Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Longwood Gardens

It’s been seven long years since a visit to Longwood Gardens and I have the itch.  These pictures are from a visit in July and I’m thinking this year a late spring visit is in order.  If you haven’t been, you need to go.  If you’ve been, you need to go back.  Who’s up for a road trip?
Pierce brothers Joshua and Samuel planted an arboretum on the farm in 1789. Then, facing destruction, Pierre du Pont purchased the property in 1906 to preserve the trees and became the man behind the gardens that we love today. The Longwood Gardens' Website
Merci beaucoup!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Breaking The Rules

This morning I had blast chatting with Melissa Cole on the Mary Jones Show. Perhaps it’s that I just love to talk, but 15 minutes on the radio feels like a New York minute!
Lots of people will tell you not to plant yet….but I did! Plants have surprised me so many times before, I figured why not? Of course, I broke the rules within reason.  I don’t recommend planting tomatoes and cucumbers yet, but there are a few things that have more than a fighting chance this time of year.  Spinach, lettuce and broccoli (just to name a few) can be sown (planted from seed) outside even with the threat of frost and snow looming. 
I planted some Red Salad Bowl lettuce seeds directly into a wooden barrel and placed it in the planting bed on the south side of the house. Here it will be protected and get a lot of warm sun.  I always found that leaving the seed packet by the planting looked like a head stone, so instead of leaving what looks like “RIP Lettuce- We hardly knew ye” try starting a garden log this year.  Keep notes of what you do in the garden each day, where things are planted and even tape in the seed packets or plant tags.  This is a great way to learn from your mistakes and easy to copy what worked for next year!  
Nothing beats fresh lettuce!

The seeds are small, I use the seed packet to evenly spread them of the surface of the soil

These are lettuce seeds

Lettuce seeds should not be planted too deeply. I use my finger tips to push then just into the soil and cover them.

Then I press them into the soil to keep them snug as bugs until they sprout.

Please don't use the seed packet to mark your planting.
This looks to me like a head stone: REST IN PEACE LETTUCE

This looks much better!

Try a garden log to keep track of what you plant and where

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mood Boards and a radio show

You may find it very helpful to create a mood board when you are in the early stages of garden design.  click here to watch a brief segment about using them that aired on WFSB’s Better Connecticut show. Mood boards are an excellent way to help focus on what elements you like most and a fabulous way to communicate to your landscape designer what you want your landscape to accomplish.    

Tomorrow I will be on the Mary Jones Radio Show with my dear friend Melissa Cole filling in for Mary.  Tune in at 10 am on Tuesday, February 28th to WDRC-AM 1360. Melissa has a great show planned- I can’t wait to chat with her!  Here is the home page of Mary Jones Show, click HERE
The baby was up three times last night (molars are trying to break through) and I’m ready to shut it down for the night. Sweet dreams!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the mood?

Many designers use a mood board to focus their attention towards a certain goal.  A mood board is a poster or bulletin board of sorts that collects photos, textures, quotes, and whatever moves the designer.  Many interior decorators and fashion designers use mood boards- and I think landscape designers can gain a lot from using them too.  With an effective landscape tickling so many of our senses, a designer needs to focus in on what’s really important.  I have seen many gardens that simply have ‘too much going on’ and end up being distracting and ineffective. 
One of my many Inspiration folders
This folder has many plant combinations that I love

I have used folders like this one hold images and snippets that I’ve collected along the way- but when I’m designing, I need to see them in front of me.  I’m notorious for pinning photos of inspiration on the wall in front of my desk.  A mood board is a more sophisticated way of doing this- and you might find it helpful as well.  This Monday- February 27th I will demonstrate how to create a mood board on WFSB’s Better Connecticut.  Tune in at 3pm to watch but if you miss it, I’ll post it here Monday afternoon.
In the meantime… start collecting your inspiration!  

Friday, February 24, 2012

And then there was snow

It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain
This is what I woke up to this morning:

My heart is aching for my tender snapdragons today. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spring Snaprise!

A quick hour of work in the garden this morning turned out to be more exciting than expected! I can blame both my baby, and the October snow storm for my lackadaisical fall garden clean up.  But enough with the excuses, I just fell behind this year and now I’m playing catch up.  In my backyard is an old fence that at one time corralled horses but I’ve transformed it to corral a mixed boarder of azaleas, perennials and some cutting flowers.  It turns out that my delayed clean up worked in my favor this year- Woody and I made an interesting discovery. 

A most embarrassing shot...before...

After! Woody embraces our discovery!

I cut back the stems from last summer, just above the new growth.

Another survivor!

These Daffodils (looking yellow) were so happy to see sun for the first time this year.
The oak leaves that were never raked up formed the perfect protection around my Snapdragons and as a result, many of them have survived the winter! Upon further consideration this isn’t a huge surprise.  We’ve been treated to an exceptionally mild winter and Snapdragons are a fairly cold hardy plant.  Still, they are not perennials in Connecticut and as long as they can rough out the remainder of winter now that they are exposed, I’m one step ahead of planting! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lilly Pulitzer- The Gardener?

Yesterday I received my spring copy of the Lilly Pulitzer catalogue in the mail.  This is a catalogue after my gardening heart! If the cover wasn’t enough- beautiful bright pink peonies (silk or fresh, they are lovely!), a peek inside had me from the first page flip! L.P. is known for their bright, Palm Beach style patterns but what I especially love are all of the floral designs.  You can practically smell the soft fragrance of the cherry blossoms, lilies and lupines coming off the pages. I’m pretty sure any gardener will find this spring’s line irresistible. 
L.P. did an entire paragraph on day lilies on page 32.  The variety called Stella d’Oro was the inspiration for the print called Star Fruit Yellow Daylily. I’m also a fan of Stella d’Oro- the flower stems reach a nice (shorter) height and the true yellow flowers bloom nearly non-stop from late spring through late summer.  Plant them with Daffodils and your season of yellow fellows will be even longer AND the foliage of the Daffodils will blend in with the foliage of the daylilies.  Don’t you love it when plants work together like that?    

I might have to get this tie for my husband, he is married to a horticulturist after all!

Lots of floral inspirations!

This dress is amazing with cherry blossoms!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Growing Avocado

It’s fun watching things grow.  A new sprout confirms life and new sprouts, whether grass, a pea, or an oak tree are just adorable when they start to grow.  Equally exciting is the development of roots-  new life is dropping an anchor to stay around a while.  The thing is we hardly get the chance to watch both emerge.  But if you would like to, try growing an avocado plant from a seed.  It will give you a chance to watch both the north and south sprouts grow!

Cut the fruit in half but try not to cut the seed.

Use a spoon to remove the seed from the fleshy part of the fruit.

Make sure you remove as much of the brown leathery skin as possible. It helps to soak the seed in water overnight and then scrape the skin off.

Insert three toothpicks at an angle to suspend the seed in a glass of water.
(This reminds me of molecular models from high school!)

It's important that the seed does not dry out.  Change the water every couple of days to maintain the water level and keep the seed healthy.

Once the root sprouts, plant the seed in soil leaving about 1/4 of the seed exposed.  Once the root and stem sprout, the seed will split in half as you see here.

A baby is born! Let's call him Avo? Keep your new house plant warm and in a sunny window, it will do well on the patio in summer too. 
Remember that Avocados are tropical plants and they just can't stand the cold. 

Today on WFSB's Better Connecticut I demonstrated how to get started...
CLICK HERE to watch!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Deer Control

Taking a few days off to focus on family.  I’ll leave you with this until Monday:
A few tricks to keep deer out of the garden….  One is especially CLEAN! J
Natural Deer Control- Julie's Way watch with clip to see how.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Don't Waste It

Make your life

Don't waste it.
I hope to find some spring pansies that have been hardened off from the greenhouse so I can refresh my planters.  
The world needs some extra color right now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Michael A. Dirr

I’ve had few brushes with fame in my life- but my favorite might classify me as a complete plant nerd fanatic.  After reading his books, studying his notes, obsessing over his photographs, I finally met Michael A. Dirr.  Dirr is the plantman of plantpeople. There have been countless discussions about plants- what to use where, to what size does a plant grow- and every time it is agreed to refer to Dirr.  “Look it up in Dirr.”, “What does Dirr say about that?” and “I would consult Dirr.” End of dirrscussion.
Michael A. Dirr
Dirr has earned a Bachelors in Science degree in Plant Physiology and a Masters in Science degree in Plant Physiology from Ohio State University and a Ph.D in Plant Physiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in 1972. Upon graduation from the University of Massachusetts, Dirr was an Assistant Professor of Ornamental Horticulture at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he continued to work until 1978. He then became a Mercer Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University though 1979. In 1979, he became the Director of the University of Georgia Botanical Garden. In 1981, he returned to teach at the University of Georgia and was promoted to Professor in 1984. (Wikipedia)
A page from Manual of Woody Landscape Plants
His book, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture and Propagation and Uses has become one of the most widely adopted reference text in the education of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. It has sold over 250,000 copies. (Wikipedia)

I met him at the Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association’s winter meeting in 2010.  We were both walking into the conference room at the same time and he held the door for me.  After thanking him for his work with plants and the reliable resources that I have been using for years, he signed my copy of Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs! If you don’t have any of Dirr’s books in your library, you might want to reconsider.  You too will refer to Dirr over and over again. 

Dirr signed, "Dear Julie, May the book continue to educate and inspire.
Sincerely, Michael Dirr 1-13-2010 Connecticut"

Dirr is well known for his Hydrangea introducations

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

May your love grow like weeds!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Love, Julie
'Woody' still sweet after all these years!