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Archives for October 1, 2017

Authentic gardens require long-term devotion

By Adrian Higgins

The Washington Post

Many fine gardens are candidates for visiting and enjoying, but only one garden matters and that’s your own.

Yours may amount to a narrow urban yard or just a few containers on a patio. It’s not the space you have, it’s how you shape it to love it that counts.

To me there isn’t much difference between an empty yard, where the owner grudgingly mows a weedy lawn, and a six-figure landscaped lot featuring acres of modular pavers, water features and supersize trees and shrubs in irrigated and manicured beds. Both require minimal contact with the owner and pretty much lack the soul of a real garden.

If you want a garden rather than a yard, you have to invest yourself in it. It’s fine (and usually necessary) to enlist the help of pros, but it’s your long-term cultivation of plants and the knowledge that grows with them that are the hallmarks of an authentic place.

One of the best examples of this I know is the Annapolis, Maryland, home of Nancy and Pierre Moitrier.

Their ranch house sits on a flat, one-third-acre lot bounded on two sides by neighborhood roads. The property is lifted out of any ordinariness by the development of an encircling series of garden rooms, shaped, variously, by trees and shrubs, fences, the house itself and modest stone walls. These spaces vary in size and character while creating part of a cohesive whole.

The Moitriers are landscape professionals, designing, installing and maintaining gardens.

(Their firm is called Designs for Greener Gardens.) Clearly, the development of their garden, since 2002, is shaped by their skills and experience, but you don’t have to be a pro to embrace their underlying idea that a garden evolves from its site; it’s not imposed upon it.

I was last at the Moitriers’ in 2009 when I was focused on two features driven by Pierre’s sense of garden artistry (being French helps with the aestheticism). The first is a meticulously crafted treehouse, high in a sweet gum tree in the rear of the lot. With its wooden siding and cedar shake dormer roof, the folly in the sky has a fairy-tale quality about it. It is so handsomely detailed inside that once you are in it, you might forget you’re sharing the space with a tree but for the presence of its old boughs.

The other great element is a decorative vegetable garden, 25 feet square, and framed in a high fence fashioned from harvested trunks and branches of Eastern red cedar. None of it is milled to have edges, and Pierre put it together as a puzzle, a tracery of poles of sculptural and rustic enchantment. Deceptively, the garden fence consumed about 100 trees. (Cedars grow like weeds in woodlands, ditches and meadows, and he usually harvests them in advance of their planned destruction.)

Anyway, these two delights stood in the way of my soaking up the whole garden, a situation corrected with a recent return visit.

We sat on a patio positioned in a shady and secluded spot at the rear of the house. It’s a great place to gather and chat but, from a design point, emblematic of how gardens are assembled as a collection of subdivided spaces with their own character.

Pierre uses a lot of large landscape stones but in a way that feels organic and natural. That same unintrusiveness applies to the cedar woodwork as well. These “hard” elements work with the maturing trees and shrubs to frame spaces, and the plantings are rich in their layering and planting density, but not fussy with flowers. If you are like me, you want this serenity in the garden — there’s enough excitement in the rest of the world.

Much of the planning of the garden has been in taming the stormwater that afflicts the site, achieved by developing and planting drainage swales, the berms that channel them and rain gardens that collect and hold precipitation.

One side of the house is given to an intimate outdoor room where a low stone wall invites sitting and repose. Two upright stones sit at one end of the space, soon to receive a low gate that will reinforce the sense of compartmentalization. This tweaking is essential to the evolution of the garden.

Recently, they moved a path that had been in a swale to the berm beside it. “The view of the garden from above the swale is far more appealing,” Nancy said.

Nancy wrote to me later sharing some thoughts on gardenmaking. Like any successful design, most of the effort is not apparent. It requires “consistency of care,” she said, and a sense of anticipation that comes with experience. “The cultivation of a garden is not about tending to what has happened, but it is about having the ability to tend to what will happen or may happen.” She added, “Procrastinators do not make good gardeners.”

When I asked for her sources of inspiration, she mentioned the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. “He talked about how you would go from room to room almost like a tunnel, squeeze and release. When you design a garden you’re thinking the same way,” she said.

Pierre said he is inspired more by places than individual designers, and he is struck by a garden in central France that is now at a destination restaurant but originally at a 12th-century priory. Named Prieure Notre Dame d’Orsan, the property and its gardens have that matchless French quality of pairing formality with utility, as seen in a vineyard, orchard and kitchen garden. I wish he hadn’t told me about this place, because now I have to go.

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Garden club announces last Business Landscape Awards of the season

Nasturtium Garden Club has announced two recipients of the Business Landscape Awards for September 2017: Cyndi’s Hair Design, 204 S. Cherokee Ave., and Tahlequah Pediatrics, 1310 E. Boone St.

On the north side of Cyndi’s salon, the business sign is attractively surrounded with Stella D’Oro daylilies, yellow lantana, purple heart, and red spiky salvia. Along the entrance is more purple heart, gold spirea, boxwoods and white crape myrtle. The white crape myrtle bushes shine against the dark red brick of the salon. The white blooms really pop, especially as afternoon and evening approach. They provide a very striking contrast, and actually “show off” the building facade. Katie Brinkley, employee of Cyndi’s, says Jose Genaro Zaragoza maintains and plants this landscape, and keeps it weed-free for everyone to enjoy.

The landscape of Dr. Naveed Siddique’s at Tahlequah Pediatrics has an attractive appearance, which is enhanced by beautiful plants. On each side of the front door are a variety of colorful cultivars, such as coleus, variegated leriope, red, pink and white begonias, and yellow euonymus bushes. These continue all across the entire front of the building. There are also large planters on either side of the front door, filled with red begonias. At each corner of the building are pots of sculptured juniper bushes. Also, planted in the ground, along the perimeter of the fence and parking lot, are many tall juniper and magnolia trees. The landscaper responsible for this design and maintenance is Jesus Martinez.

Garden Club members wish to thank Cyndi’s Hair Design and Tahlequah Pediatrics for enhancing their business facades and providing Tahlequah with beautiful landscapes to enjoy.

These are the final awards for the summer of 2017.

Nasturtium Garden Club members look forward to next year’s awards, beginning in June 2018. Businesses are encouraged to make a plan for adding the beauty of landscaping to their façades.

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From Our Gardens: This Tanger garden rocks





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Khadi drapes for home

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Gardening tips: How to divide houseplants

IF YOU’RE short of houseplants but don’t want to fork out a fortune on new ones, BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Alys Fowler says you can easily boost your stock through propagation.

But among the easiest ways to increase your stock is to divide plants. Those which are suitable for this method include adiantum, aspidistra, calathea, maranta, chlorophytum and fittonia.

You can’t divide plants which have a single stem, such as climbers, or those which have leaves that arise from a single stem.

“Dividing plants can offer them a new lease of life,” says Alys. “If the older parts are in the middle, for instance, division will allow the young, healthier growth room to grow.”

This is how you do it:

:: Split the plant

This is going to be messy if you do it inside. Spread out newspaper and have a sharp, clean knife to hand, along with clean plant pots which you want to transfer the divisions into, compost and a place to water the plants.

Remove the plant from its pot and lay it on its side. Aim to split it into two or three at most, as each new division needs shoots and roots and smaller pieces will have more trouble establishing themselves.

You may need to use a sharp knife to cut between the roots, although sometimes you can gently tease them apart. Aim to break as few roots as possible.

:: Repot divisions

Once you have separated the sections, repot them into new pots and compost, gently sprinkling new compost around the roots, then water them in.

:: Give them tlc

Keep your divisions shaded until they perk up. Some may flop over initially, but they should recover. Don’t over-water them or you may drown them. Give them a fine mist to help keep transpiration down. Take care to ensure that each division has equal proportions of roots to leaves. If you have more leaves, transplantation shock is likely.

:: Timing is key

Divide evergreen plants in spring, to give them plenty of recovery time. Divide flowering plants after they have bloomed and you can see new leaves growing.

:: Plant Love by Alys Fowler is published by Kyle Books, priced £18.99.

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Oklahoma gardening tips for October

Editor’s Note: Beginning with this issue, several Oklahoma County Master Gardeners will rotate in writing the twice-a-week gardening column from the Cooperative Extension Service. Welcome Nell Reed, of Midwest City, a Master Gardener since 2009.

Here are gardening tips for October.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs now in well-drained soils with good sunlight. Planting depth is two times the bulb diameter. Dig and store tender bulbs and tubers in a cool dry place. Continue planting pansies, kale, cabbage, snapdragons and other cool-season annuals.

Trees: Container-grown shade trees and pines are most successfully planted in the fall. Broadleaf evergreens or bare-root plants are best planted in the spring.

Lawn: At mid-month, fertilize cool-season lawns. Seeding of cool-season grasses for perennial lawns can continue through mid-October. Continue mowing cool-season lawns on a regular basis, even if warm-season grasses have quit growing. Remove leaves from cool-season grasses or mow with mulching mower.

Weed control: October is an excellent time to control broadleaf weeds in well-established warm- or cool-season lawns with a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer. DON’T apply to seedling fescue.

Water gardens: Clean up marginal water garden plants after the first frost kills the tops. Place a net over the water garden to prevent leaves from falling in the water.

Overall: Remove diseased plant material from the landscape to reduce disease problems next year.

Planting pansies

Pansies, including Johnny-jump-ups, are the most popular fall flower for many reasons.

Solid-colored pansies are called clear-faced, and pansies with the dark blotches are called monkey-faced. They come in many vibrant colors and will bloom throughout the fall and winter months and reach their peak in the spring.

They do well in borders, mass plantings and in containers; however, they do have their likes and dislikes. When selecting pansies, choose compact, not leggy, plants with deep green foliage.

Pansies like a location that receives the morning sun and has rich, well-draining organic soil. When planting, mix a granular slow-release fertilizer into the soil as you are planting. Some gardeners like to add 1 tablespoon of blood meal around each plant.

Pansies do best when they are planted when the soil temperature is between 45 and 70 degrees. If the soil temperature is below 45 degrees, they won’t grow; if it is above 70 degrees they may become leggy. Planting in October will give your plants a chance to be well established before the weather gets colder.

In extremely cold weather pansies will wilt, but if properly mulched with about 2 inches of mulch they will not be damaged by the cold weather and will recover when warmer temperatures arrive.

Always water your flower beds and container plants thoroughly, and protect them before a prolonged cold spell. In extreme weather a protective garden blanket can be placed over the pansies.

Keep planting those pansies and you will have a bright spot in the garden or patio to brighten your life. Pansies make me smile!

You might also be interested in…

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Fall Planting & Gardening Tips – Wisn TV

Lisa Grant from Purple Cow Organics shares tips for planting hardy, late season decorative plants and edibles and to provide pointers for keeping lawns and garden beds “nutrient-rich” going into winter.

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This week’s gardening tips: Dig your caladiums and don’t miss the Folsom Fall Garden Festival

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