Tag Archives: urban gardening

Fenway Victory Garden Tour July 27th!

Hello City Gardeners!
Here’s a great opportunity to see some wonderful city garden spaces!
On Saturday, July 27th from 2 – 5pm, more than 25 Fenway Victory gardeners will open their FenwayVictoryGardenwithPrugates to visitors.

Come view beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, picnic in the meadow, play bocce, learn new gardening tips and get inspired!  Sounds like great fun!

There will be a sprinkler for kids of all ages to run through…come on down!  The gardens are located in Boston.  A map will be available at the flagpole.  Rain Date July 28th.
For more information, call 617-267-6650 or visit www.fenwayvictorygardens.com.

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!
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“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.

This Wednesday, May 15th – Plant Something!

This WednesdGetting Ready to Gardenay, May 15th, people all over the Commonwealth will get busy planting something beautiful in every city and town. Come join in!

It’s all part of Plant Something MA, a joint project of the Massachusetts Flower Growers Association and the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association. The goal is to have a public planting across the state and encourage residents to plant something – anything!

As Lady Bird Johnson once said,
“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”

So get yourself to a local garden center, find some fabulous flowers and then get out your gardening gloves!Daffodils in Rain Boots  My plan is to use an old pair of rain boots as my containers and put in calla lilies and ivy.  My inspiration comes from a fun planting (pictured right) I saw at the 2012 Boston Flower Show.

I’ll post pictures of what I plant.  If you plant, please send your photos so we can all see what you did!

Amid the sadness, Boston blooms

It’s a sad day in Boston.  It’sPink magnolias in bloom along Commonwealth Avenue in Boston very quiet on the streets.  Few pedestrians.  Fewer cars.  Even the dogs being walked by their masters hold back their barks.
As I walked this afternoon through my beloved Back Bay neighborhood, my soul was soothed by the sweet, lush beauty of SprinDaffodils with container Resizedg.
Pink and white magnolias with buds bursting, bright yellow daffodils bending in the wind, containers filled with vibrant tulips, pansies, hyacinths and pussywillows.
In the face of sContainer Beauty Resizedo much tragedy, let us be grateful for family and friends. Pray for the dead and injured. Seek solace in the loveliness of Spring.
And cultivate and inspire kindness, beauty and love.
Be well.
Janine

Vertical Gardening Lecture – ‘Transforming Naked Walls with Nature’ – Enter to Win Tickets

Hello all and happy 2013!
Are you familiar with vertical gardening? The practice has been around for decades but interest in it has been growing for the past several years.

Living wall planter by Pamela Crawford

Living wall planter by Pamela Crawford

Vertical gardening differs from walls of ivy.  We’re talking about self sufficient living walls of plants that get their water and nutrients within a vertical structure and not from the ground.

I’ve loved the idea of vertical gardening for years… even before I knew it had that name.  Perhaps it’s because Boston has so many flat brick walls facing the alleys in the Back Bay where I live.  I always imagined something beautiful could be done with these blank canvasses.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the walls flowering in the summer with morning glories, mandevillas or hibiscus?  Ah, what a delightful sight that would be!

Vertical Garden by Patrick Blanc

Vertical Garden by Patrick Blanc

So when I read about Patrick Blanc, the inventor of the Vertical Garden, speaking on April 24th at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston called “The Vertical Garden: Biological Design and Urban Architecture”, I immediately bought tickets to attend.   I also bought another two tickets to give away to one lucky City Garden Ideas reader who is interested in vertical gardens.

That’s where the contest comes in.  Here’s what to do:

Hanging Gardens in Miami by Patrick Blanc

Hanging Gardens in Miami by Patrick Blanc

Comment on this post by March 15th and tell me – in 100 words or less – why you want to attend this vertical gardening lecture.

  • Tell a story about an experience you had with vertical gardening
  • Share something that inspires you about vertical gardening
  • Let me know why you want to  learn more.

Patrick Blanc says he’ll reveal ‘his methods for transforming naked walls with nature.”  This I have to see!  Hope you’ll enter to win or just buy tickets through the MFA.

And remember, Spring begins March 20th and it’s getting closer every day!

Other contest information:
One entry per person.  Entries will be reviewed and one winner will be chosen on March 22nd.  The decision of the judge (that’s me) is final.

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!

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!

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!

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!