Winter Pruning

January 12, 2011

If you feel like getting out in the garden, winter is a fine season to prune your American Beautyberry, Blueridge St. Johnswort and Chaste Tree and the Glossy Abeli– just to name a few shrubs and trees.

Why? These plants flower on the current season’s growth. Pruning at the right time helps to ensure they plants bloom to their fullest during the season.

To learn more about pruning, click here.

View a Galaxy of Images

January 7, 2011

Rafflesia arnoldi, 1822

Visit The Smithsonian Institution Libraries web site, It is a  Galaxy — a treasure trove of information. For example, in the Galaxy of Images, under Collections, I scrolled through images of flowers, mushrooms, trees. Fascinating.

The flowers, scanned from their vast collection are taken from illustrated manuscripts, botanical drawings and old seed packets.  The site is a virtual bookshelf of digital editions.  Beam yourself up!

Thoughts for the year ahead – XXXIV

December 31, 2010

Nature is what we see,
the hill, the afternoon –
squirrel, eclipse, the bumble bee,
nay – Nature is heaven.

Nature is what we hear,
the bobblelink, the sea –
thunder, the cricket –
nay, Nature is harmony.

Nature is what we know
but have no art to say,
so impotent our wisdom is
to her simplicity.

Emily Dickinson

The Challenges of Urban Parks

September 20, 2010

“Centrally located and accessible parks should appeal to many classes of people, …. ” writes author Sarah Williams Goldhagen in Park Here, (September 2010,   The New Republic).  In the article, she presents some of the various design challenges of recent urban park projects in New York, Chicago and St. Louis.  “Only in such urban places can different people bump against one another unintentionally and — one hopes — thereby come to appreciate the company of strangers and the otherness in themselves. Successful urban parks are a real design and economic challenge for all those involved.

She continues, ” …  the great urban park must not be so large that inside it one loses a sense of the city. …  Over the course of a given year, many different activities and events happen there — concerts, rallies, festivals, fairs.”

Landscape projects whether large or small in scale offer challenges for all involved.

Amaizing Corn!

September 12, 2010

Eat it at the movies, hang it on your door, slather it with butter and salt.

Corn is really kind of sexy, you know? The ear is the female flower? The tassel is the male flower. Tassels can produce up to a million pollen grains and the fine thread-like silks emerge from the top end of the husk for pollination. Pollination is achieved by gravity and wind. The ovaries are produced in rows (unbelievable) along the corn cob.  And — after fertilization — they develop into kernels.  What more can I say?

Do you want one ear or two?

Grass is Not Always Greener

September 11, 2010

Fall and spring are the best seasons to reseed your lawn or fill in bare or weak lawn areas. Before you reseed, if the ground is too dry and difficult to be penetrated, water the lawn a few days in advance of the laying the seeds down.  It is important to keep the seeds moist until they seed. Then water every few days until sprouts a about 1 1/2 high.

When you reseed, consider using an all purpose fertilizer at the same time. One brand, Milorganite 6-2- 0, is a product that uses organic nitrogen as the base. It’s safe for turf and plants. Plus, it doesn’t burn!

Garden SOS Walk

March 7, 2010

Walk around your garden to check for any plants that may have heaved or “popped” out of the earth over the cold winter. Replant perennials and over-wintered annuals by digging a deeper hole. Then top dress with new mulch.  The fluctuating soil temperatures from freezing to thawing  pushes the plants out of their original holes.

Pick up any branches, dropped fruit or diseased leaves as you walk. Your efforts to keep the garden clean  saves you time this spring.

Citizen Scientists Needed for Project Budburst

February 17, 2010

Pick a shrub, grass, conifer, wildflower or tree in your yard and document it’s date of first leaf, first flower and more throughout the year. Register and report your findings on-line to participate in Project BudBurst. Thanks to your help in  recording the timing of various aspects of growth — you’ll contribute to valuable environmental information that can be compared to historical records. With this information, scientists can learn more about how weather and climate change affects people and environments around the globe. 

Over 100 botanists, researchers and scientists are involved in Project  Budburst managed by The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The project is operated by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) under a cooperative agreement with its primary sponsor, The National Science Foundation.

So get your mom, the kids and other families on your block to get outside and take a closer look!

Gifts for your Gardener Valentine!

February 12, 2010

As your gardener sweetheart dreams of you — and warmer weather — show you really care. Cupid suggests–

Yes to Felco brand by-pass pruners;  Micheal Durr’s book, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants;  a gift certificate from your local nursery; membership to a local garden; a subscription to a gardening magazine or a contribution to a local school’s garden project.  If you are in the metro Washington, D.C. area — add a gift certificate for a landscape consultation by Denise Vogt Designs, Interiors and Landscapes (rate $60.00/hour. )

Cupid suggests a black plastic garden trug to hold all your sweeties goodies. Add a handmade card and really make her/his heart go lub-dub.

Heavy Snow Havoc for Trees and Shrubs

February 10, 2010

Heavy snow cover on trees and shrubs can damage valuable landscaping by breaking limbs and pulling down branches. Protect your investment by clearing snow from your plants. Lifting the weight of the snow is sometimes enough to allow plants to spring back to their upright position! Read my earlier Post on best methods for removing snow, January 8, Snow and Ice Removal from Shrubs. Home and business owners should be aware of  another potential problem!  Foundation plantings are in harm’s way when snow on your roof begins to melt and crash to the ground.

After a heavy winter of snow, expect your spring clean up to include careful pruning of damaged plants. It may include removal of plants and trees too damaged to be saved. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your landscaping. Contact a reliable landscape designer for advice on plant care and design considerations.

On the positive side, birds and other wildlife benefit from exposed plantings. You have increased their options for food and shelter. Thank you, thank you.

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My Philosophy

I am dedicated to enhancing the beauty of nature: designing a landscape that achieves an outdoor experience beyond your expectations.