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, July 30, 2010

Living For the Moment

Summer comes but once in the year so I'm off to enjoy this glorious day. This is the moment to bask in the garden.

I hope you will take John Lubbock's advice. Have a great weekend.
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."
Image from the Internet
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Underused Japanese Jewel



Looking for another summer bloom in your garden that grows like a small tree? One of my favorite shrubs, Clethra barbinervis, (I like to say the name, too – it sounds like Barbara Nervous) is blooming right now in our garden. This native shrub to Japan does particularly good in well-drained soil and can handle full sun to partial shade. The nicest specimens we’ve seen grow in full sun. This honey of a bush can get up to 20’ feet. It is hardy to zones 5-7 so it is perfect for many locations. If you are looking for lanky with multi-colored, exfoliating bark and long-spiked blooms clustered with dainty white flowers, consider this underused shrub for your landscape. Just a quick note - the bees go bonkers over this Clethra.

To end with our inspirational thought for the day, we go with a Japanese proverb. “Life without endeavor is like entering a jewel-mine and coming out with empty hands.” Make your garden interesting and step outside the usual suspects for dressing up the landscape. Make sure you visit your nursery to see what interesting finds they may have waiting to be planted. Don’t forget to join our fanpage http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow us on Twitter. There are many places to find us and always, we welcome your comments! Annie
Image of Clethra barbinervis from the Internet
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life’s Treadmill


Every weekday morning, I chip away at a message about gardening, recipes or design tips. Sometimes I go off track but everything seems pretty circular. You end up back on the ride somehow; life’s treadmill is still waiting for you to jump back on. There seems to be a lot of struggle these days and there is a lot of uncertainty but there is always one important constant – the world keeps spinning. And guess what? Whether you like it or not, you are still on the ride. If you keep your eyes shut, you miss out on all the fun. So envision where you are and enjoy your ‘Circle of Life.’

”From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round”

“It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life”

Lyrics from 'The Circle of Life - The Lion King
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Veggie Invasion



The garden may have plenty to offer at this time of the year but one of Annie’s favorite fresh veggies is the green bean. Looking for a great variety to plant next year or buy at the local farmer’s market? French/Filet Tavera is a small, tender green bean. It lends itself to the summer gamut - from sautés to the refreshing salads. The standard green bean varieties like Provider tend to be too hefty for these types of dishes, especially if they hang on the vines too long.

A cool French bean recipe for a hot summer day: (Serves 4 people)

1 lb. of fresh green beans (Cook beans till they are tender crisp)
Plunge the cooked beans into cold water and drain
Chop a fistful of fresh spearmint and fresh basil leaves (approximately a ¼ cup of freshly chopped herbs) Try different herbs if you wish but this offers a flavorful Mediterranean flair.
Chop up a ¼ cup of Nicoise or pitted Calamata olives
Cube approximately ¾ cup of feta cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper to taste (Note – careful with the salt as the feta and olives offer plenty of savory flavor.)
You can also add the juice of a ½ lemon to give it some zip. Lemon, mint and basil are extra special on a salad.
Toss thoroughly and chill

Grilled chicken marinated in lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper or grilled fish in a light marinade are great headliners to this easy side dish. For a little French lesson, let’s use a quote by Curnonsky, which doesn’t sound like a French name at all but it came up under French quotes. “Fine cooking is when the things you have cooked taste as they are.” Enjoy these summer days and veggies while in season. It doesn’t get any fresher than this!
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Honey of a Day


Days don’t get any better than this one. Heck, you can even overlook the Japanese Beetles munching in the garden when the air is this refreshing. I’ve noticed that folks are busy as the bees these days, keeping their stingers stuck in the flower, collecting the honey. So we’ll do a little Monday morning advice from Dale Carnegie - “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” In other words, don’t get so busy you forget to notice the sunshine and the flowers in mid-bloom. Your comments and questions are always welcome!
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Friday, July 23, 2010

The Hunt for the Wild



If you like blueberries, the best flavor comes from the bushes you find out in the wild. Although cultivated varieties may be big, beautiful and plump, the flavor from the native bushes can be more intense. Unlike a lot of fruit, blueberries’ sweetness does not improve after they are picked from the bush. So when you are selecting your berries, look for the mature, dark-skinned, almost glossy-toned fruit. Once blueberries turn color, it can take a week or two for the fruit to fully mature to peak flavor. So use this color code to help you find the best-tasting ones, even if you pick cultivated varieties at a blueberry farm.

What to do when you bring home the buckets? If you plan on freezing them, de-stem and wash them soon after picking. Put them right into a well-sealed container or bag and use them throughout the year for your winter cobblers. In the meantime, think about blueberry pancakes, muffins, crumble, pies, jam and don’t forget tarts.

If you live in any of the towns with these recent boil alerts, make sure you use sterilized water to clean your fruit. To end our inspirational thought for the weekend, let’s use a Stephen Wright quote to keep the water issue light. “I bought some instant water one time but I didn't know what to add to it.”

Image of blueberry tart from the Internet
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Cowboys for Your Garden


Looking for another low maintenance perennial with mid-to late summer bloom? The quick pick for today’s plant is Agastache 'Blue Fortune'. Like yesterday’s Monarda ‘Coral Reef’, this perennial is a member of the mint family. Its soft lavender spikes offer structure to your sunny borders plus attracts those butterflies. It is a great companion to ‘Coral Reef’, Daylilies, Summer Phlox and “Autumn Joy’ Sedums. The combination list is endless but these are the cowboys of your summer garden: rugged and reliable. So in the words of John Wayne, “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much.” Good advice for hanging out on the ranch.

Image of Agastache 'Blue Fortune' from the Internet
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today’s Quick Pick

Life seems to be on an egg-timer these days. Besides, it feels like most of the population is on vacation so we’ll spin the wheel and do a quick flower pick of the day – Monarda. This genus, which is more commonly known as Bee Balm is a member of the mint family. You know when you pass Monarda. It is fragrant but don’t think roses. A tad more pungent, it is a good choice to keep the deer in check but attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

There are some great varieties to choose from but I always have a particular favorite. My pick is ‘Coral Reef’. Known for its bright, punchy color and compact growing habits, it is a tad more tolerant to powdery mildew, which can be problematic to Monarda. Looking for some mid to late summer beach colors to find their way into your garden? Check out ‘Coral Reef’. It does stay a bit more behaved than the standard Monarda but if you give anything the optimum growing conditions, you may find a larger quantity than you originally anticipated. Give even this compact variety some elbow room and keep it in check if you aren’t looking for volunteers.

That’s it for the day. Take your lotto money and head to the nursery and get your Quick Pick for the day – ‘Coral Reef’ Monarda. So to end today’s post on a funny bone note, let’s go with a Stephen Wright quote for some coral reef inspiration. “Sponges grow in the ocean. That just 'gets' me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen.”

'Coral Reef' Monarda mixed in with our many Daylilies - Photo by Greg Bilowz
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Method of Nature


After last evening’s tornado watch, it is amazing how location can protect or hinder you with weather patterns. Be it a late frost or fierce rains, patterns blow in from a particular direction and it can either make or break your property. For us, we know that when weather forms in the West, Wachusett Mountain is a protecting force from taking the brunt of a cell. If the weather comes from the south, it is a totally different story. There is more to microclimates then meets the eye. And even though this topic has been briefly touched upon in previous posts, here is an informative link from Cornell University regarding microclimates. http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/weather/microcli.html

Microclimates can be as much scientific as it is intuitive. There are layers to microclimatic conditions, which can often make trial and error a large part of this gardening process. With this oppressive heat, now is a good time to research, plan and even redesign certain areas on your property. Everything that occurs on a daily basis helps us understand how to improve and stabilize our gardens. Ralph Waldo Emerson sums it up best with his inspirational quote of the day. “Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.” Use these hot, hazy days to observe and learn; it sure beats perspiring in the sun. Annie
Image of stormy skies from the Internet
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Monday, July 19, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Even though the weather was a tad drier yesterday, this summer heat has me feeling a bit sad about the gardens. There hasn’t been a ton of energy to go and battle the inevitable weeds and upkeep in the perennial borders. So why not hum to Julie Andrews, “When I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad.” So from the top: here are a few of my favorite things that are blooming right now in my garden. Visit the previous posts for some images and info.

* Hydrangea ‘Unique’ http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/07/height-of-hydrangea-season.html This is peak hydrangea season. There are many new developments and varieties in this genus so go beyond the lace caps.
* Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/07/dividing-up-candy-bar.html This is one of my favorite summer perennials because it has a red-hot color and its texture and height make any border sing.
* Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan) and Echinacea purpurea, (Cone flower). These plants are great for hot, dry conditions; perfect choices for cut flower arrangements.
* The genus Hemerocallis: Daylilies and Daylilies and Daylilies
http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/06/if-only-for-one-day.html
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=182365&id=325316334444&ref=mf
These are my more recent posts on Daylilies but check out Annie’s archives for great haunts to purchase your colors and forms. Now is the time to get your Daylilies.
* Who can forget the pig weed? It is supposedly good for a spinach substitute. So before it goes to seed, give it a go. I haven’t ventured there yet but if some things fail in the veggie garden, I just may go to my test kitchen and whip up a batch of sautéed pig weed.

If the heat has you down, look around and see what colors and textures make you chipper. When the weather moderates, it’s time to start dividing and spreading your favorite things around the garden. Or better yet, take a trip to the local nursery for some new mid-summer splash. Don’t forget to post your favorite things in your garden. I would love to hear what makes you sing.

Have to scoot. I’m due to perform on the hilltop in five.
Image from the Internet
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Blossoms for the Homestretch



Although the sweltering heat of this weekend may keep us from thinking about our late summer/early fall borders, Annie brings you an often underused perennial in this neck of the woods. The Willow-leaved Sunflower, Helianthus salicifolius is a staple in European gardens; very common in Germany and Switzerland. Its unique feathery texture and splashy yellow flowers can get upwards to 6 feet. A native to the Midwest, this is a great choice for the New England garden.

Here are some convincing reasons to consider this plant for your perennial border:

Hardy to zone 4 (-34.4 °C) (-30 °F)
Attracts birds and butterflies
Deer resistant
Stays in a nice clump
Will self-sow if you allow it to go to seed (Deadhead if you don’t want volunteers)
It has exceptional feathery silver-gray foliage throughout the growing season; a similar texture to Amsonia hubrichtii. These two perennials offer a great backdrop to showcase other plants.

The place we find the Willow-leaved Sunflower happiest in our yard is planted in rich composted soil with blazing full sun. We tried it in a few drier spots and it wasn’t quite as happy.

So if this weather is wearing you down, plan for the last few innings of the growing season. Our inspirational quote for the weekend is brought to you by Casey Stengel. “Oldtimers weekends and airplane landings are alike. If you can walk away from them, they're successful.” Keep your gardens healthy and take care of yourself in this heat.

Above images of Willow-leaved Sunflower from the Internet
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gulf Spill in the Basement


With all this humidity and moisture in the air, we digress to skip a gardening topic to talk about something relevant to Massachusetts’ homeowners who heat with oil. Maybe some of you are aware of this new law but I wasn’t until I received a newsletter from a local realtor. Thanks to Gail Bergeron (Bergeron Realty Associates) for her informative bulletin. Because of her head’s up on this law, I was able to contact my insurance agent and my oil company, which also services our tanks to get me moving in the right direction. I suggest you might do the same. The following information is technical but if you do heat with oil, you should read this post regarding its potential impact.

“Massachusetts has a new law to address oil leaks from home heating systems. (Chapter 453 of the Acts of 2008). The law has two major provisions that require:

• The installation of either an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve on systems that do not currently have these devices; and
• Insurance companies that write homeowner policies to offer coverage for leaks from heating systems that use oil.

Most homeowner policies do not currently include such coverage, leaving many to pay for costly clean-ups out of their own pocket. Although it is mandatory that insurance companies offer this coverage, the insurance is an optional purchase for homeowners.

Please note that since Gail’s newsletter, the law for enforcing the above compliance has been delayed until September 30, 2011. The new law, originally set to become effective July 1, 2010, now gives homeowners fifteen additional months to comply. In short, the law is designed to eliminate oil leaks that have plagued numerous older homes in the commonwealth where a fuel line leaves the oil tank and is then buried in concrete and reappears at the burner. In some of the homes the buried portion of the fuel line leaks and causes expensive environmental damage. In addition, the new law requires homeowner insurance companies to make available coverage, at an additional cost, for oil spills to all homes that are in compliance with the new rules.

For the most up-to-date information, check out this link http://www.mass.gov/dep/cleanup/laws/hhsl.htm and keep in mind that as of July 1, 2010, it is now mandatory for homeowner’s policies to offer this coverage if you are in compliance with the remaining portion of the law.

Most may think that they will never see a spill in their home. Clean-up is costly. When our oil company came to inspect the two tanks and sign off on the certificate of compliance, we were told that clean-up can range upwards to $350,000. It can be a catastrophic occurrence. The added insurance covers both property and liability for this exposure but at a cost. Trust me, I’m not promoting insurance. It’s the nemesis of being alive in this wonderful state of ours.

I don’t usually delve into rulings and regulations. It bores me and is tedious to write. No fun pics or quotes. I do apologize for the flower break but this is coming at all the folks who use oil in their Massachusetts’ homes, specifically those with older homes. Now I am off to grow orchids in the garden. It feels more like Hilo, Hawaii right now then it does like Massachusetts. If I lived in Hawaii, I wouldn’t need to worry about this new law. Today’s quote comes from John Muir. “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. “

Note: All information regarding this new law came from the above cited sources.
Image of basement clean-up of an oil spill from the Internet
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don’t Be a Deadhead


Can’t find the time or energy to do anything else in the garden other than relax? One of the most important and often overlooked mid-summer tasks is to keep your perennial beds clean and tidy. Deadheading spent flower spikes and removing diseased or blemished foliage is a good cultural practice. It also keeps the garden looking fresh and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. In hot and especially humid conditions, good air circulation on foliage is imperative for maintaining the health of your plant materials. It is particularly important with certain perennials such as summer flowering Phlox (Ph. paniculata), Asters, and Monarda, common name Bee Balm. Because the season is a bit ahead of itself, a lot of the mid-summer color may fade early this year. We always hit a lull come August, when a smaller percentage of perennials are in bloom. It is worth assessing your borders to fill in the gaps. Many times, the only way to bridge these holes is with annuals or decorative accent pieces. Make it something colorful. Get creative but keep your garden interesting. It tends to keep the gardener perky as well. The quick inspirational thought today comes from an unknown author. “This mess is a place!” So don’t be a deadhead and keep your borders looking healthy.
Image from the Internet - Now that's being creative with your flowers!
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Backtracking For Summer Recipes


No need to remind you that our warm season crops are ahead of schedule. I’m backtracking again to unearth some summer favorites for the hot, sticky weather. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/08/easy-recipes-from-annies-gardening.html Tzatziki, a simple but refreshing way to serve yogurt and cucumbers is a must have to accompany summer grilling. If the only way you serve cucumbers is in a salad, think again. Don’t forget the salsas. Tomatoes, peppers and corn can be found at many of the farmer’s markets. In this weather, the challenge in cooking something good is to make it easy plus not heat up the kitchen! Forgo the pizza joint tonight and try some of these cool, refreshing summer favorites.

And don’t forget that we are in the heart of berry picking season. If you love jams and don’t like to cook, freezer jams are a snap to whip up. Catch the flavors now. It doesn’t get any better than this. We went picking on Sunday at one of our favorite spots called Monadnock Berries. You can’t beat the view and the selection, flavor and price are the best in our book. Check it out for yourself. You can get more details by visiting their website at http://www.monadnockberries.com/ or by calling ahead at (603) 242 6417. They also do farmers markets in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. No excuses - get your fill of fresh fruit! Post your favorite berry picking spot on Annie’s Gardening Corner. It’s like the best ice cream place. Everyone has a fav in their town that supposedly beats mine - http://rotaspringfarm.com/ Today’s quote comes to us from Eric Carle. “We have eyes, and we're looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.” Gardens and food definitely qualify! Annie

Image from Internet
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Toughen Your Landscape

When it is this hot and dry, water restrictions can impose limits on your ability to maintain the manicured landscape. This is when you can tell whether your plant material has the legs to handle an extended drought. It is also a good time to assess and evaluate what if any water hogs you have growing in your garden. Lawn is the number one culprit.

In regards to the rest of your landscape, certain trees and shrubs may start to look tired but it doesn’t mean they are going down for the count. You may even notice extensive defoliation, indicating the drought and heat stress conditions many plants are presently experiencing. If you do notice defoliating plant material, keep your cool. Your trees are actually conserving moisture by dropping its excess leaves. If the tree drops thirty percent of its foliage, it now has less surface area to potentially lose moisture. Does the plant need water? Most likely yes but stand back and look at the whole tree or shrub. If the remaining leaves on the tree appear to be tough and healthy, not wilted, the tree is probably fine. You don’t wear a hooded sweatshirt when it is 90 degrees so a tree can often shed a layer of its own non-essentials in this heat. It may need a supplementary drink but unless it was recently transplanted or newly installed, water sparingly. When you do water, do so thoroughly. Get moisture to penetrate deep into the ground, not just run on the surface and make sure to maintain the mulch layer.

All these points can seem redundant to my daily readers but it is amazing how many times during these weather conditions I see irrigation systems watering driveways as shrubs around the foundation perish. Don’t squander your resources.

Today’s quote comes from Bill Watterson. “Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?” Be smart, plan accordingly and plant sequentially. Have a great summer day. Read a book under your shade tree and be glad for it!

Image from the Internet - actually from an Irrigation Company!
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Friday, July 9, 2010

It’s a Wonderful Night for a Rain Dance


Things are a tad too dry and our challenge as gardeners is keeping our crops and plants properly hydrated with minimal irrigation. Conserving water is critical and the use of it on our lawns is wasteful. I’m pulling out the moccasins, tapping my toes, beating my drums and doing a rain dance in hopes that Mother Nature pulls through. In the meantime, I went back to a Native American Proverb for some common sense wisdom. "The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives." Get it. Don’t be wasteful. If your town or city has a water ban, abide by it. And if you have a well, remember you are still drinking out of your own pond. Keep yourself hydrated like the frog. Float on your lily pad. This summer sizzle soon shall pass.

A few helpful watering hints:

1) Let the grass go dormant. Most lawns typically resuscitate when the weather moderates. If you water your lawn frequently, it actually becomes less drought-tolerant.
2) Water early in the AM.
3) Use drip irrigation whenever possible.
4) When watering with a hose, irrigate the roots not the foliage. Avoid overhead irrigation use. This can cause diseases with your crop and plants.
5) Use mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.

I’ll leave it to you for your own vault searching through the Annie archives on this hot Friday. You should find plenty of drought-tolerant mentions including one on drought-resistant grasses.
Frog Images from the Internet - I have so much fun finding these!
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

We are What We Plant

Yes, I may be digging through the vault a lot this holiday week but reflecting back in time isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So take a minute to review the reruns and let’s not keep repeating the same mistakes.

With the recent sighting of Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) in Boston and its potential spread to other locales, it is important to heed the very message cited in the August 2009 post http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/08/importance-of-trees-in-our-lives.html when only Worcester and a few surrounding towns were dealing with the ALB. It would be devastating if the beetle infiltrated the Arnold Arboretum due to its proximity of the recent Faulkner Hospital sighting, but the one plus with an arboretum is its diversity. You won’t find just one genus planted here. Don’t get me wrong. Even one ALB host species lost in this treasured park would be enormous and distressing yet a vast array of trees would remain healthy and strong for years to come. Planting more than one species in a landscape can offer protection from a nasty infestation. It also provides an aesthetic and more pleasing combination within your structure plantings. It’s that simple. Again, sorry for the reruns but one can never be reminded enough that we can avoid making the same mistakes. We may just need a wake-up call from time to time.

One more message to all my vigilant gardening friends. It is better to err on the side of caution. So if you spot a bug that looks funky and unusual, report it. Better to be safe than have a five-alarm fire to put out! This is one nasty beetle so do your part and don’t forget to promote diversifying the species when planting! Check out the re-run, ‘Tuesdays with Annie’ post in case you need to refresh your memory on the ALB. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/11/tuesdays-with-annie-11-17-09.html

John Muir sheds the best inspirational light for today. “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” We are what we plant! Annie

Above image of the Arnold Arboretum from their website http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/index.html
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Summer Tsunami


A regular follower asked the other day about when is it time to pick your onions. A lot of gardening is intuitive but when it comes to vegetables and fruits for that matter, you want to stay on top of their best pick date. If you sunk a few dollars and your treasured time into your plantings, picking and storing them becomes equally important as growing them. I always rely on University links or farmers when it comes to info on any crop. In this case, this comprehensive link is compliments of the University of Minnesota’s extension program. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg7619.html

So gardeners and foodies beware: this is harvest time for many fruits and vegetables because right now, the heat is on. If you are growing your crops correctly, the warm season veggie and fruit tsunami is upon you. This may be a good vintage year particularly for fruits, especially peaches. Yumbo. So if you can handle the heat, then get picking, storing, freezing, canning, pickling; whatever suits your farming fancy. Pay attention to the season and when each fruit or veggie is at its best. The marathon is on to keep this freshness preserved for those sooner than you think winter months so get those canning jars and freezer bags ready. Now’s the time to think beyond the five day spoil factor and get creative. There are some great books out there on preserving so get your test kitchen prepared and put your mad scientist cap on and get cranking. Here’s another from the vault on freezing fresh fruits. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/07/freezing-fresh-fruits-quick-easy-way-to.html

For our inspirational thought to weave into our onion theme, we use one of Erma Bombeck’s infamous lines. “Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time.” Not a recommendation for winter storage unless you are a college student. Stay cool. Annie

Cartoon Image from the Internet
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From the Vault

If the entertainment industry can do this during the summer, I may have to take a lesson from them. It’s re-run season; at least until we get beyond this hot weather and my mind can think about something more than just watering and staying on top of the spray programs. The Japanese Beetles are invading the grapes amongst other things. So out comes the ghost buster equipment to squelch them before the heat goes beyond 104 degrees! Yikes. I am already melting just thinking about it.

So despite that last year’s July was quite different from this one (we had record buckets of rain), this is a good time to revisit some quick suggestions for drought-tolerant plants for your perennial borders. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/07/drought-tolerant-plants.html. Today’s inspirational quote for today is by Sam Keen and seems quite fitting with our re-run theme. “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” Enjoy the lazy, hazy sunshine and like your plants, drink lots of fluids and don’t overdo it! Hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July holiday.

Image of the dog days of summer from the Internet.
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Friday, July 2, 2010

The Salad in Insalata

Growing up, Insalata is what my mother and grandmother called our salad. And salads there will be on this holiday weekend. So why bring an ‘iffy potato salad’ or pack of greens with no pizzazz. Test the waters and add some spice and life to these ordinary dishes. There is no secret recipe here, just a few hints on making your dish a bit more creative. Dress up all your salads (pasta, potato or lettuce) with growies from your culinary garden or the local farmers markets. With the variety of greens and herbs available at this time of year, there is no excuse. Everyone has more to offer because things are a few weeks ahead of schedule. So get your taste buds off the couch and try something new! Erma Bombeck sums up our Fourth of July celebration best. “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” P.S. This will be the first year in our garden that we may actually have a ripe, full-fledged tomato (not a dinky cherry tomato) on the fourth of July! Yahoo. Now that is a reason to celebrate.


Image of Someone's Version of Potato Salad from the Internet
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Splash of Blue

.
A dash of red, a splash of blue, add a dob of white and your table will exude…just a quick hint for finding colors in your garden that bring the festivities to your table. There is nothing like fresh flowers for decorating the deck or patio for the big Independence Day celebrations. Why buy those phony baloney red, white and blue carnations when, upon closer observation, you should find enough of the traditional splash in your own garden. Have fun and don’t forget to decorate it with our flag! Here are some quick red, white and blue cut flower suggestions: Lace Cap Hydrangea or Sea Holly, red Roses, and white Roses or an Iris. I still have some blooming in the garden. Post your 4th of July flower combinations.

To sum up today’s down and dirty blog, Yogi Berra reminds us that ““The only color I don't have is navy brown.” Maybe if we think long and hard, we might find a flower that fits that color description. And don’t forget, if you can breathe in sunshine, than inhale deeply today. It’s a ten out there. And should you be heading out of dodge, stay safe and enjoy the gardens wherever your trails may lead you.

All photos by Greg Bilowz
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Check in for your daily share's worth of garden inspiration, landscape architecture and design tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! We invite you to contact Bilowz Associates, Inc., or to browse our portfolios. Like our Facebook follow on Twitter or subscribe to the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.  You can also find us back on our Google+ Business Page. (Landscape architects/Landscape Design/serving Massachusetts and New England.) Visit our landscape architectural design firm's website where creating design with balance and harmony is our story. http://www.bilowzassociates.com/

© 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.)