BILOWZ ASSOCIATES INC. is an award winning landscape architectural design firm with a proven philosophy: "Creating Design with Harmony & Balance."
Our company blog, Annie's Gardening Corner, takes a sneak peek at how we balance our own love for everything green + a place to find inspiration, garden ideas and landscape design tips.

To browse our award winning landscape design portfolios, click on our company website at WWW.BILOWZASSOCIATES.COM

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning Brain Teasers 11 30 09

To get everyone in the spirit of the season, here are a few Monday morning brain teasers to get you thinking about horticulture and the holidays. As always, it is a true and false format with the answers in tomorrow’s blog. The inspirational thought for the day is by Garrison Keillor. "A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together." Have a great Monday.

1.) The most commonly used species of evergreen used for Christmas trees in North America is the pine.

2.) Mistletoe is a parasitic plant.

3.) The Poinsettia was named after an American ambassador.

4.) The Christmas tree tradition began in Scandinavia.

5.) Sugar Plums are the dried candied fruit from the plum tree.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Practice the Obvious

From a gardening and holiday perspective, Thanksgiving is the celebration of harvest and family. But for many people, there is an ‘empty chair’ at their holiday table. They may put on a game face but the very essence of celebration make the holidays extremely difficult.

The shortness of today’s blog is because the title says it all – practice the obvious. Just the other day, I was speaking to a friend; he tragically lost his son ten years ago this December. “You’d think that the space in between would make it easier,” he said. “It doesn’t.”

To end the blog on a lighter note, here is a short poem found on the internet, which substitutes for our inspirational thought of the day. No vaccine necessary.

“Smiling is infectious,
You can catch it like the flu.
Someone smiled at me today,
And I started smiling too.”

Fill someone’s space, that empty chair with a simple flower, a smile and a kind word. I’ll see you next Monday and we’ll get back to gardening. Happy Thanksgiving.

Your smile still lights a room.
Today's blog is in memory of 1st Lieutenant Ryan Patrick Jones
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesdays with Annie 11 24 09

Only two more days left and all are eagerly waiting for the turkey to go in the oven. A short circuit blew on the stove yesterday. When you hear a pop and the fan won’t shut off, it’s not usually a good sign. Hopefully the part ships in time. There is still so much to be thankful for – relatives who might end up doing the cooking! Here are the answers from yesterday’s brain teasers.

The largest producer of cranberries in the United States is Massachusetts.
False. Wisconsin is the largest producer of cranberries. Massachusetts was the first state where cranberries were cultivated so we can take pride in something.

The cranberry is a native fruit to North America.
True. Other native fruits to North America include Blueberries and Concord Grapes.

The first settlers (Pilgrims) learned from Native Americans to fertilize corn by planting the seeds over dead fish.
True. Old tale from history class so we hope it is true. We use seaweed and fish emulsion in our garden all the time. The dogs love it.

Squash is a fruit.
True. As mentioned in last week’s blog, squash is officially a fruit. In the culinary world, we often refer to squash as a vegetable. Either way, we should have plenty of it in our diet because it is loaded with beta-carotene. It’s also tasty and if you use last week’s recipe, everyone should enjoy squash.

The first national Thanksgiving football broadcast was between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears.
True. In 1934, the Detroit Lions hosted the Chicago Bears in front of thousands of fans. The Lions lost to the Bears, 19 to 16. It was broadcast on 94 radio stations across the country. In 1956, fans viewed the game for the first time on television.

The inspirational thought for the day is by Erma Bombeck. “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.” Thank goodness for Erma Bombeck. If it was Martha Stewart, eighteen hours would suddenly become two weeks.

Photo of Martha Stewart and the Thanksgiving Turkey
Internet Photo – New York Daily News
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Morning Brain Teasers 11 23 09

Thanksgiving symbolizes celebration; a commemoration of the season’s crop. To keep in theme with the upcoming Turkey Day, the Monday morning brain teasers should test your knowledge on a few Thanksgiving facts.

Have fun. Remember, it is a true or false format and the answers are conveniently in tomorrow’s blog.

The largest producer of cranberries in the United States is Massachusetts.

The cranberry is a native fruit to North America.

The first settlers (Pilgrims) learned from Native Americans to fertilize corn by planting the seeds over dead fish.

Squash is a fruit. (Hint - You should remember this one from last week’s recipe.)

The first national Thanksgiving football broadcast was between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears.

The inspirational thought for the day is a riddle from the internet. “If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?”
Photo of cranberries from Internet
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

If the crowd is coming to your house for Thanksgiving dinner, the idea is to keep it simple. Hopefully, this week’s recipes in Annie’s Gardening Corner give you some leeway to roast the turkey and end the meal with some nice desserts. The idea is to enjoy everything about the day, including your guests.

Decorating your table should be done with simplicity. Tall vases of flowers, although pretty from afar, only add clutter for your guests and can overpower the table. You want to keep decorative features low; don’t block the view of your guests. Although you want your table to be gracefully chic, you want your guests to feel comfortable. Use some simple elements from your local farm. Small pumpkins, gourds or decorative squash scattered across the table with tiny canning jars filled with candy corn add a festive look. If you do want flowers, keep the arrangements low and use what you may still have in your own garden. You can arrange and decorate with the dried seed heads or hydrangea flowers, the tassels from your ornamental grasses and mix them with something fresh from the local florist. Small, bite-sized fruit (grapes, different types of berries, fresh figs) on the table is also a wonderful decoration and a digestive aid to help settle the belly and clear the palette.

Whatever you do, make it fun and keep it light. The inspirational thought for the day is by an unknown author. “Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel.” In other words, keep your cool and enjoy the day. You never know which relatives may show up for dinner.

Photo of Thanksgiving guests from the Internet.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rooting for Rutabaga

Are you serving the bird this year, feverishly looking for new ways to cook traditional Thanksgiving dishes? If so, here is an old Bilowz family recipe that may do the trick. This side dish uses a root vegetable, Rutabaga, often called the ‘Swede’ or Yellow turnip. Rutabaga or any turnip is considered a tad strong if served by itself. Combine this vegetable with a Thanksgiving favorite, potato and you can add a new dimension to your side dishes. You may adjust the proportions of this recipe to taste. Note: you do not want more rutabaga to potatoes. The potatoes and egg blended together give it a soft, soufflĂ© texture. Too much rutabaga will cause it to flop. This recipe serves 8 to 10 people.

Peel, cut and boil equal quantities of potatoes and rutabaga. Use approximately 3 pounds of potatoes to 1 to 3 pounds of rutabaga, about a ½ to a whole medium-sized rutabaga.
Boil separately as potatoes and rutabaga require different cooking times.
Drain, mix and mash together in a bowl.
The consistency should be creamy; no lumps please.


¼ to ½ cup of milk
1 to 2 eggs
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
You can also add ¼ to ½ cup of grated Asiago, Gouda or Swiss cheese for extra savory flavor.
Mix all together and place in an uncovered casserole dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes until it puffs up and is slightly browned.

So as we head into the frenzy of the holiday season, the inspirational thought for the day is by an anonymous chap. “Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow they may make it illegal.” I’m rooting for Rutabaga and that we keep our Thanksgiving traditions of food, family and football.
(Photo of Rutabaga from Internet)

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Squash Thanksgiving

If you are a foodie, there is no squashing this holiday. Thanksgiving is all about good eats, football and napping. Here is an easy recipe with a favorite Turkey Day vegetable - butternut squash. From a culinary standpoint, we refer to squash as a vegetable but botanically speaking, the squash is a fruit (seeds on the inside). We are always learning at Annie’s Gardening Corner.

If you didn’t plant any squash this season, you should be able to find some locally grown squash in your travels. Then make a note in your horticultural diary that this delectable winter treat finds a place in your garden next year. Squash can be a tough one to peel, although it dresses up nicely with a few basic ingredients.

Simply Sweet Butternut Squash (Recipe to taste)

Peel, core and cube one medium squash – serves six to eight people
Note: when peeling the squash, don’t just peel the skin. Peel down to the dark orange flesh. The thin, light layer under the skin can make the squash bitter.
Boil until tender, drain.
Mash by hand, leaving it slightly chunky.
1 to 2 tablespoons of Butter (not margarine)
A good glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 to 3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup to taste; measurements depend on your tolerance for sweetness. (Use the real thing – nothing with corn syrup. A substitute for maple syrup is dark brown sugar.)
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of cinnamon
Salt & Pepper to taste
If you want to make it rich and savory, add a half teaspoon of good quality chicken base. (Minors Chicken base is the real article. It’s not all salt and MSG. It’s real chicken and good restaurants use it.)
Mix and serve with all the fixings.

Leave plenty of time to enjoy company, food and football by taking Andy Rooney’s advice when tackling the Turkey Day meal. “I don't like food that's too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I'd buy a painting.” What’s the fun in Thanksgiving if lots of food and color aren’t plopped all in one plate?
(Photo of Squash 101 from Internet)
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesdays with Annie 11 17 09

Hope you are tuned in; ready for the ‘No frills’ quiz about the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Let’s get to the ALB Facts.

Asian Longhorned Beetles are a serious pest in China.
True. In China, the ALB kills hardwood trees in roadside plantings, shelterbelts and plantations. China is believed to be the source of origin for the Asian Longhorned Beetles in the United States via wood packing material used in shipments.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle has a distinctive white spot between its wing covers, near its head.
False. The Whitespotted Pine Sawyer, which has this distinctive white spot is often mistaken for Asian Longhorned Beetle. The Asian Longhorned beetle is jet-shiny black with stark white blotches and does not have this distinctive white spot near its head. The Whitespotted Pine Sawyer is a dull brown-black and also attacks a different species of trees.

The Pine tree is a host for Asian Longhorned Beetle.
False. Conifers are actually one species that the Asian Longhorned Beetle does not attack; another distinctive factor between the Whitespotted Pine Sawyer and the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Maple trees, with the exception of Japanese Maples are the hardest hit species. Other ALB host trees include Birch, Elm, Willow, Hackberry, Sycamore, London Plane, Ash, Poplar, Katsura and Silktree.

Adult Asian Longhorned Beetles emerge from the trees in May.
False. The adult beetle typically emerges in July but may be spotted in late June. If you believe you found an Asian Longhorned Beetle in May, it is most likely another type of pest. However, if you aren’t sure, it is always best to report a potential sighting or tree damage to your state’s Department of Agricultural Resources or the USDA. Taking a photo and emailing the insect or the tree damage expedites the process for these experts.

Asian Longhorned Beetles only attack weak, diseased trees.
False. These beetles will attack host trees that are healthy, one of the reasons that eradicating this beetle is of utmost importance.

Most of the ALB activity takes place in the upper canopy of the trees. Late fall to early winter, when the trees are bare is a perfect time to spot AL B damage in host trees. For any sightings in New England, you may call the toll-free number at 866-702-9938. For more information, visit the website Please note that the above facts and photographs are from this website and class handouts. If you are interested in having a trainer session in your town, you can contact the above agency to learn more about these classes.

Another Martin H. Fischer quote is appropriate for the inspirational gardening thought of the day. “All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.” As gardeners, we too should see the world this way. Annie.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Brain Teasers 11 16 09

It’s Monday morning but there are no excuses for skipping today’s blog. Every true or false brain teaser is about the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). Although some of us may be more familiar with this beetle based on our proximity to the quarantine zone in Central Massachusetts, all of us should be paying attention and looking for signs of this destructive species.

To wake you up, let’s start with the inspirational thought of the day by Martin H. Fischer, which may sound cheeky but true in the case of learning about the Asian Longhorned Beetles. “I find four great classes of students: The dumb who stay dumb. The dumb who become wise. The wise who go dumb. The wise who remain wise.” All of us, no matter what region or state we live in must be vigilant about spotting this devastating pest, even if you think you aren’t in the hot zone.

Asian Longhorned Beetles are a serious pest in China.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle has a distinctive white spot between its wing covers, near its head.

The Pine tree is a host for Asian Longhorned Beetle.

Adult Asian Longhorned Beetles emerge from the trees in May.

Asian Longhorned Beetles only attack weak, diseased trees.

Many of the ALB sightings have been detected by citizens, not by trained professionals. Basic facts about hosts, life cycles and identification of any insect make for a wise gardener.Early detection of these nasty pests is crucial to keeping our forests, gardens and neighborhoods healthy and safe from infestations. Enjoy this beautiful stretch of sunshine coming our way and check tomorrow’s blog for the Asian Longhorned Beetle answers and additional information on this destructive pest.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Spearmint – The Secret Ingredient

Everything good in life has a secret ingredient. Take my mother’s meatballs. Her secret ingredient is spearmint mixed with fresh Romano cheese, Italian bread, egg, hamburger, garlic, plus a dash of salt and pepper. She forms the rounded balls and cooks them in heated olive oil until glazed with a crispy flavor. Her sauce has its own secret ingredients but if you add a little love, garlic and dried spearmint you might be headed in the right direction.

If you grew up in an Italian household, you can understand the importance of food and family. Italian women cook enough food to feed an army but anxiously worry if there is enough to go around. That is the death of an Italian – to run out of food. Shame is said to fall on your name for light years until you are reincarnated seven times over to forgive you for the sin of all sins.

The spearmint growing in my garden came from my grandmother. Dried each year by my family members, it is savored on those winter nights when spaghetti and meatballs are as soothing as a warm fire or a pot of freshly brewed tea.

With this weekend’s weather predictions, it is the perfect time to be Italian. Conjure up a pot of meatballs and sauce and try my mother’s secret ingredient - spearmint. If you don’t have any dried mint (I recommended drying it in a summer blog) then add it to your horticultural diary under ‘Herbs to grow next spring’. You do want to contain it because it can take over your garden.

This week’s gardening blog ends with an inspirational quote from Hippocrates. “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” For Italians, life revolves around food and family. But for those who appreciate a bit of sarcasm as we head into the weekend, here is one from Archie Bunker. “A four-letter Italian word for good-bye...BANG.” Ciao!
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Knot

With the holidays and the colder weather nipping at our heels, the garden becomes secondary. Our focus shifts to other pressing matters and our garden efforts are soon forgotten. In the quiet moments of late fall, take some time to reflect on the growing season. Think of your successes and failures while fresh in mind. Learn by them. Don’t toss in the shovel.

If you haven’t done it, grab a notebook or your laptop and jot down tidbits of gardening information. Look back at previous blog entries from Annie’s Gardening Corner. Create a horticultural scrapbook, including images collected in your travels. Make a list of the vegetables you want to grow next season. Clip out recipes that might encourage you to plant new crops. Research the splashy flowers you want to add in your border and notate what is required for those plants to thrive.

When your garden goes to sleep, you see it at its simplest form. Spend time reflecting in your garden; it is dynamic and forever changing. Guide it in the right direction.

Today’s inspirational thought for the day is by Peter Drucker, considered to be one of the top management thinkers of his time. “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” In other words, said so eloquently by Kathryn Carpenter, “Don't get your knickers in a knot. Nothing is solved and it just makes you walk funny.”

Words of Advice from Cokie - Reflect on Your Garden
Photo by Greg Bilowz
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Late Bloomer

A little tidbit of flower history: On November 11, 1790, Chrysanthemums were introduced into England from China. Shortly after, this popular flower was introduced to the United States. Chrysanthemums are noted in Chinese writings as far back as the 15th Century B.C., which indicates a hardy plant in my book. According to the National Chrysanthemum Society, “In the United States, the chrysanthemum is the largest commercially produced flower due to its ease of cultivation, capability to bloom on schedule, diversity of bloom forms and colors, and holding quality of the blooms.”

If you are a follower of Annie’s Gardening Corner, you already know that the Chrysanthemum is the November Birth flower. This is one of the last flowering plants to see blooming in your garden. A favorite pick, Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ is a tough, drought-tolerant variety with soft peach to pink flowers late in the season. When planting ‘Sheffield Pink’, give it plenty of elbow room because it does spread.

On this 11th day of November 2009, the inspirational quote of the day is by G.B. Stern. “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” Thank You – two words making all the difference in someone’s life. Remember to thank our Veterans.


Photo of Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ from the website.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesdays with Annie – 11 10 09

A quick gardening tip as we head into another seasonable November day. Check your newly planted shrubs and perennials for soil moisture. As the temperatures fluctuate from mild to chilly, make sure your plants are not thirsty before the ground freezes. Now onto the answers from the Monday morning brain teasers.

The Arnold Arboretum is the oldest public arboretum in North America.
True. The Arnold Arboretum is a must for plant enthusiasts and a great way to spend an afternoon.

The Spirea (i.e., Bridal Wreath Spirea) is a member of the Periwinkle Family.
False. The Spirea is a member of the Rose (Rosaceae) family. This tough, durable woody shrub comes in old-fashion varieties like ‘Bridal Wreath’ and newly developed compact favorites.

Parsnips were used as a starch in diets prior to potatoes.
True. Back in those colonial days when potatoes were thought to be poisonous, parsnips provided starch in one’s diet. A tip about parsnips: to make them sweet, cool weather is required to convert the starch to sugar.

A rival football championship game kicked off the first Tournament of Roses, which took place in 1890.
False. It wasn’t until 1902 that football was introduced to the tournament. Those hardy souls from colder climates discovered the mild Pasadena weather and wanted to show off their blooming flowers. This kicked off the official start of the Tournament of Roses. If you love football and flowers, you are one lucky bug.

In Europe, Hens and Chickens (Sempervivium tectorum) were planted in thatched roofs to protect the house from a lightning fire.
True. This plant, indigenous to Europe was planted on thatched roofs for protection from lightning fires. This succulent doesn’t like its feet wet but the theory on fire protection may not meet today’s house insurance standards.

If anyone was paying attention yesterday, I inadvertently left out the ‘n’ in lightning. My editor was out sick. Oh, the editor is me, which brings us to the inspirational gardening thought of the day by Vita Sackville-West. "The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before."

Enjoy the weather while it lasts. Annie
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Morning Brain Teasers – 11 09 09

Keeping in tune with the garden pop quiz, True or False format in Monday’s blog, here are five statements to ponder on this beautiful November morning. As always, the answers are in tomorrow’s ‘Tuesdays with Annie’ but why wait. Test and expand your knowledge.

To encourage you to think, let’s start with an inspirational quote by Pablo Picasso, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” In other words, don’t look up the information the easy way. I do encourage sitting down with something ancient - a hard-covered book. If you wade through the text and images, you might be inspired or learn something else about gardening.

Winter project – build on your own garden book library. Check out used book stores and flea markets. You’re bound to find a few gems for very little coin.

* The Arnold Arboretum is the oldest public arboretum in North America.

* The Spirea (i.e., Bridal Wreath Spirea) is a member of the Periwinkle Family.

* Parsnips were used as a starch in diets prior to potatoes.

* A rival football championship game kicked off the first Tournament of Roses, which took place in 1890.

* In Europe, Hens and Chickens (Sempervivium tectorum) were planted in thatched roofs to protect the house from a lightning fire.

The inspirational gardening thought for the day is a Chinese Proverb. “One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”I like Chinese proverbs. It’s like opening up your fortune cookie without all the greasy food.
Hens and Chickens (Sempervivium tectorum) growing in our wall (10/29/09)
Photo taken by Greg Bilowz
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Last Minute Fall Shopping List

Turning your multi-colored planters and clay pots upside down in the garden shed is like putting away the holiday decorations. There is a slight tugging at the heart that the season is over. Looking for a creative solution to display your pots and add inside winter color? Plant some bulbs. Now is the time to purchase a sampling of the many choices available. Get ready to design your own indoor garden to beat the winter blues.

For your shopping list, here are the types of bulbs that do well indoors:

Crocuses: Use 8-10” pot with 9 to 15 bulbs per pot; varies on size of crocus bulb.
Paperwhite Narcissus: Use 10-12” pot with 5 to 7 bulbs per pot.
Miniature Narcissus: Use 8-10 “pot with 9 to 12 bulbs per pot.
Hyacinths: Use 10-12 “pot with five bulbs per pot. Hyacinths are extremely fragrant; good for a large office or room.
Amaryllis: Use 10" pot with one per pot – if you use a 12-15” pot, you can put three bulbs. If you want to have fun, you can get a flat and force nine bulbs in a flat.
Low-growing to medium size tulips: Use 10-12” pot with 7 to 9 bulbs per pot. Position the flat side of the tulip (not the bottom) to face the outside of the pot.
Miniature Iris bulbs: Use 8-10” pot with 5 bulbs per pot. Space approximately an inch apart.
Grape Hyacinths: Use 8-10” pot with 15 to 20 bulbs per pot.

Some of these bulbs are grown in potting soil; others are planted in pea stone. This is a great time to purchase your bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place. A general planting note to keep in mind - you can position bulbs so they are almost touching each other. They don’t require tons of planting space with the exception of miniature Irises. Later in the season, a follow-up blog will go into detail on how to plant and force them.

So to end another horticultural hodge-podge week of Annie’s Gardening Corner, the inspirational gardening thought of the day is by Georgia O’Keefe. “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.” Turn off the news and spend this weekend looking at the remaining flowers in your garden and don’t forget to order your bulbs for indoor winter interest.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Makings of Garden Happiness

According to an old Chinese Saying, “If you want to be happy for a short time, get drunk; happy for a long time, fall in love; happy forever, take up gardening.” That’s it. My blog is done for the day. What else were you looking for?

Each weekday morning, that is my goal – to inspire the least of the inspired gardeners. I guess I like fixer-uppers. Add a little elbow grease, well-honed tools and helpful hints and out of nowhere, a gardener appears; the next happy Joe digging in the dirt.

With that said, just because it’s November, I’m game to find inspiration in my own garden to keep you cheerful and focused on the best therapy available – gardening. Today I won’t give you nitty-gritty details – I’ll just share easy ways to find garden happiness even in November. Plant grasses. Not the green stuff that requires mowing. I’m talking about the tall, elongated ornamental grasses that sway and dance in the November air. Great for any location, tough and durable, grasses are easy to plant and maintain for even the novice. No excuses. Even in the winter months, ornamental grass is that one plant that keeps on giving.

And don’t think you’re off the hook when it’s snowing. There are plenty of indoor gardening tasks if you are up for the challenge. Some fall ornamental grass photos taken by Greg to get you inspired on this cloudy November morning. It’s time for a second pot of coffee. Stay warm. Annie

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Single Rose that Lit My Garden

At this time of year, you have to search for beauty in your garden. Under little pockets of leaves or flopped masses of foliage, you can often discover colorful moments. I must admit, there are certain plants I love because of low maintenance. Roses don’t typically fall into that category. Lots of insects and diseases love roses. With such fierce competition from nature, roses are often one of those plants you say, “Never mind.” But we always make room for exceptions.

We position roses as accent pieces; individually planted and strategically located within our borders. Each rose in our garden is chosen for exceptional color and impact. If the rose is taken out by some pest or disease, it doesn’t tend to offset the composition. Another more reliable plant can easily replace the rose. The rule of thumb when planting any delicate, sensitive, marginally hardy or susceptible plant; use only one specimen and position it strategically for impact.

This year when we were buzzing around Russell’s Garden Center, the Rose ‘Light My Fire’ by Jackson & Perkins™ stood out amongst a myriad of container roses. With over 150 various selections to choose from, this rose’s brilliant color and dark foliage caught my attention. It went in the cart despite any cultural questions. It was love at first sight.

You have to search for this floribunda rose. Don’t look in the big box stores. And if you happen to see it, grab it. This winter, look online and order bare root stock or make sure you get into the nurseries early in the season. Another favorite Jackson & Perkins™ floribunda Rose difficult to locate in the garden centers is ‘Hot Cocoa’. This rich-colored rose is hard to describe. If you see it, don’t pass it over. Its unique ruby-red blossom with deep purple to chocolate hues is absolutely stunning. Go directly to the Jackson and Perkins website for oodles of information at

The Rose ‘Light My Fire’ has not disappointed me. Just last week during fall clean-up, a single rose lit my garden. No pests, no Japanese beetles munching its leaves, just enough light and dew to make the moment special. To quote one of my favorite inspirational speakers, Leo F. Buscaglia, “A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world.” Leo was one of those passionate Italians that loved everything in life and made everything worth loving. Have a great Wednesday - find something in your garden that lights up your day. Annie

P.S. Photo of 'Light My Fire' - By Greg Bilowz

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesdays with Annie – 11 03 09

The November Birth Flower - The Chrysanthemum
Photo by Greg Bilowz

Many of you may be off to the voting booths early this morning but I hope you can sneak in Tuesdays with Annie. As always, your choices are true or false. I failed to put that in yesterday’s blog. Were you paying attention?

The November Birth Flower is the Rose.
The Chrysanthemum, a favorite in the fall garden is the November birth flower. But for any of you who love roses, tomorrow’s blog may be on that subject.

One of the most abundant nutrients in winter squash is beta-carotene.
If you didn’t plant winter squash this year, make sure you find a spot in your garden come spring. We all need those important nutrients to stay strong and healthy gardeners.

Honey was the most popular sweetener in New England until the late 1800s.
Until honey bees were brought over, maple sugar was the popular sweetener. Even after refined sugar had been introduced, maple syrup continued to be the choice sweetener for New Englanders for quite some time. What do you have on your pancakes?

Peonies are a long-lived perennial.
Peonies, one of the tried and true perennials can live an extremely long life and gain considerable size. Some of the peonies in my garden are from my grandmother. This perennial should always be transplanted in the fall. Be sure to set them at the right height.

Russia is the largest garlic producer in the world.
China is the largest producer of garlic, although Russia still produces more garlic than the United States. Hope you planted your cloves this weekend.

In the spirit of Election Day, the inspirational gardening thought is brought to us by James Bovard. “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” Enjoy the day. Annie

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Brain Teasers – 11 02 09

As the head honcho of our gardens, November is the month for evaluation and final preparation. We need to make sure all the necessary precautions are in place to assure that all is well next spring. Go back and review any tips from past blogs, ask questions and make comments.

Remember, as gardeners, most are a crotchety but thankful lot. And November is the time to be thankful: for our democracy, our veterans and our families. Vote on Election Day, be thankful for our veterans on November 11th and share our gardens’ bounty on Thanksgiving.

So, if you are still crotchety because of the time change (great in the AM, not so in the PM) then I’ll rouse the nest with Annie’s Monday morning brain teasers. Take a guess; waiting for tomorrow’s answers does not increase your chance of learning.

1) The November Birth Flower is the Rose.

2) One of the most abundant nutrients in winter squash is beta-carotene.

3) Honey was the most popular sweetener in New England until the late 1800s.

4) Peonies are a long-lived perennial.

5) Russia is the largest garlic producer in the world.

Today’s inspirational gardening thought of the day is from Cyril Connolly. “Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils.” It’s the best I could find – most folks look at November as a bummer month. Extra points if you can top the quote!

Photos - Greg Bilowz

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© 2009

© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)