Category Archives: Places to Visit

Landscape Institute Offering Summer Courses

Looking to learn more about landscape design, construction and drafting?

Heather HeimarckHeather Heimarck, a long-time friend to City Garden Ideas and the director of the Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College, sent along the Institute’s Summer Course catalog – Summer 2013 COURSE OFFERINGS

Check out the short, hands-on classes at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley.  Think about attending the course by painter and a historian, Ma Qingxiong.  Students learn about Chinese landscape design and try their hand at doing oriental brushwork. Take a look at Ma’s website

The Institute is offering many other courses including a three-week introduction to design intensive, M-F, in July.  Heather says it can be very rich to immerse oneself that way.  If you have any questions, call 617 585 0100.  Be well!



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.

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!

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!

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!

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 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!