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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Life Moves Fast

With wind chill numbers at -14 this morning, you might be tempted to stay under the covers. But if the heart is ticking and there are no aches, pains or sniffles, why let a sunny New England winter day slip by? As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So today I pay tribute to the man that opened my eyes to the world of nature and its many wonders. Even though Monday, February 1st, 2010 will mark the two-year anniversary of my Dad’s passing, I would rather tell you today about this ordinary man, usually found with a tool or a shovel in his hand, ready to build or garden in his spare time. My Dad had a passion for gardening. For all that knew him, he spent hours screening the loam, removing every rock or twig. He created mulch piles higher than the treetops from leaves and grass clippings. And transplanting - that was an everyday occurrence. Big trees, small plants; nothing was stationery in the garden. He loved to spread its beauty around. Simple garden chores many of us dread yet he treasured every minute spent in his yard.

He also loved to explore this fine country of ours, packing picnics or the camper for road trips, depending on the time of year. These were his simple ways to discover the beauty of it all but never once did he underestimate its importance. It made those moments spent toiling in the garden even more special to him. My dad got it. He understood what Ferris Bueller meant by, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If you don’t love gardening, if you don’t love the earth, you are missing out on something really big! My hope is that you get it when you read my blog everyday. Have a great weekend. Annie

Photo of Dad & Annie - September 21, 1991

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Wise Old Bird

There is something magical about evening in the winter garden. Nocturnal predators are often present but go unseen. Last night, maybe it was the moon or the recent snow melt that brought this wise old bird to nest in our trees. Maybe it was a sign of wisdom and prosperity to come.

Fortunately, even though we don’t encourage birds with processed food or different types of manufactured habitats, we often see wonderful bird sightings. We frequently have bluebirds even though 4 boxes remain in the shed, waiting to be positioned in the appropriate locations. Last night’s owl sighting was one of those spontaneous moments that nature bestows upon you.
When there is no foliage and things are quiet, you are more apt to see wildlife activity.

The inspirational thought of the day is by an unknown poet who obviously respected this bird of prey. “A wise old owl sat on an oak; the more he saw the less he spoke; the less he spoke the more he heard; why aren't we like that wise old bird?”

Image of owl from the internet
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Worth of Water

California’s San Joaquin River Delta, one of the most productive farm areas in the west witnessed its fertile farms turn to dust, brought to a screeching halt. Recent rains in California could alleviate the drought situation but it hasn’t removed the ecological concern still threatening this vast food resource. Approximately a year ago, federal judges ordered limitations on irrigation water supplied to farmers because of an endangered fish species in the river. When the federal government turned off the water source to these farmers, this area suffered tremendously. There was a significant loss of jobs and its farming operations could no longer produce crops.

As stewards of the land, gardeners should be concerned about all areas of the country that provide our food, not just our own backyards. We should be paying attention to the reasons why this is happening and to seek a balance for these farmers.

As we wait patiently for our own gardens to thaw and plan for our upcoming growing season, think about your current food source. Whether you buy locally or at a grocery store, it is important to think about where it is grown. Last year, while on the Big Island of Hawaii, a startling point was made to us by a flower producer and local farmer. He stated that thirty years ago, the people of the Big Island produced 85- 90% of their own food. Now, the numbers have flip-flopped and if something occurred on the island, only a three-day surplus is available.

This is food for thought on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010. Be concerned and pay attention. Be stewards of the land and find the balance that can sustain our food resources, not destroy them. The inspirational thought of the day is by Benjamin Franklin. “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”
Photo by Greg Bilowz
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesdays with Annie 1 26 10

What a Tuesday morning – we get answers from Monday’s brain teasers after experiencing a true January thaw. Yesterday’s mild temperatures and heavy rains melted most of the snow; enough to give us a glimpse of our gardens and a spring in our step. But do be careful. There are still patches of ice on the grass and Old Man Winter still has a few more months to fool with the New England weather. So make sure everything fragile still stays protected from the cold.

The carnation is the January birth flower. True. Carnations come in all different varieties: annuals, biennials and perennials. Annuals are the most popular of the carnations. A flower of choice for bouquets and boutonnieres due to its low cost – recession proof!

Carnations originated in Eastern Europe. False. The Carnation, one of the world’s oldest cultivated flowers dates back to the ancient Greek and Roman times and is said to have originated in the Near East.

The Scarlet Carnation is the state flower of Ohio. True. This flower was chosen to honor President William McKinley, who was often seen wearing this carnation.

At Harvard University, it is customary to wear a carnation to an exam. False. It is customary to wear a carnation to an exam at Oxford University. There are different colors worn to each exam throughout the year. A bit obsessive but good for the flower industry.

Pink Carnations are said to be a symbol of a husband’s undying love. False. The belief that carnations first appeared on earth from the Virgin Mary’s tears make this flower the symbol of a mother’s undying love. However, carnations are also the ‘1st wedding anniversary’ flower so we could interpret that this is the year when a husband has undying love. It’s all downhill after that. As Helen Rowland once quoted, “To be happy with a man you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.” Have a great Tuesday and surprise your wife with carnations. Annie leaves hints everywhere.

Photo by Greg Bilowz
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Morning Brain Teasers 1 25 10

Even on this foggy, soggy January morning, there is still time to have fun with the true or false brain teasers. As always, the answers are in tomorrow’s post – a reason to celebrate Tuesdays with Annie. Have a great Monday and stay dry. The inspirational thought for the day is by Eugene Ionesco Decouvertes. “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”

The carnation is the January birth flower.

Carnations originated in Eastern Europe.

The scarlet Carnation is the state flower of Ohio.

At Harvard University, it is customary to wear a carnation to an exam.

Pink Carnations are said to be a symbol of a husband’s undying love.

Photo by Greg Bilowz
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Travels Broaden the Garden Spectrum

Moab, Utah - Photo By Greg Bilowz

Home - Photo by Greg Bilowz
New Englanders are infamous for packing their bags and hitting the road during the winter months. Whether you visit the slopes, the islands or the desert, elements in the landscape are worth paying attention to and placing them in your memory bank. What is your favorite place in the winter? It doesn’t have to be far away. What scenery and landscape brings you the most inspiration for your garden? What are the elements that make it special?

Even if you travel to the grocery store, opening your eyes to take notice can help you determine what matters in your own garden. During the winter months, the air is dry and the skies are an intense blue. Look at what pops. Be it trees, structural elements or simply the architecture and style of someone’s house. What makes it stand out?

Tell me your favorite place to visit and what makes it special. Chances are there is an element that draws you to a particular location, besides the obvious. One of Annie’s favorite places is the Southwest. Look at both photos and you’ll see that vistas are an important element to Annie’s landscape.

The inspirational gardening thought of the day is by Marcel Proust. ““The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Winter Red

Interesting texture, bark and structure are important to your winter garden but when you find a shocking red color, now that’s wow for backdrop. The Cornus sanguinea 'Winter Flame' (common names are blood twig or red twig Dogwood) offers that bright, red bark that intensifies in the winter sun. This variety displays red, orange, yellow and pink variations in its stem color, which creates a flame effect. Hence, its name: ‘Winter Flame’.

In Annie’s book, this is one of the most stunning winter interest shrubs you can add to your garden repertoire. It is the combination of all the best colorful stemmed dogwoods. To convince you of its unique color tones and characteristics, here is a fall foliage and winter shot.

Winter Flame is hardy to zone 5 although severe winters can cause some tip damage to the shrub. As the plant matures, the bark becomes fairly subdued in color. To maintain the best effect, periodic pruning called coppicing removes old wood and generates a new flush of vibrant colored stems. Caution - use a slightly lighter hand typical of coppicing practices. Don’t remove all the stems in one year. Alternate the pruning of stems over a three to four year period. This shrub does like a moist location and can be used as a specimen or in mass plantings with blueberries and winterberry. Plant in front of an evergreen to show off its red bark; it is all in what you want to see when you plan your winter garden.

The inspirational thought of the day is by Abraham Lincoln. “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
Photos by Greg Bilowz
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Under the Winter Cloak

Notice the recent winter snows that drape graciously on our garden’s trees. Remember the tidbit of information in this week’s brain teaser. It is best when heavy winter snows accumulate on a tree’s branches, that you leave it be. Let nature take its course. Be patient and enjoy the beauty of the snow. The inspirational thought for the day is by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, The Wisdom of the Sands, translated from French by Stuart Gilbert. “The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky.”
Photos by Greg Bilowz
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesdays with Annie 01 19 10

Today is a busy day in Massachusetts. And although snow is falling outside, it is important that after you get your answers to yesterday’s brain teasers, that you make your way to the voting booth. The inspirational thought of the day is by Mahatma Gandhi. “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

1. There are two times of the year when the actual average temperatures significantly differ in North America. True. The two times of the year that these temperature changes occur are mid-autumn, when temperatures provide us with extended warmth called ‘Indian Summer’ and in late January, when unexplained temperatures rise in mid-winter. This is referred to as the ‘January thaw.’

2. It is a good practice to remove accumulated snow from tree limbs. False. It is not considered good practice to remove accumulated snow, specifically heavy, wet snow from tree limbs. People tend to do more damage to the plant in an effort to remove it. It is best left alone as you can cause more stress to the plant.

3. The flower meaning for a Zinnia is freedom, good perspective. False. The flower meaning for freedom and good perspective is the Bird of Paradise.

4. Rhubarb was introduced to growers in Massachusetts by an unnamed Maine gardener. True. If early records of rhubarb are true, it states an unnamed Maine gardener was the first to obtain seed or root stock from Europe. When introduced to growers in Massachusetts, its popularity spread and was sold in produce markets.

5. Asparagus can be harvested in its first planting season. False. Asparagus must be planted in the ground three years before it can be harvested. An asparagus plant will typically produce for 8 to 12 years.

Heavy winter snows on a 'Donald Wyman' Crabapple - Photo By Greg Bilowz
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Morning Brain Teasers 01 18 10

When you have snow and a holiday combined in one, it is a perfect winter Monday in New England. But if you were thinking about sleeping in, the Monday morning brain teasers are still on simmer; waiting for you to test your knowledge. The true and false answers are in tomorrow’s blog – Tuesdays with Annie.

1) There are two times of the year when the actual average temperatures significantly differ in North America.
2) It is a good practice to remove accumulated snow from tree limbs.
3) The flower Zinnia symbolizes freedom and good perspective.
4) Rhubarb was introduced to growers in Massachusetts by an unnamed Maine gardener.
5) Asparagus can be harvested in its first planting season.

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Day, it is fitting to have his words be the inspirational thought for the day. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Check for the answers tomorrow and if you live in Massachusetts, don’t forget to vote.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Would the Real Gardeners Please Stand Up?

Many of you are probably sitting down and wondering, what’s up Annie’s sleeve on Friday morning. You may be saying, “What does she mean? Would the real gardeners please stand up?”

Most would consider themselves a real gardener should they grow their own vegetables and/or flowers. Others would jump in, listing their winter seed orders or quoting the latest and greatest perennials. But there is more to being a real gardener then just horticultural knowledge or designing your borders; it’s about attitude. Real gardeners are always open-minded and inspirational in every aspect of life. Real gardeners test and experiment in the heat of the summer; they question new ideas in the midst of the winter but they never do it with negativity or bad energy. They share and are aware; always willing to look at all methods of madness even if they disagree with the particular habits of others.

Real gardeners know that plants and people are both living things. There is an appreciation of and awareness that plants are interconnected. Therefore, you have to nurture and tend to a garden as you would those that you encounter on your gardening path of life. So if you did not heed the inspirational thought of the day, a simple Japanese proverb in Monday’s blog, “one kind word can warm three winter months” then maybe you can apply this one from Mother Teresa. “Spread love everywhere you go: First of all in your own house... let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness.” Would the real gardeners please stand up?
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

True to Your Own Nature

Today’s blog is a short one. It is a reminder that we have a limited pot time in this world as we watch in horror at the power of nature and its devastation in Haiti. To anyone who is awaiting news on their loved ones, our prayers and hearts are extended to you. And to those that toiled beside the Haitians to promote agriculture and to better their way of life, we salute you. The inspirational thought of the day is by Abraham Maslow. “Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves. What human beings can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature.” Annie’s message today is to be what you must be; don’t follow the gravy train. Do what is in your heart. Don’t ignore your calling.

Physical Facts from Haiti occupies 10,700 square miles (almost the same as Massachusetts) on the western third of the island of Hispaniola. It is bordered on the east by the Dominican Republic. The capital and largest city is Port-au-Prince. Current population is close to 8 million, or roughly the same as Georgia, but occupying less than one-fifth the area of that state. It is located close to us in the Caribbean, only a two hour flight from Miami, Florida.

A significant number of trees have been cut down, mostly to make charcoal for cooking. During major storms, huge mudslides often wash away entire villages, and the erosion on Haiti's hillsides makes more than half the territory difficult to use for agricultural activities. The threat of flash floods is constant. There is a continuing movement of people from the agrarian lifestyle of the countryside to presumed opportunities awaiting in the city.

Image of Haiti - from

Annie's Gardening Corner can be found at our website under blog
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In the Depth of Winter

A quick snippet for a cold, January morning – there is no doubt we are immersed in the big chill. As most hibernate to the recliner, perusing a high-quality garden book or magazine next to the fire is a plant geek’s winter delight. There are many books; Annie’s recommendation is reviewing the latest literature on winter gardens. ‘Wonders of the Winter Landscape -Shrubs and Trees to Brighten the Cold-Weather Gardens’ by Vincent A. Simeone is worth a look. This author is also speaking at the upcoming Cape Cod Horticultural Conference on Saturday, April 17, 2010. Last year’s conference included Bill Cullina and Alan Armitage. They entertained and provided extensive knowledge and ideas to the many master gardeners in the audience.

Plan your calendar and attend a few of the many classes and lectures in your surrounding area. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn and rub elbows with those that share a common passion. Contact the Cape Cod Extension for more information on this year’s conference at or by calling (508) 375-6690. Another great resource for finding out about the latest garden events and lectures in the Boston area is to visit, where Hilda does an excellent job listing what is happening in the gardening world.

As you are curled up on the recliner, reading and planning your winter garden, remember Albert Camus’s inspirational thought of the day. "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
P.S. Please note that Annie's Gardening Corner can be found at our website under blog
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesdays with Annie 11 12 2010

Tuesdays with Annie is the mini-version of ‘Jeopardy’ for gardeners. Every Tuesday, you get the answers from Monday’s brain teasers to increase your awareness and open your mind to the art and science of horticulture and design. You are always welcome to send your feedback, thoughts and comments.

For those of you who remembered to look, the one, consistent letter throughout yesterday’s brain teasers – O! It’s a constant trying to figure out how to mix it up and make it fun so today’s inspirational thought may require a little thinking. “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” ~ Niels Bohr

1) Orchids prefer a variation of moisture conditions from wet periods to a gradually drying period. True. Orchids you grow in your home should have a regular watering schedule. If you received an orchid for a present this holiday season, research your particular orchid for its moisture requirements. Most orchids like to be very wet and then get very dry. Check the moisture in your plant prior to watering. If it's too wet, don't water it. Orchids that grow outside thrive in climates where it rains for days and then gradually dries until the same process is repeated again.

2) Onions are often used in science education. True. The tissue from onions has particularly large cells; easy to see, which is probably the reason why people often say there are several layers to an onion.

3) Onions should be stored in the refrigerator. Trick question. Onions like a cool, dry, ventilated place and store best with proper air movement but don’t keep in the refrigerator. The reason why it is a trick question is because once you chop or slice an onion, you can then store it in a sealed container in your refrigerator, keeping the remaining onion from drying out.

4) An Oak is a tree or shrub in the beech family (Fagaceae.) True. An oak is part of the Fagaceae (beech) family. The genus for Oak is Quercus. When you visit nurseries, get in the habit of reading the tags. For example, the genus is first (Quercus); species (bicolor) is second in lower case. The common name for a Quercus bicolor is Swamp white oak.

5) Olive trees are not drought tolerant and do not live long lives. False. Quite the contrary – olive trees are hardy, drought tolerant and fire-resistant. Its fruit (olives and olive oil) are a staple used in our kitchen that without it on our shelves, cooking would cease and desist.

Last thought from an unknown source: “If you must cry over spilled milk then please try to condense it.” Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Morning Brain Teasers 01 11 2010

Violets are red, roses are blue…just checking to see if you are awake this morning. There is always a possibility with new cultivars and plant development that maybe we do have red violets and blue roses out there somewhere. Monday morning brain teasers are a true and false format so grab your cup of coffee and let’s get those brain neurons moving.

1) Orchids prefer a variation of moisture conditions from wet periods to a gradual drying period.

2) Onions are often used in science education.

3) Onions should be stored in the refrigerator.

4) An oak is a tree or shrub in the beech family (Fagaceae).

5) Olive trees are not drought tolerant and do not live long lives.

What is the one, consistent letter throughout the brain teasers? For those who guessed the letter, an A+ for being on the ball. The inspirational thought for the day is a simple Japanese Proverb to start your week. “One kind word can warm three winter months.”
An Orchid shot from Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Papaikou, HI – Photo by Greg Bilowz
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Friday, January 8, 2010

All Quiet on the Garden Front

As we glide into another winter weekend, one may think of January as a month with no garden chores. And although it can seem the quietest of the garden calendar, there is still much to do in this season of planning and preparation.

With extreme cold temperatures predicted in New England this weekend, we should be happy for the snow protecting our fragile plants. We should also get cranking on our vegetable orders. Even if you don’t have your entire list sorted out, there are a few items you should reserve now. Onions sets, seed potatoes and garlic heads to name a few are typically in limited supply. If you wait too long, you may be buying these particular veggies at the store rather than having the pleasure of growing them in your own garden.

This weekend is a perfect time to peruse your seed and plant catalogs. If you aren’t already on a mailing list, get on one. The inspirational thought for the day is by Hal Borland. "There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues."

P.S. Annie also thinks January is a great month to cook. Here is an easy pesto recipe for those that stashed some away for the winter months. It is from Mark Bittman, ‘How to Cook Everything.’ Two simple ingredients required.

Cook one cup of rice (the standard recipe). Once rice is done, gently fold in a ¼ cup of pesto. Recipe complete; unless of course you would like some grated Romano cheese. You can even drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to give it a fruity flavor. Do not fold in the olive oil. Garnish when served on plate. It is a wonderful accompaniment to anything cooked on the grill. Real gardeners grill all year. Have a great weekend. Annie
(Image of a Gardener's Calendar from the internet)
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow is Your Blank Slate

When one has but a blank slate, anything can be created and one must use this winter snow to imagine the garden as an empty canvas. As your entire landscape is covered in white, pick your favorite viewpoint and see what is there right now. Ask yourself these many questions. Does your garden offer any winter interest? Do you have a specimen tree with interesting bark or boulders, stone walls and other sculptural features that stand out against the white backdrop?

Have you forgotten the colors of your perennials as they bloomed in your borders? Was it early to mid-spring or was it late summer? Where are the seasonal color and bloom gaps?

Do you remember the rows in which your tomatoes were planted? Will you have room to rotate new crops as a good farmer knows you must do? Are there new vegetables you want to plant this year? Do you have any room to expand?

When do you spend the most time at your favorite viewpoint? Is it year-round or seasonal? Has nature (a storm, the wind patterns etc.) changed the micro-climate of your home? Notice the sun and the wind. Are there viewpoints in your landscape that you have not yet enhanced or found?

Today’s inspirational thought of the day is by an English sportsman and writer, Charles Caleb Colton. “Ignorance is a blank sheet, on which we may write; but error is a scribbled one, on which we must first erase.” Use the wintertime to address your landscape as though it were a blank sheet and should there be any scribbles from previous years, correct them. Happy designing! Annie

Image of anywhere - Snow scene from the Internet
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Think ‘Snow’ in Your Garden

Gardeners must be tenacious and ready to tackle the worst of conditions. Wintertime could be seen as a difficult phase for this crusty lot but if you look at all the common names that include the word ‘snow’, it becomes obvious that ‘real gardeners’ are downright hardy folks. Here are a few plants to get you thinking about spring while snow blankets our borders.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ is described by Michael Dirr “as the most beautiful of the sterile flowered-forms.” This special Oakleaf Hydrangea offers summertime interest. Its stunning white blossoms and sculptural, coarse-textured foliage have beautiful fall color and interesting cinnamon-toned exfoliating bark. This is a good companion plant for a River Birch in your winter garden and is hardy to Zones 5 through 9.

Galanthus nivalis, usually known as the Common Snowdrop, is a member of the Amaryllis family and one of the earliest flowering bulbs to emerge in the spring. Its low-growth habit makes it a nice groundcover bulb.

Trillium grandiflorum, Snow Trillium is a low-growing woodland wildflower. It is part of the lily family and likes afternoon shade and moist soil. This plant blooms in early spring and is one of those plants that can be slow to cultivate. Bees, ants and even chipmunks help in this plant’s pollination process. Do not deadhead flowers; let nature do its job. Seeing a trillium in bloom during a walk in the woods is a rare treat.

Cerastium tomentosum, Snow-In-Summer, is an old-fashioned sturdy perennial; great for rock gardens or for planting the nooks and crannies of walls or boulders. It is perfect for a full-sun, hot, dry location. This ground-hugging perennial with its silver foliage is as much of a feature as its tiny white flowers.

Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’ x. ‘Snow Fountains’, Weeping Snow Fountains Cherry is a dwarf-flowering cherry tree with cascading branches that touch the ground. When covered with white blossoms in the spring, it creates a fountain-like appearance. Although the show can be short-lived, it is well worth it.
Heuchera sanguinea 'Snow Angel' is another perfect perennial that thrives even in coastal conditions. This plant can handle dry shade and is great for borders. Its foliage offers an unusual texture; something gardeners always seek when selecting plants. It is also a very long-lived perennial. You may even be lucky enough to see butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering around its pink flowers.
So in perfect harmony, the inspirational thought for the day is by an unknown chap with the right attitude. “When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.” Enjoy your Wednesday. Sorry the post is late. I was outside making snow angels! Annie

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesdays with Annie 01 05 2010

Yesterday’s brain teasers offer a mix of winter interest trees to help you plan your garden for next year’s snow cover. Structure, bark texture and bird habitat make it more spring-like in what, otherwise, is a stark landscape. Another one of the teasers offers a possible winter hobby for gardeners - bonsai.

1) All bonsai plants, whether temperate or tropical should be kept outdoors during good weather. True. Both temperate and tropical bonsai should be kept outside and brought in when the appropriate temperatures are applicable. Tropical bonsai cannot be exposed to freezing temperatures and can grow indoors year-round with proper sunlight. However, the tropical bonsai will thrive if brought outside during the warm season weather, preferably May through September. The temperate bonsai is the most difficult to grow because of its requirements for a cold dormant period. If you keep a temperate bonsai inside all year-round providing an endless summer, the plant will automatically go dormant after a couple of years, causing stress and ultimately killing the plant. How would your body respond if you didn’t sleep for two years?

2) Spruce Trees tend to be deer-resistant. True. For those readers who have asked for deer-resistant plant materials, please find this .pdf Cornell University link to help you choose some options when planning for your spring garden. ( There is also a book on the market called "Deer-Resistant Landscaping; Proven Advice and Strategies for Outwitting Deer and 20 Other Pesky Mammals," by Neil Soderstrom (Rodale Inc., $23.95). Unfortunately, if deer are desperate enough, these cute but pesky creatures have been known to munch things on the ‘Do no eat’ list.

3) Acer griseum is a pest found in most maple trees. False. Acer griseum, Paperbark Maple is one of Annie’s favorite maple trees. Its beautiful cinnamon-colored bark provides spectacular winter interest in your garden. This maple’s slow-growing habit makes it an exceptional specimen tree. It is also used as bonsai.

4) Betula nigra, River Birch has low resistance to the birch borer. False. River Birch has a high resistance to birch borer, a nasty pest that hits many other types of Birch, primarily White-barked Birches (i.e., Paper, Himalayan and Asian White Birch). River Birch has beautiful peach-colored exfoliating bark and form. This is another one of Annie’s favorites for winter interest trees, especially the Heritage variety, which has the most vibrant color.

5) Holly shrubs provide great winter nesting areas for birds. True. These evergreen shrubs provide winter protection as well as valuable food for birds. But remember, not all hollies are evergreen. If you check back to Tuesdays with Annie 10 27 09, there is one holly that is deciduous! Do you remember without peeking?

The inspirational thought for the day is by Ward Elliot Hour. “The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination.” As I pointed out yesterday, use your winter dormancy period to broaden your perspective.

A spring moment -Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple) - Photo by Greg Bilowz
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Morning Brain Teasers 01 04 2010

Holy Toledo – it is the first Monday in 2010 so let’s jump on board and tackle today’s brain teasers. Remember, it is a true or false format and the answers are provided in tomorrow’s post, Tuesdays with Annie.

1) All bonsai plants, whether temperate or tropical should be kept outdoors during good weather.

2) Spruce Trees tend to be deer-resistant.

3) Acer griseum is a pest found in most maple trees.

4) Betula nigra, River Birch has low resistance to the birch borer.

5) Holly shrubs provide great winter nesting areas for birds.

So here we are in 2010, promising gardeners with snow shovel in hand, ready to ‘trade up’ to our planting tools. Wintertime can be the appreciation factor if you open your eyes to the possibilities. This time is set aside for gardeners to learn and discover the many details that slipped by during the planting season regarding horticulture, design and growing your own vegetables. So use this time wisely to absorb knowledge, ideas and tips during your dormancy period. To kick off the New Year, today’s inspirational thought for the day is by Robert H. Schuller. “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” Wise advice as we head into a new year.
Photo by Greg Bilowz - River Birch (Betula nigra)
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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.)