Thursday, December 07, 2006

Holiday Decorating Poll

The cold, dark and snowy weather in my area of New England stimulates outdoor decorating in both residential and commercial settings. Emphasis is on lighting during what is the "season of light" for most religions and beliefs. Outdoor and window-sill menorahs, gigantic plastic "snow globes," luminaria and traditional lighted garlands and wreathes combine to make magical scenes.

How do you extend your holiday decorating to the outdoors? Share yours by voting in my newest Landscaping Poll at Suite 101. It is a "fun one" that I think most readers will enjoy. If your sense of holiday decorating is not listed in the poll, please let me know in the landscaping discussion....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Flowering Crabapples: The Genus Malus - A Review

The Reverend John L. Fiala (1924-1990) died after more than 50 years of work with ornamental flowering crabapples, but before he witnessed publication of his book Flowering Crabapples: The Genus Malus in 1994. This book was his legacy to horticulturalists and those interested in landscape / garden design.

A moving excerpt and dedication by the Rev. Fr. John L. Fiala to his readers may be found at Flowering Crabapples - Genus Malus; and a review of Flowering Crabapples: The Genus Malus.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Michaelmas Daisies Mean Autumn Color

Colors ranging from deep purple to almost white herald the last days of autumn in old pastures and ditches here in New England. These are mostly New England asters (Aster novae-anglicae) along with some New York asters (Aster novi-belgii). Because they bloom in late autumn near the feast day of the holy angels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the British call them Michaelmas Daisies.

Gertrude Jekyll, prominent British garden designer in the early 20th century, is one of those most responsible for the popularity, and breeding and selection, of Michaelmas daisies. Reproductions of some watercolor paintings by George S. Elgood, showing Jekyll's use of Michaelmas daisies, are in the Jekyll - Elgood book Some English Gardens, published in London by Longmans, Green & Co in 1904. They are magnificent little watercolors. I only wish I could own them or a copy of the original book in which they were published.

My article Color in Autumn Garden Landscapes looks at some of the history of Michaelmas daisies; my blog, Michaelmas Daisies Mean Autumn talks about the derivation of the common name Michaelmas daisies.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Crabapples, a western MA orchard and autumn

There is a new ornamental crabapple planting at the University of MA orchard in western MA. The planting forms part of the framework for a garden tribute to those who bought the orchard in 1962 and gave it to the University for fruit research. According to farm manager Joe Sincuk, the crabapple planting serves three functions:
  • demonstration of the wide variety of crabapple cultivars,
  • education about fruit trees and,
  • pollination for nearby standard apples.

I spent a good part of a recent warm and sunny afternoon wandering from tree to tree looking at the aumn features makes these trees terrific four-season interest plantings:
  • leaves,
  • bark, and
  • fruit.
Most of these trees, although disease and pest resistant (not pest free), are fairly tried and true varieties. My afternoon was like attending a party of old friends. There is more about this planting in my articles Crabapple Trees in the Landscape and Crabapples and Autumn Qualities.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Annual Poppies and Gardens

Many years ago, I saw corn poppies, Papaver rhoeas growing in a wheat (ie corn) field in England. I was smitten then with the image of red flowers with the golden foliage of ripe wheat, and have since loved the way annual poppies, Papaver spp. look in landscapes. I tried with success to recreate this image by designing and planting a natural-appearing wildflower meadow for a friend.

Since then I've continued learning about annual poppies and how they can be used in designed landscapes. The result is a series of articles that begin on May 27th with Poppies and the Landscape of War..

You may read about the necessary steps in creating a poppy landscape in these articles of mine:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

June Brides In My Garden

Every landscape gardener likes to believe his or her garden is as pretty as a picture. On June 24, my garden was the setting for a series of bridal photos...this is a snapshot of the bridal party in front of mounds of Nepeta x faassenii 'Six Hills Giant.'

You may read more about the garden on this special day at June Brides and Gardens

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Welcome to Cave Hills Gardens!
This is the view from our east-facing deck in the early morning.
It is one of my favorites of our country landscape.