My Life With Hydrangeas

  • Post published:08/03/2018
  • Post comments:4 Comments

As long ago as 1945 I had an opinion about hydrangeas. In 1945 I was five years old and living with my parents, and my two younger brothers, in the Bronx. When the weekend weather was fine my parents often took all of us on a stroll through the neighborhood. We lived in an apartment building surrounded by cement, but there were many houses on our street that had tiny front yards that often showed off one or…

Witch Hazel – Hamamelis Spring Bloomer

  • Post published:03/20/2018
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A  shrub with golden blossoms, a witch hazel, is blooming our our street. Some thought it was a forsythia that got it's dates mixed up, but it is witch hazel, properly known as a Hamamelis, and about the earliest blooming plant in our area. You have to get up close to appreciate and admire the twirly little blossoms. This is probably Hamamelis mollis, a Chinese witch hazel, because it is blooming in  the spring, beginning in February. Our…

End of August Views

  • Post published:08/30/2017
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The end of August view from the upstairs window shows not only a full garden, but my most recent project of a wine bottle hose guard on the left. Also in the center of that bed is a beautiful glass "flower" given to us by the sister of a dear friend. You can't see it very well here, but as soon as I see the sun shining on it I'll give a better photo. I wanted to get…

Worlds of Rhododendrons

Our hugel was built to help us manage water, but also to provide a stage for rhododendrons. This past weekend my friendly rhododendron specialists took me shopping at the Windy Hill Nursery in Great Barrington. We bought three cultivars: Janet Blair a beautiful pale pink  with a golden flare in the center, Wojnar's Purple and Francesca, a red. The photos of Janet Blair and Wojner's purple were taken in Jerry Sternstein's rhododendron woodland which includes nearly 400 other…

Underutilized Trees and Shrubs

  • Post published:03/31/2017
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Jay Vinskey gave a useful workshop on Underutilized Trees and Shrubs at the WMMGA Spring Garden Symposium last weekend. I attended because I may not be quite finished choosing shrubs for our new Greenfield garden and I was looking for more suggestions. Small trees and shrubs are the elements I am counting on to make this a sustainable, low maintenance garden. Vinskey’s list included trees like paperbark maple, tupelo, ironwood, redbud, stewartia, and pagoda dogwood. His shrub list…

Spring Has Sprung – Theoretically

  • Post published:03/20/2017
  • Post comments:3 Comments

Theoretically spring has sprung. The first day of spring dawned chilly, but temperatures got to 56 degrees before they began to fall again. I thought wistfully of this time of the year in 2016. Last year I went shopping and bought potted shrubs which I planted on March 22, along with a Lindera benzoin, spicebush. Spicebush swallowtail butterflies like to eat the foliage of Lindera Benzoin. I had a wonderful day last year working in the garden, cleaning…

Late Bloomer by Jan Coppola Bills

  • Post published:12/03/2016
  • Post comments:2 Comments

Several years ago a friend asked me to give her advice about her garden which she said was out of control and too much work. When I visited I could see an immediate problem; her paths were too narrow. Wider paths would make it possible to walk through the garden side by side with a friend, and even provide better working space when it was time to weed or divide the collection of lovely perennials that comprised her…

Green Barriers for Function and Beauty

  • Post published:10/23/2016
  • Post comments:5 Comments

Recently a friend asked if I had any suggestions for creating a sound barrier in front of his house. My first idea was arborvitae. These neat symmetrical conifers are popular because they are not only handsome, but because they are low maintenance plants. They are hardy, not fussy about soil, are fairly salt tolerant and once they are established they are drought tolerant. They also tolerate some shade but need at least four hours of sun. Two easily…

Choose Plantings for Your Favorite View

  • Post published:07/02/2016
  • Post comments:5 Comments

Do you have a favorite chair? Is it near a window? Does your dining table sit near a window? Do you enjoy the view from your window? Oddly, our new house in Greenfield does not have many windows that look out at the garden. Only one upstairs window (in my office) gives a view of the back yard. The kitchen window is too high to see much of anything except the most westerly area of the garden. Fortunately…