Category Archives: Window Boxes

5 Tips for Flower Garden Success – Expert Advice from Perennial Garden’s Ellen Abdow

Ornate container with pansies, pussywillows and ivyHello Gardeners!
Before you plant your Spring window boxes, containers or street-side tree gardens, please read this!  Ellen Abdow, the talented owner of Perennial Gardens, is offering her 5 top tips for a successful flower garden.  Ellen Abdow - Close Up
As a featured speaker at two City Garden Ideas workshops, she famously introduced the phrase ‘Thriller, filler and spiller,’ the three flower components for a winning container, to the audience.  Watch Ellen in this YouTube video from the 2012 CGI workshop.
Here are her 5 top tips:
Tip 1. Look, listen and learn from all the gardeners that have come before you and the gardens all around you.  Indulge in some good books.   I always buy The Well Tended Perennial Gardenthe ones with the most pictures. (Janine likes The Well-Tended Perennial Garden).  Subscribe to magazines and gardening blogs to learn about the latest trends and tricks of the trade. Go on garden tours in the city, attend the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days garden tours.  See what you like in other peoples gardens, copy, and make it your own. Mass Horticultural Society, New England Wildflower Society and the Arnold Arboretum all have excellent lectures and courses throughout the year jam packed with great information.
Tip 2. Be honest: Make an accurate evaluation of sun vs. shade, and plant what’s best geared for those light conditions. There are so many interesting cultivars of plants for any light conditions. Read the labels, ask your local garden center for advice and guidance, and plant accordingly.
Tip 3. Food and water: Proper soil and nutrition grows healthy plants. Build OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa solid foundation and plants will grow easily. Take the time to evaluate your soil and add organic matter to create nutrient rich growing environments. Invest in good potting soil for hanging baskets and potted plants that drains quickly found at your local garden center. Water regularly, not too much, and not too little. Ask for expert advice, and use it!
Tip 4. Change your mind: If you don’t like the way your planting looks, PG - Container and shrubschange it out. Try something new. A garden is never finished. Be willing to take chances. Have fun, relax, and grow what makes your heart go pitter patter.
Tip 5. Use every inch of space you have: Stuff every centimeter of your space with plants. Mount shelves on the walls, hang baskets off the railings, try vertical gardening. You can grow almost anything in a pot, just remember that a plant in a container is totally dependent on you for water and food.Perennial Garden Truck

Ellen started her business in 1993 and she and her team actively design and install gardens in Boston and out in the suburbs.  To learn more about Ellen and Perennial Gardens, visit www.perennialgardens.net.
By the way, that’s my tree garden 🙂 in front of the Perennial Garden truck.  Happy planting!

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!

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 citygardening.eventbrite.com.

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 perennialgardens.net.

Come hear gardening wisdom from Ellen!  Sign up today for the May 5th workshop!
 Register at citygardening.eventbrite.com. 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 http://citygardening.eventbrite.com
Tom was the first expert  to be featured at  Citygardenideas.com.  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 http://citygardening.eventbrite.com
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 http://citygardening.eventbrite.com.  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 janine@citygardenideas.com.  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!