappled sun for about an hour or so a day and then is plunged into deep shade.  I asked what they were planting to brighten the yard.  Patrick and Jeanine pointed to ferns, liriope and astilbe.  These augment the shade loving hostas already planted.  Here’s a bit more about these excellent shade garden options:

  • Liriope: A widely used and versatile ground cover with attractive evergreen foliage and small flowers that bloom in spring.  Also called  Monkey Grass.Astilbe from Wilson Brothers Nursery
  • Astilbe: easy-to-grow, long-blooming, plume-like flowers in soft shades of white, pink and red. The flowers are on tall stalks. They can light up a shade garden or soften a sunny spot.
  • Ferns: These frondy beauties do well in part shade or dappled sunlight.  Some do quite well in the sun with enough water. They are easy to maintain and come in hundreds of varieties.  Choose from a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes and textures.
    As you can see, there are lots of options for a shady space.  Just find the right plants and you’ll be successful!

Two Thumbs Up – Louis Barry Florists in Boston

Every now and then I give “two thumbs up” to a business  offering excellent products and terrific customer service.
Today I  give a rousing recommendation for  Louis Barry Florists.

The reason?  I’m walking through the Prudential Center in Boston this morning after a killer Zumba workout (Thanks Katie at FitCorp!) when my eyes are pulled to the gorgeous flower display at the Louis Barry stand.  
I’m talking bright orange, red and yellow daisies and big, lush blue and white hydrangeas and deep purple orchids laden with blooms that droop with majesty!!
Louis Barry consistently showcases a rich variety of flowers with a vibrant color palette, varied shapes and sophisticated textures!
I’ve purchased many arrangements at the Pru store and at the International Place store for birthdays and holidays, even for trade shows and events I’ve managed.    Both stores vibrant flowers and an orchid selection that can’t be beat!
The staff is talented, attentive and courteous.
If you are looking for flowers and plants that will inspire, call or visit Louis Barry.

NOTE: I have no affiliation with Louis Barry Florists and take no compensation for this endorsement.

Flowering Dogwoods – White, Bright Beauties

Flowering Dogwood - In Bloom on Marlborough StreetHello Everyone! 
It’s definitely planting time!  
Hope you’re visiting your local Garden Center this weekend to find more flowers to add to your yards, window boxes and container gardens.
During this past week’s rainy days, my eyes were drawn to the white, bright, beautiful blooms of the flowering dogwoods.  Just gorgeous! 
While I am a huge fan of color in my garden, I was reminded that white flowers and petals can quickly brighten up gloomy days and shady spots!
The  flowering dogwood is a  low maintenance tree with white, four petal flowers (or bracts) blooming during April and May. It’s a small  tree, native to America, growing to 15-30 feet with a low-branching, somewhat flat-topped habit. The actual dogwood flower is small and yellowish green.  The flower is surrounded by four, showy petals (bracts) which open flat, 3 -4 inches.  What a show these blooms put on!  Enjoy it while it lasts. 

In the early fall, the tree bears bright red berries that the birds love but are poisonous to humans.  Make sure to keep your hands off!  Happy Spring!!!

Awesome Gardening Event This Saturday!

Garden Supplies on StairsHello All: 
Come join us this Saturday, May 5th for two hours of gardening inspiration!  

We’ll meet at 10am at 66 Marlborough Street in Boston.  There will be a bunch of new and avid gardeners gathered in the auditorium of the First Church in Boston.  

Come hear Ellen Abdow, the talented owner of Perennial Gardens.  She’ll share her insights and experiences about planting in urban environments.  She’ll also create a fabulous container garden in front of our eyes!  A demonstration not to be missed! 

Tom SmarrTom Smarr from The Garden Concierge will inspire us with the basics – tools, soil and plants for every season.  He’ll also talk about the hottest trend in gardening these days – vertical gardening.  Here in the city we have plenty of walls – alleys, roof decks, patios.  Perhaps “going vertical” is something new to try…

Don’t miss this opportunity to be inspired!  Come discover the secrets to maintaining a beautiful and hardy flower garden – in whatever space you have!  

Cost is $25.  Tickets available at the door. 
For more information, go to  Or email me at  Hope to see you on Saturday!

Ellen Abdow to Share Gardening Tips and Ideas

Hi Everyone: 
I wanted to share a bio on Ellen Abdow, the smart and dynamic owner of Perennial Gardens, a landscape firm in Boston.  She’ll share helpful gardening advice and will create a gorgeous container garden right before our eyes at the May 5th “Gardening Experts Speak! Tips for a Successful City Garden.”  Come join us!  Sign up today at

Ellen is the founder of Perennial Gardens, LLC, a landscape design and build firm with clients throughout New England.  The firm has a diverse portfolio and Ellen and her expert team have cultivated a reputation for careful plant selection, imaginative composition and skilled installation.
Ellen brings 18 years of knowledge to each and every project.  She first got bitten by the gardening bug while teaching at Brookline High School and subsequently went to work at one of the area’s most respected nurseries. There she expanded her love and knowledge of perennials before launching her own firm. Today she gets great pleasure from helping clients hone their own personal garden visions and adapting these ideas in ways that will best suit their particular properties and lifestyles. Her work can be seen in numerous garden tours, on a walk through Boston’s Back Bay, or on line at

Come hear gardening wisdom from Ellen!  Sign up today for the May 5th workshop!
 Register at Cost is just $25.
Hope to see you there!!

Garden Expert Tom Smarr Speaking at May 5th Workshop in Boston

Let me  introduce you to Tom Smarr.  
He is a smart and seasoned horticulturalist who will offer great gardening advice and practical tips on Saturday, May 5th as part of the Gardening Experts Speak! Tips for a Successful City Garden.”  
For information or to register, go to
Tom was the first expert  to be featured at  His interview can be found in the site’s Expert Advice tab.
Tom is a experienced professional with more than a decade of experience in horticulture, botanic gardens, conservation and sustainable landscaping.  He currently works for The Garden Concierge, a residential landscape company in Boston.   
Tom studied at several notable public gardens including:
– Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania
– The Holden Arboretum in Ohio, and
 – Washington Park Arboretum/Center for Urban Horticulture in Washington. 
He holds a graduate degree in Urban Horticulture from the University of Washington in Seattle. 
Tom worked for several years as a professional horticulturalist and Horticulture Director at the New England Wild Flower Society’s native plant botanic garden, Garden in the Woods, famous for its extensive native plant collection.  Tom then began the horticulture organic maintenance program for the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, a vibrant public park in downtown Boston on top of the famous Big Dig managed by the RFK Greenway Conservancy.
Tom is committed to the preservation of our cultural landscapes through sensible design, horticulture practices, and public education.  He is dedicated to the principle that landscapes should not only be beautiful and functional, but should contribute to a healthy ecology.

Up next, information on Ellen Abdow, owner of Perennial Gardens.  She’ll be presenting at the May 5th workshop too.  She’ll create a gorgeous container garden right before our eyes and offer insights into the hottest trends in gardening. 
To register for the May 5th event, go to
Hope to see you on then!

Gardening Experts Speak May 5th in Boston!

Come get great advice and a dose of inspiration to make this year’s flower garden your best yet!
Join us Saturday, May 5th from 10am to noon for a lively, information-rich workshop called “Gardening Experts Speak! Tips for a Successful City Garden.” 
This second annual City Garden Ideas event will be held in the auditorium of First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, at the corner of Berkeley and Marlborough. 
Our featured speakers are talented, professional horticulturalists: Ellen Abdow, owner of Perennial Gardens, and Tom Smarr, The Garden Concierge and former Superintendent of Horticulture at the Rose Kennedy Greenway.  What can you expect?  Plenty! 
Ellen will create a beautiful container garden right before your eyes.  She’ll share gardening wisdom and offer insights into the hottest trends. Tom will offer up gardening basics on tools, soil, sun and choosing plants that thrive in every season.  He’ll also talk about vertical gardening.  That’s when blooms go up and up. 
Register at  The cost is just $25!  There will be plenty of time for questions and answers, loads of handouts and door prizes!  This event is not to be missed!
If you have questions, call 617-267-6500 or email me at  Hope to see you there!

Red Ruffled Tulips Startle and Delight in Window Boxes

Just had to share this!  Walking tonight in Boston’s Back Bay, I was stopped in my tracks by a trio of spectacular window boxes.  Night was falling but the red Ruffled Tulips with tinges of yellow stood out boldly.  The tulips were paired with bright yellow daffodils, red ranunculus amid a backdrop of flowering branches.  Just gorgeous!  The Ruffled Tulips, also known as Parrot Tulips, are so unusual!  Downright frilly!   Pairing them with friendly yellow daffodils makes the display inviting. Daffodils are probably the easiest and most dependable flower to grow and win me over every year.  The ranunculus was a lovely, colorful surprise.  That flower has multi-layers of paper thin petals.  It’s a hardy, cool weather perennial and is perfect for window boxes and containers.  The flowering branches give the window boxes height and added dimension.  The same flower and branch arrangement were seen on the stoop container.  Outstanding.  So far, this window box wins my vote for best display of the Spring season!

Magnolias in Bloom in Boston

Magnolias - Close up March 2012Ah, magnolias!  
Just had to share a few photos of the trees blooming along Commonwealth Avenue.  High temperatures in mid March pushed open the lush petal cups.  This year the blooms seem even more eye-popping and the sweet aroma intoxicating.  These trees were planted in 1963 through the efforts of the Garden Club of the Back Bay’s  Laura Dwight.  Thank you Laura! 
Magnolias along Commonwealth Avenue - March 2012Up and down the street, people were whipping out camera phones and snapping fancyMagnolia, Azalea, Architecture along Commonwealth Ave lenses on more professional cameras to capture the showy blossoms.  Some just stood still, eyes closed, inhaling the scent.   The sight slowed me down and I took a breath with them.
Unfortuntately, the falling temperatures last week shocked the fragile petals and most are now droopy and dappled with brown. Don’t despair!  The trees on the north side of Commonwealth Ave are just now coming into bloom.  It’s well worth a trip in to Boston to see them!  Beyond the magnolias, daffodils, azaleas, pansies, crocuses and tulips are in bloom as well and will vie for your attention. 

Special Note:

The Garden Club of the Back Bay is celebrating its 50th anniversary by sponsoring the sale and planting of 50 ‘Moon Glow’ white magnolia trees. They are Magnolia with Close up Bloomsavailable at a special price of $500 per tree and will be planted in the spring of 2013. The club will arrange for an arborist to plant the trees in front gardens with an open site. The club will also subsidize the planting of magnolias in other open sites in the neighborhood. 
I am a member of the Garden Club and wholeheartedly support this effort! 
To read more about the project, and print an order form, click here.