June 24, 2012
This amazing greenhouse was designed by Studio Besau-Marguerre in Hamburg in collaboration with Adrien Petrucci. It comes with a leather strap, which, aside from being fashionable, is also practical as you can move this small greenhouse inside or out as weather permits.
March 19, 2012
I don’t know how many of you have read my About Me page, but on that page I describe myself as a ‘lover of all things stone.’ I love the look of stone and the feel of stone; I love prepping the site to lay stone or to build a stone wall. Stone is hard but malleable. It can look old and new; beautiful, rough, sleek and ancient all at the same time if worked by the right hands.
Casey Lynch and his brother Nate have built some very impressive stone walls through their landscaping firm Special Additions Landscaping. They also have a blog called thegardenzealot.com. When I happened across it, I found myself taking more than a few minutes to admire their work.
The wall above was built completely with found stone in Otis Orchards, WA and features a flower design in the center. It is a dry stack wall meaning no mortar was used. Instead it was built by meticulously finding the right stones for the right spaces and putting one on top of the other until a sound structure emerged.
The image below features three raised bed gardens, two stone and one cedar. The post on thegardenzealot.com with information on these beds also has a link to a chart on Urban Garden Solutions that shows you how much more you can grow in the same amount of space in a raised bed.
Also look out for their print magazine titled The Garden Zealot coming soon.
March 17, 2012
I ran across this post about creating an Herb Spiral on Antony Jones’ web site The Kale Yard. It is an amazing way to grow a number of different herbs that require different growing conditions in a small space.
According to Anthony the idea behind the Herb Spiral is “to get as many different herbs as possible in a confined area. The spiral and the subsequent hight differences mean that you create a number of different environmental conditions which normally would not be possible in a small space.”
The link to directions for how to build an Herb Spiral are here at The Kale Yard.
March 16, 2012
People often ask me what makes a plant an heirloom. Good question. The answer is it depends on who you ask. A good general definition is a plant that was commonly grown in earlier periods of human history, has never been grown on a large agricultural scale and has been around for at least 60 years. Many will also say plants must be open pollinated to qualify.
All this aside, what I really want to talk about today is the Heirloom Plant Database at yourgardenshow.com. If you want to include more heirlooms, or new, interesting heirlooms, in your garden the database is a great place to get ideas. They have wonderful fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers from around the world and from right here at home. And as a plus, many of the heirlooms are great for the edible/ornamental garden like the Moonshadow Hyacinth Bean which has a wonderful purple pod.
If you are looking for places to buy heirloom seeds I recommend Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Seeds Trust. There is a plethora of information on the Seeds Trust web site including good information about heirloom, open pollinated and hybrid seeds. (Go to their home page and click Know Thy Seeds then Definitions.)
As for Baker Creek, their web site is good but their free catalog, which can be ordered on the web site, is better than a $30 gardening book you would buy at a store. It is packed with information on the history and care of the plants they sell and interesting quotes from gardeners throughout history.
March 9, 2012
For those of us who grow tomatoes, and that is just about everyone who has a vegetable garden, many have probably noticed that there are often little nodes toward the bottom of the main stem of the plant. ‘What are these?, we may have asked ourselves at some point.
They are the root primordia. The root primordia is the earliest stage of root development. If that primordia had been underground it most likely would have developed into a root. This is why, when I transplant my tomatoes I plant them 3-5 inches below where they were in the container. I know it is a little sad to watch your tomato plant shrink in size as soon as you put it in the ground, but, in the long run you will have a stronger healthier plant.
Occasionally the nodes can signal an overall health problem with the plant so keep an eye on it. But the primordia are almost always harmless when above ground and beneficial when below ground.
March 8, 2012
A special thank you to Tim Matsui for letting us use his photographs in this post.
My school, Colby College, had Jan Plan. Jan Plan was great. For one month in between semesters you could do just about anything you wanted as long as you learned something. You could take a class somewhere else, learn to play the guitar, or go on a school-sponsored trip to London to study theater.
One year I went on an Earthwatch trip to Montserrat in the West Indies. Originally it was supposed to be an architectural dig but hurricane Hugo put the kibosh on that, so Earthwatch turned the trip into a hurricane relief project and asked all who had signed up if we still wanted to go. We all did.
In the main town of Montserrat, Plymouth, there had been a very old tree that marked the unofficial town gathering spot. People would meet there during the day as they went along their daily routines and at night to socialize.
The hurricane demolished the tree but people still gathered around the spot where it had been. To them this was a social routine that was not going to end because the tree was gone.
The Pomegranate Center, founded in 1986 by artist and community organizer Milenko Matanovic, is dedicated to working with communities to create public gathering places. The people of the Pomegranate Center believe their, “… time tested approach to public space building creates a foundation for healthy community development and can be a critical first step in bringing communities together to work for a healthier, more sustainable future.”
Recently the Pomegranate center completed a project in Sumner, WA that turned an alleyway into a community space.
But with hard work from Pomegranate staff members and the community this alley was transformed into the beautiful space you see below.
But with hard work from Pomegranate staff members and the community this alley was transformed into the beautiful space you see here.
February 24, 2012
When I was working in Brooklyn a lot of my clients had young kids and many would say the same thing to me, ‘I want something low maintenance. I’d love to have a lawn for my kids and some roses.’
Let me explain why these things are mutually exclusive. First of all we’ll talk about the roses. Most roses don’t like high humidity or stagnant air, two things Brooklyn is full of. I’m not saying you can’t grow beautiful roses in Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Botanic Garden does, but they are not low maintenance. Second, they have thorns. Kids are, by nature, curious. You can see where this could lead to a trip to the hospital.
Lawns. By lawns most people mean some kind of turf grass that is either seeded or put down as sod. A lawn requires a tremendous amount of work. Here, in a nutshell, is why. The vast majority of perennials, which includes grasses, has a natural life-cycle. It starts out as a seed, grows (hopefully) into a seedling and then into a full-fledged plant. It blooms, develops its own seeds which it drops and then goes into a resting period we call dormancy, although dormancy can take different forms with different types of plants.
Now, imagine you planted a perennial bed and every time it got to be a few inches tall you mowed it down. That’s what a lawn is. Every time those plants get to be 2 or 3 inches tall you mow them down and they have to start all over again. This is why turf lawns require so much water and so many nutrients.
My solution for people who wanted an area in their yard where their kids could crawl around or play but didn’t want the hassle or environmental drawbacks of having a turf lawn was to install what I call an Alternative Lawn. For sunny yards certain species of Thyme work very well; although it is important to choose the right kind. I’ve experimented and some varieties do not work but some work marvelously. My dad has two Malamutes – the male is 90 pounds – who roughhouse on the Thyme lawn I installed on their property. After three years it is holding up just fine. There are other options for less sunny locations and even areas in full shade.
If you are not ready to completely forgo your turf lawn there is a lot of good information out there about how to shrink your lawn or plant a native lawn. The Lawn Reform Coalition is a great resource. One of their founders, Evelyn Hadden, has just released a book called Beautiful No Mow Yards which has received rave reviews.
February 23, 2012
On The Therapeutic Landscapes Network blog Naomi Sachs writes about Michelle Parkins, a veteran and self-proclaimed Army brat who wrote her Masters of Landscape Architecture thesis on the therapeutic value of gardens and gardening for veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and other combat related issues.
Michelle, in collaboration with Annie Kirk, created Therapeutic Gardens for Veterans. You can visit the group on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also join ongoing discussions about therapeutic gardens at their Land8Lounge page.
For the full article, more information about Michelle and a link to her completed thesis plus a beautiful photograph she took herself go here.
February 22, 2012
THE ONCE A WEEK POST FOR FEBRUARY 22 2012
I found this Vertical Wall on Urban Garden‘s site and chose it for the first Once a Week post because, well, not only do I love it, but it is made from cinder blocks which can often be found at construction sites; it is easy to build; won’t cost a fortune and is cool looking but not so hip it will make the rest of your garden look immediately out dated.
Zac Benson built the wall (and took the beautiful photographs of it) in his California home. He is a succulent collector and felt this would be a great way to display them.
You can read the full article here which has instructions on how to build it but it’s not that difficult. Plus, with this design you can start small and add on; either up or out.
February 13, 2012
Wolfe brings up a point which I thought was very interesting;as a litmus test for climate change.
During World Wars I and II people planted vegetable gardens to supplement their food supply and help ensure troops would have enough to eat. The smallest spaces were used to grow food. People grew lettuce on their windowsills. The gardens were truly a country wide effort.
You can read the entire Garden Rant interview here but the part I found really interesting was this:
Q: In The New American Landscape, you recommend “cautious exploration” with less hardy plants on the part of gardeners. Why not wild experimentation?
A: Actually, gardeners can lead the way here, figuring out how we can take advantage of the opportunities offered by a warming climate, because it’s not their entire livelihood at stake, as with farmers. Maybe we need Victory Gardens in a new context, that of climate change.
I think this is a wonderful idea. A lot of people think you need a good size suburban backyard to have a vegetable garden that will give you anything substantial. To that I say three things. One, Pshaw. Two, Not true. You can grow more than you think in less space than you thought possible. And three even if you only get four tomatoes and two cucumbers that’s four tomatoes and two cucumbers more than you would have gotten if you hadn’t had a garden at all. And let me tell you you haven’t REALLY had a tomato until you have had a tomato straight from the garden.
One way to ease into a Victory Garden is to add some edibles into your ornamental garden. Here are two sweet potato vines planted in a small raised bed around a Honeysuckle shrub. Most of the Sweet potato vines with pretty foliage don’t produce potatoes but these do. And they are tasty.
Plus remember my post about Living Walls? You can do that with edibles as well as ornamental plants. At Woolypocket you can buy products to create a Living Wall of vegetables, herbs, ornamentals or any combination thereof.
As far as figuring out where to begin with your new Victory Garden there are a number of books dedicated to vegetable gardening in small spaces. Two of my favorites are Joy Larckom’s Creative Vegetable Gardening and Designing the New Kitchen Garden by Jennifer R. Bartley.
Joy Larckom is a Garden Writer and Horticulturalist. She is a master at creating interesting and unique looks for an edible garden. The way she combines different colors, textures, vegetables, herbs and edible ornamental flowers is just short of, dare I say, brilliant. This is a link to a wonderful article she wrote for The Guardian in the UK.
Jennifer Bartley is a and garden writer. The underlying theme of her book is that it is rewarding to feed your body from your garden but twice as rewarding to feed your body and your soul; something you can do by creating a vegetable garden that is not only functional but is also en expression of your creativity and beautiful to look at day after day.