Category Archives: Flowers and Plants

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!

Boston Flower Show – Colorful, Aromatic, Surprising

Front Entrance to the Flower Show
Hello all:
The Boston Flower Show is abloom at the Seaport World Trade Center!  But hurry, it’s only there through Sunday.

My husband, my mom and I attended the Flower Show preview party on Wednesday night, a benefit for the Boston Parks Department.  They do such great work!    It was wonderful to smell Hyacinths in the Gardenthe hyacinths tucked in the corner of a garden bed and the White Rose Bridal Bouquetroses in the wedding bouquets.  The bed of  orange tulips was welcoming and there were bright, perky yellow daffodils everywhere. The show floor has 10 or so beautifully landscaped vignettes.  The tiered garden with the splashing waterfall flanked by suspended staircases got our vote as  most desirable! Tiered garden with waterfall and seating areaAnd there was time to  admire the color, whimsy and surprises in the display of flower hats and flower shoes.  There was something to see, smell and hear around every turn. What fun!

Leafy HatFlower HatThe show did seem a bit smaller than in year’s past.  Not sure if that is true or my imagination.  Maybe it’s the two sides of vendors selling garden items that makes the show seem a biLandscaped Garden at the Flower Showt squeezed.  Even with that, it was worth taking in… I am jazzed to start designing my garden and planning for the new season.  I’m actually thinking about making a vertical garden of clematis or mandevilla.  The show definitely spurred my thinking.  I’ll share more in the days and weeks ahead.  Spring is next week.  Can’t wait!Janine at Flower Show 2012

Win Tickets to the 2012 Boston Flower Show

Calling all gardeners!Lush container with fronds and ferns
Here’s your chance to win two tickets (a $40 value) to the Boston Flower Show, March 14 -18, 2012 at the Seaport World Trade Center…
Here’s how… simply comment on this post and tell us about your favorite garden or container flower and why you like it so much. 
Send a photo if possible.   Keep comments to 50 words or less. 
Deadline for entry is midnight Sat. March Daffodils planted in white rain boots10th. 
The best submission (funny, useful, inspiring) will be chosen Sunday, March 11th and announced at 2pm that day on this blog.  Decision of the judge (me) is final.  Tickets will be delivered or sent overnight mail.  Good luck! 

For more on the 2012 Boston Flower Show, watch this:

Daffodils in Bloom on Nantucket

It’s Feb. 26th and there are daffodils blooming on several rotaries on Nantucket!  This winter is truly bizarre.  Now Nantucket is known for its Daffodil Weekend but that is two months away!
As I rode from Nantucket Center to the Surfside Road, I had to do a double take.  Yes, there were about a dozen perky yellow blooms standing strong against that crazy wind…  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop the car photograph them.  If any reader is on Nantucket, can you send a photo?  Many thanks.
And Daffodil Weekend is April 27 -29, 2012.  For more info, go to

Shade-Loving Jack Frost Named Perennial Plant of the Year

Green heart-shaped leaves with clusters of blue flowers

Photo courtesy of Walters Garden Inc

Hello All:
Jack Frost may have missed New England this winter but his leafy namesake has earned top billing as the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year!
I’m definitely putting this plant into my garden because it pretty, hardy and performs best in shady areas.  Need plants with all three traits to thrive in the big, bad city!

The Perennial Plant Association says Jack Frost (Brunnera macrophylla) sprouts clusters of blue forget-me-not blossoms from mid to late spring above silvery, heart-shaped leaves.  Sounds lovely and looks great!
The Association calls Jack a real “scene stealer” and suggests that it be placed:Silvery, heart-shaped leaves

  • along the front of a shade border.  The silver coloring lights up a darker garden from spring to fall.
  • in a shade container.  It grows 12 -15 inches tall and will spread to about 20 inches wide.
  • with other ground cover perennials. Try with hostas, ferns, epimediums, hellebores and heucheras.  These like shady, moist conditions too.
    Yahoo!  Spring is on its way!