Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for May 26, 2013

How I Garden (and Pursue My Calling)

Gardening and landscaping constitute an artistic genre I love.  The beauty of that art, well practiced, moves me deeply.

One of my favorite places to visit is Golden Gate Park in San
Francisco, a finite piece of urban land crafted generations ago by
Frederick Law Olmstead so that it seems like a special world in itself.
 Another is the bonsai collection at the National Arboretum in
Washington, D.C., each specimen of which is a beautifully executed work
of art by, in most cases, generations of artists–and by the trees

The role of the trees in creating the beauty of the bonsais
calls attention to a general truth:  The art form of
gardening/landscaping always represents a kind of collaboration between
the artist (the gardener, the landscaper) and nature.

But the proportion of each –how much the artist imposes his
vision, how much nature has scope to allow the life force to take its
own path–varies greatly.

At one end of the spectrum is the formal garden, like those
at Versailles . The human concept completely dominates that life
elements provided by nature.

My own gardening practices are pretty far toward the other
end of the spectrum.  Nature, in other words, has a will of its own
that’s expressed in the unfolding design of my garden.

Some of the reasons for this style of mine stem from my
limitations as a gardener.  But even if I had no such limitations — even
if I were a master of the craft — I’d still work in that style.

First, the limitations.  One is the limit on the time and
energy I am able and willing to devote to the work of creating beauty on
my land.  I have other priorities, as readers here know, and with the
time that I apportion to gardening I couldn’t impose my will very
thoroughly upon this place even if I wanted to.

Another limitation is money.  With enough money, one can buy
the materials to execute elaborate designs, and buy also the labor of
professional gardeners to implement the plans.  I’m not willing or able
to spend big bucks to buy a highly polished landscape.

Last, but hardly least, there are the limits on my artistic
talents in the medium.  I admire greatly people with an artist’s eye for
fashioning beauty with the physical materials of gardening.  But my own
talents in visual media — which my mother saw to it very early in my
childhood got every opportunity to flower — have always been quite
modest.  (I love Mozart and Bach, too, but that doesn’t mean I can write
great music. So also with gardening.)  I get some reasonably good
ideas, but I often find that nature has better ones.

I live in the midst of a forest, a powerful living system
that could quickly reclaim its domain if we humans disappeared.  I have
no intention of disappearing, but — for those reasons of my limitations,
plus one more — living nature has an ongoing powerful hand in sculpting
my landscape.  I do create and execute designs.  I choose plants and
where to put them. Here and there I shape the land a bit.  But much of
my role is to read what nature wants to do, and then to help it do it in
a beautiful way.

    ”     Like the way the mint and the Greek oregano that I
placed in my little herb garden have both broken out of their spaces and
create a lovely intermingling on the hillside above the official

    ”     Like the way I’m allowing this vibrant and shapely
sprout of an Alanthus –a tree the experts have enjoined me to kill off–
to grow for a while out of the base of my stone wall, because this
shoot is a beautiful brushstroke put onto the canvas by Nature.  (Later
I’ll follow advice of the experts to extirpate all my Alanthus which,
while being in some ways beautiful, is also a destructive, invasive
plant that creates problems.)

    ”     No poison ivy allowed.  And every year I make casual
war on snakeweed, the plant that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother, and
that I feel junks up the place in aesthetic terms, at least until the

Besides the limitations that hinder my own powers, the other
important reason for my style is a philosophy that’s grown out of my
life experience in following my calling.  What I do as a
gardener/landscaper differs only in degree from what I do in the heart
of my life’s work.

This began in my twenties, when I received a vision that I
then spent years crafting into a form to convey to readers what I’d been
given in a matter of minutes.

It continues into the present, such as the past nine years,
when I’ve been on what I’ve been calling “my mission”:  there’s been
something beyond me — omething springing up from the pulsing core of
things — that’s been running the show, while my job has been to channel
that flow to get good results in the world.

 1  |  2

Article source:

Huron and Perth Gardens Open to the Public

There is an opportunity to enjoy some spectacular private gardens across Huron-Perth this summer.

Beginning on June 1st, over 20 locations will be open to the public at various times.
Spokesperson Rhea Hamilton Seeger says visitors can learn more about compost and mulching options, shrubbery, plants, water features, new landscaping ideas are and much more.

She suggests the self-guided tours will attract visitors who will hopefully stay awhile and explore the entire area.

The Purple Rooster near Gorrie, Riverbend Gardens and Nursery near Wroxeter, Perennial Paradise in Gowanstown and the Pergola Garden in Stratford are among the locations.
The 2013 “Undiscovered Gardens of Huron-Perth” brochure with map is available at local tourism offices and library branches.

For more information you can also visit

Riverbend Gardens

Riverbend Gardens



Written by


Email Shelley Miller-Cameron

Article source:

garden Q&A: A plant for every slope – Tribune

Daily Photo Galleries

Friday – May 24, 2013

Wednesday – May 22, 2013

Tuesday – May 21, 2013

By Tribune-Review

Published: Saturday, May 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Updated 5 hours ago

Q: Can you share ideas for a partially grassy rocky slope? It borders the driveway and doesn’t look so good. I used crown vetch (the highway jewel), and it filled up with weeds after several years. I would appreciate your ideas.

A: Your slope sounds a bit like a gardener’s nightmare. Not only is it a physical challenge to work there, but it’s difficult to find the right kinds of plants to grow successfully in such conditions. However, you do have a few options to work with.

First, if you don’t mind the grass and existing crown vetch already growing there, you can leave it be and just plant new things in and around it. The main benefit of allowing those plants to remain is the erosion control they provide. If it were my slope, this is the route I probably would choose. I would purchase plugs of several different tough-but-beautiful native plants and tuck them into the slope.

Some good plant choices include coreopsis, asters, goldenrod, coneflowers, yarrow, blackeyed Susans, bunch grasses, salvias and the like. Keep them watered for the first season or two until they establish, then after that, they’re on their own. To maintain the slope, just mow or weed whack it once each spring. Yes, it will look a little rowdy, but the slope will be held in place, and as you continue to add a few new plants every year, the flowers will fill in any and all bare patches.

If you want a clean slate, you’ll have to kill or otherwise remove the grass and crown vetch, which is not going to be easy. I would never suggest someone plant crown vetch on purpose (unless you are PennDOT — and even then, its merits are debatable), because it is so difficult to control. If you do manage to strip the area clean, I would suggest planting a mixture of dense-growing groundcovers over the entire area. Sweet woodruff, lamium, ivy, creeping phlox and other low-growing, tough perennials would suit, but you’ll have to keep the area carefully weeded and watered for several years until the ground cover completely fills in.

Another option would be to seed the entire bank with a wildflower mixture, but again, you’ll still need to keep it weeded and watered until it’s established.

I also might consider adding a few large boulders to the hillside, as they can fill up a good bit of space, add some interest and help hold the slope in place. They also can be used as supports for some colorful container plantings if you nestle them into the bank and keep them relatively level.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners� at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic� and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.� Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

  1. Robinson: Steelers rookie Wheaton could be impact receiver

  2. Penguins GM Shero: ‘Whole idea’ was improvement during playoffs

  3. Ribbon, wristband solemn reminders for Penguins coach Bylsma

  4. Key acquisitions have Penguins primed for run to Stanley Cup

  5. Veteran Clark envisions finishing career as a member of Steelers

  6. Starkey: Pirates’ Huntington never looked so good

  7. Pirates notebook: Melancon relishes rare save opportunity

  8. Penguins to face Bruins in Eastern Conference final

  9. Lap of luxury: Not just royal babies get posh treatment

  10. Motorcycle deaths in Pennsylvania climb in 10 years since repeal of helmet law

  11. Pirates notebook: Cutter a boon for Melancon

You must be signed in to add comments

To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.

There are currently no comments for this story.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

Article source:

Try greener living with rain gardens

By Jane Donahue
For Sun-times Media

May 25, 2013 7:52PM

Jim Kleinwachter, land preservation specialist, installs a rain barrel at the McDonald Farm in Naperville. Rain barrels aren’t necessary for a rain garden, but they catch the overflow, he said, providing better and free water.
Jane Donahue/For Sun-Times Media/Naperville Sun 20130521Tuesday,Naperville

Learn more about rain gardens

The Yorkville Public Library will host “Build Your Own Rain Garden” presented by John Church and Jim Kleinwachter of the Conservation Foundation at 7 p.m. June 6.

Visit .

For information about this program or special accommodations, call (630) 553-4354 or visit them

Article Extras

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When Mother Nature gives you rain, make a rain garden.

“There is more interest in the environment and in the ‘what can I do as an individual to help the environment?’” said project manager John Church of The Conservation Foundation. “Maybe I can’t solve all of the world’s environmental problems, but if I can do something in my own backyard, what can I do? One of those things is to plant a rain garden.”

Residents looking for greener living options need look no further than their own backyard.

Church, of Oswego, said rain gardens are growing in popularity around the country. And while it’s good for the environment, a rain garden also provides a beautiful and low-maintenance landscaping option for homeowners and businesses alike.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a shallow depression in the ground that’s filled with native plants, wildflowers and grasses. The goal — to catch, filter and infiltrate rainwater into the ground — reduces the amount of pollutants and rainwater runoff that reaches area streams.

“A great deal of people don’t really understand what a rain garden is, so one of the first things we do is make sure they understand it’s not a pond and it’s not a water garden. It’s not a place to hold water.”

The purpose of the garden is to manage rainwater by developing an area where water infiltrates the ground rather than running off into sidewalks, streets or other yards.

“If there are things we can do to enhance the infiltration — to try to put water back into the soil — that’s good, “ he said. “Rain gardens use primarily native, deep-rooted plants and that helps improve the soil structure and water infiltration.”

Jim Kleinwachter, land preservation specialist for The Conservation Foundation, said it’s a logical garden choice for many reasons.

“A rain garden makes so much sense,” Kleinwachter said. “Some people have a spot in their yard where grass won’t grow, but other things would grow there. It’s a matter of planting the right thing in the right spot.”

But along with solving a problem area, a rain garden adds much more to a resident’s landscape.

“We are taking a difficult area, and making it a functional garden that waters itself,” he said. “And besides providing a habitat for birds and butterflies, it’s pretty.”

A “green” green thumb

Kleinwachter, of Warrenville, spends time educating area residents and sharing his passion for the environment. He works on the Conservation@Home certification program, an initiative designed “to encourage and recognize property owners who protect and create yards that are environmentally friendly and conserve water.”

This includes planting native vegetation such as prairie and woodland wildflowers, trees and shrubs, creating butterfly and rain gardens and removing exotic plant species.

“We want this to be what people strive for,” he said. “We are trying to make this the thing you want (to achieve). It’s a general term that just means people are trying to do better. We want people to realize what they do in their yards makes a difference.”

Article source:

Busch Gardens landscapers share talents with deserving yard

Busch Gardens Williamsburg landscapers have repeatedly won the annual “most beautiful park” award — 22 times to be exact — from the National Amusement Park Historical Association. This year, they decided to share some of that talent with a lucky homeowner.

Earlier this year, the park used its Facebook page to announce the Landscaping Giveaway, inviting homeowners in Virginia and elsewhere to submit a photo and story about why they deserved a new look for their yard.

Tammy Bennett of Washington, N.C., wrote this winning essay:

“We bought our house right after my kidney transplant – my (lovely) husband generously donated me one of his kidneys, which I desperately needed. We thought with a second chance at life, we would buy a house and fix it up. And we started remodeling the house, but then we weren’t able to continue and do the outside due to financial stress. The financial burden of my anti-rejection medication, plus all our other medical bills meant the house would have to wait. Unfortunately, it’s still waiting and I would love a chance to win this!”

The Busch Gardens landscaping team approached the project in three phases: consultation, demolition/turf removal and installation, said landscape director Erick Elliott.

Before design and installation, the team learned Bennett had fond memories of her grandmother’s garden where something bloomed all the time. She asked that the yard include a pear tree for spring blooms and some herbs, as well as flowers. A native white-flowering fringe tree was also chosen.

“The team spent a good amount of time reviewing the invasive plant/flower list for her area, before making plant selections,” said Elliott.

“Due to the wind and the agricultural nature of the area where she lives, the team avoided plants with issues with wind-borne seed or berries that could be transplanted by birds out into other areas.”

Plants in the design, which features a stone paver walkway and bench, include:

Bird-friendly plants: coreopsis, hypericum, pennisetum and baptisia.

Butterfly host or nectar plants: carex, baptisia, salvia, lantana and verbena.

Low-water plants: daylilies, lantana, lavender, rosemary, coreopsis, hypericum, juniper, bignonia and salvia.

First, the team eliminated more than 1,000 square feet of lawn, as well as an old tree and stump.

Fragrant plants were placed along the walkway and by the bench. The couple will have flower color in parts of the garden until frost, said Elliott, and any trimming can be done with hand pruners – except for the Knock Out roses, which require loppers for year-end pruning.

The garden is also meant to be a habitat that provides shelter, nesting and feeding places for birds, as well as diverse plant material for beneficial insects to thrive, said Elliott.

Landscaping tips

Here are tips from the Busch Gardens Williamsburg team that you can use for planning and doing your own landscaping:

•Think about what you want to accomplish in the space. Are you reworking an area for a more attractive entrance for your home? Are you creating a space for entertaining? Maybe things are overgrown or damaged. Or do you just need a new look?

•Perform a soil test to help you determine what plants will perform best in your soil and any nutrients you might need to add.

•Call Miss Utility at 811 to determine the location of all underground lines because they can impact the placement of your plants and where you can dig safely. Learn more about the free service at

Article source:,0,3168606.story

Bumper year at RHS Chelsea Centenary

It has been a bumper year at RHS Chelsea Flower Show with many HTA and APL members winning medals in the event’s 100th year celebration.

In such a landmark year, medals galore were picked up by members of the Horticultural Trades Association and Association of Professional Landscapers at the prestigious gardening event.

In the Show Gardens area, APL members were showcasing their landscaping excellence. Landform Consultants won Gold with the Homebase Garden “Sowing the Seeds of Change”, designed by Adam Frost. Landform also won Gold with the RBC “Blue Water Roof Garden”, designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett and The Landscape Agency.

Morgan and Neal Garden Construction won Silver Gilt Flora for Stockton Drilling’s “As Nation Intended” Garden and the Fresh Garden “Massachusetts Garden”. The Garden Makers also won Silver Gilt Flora for “The SeeAbility Garden”.

The Outdoor Room won Silver Flora for the ground breaking “Stop the Spread” garden, sponsored by FERA and supported by the HTA. Designed by Jo Thompson Landscape and Garden Design, the garden has been created to show the impact that pests, diseases and invasive non-native species can have on our gardens, woodlands and countryside.

BQ won Silver Gilt Flora for the “Sentebale Forget-me-Not Garden” inspired by Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale.

There were more medals in the Fresh Gardens area with Bradstone winning Gold for their part in Paul Hervey-Brookes’ garden “BrandAlley’, whilst HTA members Tendercare Nurseries also won Gold for their contribution to the ‘First Touch’ garden.

Walker’s Nurseries completed the medal line up in the gardens area by winning Silver Flora for their Artisan effort “Walker’s Pine Cottage Garden” designed by Graham Bodle.

HTA members celebrated more medals in the Great Pavilion. David Austin Roses, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Suttons Seeds, Millais Nurseries, Peter Beales Roses and Walkers Bulbs @ Taylors all take home a gold medal. Hillier Nurseries Garden Centres also won their 68th Gold medal for their ‘Risk’ display.

There were Silver-Gilt Flora medals for Harkness Roses, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and Kelways Plants who staged displays at the first Chelsea show in 1913.

HTA Director General, Carol Paris said; “We are delighted that so many of our members have gained national recognition in such a distinguished year for RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Chelsea plays a great part in enthusing and inspiring people to enjoy the nation’s favourite pastime, especially after such a tough year for the industry. We hope all the inspiration from Chelsea stimulates the nation to get out into their gardens and garden centres over the bank holiday weekend. ”

Article source:

Heucheras for Colorful Foliage in Shade

By Carol Stocker…If you want season long garden color in part shade, look for plants with beautiful foliage that will hold its hues. Heucheras do that plus they do it in part shade and, unlike coleus, they are perennial and have flowers. What a plant!

Since 1973, Dan Heims has been deeply involved in all facets of horticulture. He’s currently the president of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc., in Oregon, where I interviewed him and saw his amazing display garden. This company noted for its many new introductions to horticulture. Terra Nova’s breeding programs have produced many international gold and silver medal winners and an astounding 700 new plants to horticulture.

Dan’s specialty is heucheras, and he has done more than anyone else to bring this native wildflower into the garden with a great variety of leaf colors. New this year are Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn,’ which has round leaves with red centers and gorgeous gold and lime highlights. and “Paprika,’ with warm cherry coral foliage, ‘Blondie,’ a blooming machine with 8 inch creamy flower spikes rising from colorful foliage, and Huecherella ‘Sunrise Falls,’ a trailing foam flower especially for containers.

For sunnier locations, he is also introducing ‘Red Hot Popsicle,’ a compact knipohfia, ‘Cherry Truffle,’ a sedum with red black foliage, ‘Goldfinch,’ the yellowest flowering Shasta daisy ever, and ‘Fire Storm, a dwarf geum with plentiful orange flowers.

Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc., is a wholesale nurserie, but its fantastic perennial plants are available at many local nurseries and you can Google their website for more information.

Article source:

Garden Q&A: Tips to make a raised garden bed

Question: I’m trying to do a do-it-yourself improvement project for my backyard. How can some type of garden improve the landscape? — J.G., Pecatonica

Answer: J.G. here is all the equipment you need to make a raised garden bed. One optional item is the soaker hose. This hose is placed at the bottom of your frame with the input hose coming out the top of the bed. If you do not mind taking the time to water your garden bed, then you don’t need to insert a soaker hose.

Your frame can be made of tile blocks (like 11-by-11-by-1-inch or 12-by-8-by-1-inch or any tile blocks you can find). Remember, a tile block (concrete patio block) is more durable than a wood structure. If you use tile blocks, they won’t stand as vertical as the drawing below. The blocks will slant about 80 degrees from the base of the frame. You can make your tile stand vertical if you dig a 1-inch deep square trench where your raised bed is going to be located.

When you dig your trench, put all of the removed soil in the center of the box. If you do not want to use tile blocks, make a box made of four boards. From my experience you should have your garden bed at least four inches tall.

Once the frame is made, top soil/organic soil can be bought and used to fill the frame, but keep approximately 1 inch below the top of your block. After you put in about 1 inch of soil in the bottom, lay the soaker hose (if you want the watering advantage) in a loop around your frame. Make sure you still have access to the input of the soaker hose. What I did personally, I mixed about 15 pounds of top soil with 15 pounds of organic soil from a local store in a big bucket. On the top of the mixed soil, I spread a little sprinkling of potting soil.

You have just constructed a raised vegetable bed. This gardening bed is very simple to water. Hook up to soaker hose, or use a bucket and hand water the small surface. Using a raised bed gives you a high-density method of gardening, which will improve plant performance and create a productive plant. This bed will hold water better, provide warmer temperature and will establish a more nutrient-enriched soil module.

I built a raised bed at the end of April. I used tile and purchased six 40-pound bags of top soil. While constructing, I cut the design to about half the size. This ended up being a frame that measured 2 feet wide, 1 foot heigh and 11 inches deep. I put a soaker hose in the bottom of my frame, and filled the frame 1 inch short of the top. I ensured that a watering outlet was close by, along with a hose.

I did some planting of lettuce, onions and radishes. This gardening took place the last week of April and should yield some production of radishes and/or onions and lettuce by the end of June. Soil temperature needs to be about 45 degree F. Right now, it’s just touching the 68 degree mark.

Remember with the raised bed, you need to keep the soil full of nutrients. This can be done by collecting and laying grass clippings in your bed (even while plants are still in ground).

This is an excellent D.I.Y. project. Your creation will stand out in the landscape of your backyard. It could be even better with a little decoration plus some wood chips (mulch). The possibilities are endless.

For more information, call master gardeners at the Extension office weekdays at 815-986-4357.

— Ron Hendrickson, U of I Extension Master Gardener, Winnebago County

Article source:

Chelsea Flower Show 2013: top award is ‘unfair’ and should be scrapped …

While he praised the Australian garden for its style and message of
sustainability, he said other gardens were much more expertly executed and
were more thoughtful and innovative in terms of garden design.

“If that garden was better than the Telegraph garden, I’m a Dutchman,” he

Mr Bradley-Hole said the judges, who are all experts from the RHS, are not
necessarily best qualified to judge and suggested fashion designers and
other figures at the “top of their game” from the gardening or art world
could be brought in to make the panel more expert.

Mr Bradley-Hole also said the system of judging did not allow garden design to
be appreciated properly.

His garden this year was designed to be a “garden of the soul” that was viewed
over time by an individual but he was judged on one group viewing.

He said that the Best in Show suggests it is the best garden and others are
second best but in fact it is only the opinion of the judges.

Instead it should be called “Judges’ Choice”, he said, to reflect
the award is for something the judges appreciate above all other gardens.

“Maybe there should not be a Best in Show because you are saying other gardens
are second rate,” he said. “And quite often you are comparing apples and

Mr Bradley-Hole insisted it was not just sour grapes because his garden did
not win – although he felt that the whole team did make an “outstanding

“I think it is extremely unfortunate this year they have chosen a best garden
that in my mind is not the best garden.

“Our garden was an outstanding garden perfectly executed.”

Behind the scenes many designers and followers of the Chelsea Flower Show
agree with Mr Bradley-Hole.

But Bob Sweet, head of judging at the RHS of shows, said the judging system
has recently undergone a thorough review to ensure transparency and

The rules are now clearly presented to designers so they are aware of what
they are being judged on and have an opportunity to give feedback.

He pointed out that the seven judges looking at the show gardens are all
trained and qualified. There are also “observers” who do not judge but
ensure the system is fair.

“The winning garden is chosen by the judges panel and is a vote of all the
judges and it is a majority vote,” he said.

“There was a unanimous decision that this year that the award should go
to Fleming’s. In terms of the aspects of that decision, the judges choose
the garden that in their view is best in all aspects I think they have very
carefully considered their choice.”

Article source: