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Photos, Gardens, Birds, Trees: What’s Happening in the Great Outdoors

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Belfast club announces Open Garden Days summer tour schedule …

Belfast Garden Club’s annual Open Garden Days offer an array of beautiful gardens for the public to visit on Fridays this summer, from June 16 through Aug. 18. Gardens will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, with the exception of the Sears Garden, which will be the first and last open garden of the season. It will stay open until 5:30 p.m. both days. There is no tour July 7.

June 16: Sears Garden at 9 Airmail Lane, East Belfast

See how great design can provide four seasons of interest in a garden that has matured over 25 years. Asian-inspired garden designed by author and designer Lee Schneller is set against a backdrop of Penobscot Bay with views to Islesboro. Enjoy brilliant lilac, lupines, and rhododendrons among towering pines and a rock garden, then return in late August to view a totally different garden array.

June 23: Hayes Garden at 35 Church St., Belfast
Formal perennial beds complement the brick Greek Revival home built in 1846, to which a conservatory was later added. Of particular interest are David Austin roses, large and varied hostas, climbing hydrangeas, Clematis, Sousa dogwood, and various early summer perennials. A rose arbor creates an entrance to the shade garden behind the house.

June 30: Walch and Krause Garden at Fire Flower Farm and Pottery, 33 Knox Station Road, Thorndike

Discover where the MOFGA-certified organic flower bouquets at the Belfast Farmers’ Market are created. This small farm, large perennial garden and Barbara Walch’s open pottery studio will be a delight to the senses. The flowers will be at their peak bloom, and there are herbs, fruit trees and vegetable gardens woven around the property in a true permaculture form. The living woven willow fence is not only a design element, but also representative of the owner’s woven willow baskets.

July 14: Read Studio Garden at 64 Appleton Ridge Road, Appleton
Artist Abbie Read’s studio is surrounded by ornamental display gardens that she created for her former garden design business, ARTgarden. Hostas anchor several large flower beds featuring such unusual shade plants as Astilboides tabularis and Lingularia japonica “Chinese Dragon.” A fenced kitchen garden is bordered by espaliered apple trees. Goat manure from Read’s sister’s Capercaillie Farm, home to Appleton Creamery, provides nutrients and mulch for the gardens.

July 21: Perkins Underwood Garden at 133 Miller St., Belfast
Distinctive for its trellised, rose-covered enclosures, curving paths, shrubs, and stone walls, this half-acre garden features climbing grape vines and numerous summer blooming flowers including peonies, catmint, and hawthorn as well as late-blooming lilacs, iris, and clematis. This garden, which now features a larger vegetable bed, was previously the Banwell garden featured in the 2010 tour.

July 28: Larsen Garden at 17 Tuva Trail, Lincolnville Center
This arboretum-like setting features woodland plants tucked under specimen trees, including a Japanese stewartia. The sloping site also includes viburnums, dogwoods, and pieris, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, conifers, and smoke bushes accented by rock formations leading down to the pond. You are invited to linger on the dock to enjoy complimentary lemonade. Baked goods may be purchased from the owner’s onsite wholesale Tuva Bakery. Some steep terrain.

Aug. 4: Urick, Gorton, Pease Evans gardens at 41, 44 and 52 Robbins Road, East Belfast
Enjoy the club’s first trio of garden gems on the upper east side of the “Passy” River. By adding structure and color, these neighbors have created animated gardens that look into peaceful river views. Each garden is alive with whimsy, and each is a testament to how to conquer gardening on a hillside. Difficult terrain at one garden.

Aug. 11: Latham Garden at 501 Mt. Ephraim Road, Searsport
You will find yourself magically transported to Europe when you enter this classically inspired garden designed and created from the ground up solely by the owners. The garden features imported statues paired with Maine fieldstone raised beds. A gazebo where the couple was married is guarded by twin lions. A 5-minute walk through the woods reveals a one-acre pond, dug by the owner, complete with an island. All this on a blueberry farm, which will have baskets of berries available for sale.

Aug. 18: Sears Garden at 9 Airmail Lane, East Belfast
The garden will be open until 5:30 p.m., giving visitors plenty of time to see how the garden has changed over the summer. It will feature a rainbow of echinacea and phlox. Columbine and astilbe brighten the part-shady areas, while delphinium and turtlehead are the bright lights in the sunny gardens. A few different clematis wrap the house in a big hug.

Admission is $5 at each garden on tour day. You can buy a season pass for all nine gardens for $30 at Left Bank Books in Belfast.

Proceeds from this fundraiser support Belfast Garden Club programs and activities, including the maintenance of 12 public gardens in Belfast and scholarships for Waldo County students studying horticulture and related subjects. Driving directions for each garden are posted at You can also follow the club on Facebook.


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Contemporary garden design suits modern life style

If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need”- Marcus Tullius Cicero 106BC-43B.In the hustle and bustle of city life, people need, somewhere to pause and recover the equilibrium of a simple life, a place without clutter and complexities, a peaceful place. The quest for simplicity began in 20th century in architecture as well as in designs for living.

Living in urban areas, city gardens, usually in relatively small area, they need clever designs to make them work well, providing outdoor space for planting, relaxation, play and entertaining. Most urban gardens become functional spaces of plant filled havens into which you can escape hectic city life. They often feature minimal design and repeated patterns for maximum effect. The term “outdoor garden room” is often used to describe this approach to modern garden design.

Contemporary Gardens Design History
In the 20th century, modern design for gardens became important as architects began to design buildings and residences with an eye toward innovation and streamlining the formal Beaux-Arts and derivative early revival styles, removing unnecessary references and embellishment.

Garden design inspired by modern architecture naturally followed in the same philosophy of “form following function”- Frank Lloyd Wright demonstrated his interpretation for the modern garden by designing homes in complete harmony with natural surroundings. His son Lloyd Wright trained in architecture and landscape architecture in the famous Olmsted Brothers Office, with his father, and architect Irving Gill. He practiced an innovative organic integration of structure and landscape in his works. Subsequently, Garret Eckbo, James Rose, and Dan Kiley- known as the “the bad boys of Harvard”, met while studying traditional landscape architecture, became notable pioneers in the design of modern gardens. Their designers wanted to interpret and incorporate those new ideas in landscape design. They became interested in developing functional space for outdoor living with designs echoing natural surroundings. Modern gardens feature a fresh mix of curved and architectonic designs and many include abstract art in geometrics and sculpture. Spaces are defined with the thoughtful placement of trees and plantings.

Thomas Church worked in California, his 1948 Donnell garden’s swimming pool, kidney-shaped with an abstract sculpture within it became an icon of modern outdoor living.
Roberto Burle Marx is accredited with having introduced modernist landscape architecture to Brazil. He was known as a modern artist and a public urban space designer. He was a landscape architect (as well as botanist, painter, print maker,ecologist,naturalist,artist and musician) who designed parks and gardens in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in the USA in Florida. He worked with architects Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer on the landscape for some of the prominent modern gardens with government buildings in Brazil.

Contemporary Gardens are known for their designs ‘lines’. They may include streamlined built elements like poured concrete walls, or reflecting ponds. The plant palettes in Contemporary Gardens typically feature bold plants that are simple but interesting. Contemporary Gardens design increasingly focuses on turning an outdoor space into an extension for our living space that fits better with modern lifestyle. The term “outdoor room” is often used to describe this design and it works well now that modern materials and products gives us the same set of choices- floor surfaces, seating, lighting, furniture, décor etc. Contemporary Gardens design prompts us to approach an outdoor space the same way we might do on interior design. The increase of the population affects the decrease of the space to be inhabited.

Crisp, clean lines are an intrinsic part of Contemporary design, which can be applied to either small or larger gardens. Equally important is the use of space, geometric layout and the absence of too many fussy details and clutter. This all adds up to a garden that could be the perfect antidote to a hectic lifestyle- dynamic yet relaxing. Materials tend to be natural and timeless such as stone, slate, wood, and plants become just one part of the architecture- think clipped hedges, specimen trees and simple blocks of plantings. Water is often used to create reflection, movement or sound.

Contemporary Gardens Designs prompts us to approach an outdoor space the same way we might do an interior designs project. If it is referred by the concept, minimalist garden design and the minimalist house design have the same principle of the concept which is characterized by the presence of the vertical and horizontal lines of the minimalist house and garden. Contemporary garden design increasingly focuses on turning an outdoor space into an extension of our living area that fits better with modern lifestyle.

As property prices have increased over recent years, people have begun to utilize outdoo ares more inventively with tiny urban courtyards being turned into intimate café style gardens and green terraces increasingly replacing any unutilized roof and balcony space.Contemporary garden design increasingly focuses on turning an outdoor space into an “outdoor room”.

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A Garden Oasis in the Lobby

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Home Front: Garden design tips from a lawyer


Emma Neville has been practising law for almost two decades, specialising in personal injuries and family law. But she also has another, more relaxing role: the Cork solicitor is the founder of Gorgeous Gardens, a design company offering creative solutions to issues of a less taxing kind – such as what border would work best in a particular environment and where would be the most fertile spot to plant some decorative blooms.

But while her two careers couldn’t be more different, Neville says there are some similarities.

“I am an avid gardener and have been designing gardens since 2011,” she says. “As a solicitor I have found that tailoring a service to each client’s individual circumstances is essential and the same applies with designing gardens. You have to be thorough, efficient and a good communicator .”

Most of her work has been on small to medium size gardens in housing estates for young couples and retirees, she says.

She also recently put together a 10-year plan for a young couple with a very large gardens outside the city.

She charges anything from €150 to €1,500 depending on how much time is required – and can be anything from an acre site to an enclosed terrace. Her own garden is extensively planted with many cottage style perennial plants as she love “the dreamy dramatic look”.

Neville grows a huge amount of produce. “Gardening is a wonderful pastime and possibly one of the cheapest, easiest and most accessible de-stressors,” she says.

“We grow apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, potatoes, courgettes, lettuces, herbs, beans, tomatoes, artichokes and pumpkins.

Orla Kiely’s leaf motif curtains


How do I love thee, Orla Kiely linear leaf design? Let me count the ways. Bags, purses, rings, bracelets, cushions. Wallpaper, mugs, melamine picnicware, umbrellas, vases. Cake tins, tea towels, pillowcases, storage jars, pedal bins.

Kiely’s stylised stems look stylish across an extraordinary range of ordinary objects; there’s even a bicycle which sprouts the iconic foliation (plus, if you’re really keen, matching helmet, handlebar grips and a water bottle).

Clearly, fans cannot get enough of her leafy layouts – so if you happen to be one, and you feel your house is missing that mysterious sylvan something, help is at hand from the Kilkenny shop.

Floor-to-ceiling Kiely curtains are now available from the website, in three colours – charcoal, olive and multi-stem – and sizes. Prices start at €94.95 for the 66 X 72-inch curtains while the 90 x 90 set costs €139.95.

Artist Ronan Halpin in his Achill garden


Artists are inspired by beauty and there are few places as beautiful as the wild west of Ireland, with its unspoilt rugged coastline and rolling countryside.

So it’s hardly surprising that sculptor Ronan Halpin chose to make his home in Achill Island, Co Mayo, with his wife Mandy – a biodynamic gardener – and their family.

The stunning location overlooking the ocean is home to Halpin’s gallery and a very productive garden.

While he creates pieces made from steel, brass, copper and wood, Mandy grows a wide variety of vegetables which both serve the family table and are also turned into dishes which she sells at country markets.

“I draw so much inspiration from the environment around me,” says the sculptor.

“We are in a fabulous location overlooking the Atlantic and it is a wonderful place to work. I create pieces of various sizes and designs, many of which I have dotted around the garden here at home – these are made from corten steel which weathers very well and looks really beautiful outdoors as it becomes a wild rusty orange.

“Both the garden at home as well as the beach, hills and surrounding countryside are hugely inspirational for both Mandy and I.”

Ronan Halpin’s gallery in Achill is open during the summer months and his new exhibition, Of Birds and Beasts, will take place in the Solomon Gallery Dublin 2, May 25th – June 17th.

Flowery armchair from Carraig Donn


It’s early summer, and flowers are bursting into bloom – but not just in the garden. Flirty floral designs have been turning up everywhere from T-shirts to tableware, and Carraig Donn’s summer furniture collections are no exception.

Vintage roses adorn the Lloyd Concepts’ two-drawer locker with its scalloped top and curved legs (€199), while exuberant wildflowers tumble all over the Romeo chair by Eden furniture (€249), and the pouffe with wooden legs (€49).

If , on the other hand, all those flowers are making you sneeze, check out the World Cabinet, a classy cupboard with interior shelves, glass doors and a map backdrop – an online exclusive at €199. Prices include a €20 delivery charge.

The sturdy gardening support from MS that can be kneeled on, leaned on and sat on


The true gardener feels it in the back and in the knees which is why we love this modest but hardworking piece of kit from MS. It’s a sturdy gardening support that can be kneeled on or leaned on (for getting up again) and triples up as a garden seat.

In a pleasing shade of pale green, it has an easy-clean seat and the whole things folds down nicely. We spotted it at MS Mary Street, Dublin 1, but it is also available online, price €40.

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Sheffield woman designs garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Growing up as a little girl in Freston Green, Tracy Cann didn’t know what a garden designer was, but she did know that plants and flowers were her passion.

At the age of four Tracy started working on a patch of her parents’ garden. That patch grew and before long she was turning her hand to tending the entire outdoor space – with only the lawn being kept in check by her dad, who wouldn’t let his daughter use the mower.

The Welcome to Yorkshire garden

The Welcome to Yorkshire garden

At 54, that little girl is now Tracy Foster, and she is the designer behind this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire garden at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show.

It is the third time Tracy has designed a garden for the famous flower show, but it is the first time she has exhibited on the main avenue.

Visited by thousands over the past week, the garden was inspired by the rugged coastline near Flamborough and Filey and the fishing industry of God’s Own County.

But while the wild flowers, Yorkshire stone, pebbled beach and fishing boat of the garden all exude flavour of the coast, Tracy adds a little bit of Sheffield to the scene thanks to the seeds of interest in gardening that were sowed while growing up as a youngster in the Steel City.

She said: “I used to go to my friend’s house and talk to her mum about plants.

“All the rest of my friends would be upstairs getting ready to go out and I would be in the garden talking to her mum. It was just a real interest of mine.”

Tracy, who grew up in Freston Green and later Lodge Moor, went to Tapton Secondary School before studying plant biology at Newcastle University.

After a brief career in IT Tracy followed her heart and retrained as a garden designer. She now lives in Leeds and runs her own garden design company.

She said it was a huge honour to be designing gardens on behalf of the county, adding: “As a Sheffield girl the coastline of Filey and Flamborough are close to my heart.

“We used to go there for caravan holidays and it’s part of the world that lots of people from Sheffield will be familiar with.”

And she said the highlight of the event would be showing her 84-year-old mum, Doreen Cann, who still lives in Sheffield, around the glorious garden.

“I can’t wait for her to come and see it, it’s a long way for her to come and I am really looking forward to showing it to her,” she said.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs until Sunday May 27. Visit for more information about the show.

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Marblehead Community Garden To Supply Local Food Pantries

MARBLEHEAD, MA – After the fate of the SPUR Community Roots Garden was up in the air for the 2017 season, St. Andrew’s Church volunteered garden space on their Lafayette Street property.

The garden was established to grow fresh produce for food pantries and community programs in and around Marblehead. Roughly 150 Marblehead households – including 120 children – used the pantry’s services in the past year.

The program is seeking donations to groom the land and grow vegetables and flower packs. Each sponsored garden bed will bear the donor names. The program is also looking for volunteers to help build and maintain the garden in the growing season, and deliver produce to food pantries and programs.

“Delivery of fresh produce is a wonderful service. Approximately 60 clients come in each week absolutely love and appreciate having fresh and healthy vegetables available to them,” said Janet Parker, director of the Marblehead Food Pantry.

SPUR thanks James Kelliher Landscape Design Arboriculture, Robert Dempster Landscape Design and Simpson Garden Design for their contributions of time in development of the SPUR Community Roots Garden at St. Andrew’s garden design.

Click here to donate to the SPUR Community Roots Garden, and email to volunteer.

Images via SPUR

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#Throwback Thursday: Atlantic Ave. 1942, Washington Garden Design, Widett Circle?

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Stay ‘in the know’ for Thursday!

Events for Thursday, May 25th:

6:30pm Public Hearing on Old North Washington Garden Design at 193 Salem Street. Located at Old North Church, the public hearing for the Washington Garden design will be held on Thursday, May 25 at 6:30 at Old North Church, 193 Salem St. The meeting will be led by landscape architect, Sean Sanger.

Atlantic Avenue in 1942:

Articles you won’t want to miss:

Strega hot spots keep stars coming back

Nick Varano, owner of Strega and several restaurants in Boston, had a two-hour conversation with Mel Gibson and was speaking to John Lithgow like “he was my uncle,” the Boston Herald has the full story.

Plans to redevelop Widett Circle could collide with need to park trains

Land near South Station has become the crossroad between visions for parking spaces or the “next hot neighborhood.” The industrial area between the South End and South Boston leaves 19 acres for potential redevelopment, The Boston Globe has the full story.

Plan your events with the Community Calendar

Saturday, May 27

11:00am Greenway Open Market. Visitors will find exceptional art, locally produced products, and much more! Explore the parks, stroll tree-lined promenades, take in the city sights, soak up the sunshine, play in the Rings Fountain, grab a bite to eat at a food truck, and shop local at the Greenway Open Market! It’s truly an original Boston experience! Located at the Rings Fountain, Milk Street.

1:00pm Paul Revere House: A Loyalist Perspective on the RevolutionThree chances, 1:00pm, 1:45pm, and 2:30pm — Hear a first-hand account of the abuses loyalists suffered at the hands of emboldened “patriots.” Michael Lepage takes on the role of Chief Justice Peter Oliver, brother of Andrew Oliver, a stamp collector. Located at 19 N Square – view the events post.

From the Community: 

Boston Community Collaborative Congratulates Instructor Ms. Ingrid Oslund. Boston Community Collaborative is thrilled to congratulate its lead dance and drama instructor for being featured in recent and upcoming events in the Boston Theatre Scene. On May 7th, Ingrid was featured on Company One’s panel of emerging artists at the “Callage Mixah” for their production of Peerless at the Boston Public Library. Ingrid’s work will be featured at Theater on Fire’s Cabinet of Curiosities, continue reading.

Boston Public Market to kick off summer with Red’s Best Lobster Fest Block Party: June 17th. Boston Public Market vendor and local seafood supplier, Red’s Best, will celebrate the start of the summer season with a casual Lobster Fest Block Party on the Market’s outdoor plaza space parallel to the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Read the post for full details on the event.

Need to submit a post? Great, start here!

Keep up with what’s happening on the Events Calendar.

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How to create a Pollinator Garden

Most people in the Denver Metro area know the Butterfly Pavilion as a great place to take the kids. You get to see amazing butterflies, insects, and Rosie the tarantula. The Butterfly Pavilion also happens to staff some of the world’s leading experts in pollinator habitats, bees, biodiverse garden design, and the global bee crisis. The Butterfly Pavilion’s Science and Conservation Services staff are available to offer support and consultations to individuals, organizations, and municipalities all across the state. The Pavilion was recently featured on a PBS special on the global bee crisis.


The Pavilion’s services including:

  • Bee Keeping: hive installation and maintenance
  • Habitat Garden consultation and design
  • Pollinator Corridors
  • Pollinator Habitat Gardens: consultation and restoration
  • Aquatic gardening systems
  • Integrated pest management
  • Open Space restoration: native plants and ecosystems
  • Biodiversity
  • Plant-Insect Interactions
  • Public Habitat Gardens

All of these services range in price from $75 to $250.

Join the Pavilion’s PACE program: The Pavilion’s Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education (PACE) program promotes habitat and species conservation and restoration. They have classes for children and adults and families, networks, etc.




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Who is Joe Swift? Chelsea Flower Show co-host, garden designer and Gardeners’ World TV presenter

JOE Swift is back on our screens to present the RHS Chelsea Flower show on BBC One.

But what do we know about the author and designer who regularly presents Gardeners’ World?

Joe Swift (pictured) will be heading up the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show, alongside Sophie Raworth (pictured) and Monty Don

Joe Swift (pictured) will be heading up the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show, alongside Sophie Raworth (pictured) and Monty Don

Who is Joe Swift?

Joe Swift is an English garden designer, TV presenter and journalist.

He was born on May 25, 1965 to father Clive Swift, who is an actor in Keeping Up Appearances, and mum Margaret Drabble who is a novelist.

His brother Adam is an academic, and his sister Rebecca is a poet and founder of the Literary Consultancy.

Joe is the co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company

Joe is the co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company

How did Joe Swift get into garden designing?

After leaving school, Joe went to Art College, before travelling and working abroad.

He started landscaping in North London, before taking his skills to Sydney and Melbourne.

He then studied garden design at The English Gardening School and launched his own landscaping company at the same time.

Joe Swift (far right) has presented Gardeners World since 1998, with hosts Rachel De Thame (left), Monty Don (centre left) and Carol Klein (centre right)

Joe Swift (far right) has presented Gardeners’ World since 1998, with hosts Rachel De Thame (left), Monty Don (centre left) and Carol Klein (centre right)

What TV shows does Joe Swift present?

Joe is famous for presenting Gardeners’ World on BBC2 alongside lead host Monty Don since 1998.

He has also presented coverage of RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, BBC’s Small Town Gardens and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

On Monday May 22, Joe and Sophie Raworth hosted a live show of Chelsea Flower Show on BBC One showing a preview of the highlight of the horticultural calendar.

In addition to this, Joe is also co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company.

What has Joe Swift had published?

As well as being a regular face on TV screens in the UK, Joe has also had several books published.

These are called The Plant Room, Joe’s Urban Garden Handbook, and Joe’s Allotment.

He has also written several newspaper columns and has featured in Gardeners’ World Magazine on the subject of home gardening and landscaping.

The Sun triumphs at The Centenary Chelsea Flower Show


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