Underutilized Trees and Shrubs

  • Post published:March 31, 2017

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…

Toxics Action Conference in Boston – Water and More

  • Post published:March 17, 2017

Water is life! That is the cry that was repeated when Kandi Mossett finished her keynote address at the Local Environmental Action Conference last Sunday. Mossett, of Mandan, Hidsata and Arikara tribal heritage, is a leading voice in the fight to the impacts that environmental injustice are having on indigenous communities across our country. We all know about the stand taken at Standing Rock in North Dakota to keep an oil pipeline from crossing sacred lands and under…

Here’s What Permaculture Looks Like

  • Post published:July 16, 2016

Bill Mollison, considered the Father of Permaculture, said it is “. . . the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.” Nancee Bershof became interested in permaculture after her husband’s death, and her departure from medicine. She was looking for new interests and permaculture fascinated her. She took a course that led her down a new road, supplying food, and non-material needs like community…

I Went Shopping for Spice Bush for the Swallowtail Butterfly

  • Post published:March 24, 2016

It's spring and I went shopping  for Spice Bush. Yesterday, at the Hadley Garden Center I found a Spice Bush with bursting green buds. This Spice Bush, Lindera benzoin, is hardy, takes shade, and gets big, up to 12 feet tall and just as wide.  I will plant it next to the fence which a relatively dry spot, but spice bush can also tolerates some wet. One special reason for planting spice bush is that it attracts Spice…

Groundcovers for a Lawn-less Garden.

  • Post published:February 27, 2016

One of the goals we had for our new Greenfield garden was to make it  lawnless. We certainly did not want a wild lawless garden, but we did not want large areas of grass that would need mowing. To prove his devotion to this goal my husband bought an inexpensive power lawn mower and said that it would probably last two years. He was giving me two years to design and plant a garden that would not include…

Everything Changes – in the garden and everywhere

  • Post published:January 9, 2016

Everything changes. Change on all fronts is inescapable, unstoppable and inevitable. No one knows this more than a gardener who watches her garden change over the years. In 2016 I will be gardening in a new garden, a smaller garden, a garden that will not require as much maintenance as the Heath garden. It is also a garden with very different features. The soil is heavy clay. The soil is very wet and drains slowly.  There is a…

Root Cellars and Root Vegetables

  • Post published:December 4, 2015

Our Thanksgiving table will include  root vegetables like Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, beets, parsnips and carrots. Even the Pilgrims might have had some of these vegetables at the first Thanksgiving. Root vegetables were an important part of the food supply in Europe before canning and freezing were available. Root vegetables were harvested in the fall and stored for winter use without preserving them in some way, like pickling or drying. When I was a child living…

Time to Compost – Harvest the Biomass on the Ground

  • Post published:November 24, 2015

As far as I am concerned the leaves that fall in the fall tra-la are as welcome as the flowers that bloom in the spring. When I lived high on a windy hill in Heath all the leaves blew away. I helped a neighbor rake leaves, and took them away to my compost pile. I loved picking up a few bags of leaves that people left in front of their houses when I came into Greenfield to shop.…

Rain Management with Hugelkultur

  • Post published:October 7, 2015

  Learning how to harvest rain and manage water use is an urgent topic in California where I have been visiting, but it is a big topic for all of us. It is important for us all to manage our use of that precious resource – water. My husband Henry and I have been visiting friends. We have also been visiting wonderful gardens like the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and the Huntington Library, Art Collections,…

Drainage Problems and Happy Irises

  • Post published:August 1, 2015

The day after we planted all our water tolerant shrubs Greenfield was inundated by torrential rains. I was told over three inches of rain fell the afternoon and evening of July 7. We knew that our Greenfield house had a wet backyard and after planting nine shrubs we were fully aware of the heavy clay soil. However we did not expect several inches of standing water in the back half of the yard. Fortunately, our excellent plumber, Scott…