Ruth Parnell and the Natives

  • Post published:03/26/2011
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“When you have such a huge list of native plants, [as we do in New England] you don’t need exotics,” Ruth Parnall said as she handed me pages of native grasses, wetland wildflowers, ornamental shrubs, vines and trees. Then she handed me a list of books that would give me even more names of natives. Her comment reminded me of the enormous traffic of our native plants to England in the 1700s. John Bartram, often considered the first…

Growing at the MG Spring Symposium

  • Post published:03/21/2011
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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…

Orra White Hitchcock

  • Post published:03/19/2011
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Orra White Hitchcock was a college president’s wife, a mother of eight, and an artist. The art she created, drawings and watercolor paintings of flowers, grasses and other plants, were scientifically accurate yet transformed by a lyrical delicacy and artistry. An exhibit  of her work, Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863): An Amherst Woman of Art and Science, co-curated by Daria D'Arienzo and Robert L. Herbert, will run through May 29 at the Mead Museum of Art at Amherst College.…

Planting the Wild Garden

My friend Kathryn Galbraith and I met inNew York City more than 30 years ago when we were both taking a writing class at the New School. She was working on her first novel for children, Come Spring, about Rennie, a little girl who is moving (again) to a new house, not just an apartment, and looking to put down roots. Kathryn has a special insight and understanding of the hearts of children, and this is a tender…

Master Gardener’s Spring Symposium

  • Post published:03/05/2011
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The days are longer and the sun is brighter, so even though snow lies deep on the ground we know that spring is coming.  That means that the annual Master Gardeners Spring Symposium held on Saturday, March 19 at Frontier Regional High School is coming up, too.. This year I am presenting a slide show of Elsa Bakalar’s perennial gardens in all their glory. Elsa passed away last year, but her memory remains green for many of us.…

Two Garden Styles – Two Books

  • Post published:02/12/2011
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Every gardener is an individual with different dreams, desires, skills, interests – and constraints. Thus every garden is unique reflecting those differences.  William Robinson (1838-1935) was a British gardener who propounded a new flower garden aesthetic, away from hundreds of annuals being bedded out each season, to a wilder, more informal planting of perennials, shrubs and trees, many of them natives. He wrote several books, most notably the influential  The Wild Garden. That book went through several editions.…

Warm Memories

  • Post published:02/11/2011
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With the snow so deep, the temperatures so low, and the winds so brisk I had to take a day to revisit summer in Buffalo and some of the beautiful gardens we toured.  I have a similar arrangement of lilies and beebalm in my garden.  It will be such a joy to see those shoots in the spring. These daylilies enjoyed a deep drink one night in Buffalo.  My Daylily Bank should look pretty good this year, and…

Amsonia hubrichtii – Perennial Plant of the Year

Last May I went on a fabulous tour of some of NYC's parks beginning with Battery Park.  There I saw Amsonia, which some bloggers had been raving about. I looked at this mass planting and did not see what all the raving was about. The flowers seemed inconsequential.  I was not impressed. Now I read that Amsonia hubrichtii has been named the Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. How could this be?  The PPA…

Sustainable Living in the Hills

  • Post published:01/29/2011
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Nancy and Haynes Turkle have been concerned about the environment and the ways we affect it for a long time. Nancy’s graphic design company even worked for the Department of Environmental Protection for 15 years creating educational recycling materials. During their 20 years living in Groton they were involved in many community activities including helping to found a community garden. As the garden thrived so did  cooperation between the members of the garden and the wider community. They…

Cranberries in the Garden

  • Post published:11/20/2010
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As I was baking cranberry bread yesterday, I remembered an interview I did  with Wil Kiendzior and his wife Louisa Sapienza about their cranberry beds. Cranberries are another perennial crop that can be added to your edible garden. Wil Kiendzior started gardening when two things converged in his life.  His two daughters were born and he started teaching high school courses on ecology and the environment, using Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as a text. His first gardens grew…