The Monks Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

  • Post published:09/28/2013
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Last week I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to meet the noted landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburg and hear him speak about how he approached the challenge of redesigning the Monks Garden. He said that Isabella Stewart Gardener herself acknowledged that she was never satisfied with the small walled garden she called the Monks Garden. “That gave me the confidence and courage . . . to make a garden for the future of the Museum.” Certainly the…

Deadheading – Fall Maintenance for Hardy Roses

  • Post published:09/23/2013
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People often ask me when  do I cut back my hardy roses in the fall, do I protect them in the winter and what is the best way they can protect their own roses. I have simple answers. First, I remind people that I only grow hardy roses, that are trouble free. Of course, sometimes I only find out that I have  bought non-hardy roses when they die, but that's the way it goes. I do not cut back…

Beech and Hazel

  • Post published:09/21/2013
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  On a spring walk in the Betty Maitland Memorial Forest here in Heath we admired a tall beech tree (Fagus grandiflora) that is also known as the bear tree. The trunk is scarred with bear claw damage, climbing up into the foliage with its nuts, and going down again. Beechnuts are an important food for bears and other wildlife. They are high in fat, carbohydrates and protein. It is easy to imagine bears preparing for their winter…

Fallen Trees Equal Good Fungus

  • Post published:09/03/2013
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This fallen log on the Wildside Garden's eastern slope is there for a purpose.  Good fungus! Sue Bridge has been working with Jono Neiger and the Regenerative Design Group to create a sustainable, edible, permaculture garden. One of the things she learned is that the food chain in her garden doesn't begin with the vegetables and fruits and end  with her.  The edibility of her garden includes the fungal growth in a healthy, fertile soil. The life in healthy soil…

Walk on the Wildside with Sue Bridge

  • Post published:08/31/2013
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How would you plan your retirement if you had already received a degree from Wellesley College, earned a further degree in Russian and Middle Eastern Studies, hitchhiked to Morocco, lived in Paris, worked for the United Nations, as well as in the cable TV world, and for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper? Sue Bridge, with the urging of a Northampton friend, bought eight acres of hilly land in Conway. For the past seven years her retirement project has…

Let’s Eat the Invasive Species

  • Post published:08/27/2013
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'How (and why) to Eat Invasive Species by chef Bun Lai in the new issue of Scientific American proposes an answer to the economic damage ($120 billion a year) that invasive species cause. Eat them. Eat the wild boar, the lionfish and Japanese knotweed. Turn them into thin-sliced hot meat drizzled with ginger, garlic,roasted sesame and sauvignon blanc soy sauce, or thinly sliced raw lionfish sprinkled with lime juice, seven kinds of crushed peppers, roasted seaweed flakes, toasted sesame seeds…

Joe Pye Weed for the Butterflies

  • Post published:08/20/2013
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Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium, is a native plant whose range extends from Texas to Maine. It can be used in perennial flower beds, or allowed to flourish on the roadside or in fields. I planted a small variety in my garden this spring, but I love the 6 foot tall 'weeds' that grow in the fields. I am not successful of getting  photographs of butterflies, but butterflies find lots of nectar in the tiny blossoms of the Joe Pye…

A Family of Gardeners – the Hollisters

  • Post published:08/17/2013
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  Kevin Hollister and his family live across the lawn and through the woods right next door to his sister Sarah Hollister. Together they share multiple gardens. Sarah has lots of vegetables for the two families, many of them growing on utilitarian or whimsical structures. Kevin hosts Tomato World and Blueberry World, dozens of trellised tomatoes of every sort, and a large patch of blueberry bushes, bent with the weight of the fruit and covered with old tobacco…

Blueberries and Raspberries, Easy, Delicious and Nutritious

  • Post published:08/04/2013
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  Blueberries and raspberries  are easy food crops that can save you money and are amazingly nutritious. Berries are expensive in the market because they require so much labor to pick, are perishable and need to be shipped quickly. Yet it does not take much time or trouble to go out a pick enough for a family. Blueberries I think blueberries are about the easiest berry to grow. Blueberries are hardy, a native plant that loves our acid…

The Fairy – Rose of the Day

  • Post published:07/07/2013
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You might think The Fairy to be a fragile pink rose, but in the 1960 Roses of Yesterday and Today catalog this sturdy polyantha is described as 'unexcelled for vigor, spreading growth, perfect health and hardiness, and its superability to produce those charming pink rosette type blossoms in constant abundance, - each a fair flower, crisp and waxen like a pink sea shell." The Fairy has proved herself to be a stalwart star of my mixed border for the…