Tag Archives: Small space gardening

Take 2 – The Balcony Gardener – Gift Recommendation

The Balcony Gardener

The Balcony Gardener

Hello… Sorry about sending out the empty post!  Pushed the Publish button by mistake.

With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share a gardening book I recently found at Annie Bells, now K Colette, a store filled with interesting things in Portland, Maine.

The Balcony Gardener is a website and the name of an easy-read, tip-rich book that would be perfect for the beginner or intermediate gardener.  Isabelle Palmer is the author and, like me, loves beautifying small spaces.  I bought the book for $19.95 but see it on Amazon for $13.57.  You can also buy signed copies on The Balcony Gardener website.  The book contains useful tips about gardening basics like soil, tools and pots.  Plus very helpful chapters on growing herbs and other edibles.

As the inside book jacket says, “Even with the smallest of outdoor spaces it is possible to create a beautiful garden, be it on a balcony, roof terrace or window sill.”  I couldn’t agree more!

If you have a city gardener on your holiday list, this book is worth checking out.  If you have a favorite “go to” gardening book, please share!  We welcome your comments.  Enjoy the day!

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!

American Garden Award Winners Announced!

Hi Everyone.  Just had to share these hearty beauties with you!
The 2012 American Garden Award just announced the flower winners of their annual contest.  Each year six flower varieties are chosen by their breeders for their great garden performance.   The varieties are planted and put on display at participating gardens and the public votes for their favorite.   These are the winners and should be contenders for your garden next year. My favorite, by the way, is #2.
And the three winners are:
Grand Prize Winner
Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz™ Sunset’ from Ernst Benary of America
Begonia Santa Cruz™ Sunset lights up your garden with an abundance of scarlet/orange blooms. Its elegant softly cascading form is perfect for hanging baskets, urns or mass plantings in your garden. Surprisingly heat, drought and rain tolerant, this summer beauty thrives in any location from full sun to shade.

Second Place Winner (My Favorite!)
Gazania  ‘Big Kiss™ White Flame’ F1
from Syngenta Flowers

Gazania Big Kiss™ White Flame has huge white and rose striped flowers that cover full, bushy plants. This carefree, heat loving and drought tolerant annual loves the sun and thrives in tough conditions, all summer long. Extra large flowers and plants make high impact displays in garden beds or containers.

Third Place Winner
Petunia ‘Surfinia® Deep Red’
from Suntory Flowers

‘Finally, the true deep red petunia gardeners have been searching for! For 20 years, Surfinia® has been the best-selling vegetative petunia series in the world, offering superior garden performance with no pinching or pruning needed. Enjoy ‘Surfinia® Deep Red’ in container gardens or in the landscape from spring through fall.

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!