Tag Archives: Small space gardening

Staying Power and Story of the Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckias)

So sorry I’ve been MIA. Back now with much to share!
Let’s start with a lovely and tough city beauty – the Black-Eyed Susan. 
Black-eyed Susan's poking through a black iron fenceFor the past several weeks I’ve been noticing the abundance and health of this perky perennial in gardens all over the neighborhoood. With so many colorful flowers past their peak, these bright yellow and sometimes purple flowers with the dark centers are finally getting attention!  I did a bit of research on these wildflower stunners and found out they are long-lived, low maintenance plants with a tolerance for clay soils. They prefer full sun but tolerate partial shade.  When they are planted in large groups, butterflies love them.  One article I read said they are considered bioremediators.  It seems that their roots and foliage tie up toxins from the soil and air.  What a great benefit for a city flower! 
Now here’s the back story on Black Eyed Susan.  According to the American Meadow website, the name first appears in an Old English romantic poem by John Gay.  It begins:
All in the downs, the fleet was moored,

Banners waving in the wind.
When Black-Eyed Susan came aboard,
and eyed the burly men.
“Tell me ye sailors, tell me true
Does my Sweet William sail with you?”

To read the whole poem and more, click here.
You may have heard of Sweet William. It’s the name for another flowering plant.  It appears that if you “seed wild Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) with common Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), they’ll bloom beautifully at exactly the same time.”  Now that’s romantic!  Great flower, great story. 
Til next time… keep your garden watered!

Mandevillas and Dahlias – A Boston City Garden Finalist?

Street-side Tree Garden with mandevillas, dahlias and petunias
It’s official. I submitted my street-side tree garden into the City of Boston Garden Contest tonight.  There’s still time for other Boston residents to enter.  The deadline is Wed. July 18th at 5pm.

This summer has been a tough one for my garden.  Today’s submission reflects my fourth planting since April.  That’s well over my usual quota of planting through early July.
My current garden has lush, Red Mandevillas and Purple Dahliasred, mandevillas, purple dahlias, bright purple and yellow petunias, pink impatiens and lots of English ivy.

My fingers are crossed that my garden earns a Finalist position.  I’d love the judge to see the colors, textures and beauty that exists on a sidewalk in the middle of the city.  Good luck to all the entrants!

Boston Garden Contest Deadline Extended!

My Street-side Tree GardenHello All:
Good news!  The deadline for the City of Boston Garden Contest has been extended!  Nomination forms with photos are now due by Wednesday, July 18th at 5pm.
I encourage every City of Boston gardener with a window box, container garden or flowering yard to enter to win that Golden Trowel.  Just fill out an entry form online and submit as many as five (5) photos of your garden space.
Details about the contest and the nomination form are at: http://cityofboston.gov/parks/gardencontest/
Good luck to all!

Petunia Thief On the Loose in Boston

Container Garden with Yellow PetuniasAn alert to all city gardeners:
The Back Bay flower thief has struck again!
Last year, three gorgeous dahlias were plucked from our  street-side tree garden.
This past Friday night, an entire clump of yellow petunias was lifted straight out of our side-street container.
My husband is threatening to install a close-circuit camera!
I must admit this post does sound a bit like the game of Clue…. “He was in the alleyContainer with Missing Petunias with the dahlias from the garden!”  Wish it was all just a game.

In the larger scheme of things, flower theft is small potatoes.  We made a quick trip to Mahoney’s in Brighton to find replacements.  There I learned that flower theft was on the rise all over the city!  The young man at the register told me that I was the 11th or 12th person to come to the Garden Center over the past several days with the same lament.  Misery loves company.
Container with Purple PetuniasAnd yellow petunias?  Very hard to find, just in case you were interested.  Luckily, there were plenty of healthy and hearty Proven Winner purple and white petunias for sale.  Did some serious rearranging in all my containers.  Kept the tall, white “Crystal Peak White” False Dragonhead Physostegia (sometimes called Obediant Plant), removed the Shasta daisies and nestled the new petunias with the existing English ivy.  All the plants seems happy in their warm, sunny space. Fingers are crossed that the flower thief has retired for the season.  Here’s wishing that your flowers are blooming and staying where you planted them!  Enjoy!

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!

Enter Mayor Menino’s Garden Contest – Deadline July 13th

Want a little recognition for your beautiful city garden or a neighbor’s garden? Is there room on your mantle for a Golden Trowel?
Come on, take a chance and enter Mayor Menino’s Garden Contest!  Simply take a few dazzling photos of your buds in bloom and fill out a nomination form. The contest is open to all Boston residents, businesses and organization gardens with amateur status.  Deadline is July 13th!  Five finalists are chosen in 10 categories.  Site visits are conducted to determine the winners.

I’ve entered the Garden Contest for the past two years.  Year 1 – my garden was a finalist. (I was so proud.  Even laminated my certificate)  Year 2 – nothing.  (I was robbed!  That’s my tree garden entry below.  Wasn’t it pretty?) 
So it’s Year 3.  And I’ve got my eyes on that Golden Trowel.  
I’m planting a few more flowers in my garden bed this week.  Need to expand the color palette.  There is currently way too much purple in my garden – purple pansies, purple petunias.  Going to spruce it up with some yellow and white daisies and red astilbe.  Maybe even a pink mandevilla or two.  I’ll share my submission photos in a few weeks.

“Boston’s gardeners work long and hard to beautify their homes, businesses, and neighborhoods,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This contest recognizes and honors these green thumbs who are helping to improve our city with their talents.”
Click here to get a nomination form.  Deadline for entries is July 13th.  For more information, call Lauren Patrick at 617-961-3051.  Good luck!

Urban Gardening Ideas for Small Spaces

Hello Friends: 
I hope your gardens are growing and filled with beautiful, colorful flowers!
If you’re looking for more  information about small space gardens, check out this article, Urban Gardening Ideas for Small Spaces. ” 
I was interviewed for  the article and am quoted in it.  The article appears  in House Logic, the e-newsletter for the National Association of Realtors.   The writer, Iyna Caruso, offers good advice for planting in small spaces.  I particularly like her link to vertical gardening.  I’m fascinated with growing flowers on the vertical plane – trellises and walls.  Hope the article gives you another idea or two.  Enjoy!

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 http://citygardening.eventbrite.com.  Or email me at janine@citygardenideas.com.  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 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!