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New England Grows! in Boston

New England Grows! welcomes OESCO's scarecrow

New England Grows! welcomes OESCO’s scarecrow

New England Grows! is a big landscaping tradeshow in Boston and I got to see old friends like Kate and Russ French of OESCO where a 20 foot scarecrow blew fiercely over the exhibit of great OESCO tools.

Pride's Corner Farm succulent display

Pride’s Corner Farms succulent display

I spoke to Linette Harlow at Pride’s Corner Farms about the plants they grow for various plants you will find at garden centers in the spring, I loved this display of succulents growing in a slightly rotting log. I count this as another form of hugelkultur.

Native Wetland plants at Aquascapes Unlimited

Native wetland plants at Aquascapes Unlimited.

John Courtney at Aquascapes Unlimited told me that sedges made excellent controllable plantings for wetlands, or often wet gardens.

I talked to many other people and you’ll be hearing about all I’ve learned very soon. Every year New England Grows! gives me an opportunity to see what will be showing up in garden centers this spring, and new developments in conservation.

Safe Lawn Suggestions

The Flowery Mead aka Our Lawn

We have more lawn than we would like, and more lawn than people like Susan Harris, one of the Lawn Reform instigators, recommend, we have been working to eliminate lawn. I have the Rose Bank and the Daylily Bank, to cut down on mowing and  therefore energy use. I am moving the pretty groundcover, barren strawberry (Waldenstenia), into an area along the edge of the lawn. And I am trying to turn the whole front lawn into a thyme lawn. For a couple of years we have been planting plugs of common thyme into the lawn and it is Taking Over! Less mowing.

Barren Strawberry

However, lawns are not going away anytime soon. Paul Tukey of Safe Lawns, has this advice for people who have waterlogged and damaged lawns after tropical storm Irene.

Paul Tukey’s website also passed on this horrifying news about Frenkenlawns. Many people can dismiss the news about Genetically Modified alfalfa and the problems it might cause. After all, who gives a lot of thought to alfalfa. However, even people who are concerned about the widespread use of GMO seed for corn, soybeans and alfalfa on farms, might not be aware that GMO lawn seed has been approved by the USDA.  Read this news story:

And one more piece of information from Safe Lawns:

I want children to be able to play on my lawn, weedy patch though it is. I want to walk barefoot on my lawn. I want to be safe and healthy on my own plot of land. Therefore I have never fertilized my lawn with anything other than grass clippings, and I have never used herbicides or pesticides on my lawn. All totally unnecessary. I have even added clover seed to my seed mix when I have had to plant new grass after construction. And of course, there is always common thyme.

Growing at the MG Spring Symposium

There was a great crowd at the Master Gardener’s Spring Symposium on Saturday. The arrangements were wonderful with a delicious and energizing breakfast buffet, fruit, muffins, juice, coffee and tea – all free.  And later a yummy lunch and great conversation with our fellow gardeners.

There were all manner of workshops from fruit tree pruning to roses!  Naturally I went to hear Tracey Culver, who is a head gardener at Smith College, talk about the roses she grows at home, and at the College. She was a mine of information about the care and maintenance of many kinds of roses. I’m going to pay special attention to the roses the next time I visit Smith.

Sue Reed, author of Energy Wise Landscape Design, filled us in on the many ways we can save all kinds of energy through our landscape design.  Those who couldn’t attend can find all that information in her book.  I’m glad I can refer to the book as I plant my windbreak this spring.

I can hardly wait for next year’s program, but I have plenty to do in the meantime and I am full of spring symposium inspiration!

The Green in Vogue

Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier

In preparing for a Fashion in the Garden posting I have been reading the spring issue of Vogue magazine. Strictly business you understand. Besides, Tina Fey was on the cover.

Although I wasn’t looking for it, there was a little feature on page 370, The Green List, with John Patrick’s (whoever he may be) five latest (fashion everywhere) faves.  There is for heirloom seeds; Emiliano Godoy, an industrial designer who focuses on sustainability; Magnus Larsson, a Swedish architect working to stop the spread of the Sahara!; Ecocradle for shipping materials made of mycelium, —  remember you heard it here first; and Edible Forest Gardens by Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeier.  Well, Dave Jacke is headquartered  right in our own green county. I hope to catch up with him this spring.  I met Eric Toensmeier when he spoke at the local Master Gardener’s Spring Symposium a couple of years ago and bought his book.  I am going to plant perennial Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus- henricus) in my Henry garden.

Who knows who I’ll meet at this year’s Spring Symposium. Check out the full schedule and info.

Governor Patrick Visits

I went into Green Fields Market yesterday, and there was Governor Deval Patrick glad-handing the lunch crowd, accepting thanks for the good work he is doing, and probably taking some criticism, too. Massachusetts, like the country, is suffering from the economic crisis. The State is cutting budgets in almost every area. People are not happy.

However, yesterday’s headlines in our local paper, The Recorder (for which I write a garden column) were heartening. At least when it comes to local farms and good eating.

Caroline Pam and husband Tim Wilcox announced that this year their farm The Kitchen Garden will have 7 acres under cultivation, including two hoophouses. This is up from 4 acres last year. They had been selling their beautiful produce (I often bought from them) at farmers markets as far away as Springfield, and to local restaurants. To these markets they added Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. They see the demand for high quality local produce growing.

Another story is about Jessica Harwood who has started a business, Valley Green Feast, and makes home delivery of grass fed beef, pork, local dairy products, fair-trade coffee, eggs, bread and pie, goat cheese, yogurt, all manner of fruit and vegetables, and ice cream. A hundred mile diet in our area would not mean deprivation.

The Governor has his plate full in Boston, no doubt about it, but when he comes our way he can count on some really good eating.

Change One Thing

Over the years we have become more conscious of the waste in our American life, and have gradually made changes in the way we run our household. In the past year we replaced at least half the light bulbs in our house with CFL (compact fluorescent lights) which use a fraction of the electricity as incandescent bulbs, we used LED lights on our Christmas tree, and put our computer and TV on a power strip so that they could both be turned totally off when not in use. Our idea was to reduce our energy use, and save money. According to our electric bill our energy use is substantially reduced, but alas, we haven’t saved any money. Tell me how that works!

We garden organically and do not use any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. I want the grandchildren to be able to eat an unwashed tomato, snap pea or green bean safely. I don’t want chemicals seeping into our well water.

Our lawn which is more accurately a ‘flowery mead’, full of dandelions, clover, hawkweed, and ground ivy, flourishes with only the addition of occasional liming and grass clippings. My Extension Service says that is all it needs.

We recycle paper, glass and cans. But I know we can still form better habits. So, inspired by the Just Change One Thing movement, we have resolved to cut down, if not eliminate, the number of plastic shopping bags we get at the supermarket. I have the canvas totes, and store them near the door after I am done unloading them. This is the hardest part for me, forming the habit to always have canvas bags with me in the car. I am working on it.