Tag Archives: Expert Advice

Sorry to see her go… Parks Commissioner Toni Pollak Retiring

Image

Hello Gardeners!
Just learned that
Boston Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak is retiring from her position.  I had the good fortune to meet Toni for an informational interview in 2010 after I left my corporate job.  Even today I dream of becoming a park ranger.  🙂

The Commissioner shared her career journey and offered a candid assessment of opportunities in the Parks Department and other area organizations focused on parks and open spaces. I was impressed with her knowledge, her warmth and her down-to-earth attitude.  Not long after that meeting, I started this City Garden Ideas blog.  Thank you Commissioner for your advice and guidance.  I wish you well in your next chapter!
The Friends of the Public Garden is joining with Boston Park Advocates to celebrate retiring Parks Commissioner Toni Pollak on February 26, from 5 – 7 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.  Admission is $10, and space is limited.  Please rsvp by February 20 at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thank-you-to-toni-pollak-tickets-6825494237.  I’ll be at the party.  Please come and celebrate the Commissioner and all she has done to maintain and beautify our city.

Advertisements

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  http://www.maqingxiong.com

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!

BAC

Selecting Plants That Grow – Encore Expert Advice

Tom Smarr1ENCORE!  Tom Smarr, now Director of Horticulture at the High Line in New York City, offers timeless advice on selecting plants that will grow.  This 2011 blog deserved an encore post!
_____________________________

“In the city, tough plants go into the ground. When you choose your garden plants, consider sunlight, moisture, bloom color and height. Know your exposure.  Notice how much sun and shade are in different areas of your garden.”   – Tom Smarr                               

Determine Your Sunlight Levels:
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
Here are some of Tom’s favorite plants by sun level:
1. Full sun:  Black-Eye Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’)
Dwarf New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’)
Husker Red Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’)
Daylilies (Hemerocallis cultivars)
Blue Licorice Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia ‘Blue Licorice’)
Blue Ice Amsonia
“All of these are medium to tall plants that would grow great in a perennial boarder or meadow style with ornamental grasses.  These provide a season of blooms and foliage interest and are hardy in urban garden conditions.”
2. Medium sun:
Heavy Metal and Shenandoah Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) plus Little Blue Stem (Schizachryium scoparium ‘The Blues’) are two great grasses that are durable and have nice solid color.
Snow Flurry (Symphyotrichum ericoides) is a low growing, groundcover type aster.
Sheffield Pink Florist Daisy (Chrysanthemum x morifolium ‘Sheffield Pink’) is a hardy blooming chrysanthemum along with many other cultivars provide different colors in the garden for autumn.
All of these will do fine in full sun to medium light and mixed with plants in the full sun category.
A favorite shrub is Dwarf Witch-alder (Fothergilla gardenia) an early spring flowers with vibrant autumn foliage.
3. Part Shade to Shade:
Pachysandra is a dependable groundcover as is Liriope spicata that is a grass-like blooming plant.
•Tom’s favorites are Hydrangeas that provide good summer color and mounding shrubs.  Popular cultivars are mop head types like ‘Blushing Bride’ and ‘Endless Summer’ or a lacecap variety like ‘Blue Billow’.
•He also likes Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) as it has unique flowers and leaves. •Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides) is a groundcover that does well in shady conditions like many other woodland favorites seen at Garden in the Woods in Framingham.
Tom admits that plants for shady sites can be tough as little or no light reaches the ground.  He recommends trying some of the groundcovers in Part Shade and thinking uniquely about the location for garden ornaments.

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!

Winner Announced for Tickets to Vertical Garden Lecture

Congratulations to Cinta Burgos!  Her entry to a recent City Garden Ideas post has earned her two tickets to the April 24th Vertical Gardening lecture by Patrick Blanc at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Tickets are still available for this lecture by Mr. Blanc, considered the inventor of the vertical garden.  I encourage interested gardeners to attend.
theverticalgardenbypatrickblancnorton_0Here is part of Ms. Burgos’ winning entry:  “I am very excited about the vertical garden and the MFA Patrick Blanc talk in April.  I would love to go to the talk, but mostly to go with another garden enthusiast.  My question to him would be – can you make a vegetable garden a vertical garden and how do I do that on my 6th floor balcony with one brick wall, western exposure and all these seasonal changes?  I love growing flowers and seeing plants to start to regrow leaves in the spring but my biggest joy has been the 5 years that strawberries have continued to regrow, the herbs that come back after winter, and picking my own lettuce, tomatoes and beans.  That is about all I have been successful at on my Beacon Hill balcony but I would love to use the vertical space as well.
Congratulations Cinta!  Email me at janine@citygardenideas.com with your address and I’ll send your tickets along.  See you at the lecture!

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!

TONIGHT! Want to be a Landscape Designer? Panel Discussion at BPL

Design with NatureSorry for the short notice but there is a great panel discussion tonight (March 6th) at the Boston Public Library called “So You want to be a Landscape Architect…or Landscape Designer.”

The event is free and the discussion will take place at the Boston Public Library Orientation room from 6pm-7:30pm.  Three landscape architects and two landscape designers at different points in their careers will discuss their education, practices, and thoughts about the field.

Heather Heimarck, Director of the Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College, will moderate.  For anyone interested in landscape design, this event is not to be missed!