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Greenline in New York City?

High Line Garden in NYC

High Line Garden in NYC May 2010

I visited the High Line a few years ago, before it was finished, and I hope to visit this summer and walk the entire length of this beautiful elevated garden – even bigger than our own Bridge of Flowers.

End of the High Line in May 2010

End of the High Line in May 2010

The High Line ended abruptly here in May of 2010, and it was completed at the Rail Yards until September 2014.

But now there is a proposal for a Greenline garden that would turn the diagonal 40 blocks of Broadway into a garden. I can’t seem to copy a photo here, but visit my friend Rochelle Greayer at her Pith+Vigor blog for wonderful imaginations of this proposed garden, a turning Broadway into a Greenline Garden. This idea by Perkins Eastman architects would be a beautiful addition to the New York park system and  all that greenery would have positive environmental effects.

Proposed Greenline

Proposed Greenline designed bu Perkins Eastman

Adele Peters has more information which includes the fact that the Greenline is ‘just a concept” but wouldn’t it be wonderful if such a park could be a reality. What do you think?

Proposed Greenline in Manhattan

Proposed Greenline

Peter Kukielski and the Sustainable Rose

Peter Kukielski

The April 2014 issue of Fine Gardening magazine has an article by Peter Kukielski, former curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden titled Easy Picture Perfect Roses.  Peter knows all about ‘Easy’ roses because during his tenure at that garden he ripped out 200 or so of the roses in the garden that needed pesticides and fungicides to survive and then replaced them with 693 roses that did not need that kind of care and pampering.

I met Peter in early November 2009 when he gave me a tour of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden. Even at that time of the year many roses were in bloom and a number of  volunteers were busy making evaluations of each rose to decide whether it was worthy of remaining in the garden. There is a great article in the NYTimes here that describes that process. I wrote about my visit with Peter Kukielski  here and here. He is not only a brilliant rosarian, he is the most charming and good humored of men.

Since we met Peter, along with Pat Shanley and Gene Waering edited a fascinating book The Sustainable Rose Garden which covers many aspects of rose growing by 40 contributors, including Peter himself, and Stephen Scanniello of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and president of the  Heritage Rose Society. He is now working on his own book Roses Without Chemicals. I can’t wait for it to become available.

‘Applejack’ a Griffith Buck hybrid

My Rose Walk  began with hardy roses which include the Griffith Buck hybrids. It also includes rugosas, albas, another roses that can tolerate the winds and winter of our Heath hill. Many of them also turn out to be disease and pest resistant.  ‘The Fairy,’ a polyantha, is on the Earth Kind rose list, which is something Peter taught me about. I have added other Earth Kind roses like ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and Double Knock Outs. In his Fine Gardening article Peter lists other easy care roses like the luscious ‘Cinderella Fairy Tale’ and the rich golden ‘Tequila.’ Do you think I will be able to resist adding a new rose to the garden this year?  I don’t think so either.

‘The Fairy’ Earth Kind rose closeup

I will be talking about The Sustainable Rose at the little e at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on April 26 and 27. I’ll only be there one day – not sure which yet. Lots of rose photos. I hope to see you there. I’ll be channeling Peter Kukielski, my hero.

All is revealed – Catalonia

Demonstration for Catalonian independence in Boston Public Garden

When I visited the Boston Public Garden on September 2, I ran into this demonstration right under the magnificent statue of George Washington.

George Washington in the Boston Public Garden

It made sense to hold a demonstration for independence under the statue of one of our own founders of an independent nation, promising liberty to all, but I couldn’t tell what the demonstration was all about.

Demonstrator for Independence in Catalonia

It was not until one woman held out this banner than I even knew the issue, but still I did not know for WHOM. Now all is revealed. Catalonia!

Today we saw a news story today about Catalonia’s national day, on September 11  illustrated with the red, yellow and blue flag, that I came to some understanding. Catalonia is an autonomous section of Spain that includes Barcelona, “In the Spanish Constitution of 1978 Catalonia, along with the Basque Country and Galicia, was defined as a “nationality“. The same constitution gave Catalonia the automatic right to autonomy, which resulted in the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1979.” (from Wikipedia)

I like having these little mysteries solved.

Who Makes the Bridge of Flowers Bloom? Carol DeLorenzo

The Bridge of Flowers in May

For the past 12 years Carol DeLorenzo has been the guiding vision behind the changing bloom seasons on the Bridge of Flowers. However, she didn’t start her professional life thinking about flowers.

“After I graduated from the College of the Atlantic, I got a fellowship that allowed me to spend a year traveling around the world, focusing on agricultural issues. When I returned to the United States I got a job as co-manager of a community based farm. I was all about turnips and rutabagas, “ she said. But the farm included a pick-your-own flowers operation. “It was there I learned the value of flowers in people’s lives. I also saw that a flower garden draws people’s attention to the plants.”

After five years she left the farm and worked for landscapers in the Boston suburbs and eventually began her own landscaping company. When she was pregnant with her first child they moved to Shelburne Falls where friends rented them a house. “We never looked back after we got to the Falls,” she said. “It seemed like a natural progression that led me to a town with a Bridge of Flowers.”

Of course DeLorenzo was busy for a while with that new baby, and settling into a new town. Then, after about two years, she saw a notice that the Bridge of Flowers was looking for a new head gardener and applied for the 20 hour a week position. Soon she saw there was too much work for 20 hours and asked for an assistant. With an assistant hired the schedule was altered so that they both work 15 hours a week, more or less, depending  on the season. “It is a great way to be in the community and very satisfying to garden for thousands of people,” she said. She also stressed that it takes the work of the volunteers of the Flower Brigade to keep the Bridge looking so fine.

What impresses me about the Bridge of Flowers is the number of plants that come into bloom between April and through October. First there are bulbs, blooming trees, and bunches of pansies and Johnny jump ups. There are also native wildflowers like bloodroot, and trillium. Flowering shrubs like azaleas, fothergilla and viburnam take their turn. By the end of May the Bridge is a miracle of bloom with dozens of perennials and roses, right through to dahlia and chrysanthemum season.

Carol DeLorenzo

“Keeping the garden in full bloom is an ongoing journey and puzzle,” DeLorenzo said. “That’s where I get my satisfaction. I get to make art with plants. I’m out on the Bridge, looking at the plants, and wonder what it would be like to do this or that. And then I try it. When it works it is very satisfying.  Nothing is permanent. If a particular vignette isn’t working I change it.”

I asked DeLorenzo how she managed to fit all those plants in such a limited space. “Bulbs are planted usually 2–4 inches down all through the length of the borders, into the roots of other plants. I am always root pruning shrubs so I have soil space for bulbs and other plants, but root pruning also controls the size of the shrub,” she said.

She added that “Possibly as much of 40 percent of the flowers are annuals. That is the only way to have constant bloom. The annuals provide insurance, in case some  of the perennials have a bad year.  But not every inch has to be in bloom every minute. If there is a short green section the eye moves on to the next colorful feature.,” she said.

DeLorenzo said her interest is in organic gardening, but the Bridge is not totally organic. She spreads an organic fertilizer in the spring and top dresses with compost. Annuals are very heavy feeders. I fertilize annuals about twice over the course of the season and use seaweed, fish emulsion and water soluble fertilizers like Peter’s.

“This garden doesn’t feed anyone, the emphasis is on bloom so I  do use slug bait and neem soil and Pyola, a pyrethrum oil. We have lots of bugs that want to eat our plants, including rose chafers, but not too many Japanese beetles.  We’ve put out praying mantis cases, but that is mostly for the fun,” she said.

Visitors to the Bridge this year will notice the absence of the four big crabapples. They have been replaced with new trees, a Cherokee Princess dogwood, Prairie Fire crabapple, golden chain tree, Seven Sons tree and a Chinese fringe tree, joining the many other blooming trees and shrubs.

When I asked for advice for the new gardener she was quick to say, “Start small. Let your garden grow naturally. Start at your doorstep and have fun. Too big a garden can be overwhelming and discouraging. Remember, gardening is just one way of interacting with nature.”


Between the Rows   May 12,2013

Tulips Are Blooming – Indoors

Tulips at Smith College

Yesterday I drove into the valley to see tulips, and many other  bulbs and flowers, blooming at the Mt. Holyoke College Talcott Greenhouse and the Smith College Lyman Plant House. Both institutions are preparing for their annual Spring Bulb shows which require attentive and scientific handling of the potted plants, cool and then slowly warming so that they are at the perfect moment for spring-hungry flower lovers to visit them when the shows open on Saturday, March 2.  Both shows run for two weeks and the greenhouses are open from 10 am to 4 pm.

When I visited yesterday both greenhouses were in the process of being set up. Potted plants have been living in the working sections while they are not blooming, and are just now being arranged in a beautifully designed array. Tulips are always an important part of the display and it is easy to understand. Tulips are so tall and stately and come in so many glowing colors. I love seeing tulips in the greenhouse because rodents inevitably eat them when I plant them in the garden. I love tulips, but I grow daffodils in my own garden. And some of the little bulbs like grape hyacinths.

My tulips

Don’t laugh! I don’t know why my forced tulips are so short. Maybe I should just be glad that mice didn’t eat them before the bulbs even had a chance to sprout.

The Bridge of Flowers on National Public Gardens Day

Elaine Parmett

In 2004, when the Bridge of Flowers was nearing its 75th anniversary, Elaine Parmett, a member of the Bridge Committee, decided to find out just who and how the Bridge of Flowers began.

“I was a historian so I did research and learned it was Antoinette Burnham in 1928 who complained about the way weeds had taken over the abandoned trolley bridge. She wondered why they couldn’t have a flower garden instead. Her husband, who worked for the Recorder, helped move this idea forward by writing about the bridge; together they built community support,” Parmett said.

There was discussion about tearing down the bridge but it carried an important water main from Shelburne Falls to Buckland. The expense of moving that water main would have been prohibitive, so the idea of a Bridge of Flowers took root. The Women’s Club, the business association and others gave money for the initial planting, but it was the Women’s Club, devoted to serving the community, that undertook the care of the Bridge.

Parmett joined the Women’s Club not long after moving to the area with her husband Dick and two young daughters in 1979. “I attended a meeting and I was so impressed by the caliber of these women, by their warmth of welcome and their commitment to community service. I wanted to be a part of that group,” she said.

She also began volunteering on the Bridge which was then under the supervision of Carol Markle. “Carol was a retired biologist and horticulture professor at Reed College. She opened up a whole new world to me. I had grown up in the suburbs and we had a little vegetable garden and a few annuals, but I was new to perennials. I didn’t worry about Latin names, but learned to pay attention to where a plant liked to live. Carol was very good at educating all of us volunteers. I learned to love perennials, and the Bridge.”

Parmett explained the Bridge of Flowers Committee was upset when Carol Markle finally had to retire. She was known as The General and made many of the decisions. “I didn’t understand their upset. I asked the group what needed to be done – one said she did the publicity, one said she handled the money and so on. So I looked at them and said – so, you need someone to boss you around? They said yes. I laughed and said I could do that. That’s how I became president, but everyone did what they said they would do – and that is true today.”

Parmett said she was honored to serve the Bridge that way, and was grateful to the committee for being so trusting of someone who was younger and still fairly new to the town.

One big event in the Bridge’s history was the renovation carried out in 1983. Carol Markle was a key player in that effort to remove every plant from the Bridge before repairs were made. Volunteer gardeners dug the plants and took them away to tend in their own gardens until they could be replanted on the Bridge in 1984. “Women guarded and took care of those plants because they wanted to preserve the old plants, and special plants – like the wisteria,” Parmett said.

The Bridge has been fortunate to have a number of good gardeners oversee the design and care of the plants, most recently the skilled Carol DeLorenzo and her assistant Tish Murphy.

Parmett has remained involved with what is now called the Shelburne Area Women’s Club and the Bridge of Flowers Committee in many ways over the decades. She has also raised her daughters, worked at a variety of jobs, and returned to school, first Greenfield Community College, then Mount Holyoke, and finally the University of Massachusetts, earning a Master’s Degree in History. Her final job as Academic Advisor was also at UMass, which she left after ten years in 2004.

It was about that time that she became co-chair of the Bridge Committee with Susie Robbins. They did some reorganizing and cleaning up and got the Conway School of Landscape Design to come up with a plan that helped reshape the Shelburne side entrance. “They did a beautiful design that pretty much exists today,” Parmett said.

Recently Julie Petty has served as co-chair with Judy Lawler and they have over seen the installation of the sign-in kiosk, beautiful donation boxes and the Friends Tree sculpture, all designed and created by artist-blacksmith Bob Compton.

“These additions to the Bridge artistically refer to the trolley; the kiosk design reflects the curve of the trolley car, with wood insets that refer to the railroad ties. Sculptor John Sendelbach also created a gate for the Buckland side with an depiction of the trolley car,” Parmett said.

Lynda Leitner tending 1000 plants for May 19 sale

Right now Parmett is preparing to work at the Annual Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale to be held on Saturday, May 19. Lynda Leitner and a group of volunteers have been digging divisions from the Bridge and moving them to Leitner’s house where she has been lovingly tending and watering them until they are moved to the Trinity Church Baptist Lot on Main Street. “This year we have nearly 1000 plants from the Bridge and from local gardeners,” Leitner said. “And that is not counting the scores of annuals from LaSalles or rarities from Hillside Nurseries.”

Vendors selling a whole range of garden related items will also be present. Joanne Sherburne will be there with her new garden whimsies; OESCO’s fine tools; John Sendlebach’s sculptures; Nina Coler’s water color prints; note cards by Polly French, Kathy O’Rourke, Samantha Crawford and Jane Wegscheider; Dancing Bare Soap; Mojo Glass beads; and Shelburne Booksellers. Stillwater Porcelain is offering special Bridge of Flowers items. Proceeds from the plant go to support the Bridge of Flowers .

It was love of community and of flower gardens that created the Bridge of Flowers. Eighty-two years later that same love inspires the volunteers who keep the garden blooming, and, as Parmett says “. . . still connects the two towns, and unites them in a unique and beautiful way.”

Between the Rows May 5, 2012

Bridge of Flowers – National Public Gardens Day Coming Up

Azalea and view of the Iron Bridge from Bridge of Flowers

The Bridge of Flowers is our local public garden, open and blooming every day from April 1 – October 30. Free! Universally accessible.

Carolina lupine


Wisteria, just beginning to bloom

Pink Primroses

Flowering cherry tree


Bleeding heart and snowflakes



Pink dogwood

I’ll be celebrating National Public Gardens Day, May 11 this year, with a stroll over the Bridge of Flowers. What will you do?

I’ve been almost Wordless, but for real Wordlessness this Wednesday click here

Bridge of Flowers

The Bridge of Flowers officially closed on October 30, but it will be open for a few more days so people can take the scenic route from Shelburne to Buckland OR Buckland to Shelburne. Last week there was a final exciting event. Note the graceful ironwork on the Bridge sign. It was a collaborative community effort between Bill Austin and Grey Marchese of Austin Design in Colrain, artist/blacksmith Bob Compton of Rising Sun Forge in Conway, and Michael Therrien’s freshmen/sopomore carpentry class at Franklin County Technical School.

Tree of Friendship by Bob Compton

Last week Bob Compton installed this beautiful tree of friendship which will annually record the names of all the Friends of the Bridge who support the plantings and maintenance of the Bridge. As you can see this is a blooming tree and we look forward to the blooming of a strong neighborhood of Friends. Thank you, Bob!

Now that the flowers are gone from the Bridge of Flowers it is easy to see how important foliage is in any garden. Obviously conifers are an anchor in the fall and winter garden. The Bridge has two magnificent weeping hemlocks, one at either end.

Some shrubs have foliage that turns gold.

Others have scarlet foliage. I am not sure what this is, but it is not the invasive burning bush.

Some foliage stays green well into the season, but adds berries.

Some foliage, like this Pieris japonica is very dark.

The foliage of  this azalea is almost black in the fall.

Hakonelochloa 'Aureola'

The crisp dried grass adds a very different note,

As does the annual ornamental kale. There are many ways to have color in the garden after the flowers have gone.

Only Bob Compton’s flowers will bloom all winter.


Elisabeth C. Miller Botanic Garden and Library

Cardoons at the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanic Garden

When I joined 70 other garden bloggers in Seattle this past summer, one of the first places we visited was the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanic Garden which is a part of the University of Washington. There were familiar plants, and not so familiar plants like these cardoons, which are related to the artichoke and make for some sophisticated eating.

Green roof

Like many botanic gardens there are trial beds and educational projects like this green roof. It looks like it is on the ground, but it is actually the roof of a wing of the building that is entered at ground level while I was standing on  a deck to take this photo.

The most special part of this botanic garden for me was the Elisabeth C. Miller Library. Once a librarian myself I had a special appreciation.

Elisabeth C. Miller Library librarians

This library is unique I think, in that it is available to the general public. Not only can people come in and use the collection of 15,000+ books in the library, many are available for circulation. There are books on every botanical subject from roses to ethnobotany, from container gardening to plant hunters, from annuals to urban forestry, from composting to flower arranging and just about any other subject you can think of.

You can even check their catalog online, recommend books you’d like to see in the collection, and browse through hundreds of current nursery and plant catalogs that are included in  the collection.

But this wonderful library with its helpful staff also offers very practical assistance through the Plant Answer Line,  and lists local plant sales and garden tours.

Of course, the collection is slanted toward plants of the Northwest Pacific, but I tell you I could spend weeks in this library happily exploring many subjects that would be of interest to me – even coming from the Northeast Atlantic.

Water and Delight

University Village fountain

Our area suffered flooding from Tropical Storm Irene and the storm that followed a week after causing enormous damage as rivers and streams overflowed their banks. We have recovered on our road so today I prefer to think about the gentler water in our gardens that calms and soothes.  Here are some of the the quiet waters I saw in Seattle this summer at the Garden Bloggers Fling.

Michelle and Christopher Epping's Garden

Kate Farley's fountain and pool

Kathryn Galbraith's fountain

Bloedel Reserve Reflecting Pool

Only a big public garden can have a big water feature like this, but most of us can find a way to bring water, reflections – and quiet reflection into our own gardens.