Green Gardens

June 21, 2009

I admit my favorite beagle, Baci, adds a touch of color.  And, she enjoys the green garden as much as I do!  Tired of feeding and deadheading your perennial beds? Do you want to create a garden space requiring less effort and visually appealing?

For a change, design and plant a “Green Garden.” For a pleasing foliage garden, consider leaf shape and texture, height, soil and available light considerations.  The featured shade garden is designed with liriope, hosta and assorted ferns.

Interested in seeing more beagles in the home and garden? Bookmark  beagles — on the web .

Cost, Detail, Quality

June 21, 2009

Your landscaping is probably the quietest element in your home and property. It may not be apparent immediately how the development and design of a landscape detracts from or adds to the value of your home and way of life, but it does have impact.

The Washington Post featured a terrific article, “Selling a House By the Yard,” (May 15, 1999, Real Estate). It provides practical information on the scope and costs involved in typical landscape requests in the Washington metro area. The information is particularly helpful to those who may be relocating from other parts of the United States and world.

Gardens of Provence, France

June 21, 2009

Copy of Aix 2003 044Oo la la …When in France, visit the petit jardin in the courtyard of the Musee du Vieil Aix, 17 rue Gaston de Saporta, Aix-en-Provence, France. The garden is a tiny treasure maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers. I’ve worked with the local volunteer gardeners for a few years – trying to create an inspired garden space.

The museum garden offers many challenges. It is viewed from the windows of the museum on all levels, the weather is harsh – with periods of drought, heavy rain, intense heat and sun and funds for plant material and garden maintenance are limited.

Smells Too Good to be True

June 21, 2009

Add scent or  fragrance to your garden by planting a wonderful collection of scented geraniums. The aromatic oils released by a light touch of the hand or a gentle rain.

To start or add to your scent garden, try a few of my favorites.

Fernleaf Pelargonium denticulatum
Robert’s Lemon Rose Pelargonium cultivar
Nutmeg Pelargonium fragrans
Little Gem Pelargonium graveolens
Snowflake Rose Pelargonium graveolens

Recipe for Cooking Success

June 21, 2009

France 5.2004 024When considering an herb garden bed or herb container, remember herbs require well-drained soil. Many herbs enjoy moisture. Lavender and rosemary prefer dry soils that drain quickly after watering or rain. Parsleys, dills and fennels are most vigorous when grown in loose soil that has been amended with organic matter or compost.

For a hearty and easy-to-maintain garden, group herbs by their moisture needs. For instance, plant moisture-loving basil, lemon balm, parsley, cilantro, monarda, tansy and nepeta in one area. Plant the drought-tolerant thymes, sages, lavenders, oreganos and rosemary in another area. I suggest planting any mint in a container – to keep it from overtaking the bed!

About once a month during the summer, cut herbs back to encourage new growth and maximize the leaf harvest. If possible, cut herbs in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the hot sun evaporates their essential oils.

A Quiet Serene Place

June 21, 2009

It makes no difference if your Meditation Garden is inside your home or office, on your desk — or outside in special place in your yard.

What is important is having a place that pleases your senses and allows you to relax and gather new thoughts.

Mix and Match Materials

June 21, 2009

with table de Regt After July 2008 005Landscape construction and plant materials should harmonize to create a unified look in a garden plan. For example, brick and finished wood materials blend well with fine- to medium- textured plant materials — ferns, astilbe and azalea. Rock, cut stone and rustic materials harmonize with coarse textured plants — rhododendrons, mahonia and viburnum.

In this project, I used a combination of red brick, cut flagstone and River Jack rock. The diversity of hard scape elements in this newly installed “age-in-place” garden offer a variety in texture, color and scale.

A Rose is A Rose

June 21, 2009

My mom in the rose garden.Spring, after the threat of frost has passed, is the time to prune hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses. If the shrubs are pruned too early, injury from frost may require a second pruning. To encourage healthy new growth, prune damaged diseased, dead, thin and weak branches. Remove all of the weak shoots. Cut one inch below damaged areas.

For a pain-free pruning experience, I suggest investing in some rose gloves — they do protect you from those pesky thorns.

Roses enjoy fertilizer from April to August. Feed according to product directions. Check with the experts at your local nursery for the best rose cultivars and rose food for your region.

My mom and I visit Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. once or twice a year.  It has an incredible rose garden meant to be visited as often as your schedule allows.

Pet Owners Be Aware of Harmful Plants

June 21, 2009

Kitty Boni, who “owns” our friend Robyn Harton, loves munching cat grass, but is glad that Robyn keeps dangerous plants out of the way. Plants can cause major problems for your pets. According to Dr. William Buck, director of the National Animal Poison Control Center at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana, “a lot of ornamental plants have irritating sap that will cause an animal to salivate or maybe vomit and have diarrhea.” If your pet eats something poisonous, call your vet immediately.

Feb 2002 Baci snow 006Hibiscus and plants in the Easter lily family can cause renal failure, severe diarrhea and dehydration. Holly berries are generally toxic to pets. Mistletoe also causes digestive system upset, irregular heartbeats and possibly cardiac shock. European bittersweet and black nightshade are more erratic in their toxicity. Common houseplants, like philodendron and dieffenbachia (dumb cane) contain oxalate crystals that cause the animal’s mucous membranes to swell, making the animal unable to eat.

Judy Greta July 2007 025

“Although catnip isn’t generally toxic to pets, avoid giving too much of the fresh plant to cats. It causes hyper-stimulation to the central nervous system and the cat can injure itself,” notes Dr. Buck. The dried form usually won’t cause problems for your pet. (Prepared by Linda March.)

Greta, the greyhound, was well-cared for and loved a stroll through the garden with or without her mom. She had a fondness for pink coneflowers. We miss Greta.

Play in the Dirt

June 21, 2009

Before you invest time and money in a home landscape project, consider a soil sample test. The soil sampling provides useful information on the chemical composition of your lawn or garden area. The sample results determine if you have acidic or non-acidic soil. And, if areas need to be amended with fertilizer or organic material to ensure the plant material will thrive.

If you live in Virginia, contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech University.  For readers in other states, contact a local Master Gardener Horticulture Office.

Before any landscape project begins, contact your Utilities company so a representative and indicate location of cable, electrical and other lines.

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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.