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, December 30, 2011

The Blizzard Effect of Resolutions


As George William Curtis gently reminds us, “The new year begins in a snow-storm of white vows.” So not to get caught in the blizzard effect of resolutions, start 2012 slow but steady; make everything on your list achievable and really stick to it! Here’s hoping that somewhere plants, design, and reveling in nature fits into the whole equation; even if it’s just reading a gardening blog or tending to a tiny vegetable patch. So off to enjoy the blast of a fresh start and a flurry of white vows! Happy 2012 and don’t forget to come back and visit next year.

Image by Greg Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gloves for Your Greens

For anyone who planted evergreens this past gardening season, you want that investment to still look smashing come spring. But then comes winter with one of its harshest elements – wind. One of the best ways to protect your newly planted shrubs from dehydrating winter winds is with an anti-desiccant spray. This application provides an extra layer of skin. Think of it as gloves for your evergreens. This breathable-like Gore-Tex for shrubs should be applied when the plants are dormant and according to the labels’ recommended temperature. It may require more than one spray (two to three may be necessary) but this simple step, if done correctly, can make the difference between a plant surviving its first nasty winter and looking green and healthy come spring. You can also apply this extra protective spray to many tender Rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens (i.e., Holly, Boxwood and Mountain Laurel) that prefer additional winter protection on a yearly basis.

Thought it was time to button up the garden? Think again. Get your own winter wear on and give your plantings that extra layer of skin to make it through the blistering winds. And as Kevin Doyle points out, “Texture and foliage keep a garden interesting through the season. Flowers are just moments of gratification.”  

Images by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Last Word

Henry David Thoreau’s quote is a great way to wrap up the last wordless Wednesday in 2011. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

Image by Greg Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Casting the Last Gift



This New England weather has been an extra bonus gift for gardeners. Although a bit of clouds and rain might damper this morning’s sunshine, the buzzer has not gone off yet for last minute clean-up in the garden. There’s still time to rid of debris, leaves and tidy up the flower beds. But if you were good and that’s already checked off your list, here’s Tuesday’s thought – give yourself a treat to the outside. This last-minute holiday gift of warmer than usual weather has been cast so enjoy it.

Remember the words of George MacDonald. “If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.” To my two angel Border collies that endlessly enjoy that world of the outside and always have to take me with them!


Images by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dreaming and Beaming


As the white, thick flakes gently touch the ground this morning, let the true holiday magic begin. But festive occasions can often turn slippery and treacherous, just like the pretty snowflakes. Many of us expect December to be set on autopilot; that everyone is dreaming and beaming, too. With emotions running at an extra high speed, the Christmas season often becomes bittersweet. Compound this with the loss of a loved one, a down economy or a chronic illness. Something as simple as a lack of natural sunlight or the stress of give, give, give can deplete the best of us.

In the wise words of W.C. Jones, “The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others' burdens, easing other's loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.” So make this holiday a season of joy rather than a season of gifts. Do you have extra? Be sure to spread it around. Smiles are a great place to start.

From us to you, have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah or whatever celebration you partake in during this season of joy! And remember to make your 2012 New Year’s resolution. A great place to start is in the garden. Nature is proven to be a wonderful place to find joy!


Holiday Images and design by Bilowz Associates Inc.

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Welcoming Light

In celebration of the winter solstice, a simple quote by Wendell Berry to accompany today’s photo.

"It may be when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey."  

P.S. winter: the perfect season to reflect on the real work in the garden; the perfect time for design! And don’t forget to think landscape lighting.

Unfortunately, my blackberry camera has been acting up with these flash shots. What perfect timing for that easy-to-use camera, Santa. Not too many buttons and sophistication, though. With that said, I had to borrow the closest image I could find on the internet of what this morning’s sliver of a moon looked like, shining bright; a welcoming light.

Image of the slivered moon from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One More Day

Let the gardens officially hibernate; with just one more day until winter it’s a simple photo and quote for wordless Wednesday. From the American poet, Theodore Roethke, “Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” Happy Hanukkah.

A winter snow shot in the garden by Greg Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nesting for the Holidays?



Are you flying the coop or nesting nearby for the holidays? Wherever you go, have a wonderful time. And as John Burroughs reminds us, “If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature; and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.”

Today’s garden thought – create natural habitats for the birds. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many birds visit your garden, even during the cold, winter months. Some may decide to even stay!

Image of a bird’s nest by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, December 19, 2011

Flower Thoughts for Christmas Week



Most of us are wrapping up gifts and loose ends before we jump head first into the New Year. During the next couple of weeks, simplicity must be the theme – a flower power thought with a fitting quote to help us prepare for plenty of downtime in our winter gardens.

Today’s photo summarizes one quick hibernating tip for our landscapes – look at the natural views created on your property or other properties you may visit throughout the year. What draws you in? What keeps your focus? Observe the natural elements. Wherever your garden is, whether a rooftop terrace or a vegetable patch, think of your garden as art. Think of where you can take that! And as Paul Cezanne reminds us, “Art is a harmony parallel with nature.”
 
Image and design by Bilowz Associates Inc.

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, December 16, 2011

With or Without Plants


Susan McCoy, trend spotter and outdoor living expert shared a profound statement in a recent article about 2012 garden trends. "Plants are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for our lives. Plants can live without us, but we can't live without plants."

So if you think someone is missing out on this whole plant experience, ‘tis the season to get them jazzed. For a holiday gift, try an orchid rather than a poinsettia. Potted bulbs are great options, too. Check the Annie archives. Here’s a sampler on how to plant certain bulbs for indoors. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/11/last-minute-fall-shopping-list.html Or take a field trip to one of our favorite greenhouses. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/10/postcard-from-tropics.html

Got plants? ‘Tis the season for this perfect gift you can’t live without!

Plant Images by Greg Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What’s Your Holiday Tradition?


During this magical season, many families partake in holiday traditions; be it a special day to light the Christmas tree to the holiday dinner. Maybe it's a certain cookie or pie; an old family recipe that only surfaces during this time of year. So what’s your holiday tradition?

My family added an interesting one a few years back - the dessert bake-off to accompany the Christmas day feast. Each year we pick a different type of dessert (the reigning winner determines this at Thanksgiving.) There are usually about ten or so brave entries and the rest automatically become judges; this includes children with discerning sweet buds and spouses and parents voting with yes, only an unbiased opinion. It is definitely YMCA rules although on occasion, like this year, there’s a disqualifying factor – if you don’t have your recipe printed to the dessert, well, who knows. There have been some sketchy entries on whether it was from scratch or not. Remember, YMCA rules do apply. What matters most is that coveted prize at stake - the winning title. There is even a small trinket for capturing last place but that winning title is worth gold.

The first bake-off set the tone. The chosen sweet - fudge. You can only imagine that there were some real losers in this one. My brother took that first title with his concoction, which resembled frosting. Due to such razing, he actually forfeited his treasured prize to the fudge landing in last place, which truly was an abomination. Yes, there were quite a few vying for the low end of the totem pole. So every year since, my poor brother can’t shake his tarnished title. That fudge story comes alive with everyone vying to beat my brother’s frosting. Oh, excuse me – fudge.

So this year the dessert on deck - cookie bars, which according to my brother who has fervently been researching his recipes said has quite a history. I’m hoping that if you don’t share one of your holiday traditions you might lead me in the direction of a smashing cookie bar recipe. So I'll wrap it up with a Peg Bracken quote, “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” But you can't forget the winning bake-off recipe!

Image from http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/sugar-cookie-bars/ with what just might be this year’s winning recipe! Plenty of frosting on this one.

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seeing the Awe in Late Fall


On this wordless Wednesday as we tailspin into the end of fall, Ruth E. Renkel’s quote fits today’s image best. “Never fear shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby.” With winter approaching and natural light appearing less, spend time outdoors to make sure you get your daily dose.

Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Do You Believe?

That is the question of the season – do you believe? Whether you believe in miracles or Santa Claus or that the flowers will bloom again in the spring. What do you believe? Look in nature, the leafless trees that still hold a bird singing in the morning - ‘tis the season to believe! 
And in the words of Oscar Wilde, “I can believe anything provided it is incredible.” Enjoy this incredible season no matter what you believe!
P.S. Spring always comes again sooner for those that love the dirt!

Images from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, December 12, 2011

What’s Roasting on Your Open Fire?























If you’re humming the classic Christmas songs while digging for a recipe to knock the socks off your holiday guests, then look no longer. Try this easy recipe from Epicurious; perfect for any holiday dinner party. This dish brings pasta and roasted chestnuts to another level. And yes, it sneaks in one of those easy herbs to grow – sage. Don’t have it in your kitchen garden? Well, what are you waiting for?

The wonderful thing about this recipe, besides ‘EASY’ and its sweet, savory nutty flavor is that it really is a cinch; perfect for a holiday party. Want to get everyone involved? Don’t buy your pasta - make your own. With a little extra elbow grease and aprons, you’ll get freshness oozing out of the kitchen and your guests feel involved but impressed. The apron could be a take away stocking stuffer for pasta maker participants to remember the evening.

So let’s end it with Torme and Wells’ famous music and lyrics dating back to 1946. “And so I'm offering this simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two, although it’s been said many times, many ways, a very Merry Christmas to you.”



























Have fun in the kitchen and enjoy your holidays, too!

Images from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, December 9, 2011

All is Quiet
















Today, no talk just a thought. It’s a quote from John Tillotson and it’s a perfect one for this holiday season. “A good word is an easy obligation; but not to speak ill requires only our silence, which costs us nothing.”

Image of an Assisi Sunset by Greg Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Invisible Garden Detail

With the clouds and the winds moving fast and furious this morning, it’s a good time to pull in a couple of archive posts that previously touched on the topic of microclimates. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2011/02/brain-freeze.html
For anyone considering the ‘where and what to plant’ decision in the garden, even if that shovel doesn’t hit the dirt until next spring, determining your property’s microclimate is a must-do task.

Unfortunately, this morning’s strong winds emphasize my bad luck with wind chimes. Big or small, these musical elements that I love to hang just don’t survive, despite where I locate them. So if you don’t want to keep replacing your plants, shrubs and trees like the wind chimes, consider taking a peek at your property’s microclimates. Like the words from ‘A Walk to Remember’ by Nicholas Sparks, “Love is like the wind, you can't see it but you can feel it.” Pay attention to this invisible garden detail.

Pooh Image from the Internet
If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Even After 70 Years




































In honor of the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, a simple image in nature, where oneness and peace always remain and a quote by John Dryden. “He who would search for pearls must dive below” to remind us to find goodness in every day.
  
Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where It All Starts























Caught up in the countdown to winter? Just in case you weren’t keeping tally, winter officially begins on December 22nd. Still thinking gardens? Just in case you’re still tuned in, whether it’s flowers, veggies, fruit or green lawn that tickle your fancy, amateurs to the experienced understand good growing all starts with the right soil conditions. Remember last week’s post about testing your soil?  http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2011/12/garden-stocking-stuffer.html Well, what are you waiting for? Grab that baggie and gather that soil sample.

It’s worth repeating another important cultural practice as we countdown to winter, especially for those that grow a summer veggie garden. It’s one point mentioned repeatedly in my posts – no guesses yet? It’s rotating your crops. This simple exercise keeps your soil healthy and is the best way to keep those sprays and diseases to a minimum. Remember that good soil is where it all starts. So as the remnants of fall fade away and the winter countdown closes in, consider mapping out your garden for next spring’s sowing. Test your soil and make sure there’s a plan in place for rotating your crops. Gardening can be a cinch when you start with your soil. 



























And if you really are counting down, remember these wise words from A. Cornelius Celsus as we ready ourselves to hibernate with our gardens.

“Live in rooms full of light
Avoid heavy food
Be moderate in the drinking of wine
Take massage, baths, exercise, and gymnastics
Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water
Change surroundings and take long journeys
Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements
Listen to music.”

Post your favorite winter activity that keeps you healthy. The usual places to post are listed below.

Top Image from the Internet
Bottom Image of late fall garlic planting rotated to its new location by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, December 5, 2011

Seeing Stars

Beautiful and glimmering, holiday twinkle is everywhere. This approaching winter season truly is a time of light. Whether you choose to decorate your home and outside landscape with white, multi-colored or large lit ornaments, extra sparkle can be seen on every street corner.

Of course this is the perfect time to use this season of light to embrace the silhouette of your landscape. Think design and structure even as we approach winter in our gardens. And don’t get so busy looking forward that you lose sight of the natural light; the crystal clear stars and moon above us. With cooler evening temperatures, the sky can be absolutely stunning. Thanks, Liz for pointing out how beautiful the stars can be at this time of year, even on a busy highway.

So I’ll wrap it up with a Mother Teresa quote that captures the essence of this holiday season. “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Image from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Garden Stocking Stuffer



























This is a Friday reminder that before your ground freezes up on you, it’s a good time to test your soil. Can’t get to it during the busy holiday season? Bag it up and put it aside for a winter project. Consider it a stocking stuffer for your garden. When one of those dreary January days come round, pull out the soil and test it yourself with a purchased kit or send it out for analysis.  

If you relentlessly till your clumps of dirt without knowing what is or isn’t in each particle, it turns into a lot of hard labor with little to no results. Dealing with plants, whether starting from seed, bare root, or a balled shrub or tree, it’s all alive. And when you are dealing with live material, like us, you need to plant it in good soil. It sounds basic but we tend to forget this simple principle. As Gunilla Norris reminds us in her excerpt about bare rooted roses, “The greatest longing is to leaf out.”

So while our gardens hibernate, we can keep the soul of it moving forward. I end with another excerpt from Gunilla Norris to remind everyone that whether our winter creeps in slow or harsh, use this time wisely and tend to what matters. “Acceptance of yourself as you are and others as they are is the true potting soil. All Growth starts there.”


























Top Image of fork and trowel set from the Internet (Want to buy the set? Here’s the link)
Bottom Image of Rose by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tidbits to Kick off December



















Tidbits to kick off December – the last month of the calendar year! Need something to calm you down? Start with flowers. Here’s an ideal Lavender variety to add to your plant collection.The Lavandula‘Blue Cushion' offers a tight mounding habit and extended flowering period, which makes this Blooms of Bressingham® plant a perfect choice for your garden, especially if you are a Lavender lover.

December is a grand time to start dreaming up your flower ideas and design thoughts. Waiting till spring can leave you scrambling for inspiration so write them in your garden journal during these colder months. Okay, so if that 25-day countdown makes it nearly impossible to breathe in the calming thoughts of planting Lavender, here’s a nifty link for a few thoughts on garden lovers’ stocking stuffers. http://rareseeds.com/blog/bakersville/baker-creek-gift-guide/  I’m expecting a copy any day of ‘The Heirloom Life Gardener’ for review. With a teaser tag line of ‘Growing your own food easily and naturally,’ I’m game. The word ‘easy’ usually grabs me.

But often the month of December isn’t easy. So make a special effort to decorate your home with all that nature provides us. Look in the woods, your backyard but stay away from toxic anything with small children and pets. Include some Lavender into your home to exude calmness. We all need it at this time of the year.

What December tidbits would you like to share? I really want to hear. So please post what makes your holidays magical and joyous or ask plant or design questions that aren’t quite clear. It’s all about making our homes, hearts and gardens better, especially as we ring in the holiday cheer.

Need a quote for today? Here’s a perfect one from Marie Huston. "The gardening season officially begins on January 1st, and ends on December 31." Spoken like a true gardener! Happy December.

Image from Blooms of Bressingham®

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fading into the Limelight



As we close out this November, there is little left in the garden taking shape, form or color. But if you look hard and long enough, you can find something in its place. Today’s images are the faded sterile flowers of H. paniculata ‘Limelight’. Just in case you needed a refresher on this popular shrub, a few links from some past posts.

It’s never a wordless Wednesday for me; making a point about something as November fades into the limelight. There’s always the quote, which today must be words from Mark Twain. Just in case you didn’t see the Google Doodle, it’s the witty American author’s 176th birthday. With so many great Twain quotes to choose from, the most appropriate for this amazing shrub seemed to be... “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”


























Feel free to pick your favorite Twain quote and post it on any of the usual spots below. For all those cauliflower fans, you might like this one. “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Or you might just prefer Twain’s straight talk. “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” Have a great Wednesday and don’t let November fade into the limelight without remembering a special moment. Hopefully it’s one from your garden.

Images faded sterile flowers of H. paniculata ‘Limelight’ by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Deco or Traditional

From a horticultural standpoint, there’s lots of ways to bring color and festivity into your home. But are you the deco or traditional type? Readers, take notice. This post is meant so I can hear from you!

Let’s start with the tree question. Do you use real or imitation? Both have pros and cons so tell me why you choose what you do. The number one reason folks like real versus imitation is a tree's scent. Is this your number one reason, too?  


Poinsettias are the big seller during the holiday season but would you opt for the traditional red, white or deco blue? 

Wreaths and Mistletoe – do you decorate with one or both and are your greens real, too?

Name your favorite holiday decorating tradition. I’ve just learned from this past Turkey feast that using reverse psychology works with everything. It's always cloth tablecloths, napkins and glassware too. But to save on some clean-up, I opted to go paper/plastic. Not one guest spilled a thing. Go figure. For holiday parties and open houses, what do you like to use?

I'm with keeping the holidays stress and worry free. Take Larry Wilde’s advice. “Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.” So whether it's deco or traditional, keep it simple and just let the holidays be!

Images from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mild Temps Equal Garden Reprieve


Another mild week in store plus wrapping up the second warmest November on record - a blessing in disguise for those last minute garden chores. Here’s your quick list before the ugly head of winter roars!

1) Clean up all leaf litter. Maple trees specifically have experienced high levels of disease this season. Leaving unattended leaf litter in the plant beds or on your lawn means diseased spores reemerge next spring.
2) Cut back and remove this past year’s growth on your perennials. By doing so you remove the source of diseases and insects potentially present on the foliage plus you deter those furry rodents from living in the comfortable underbrush. Rodents should not be taking refuge in your plant beds or you’ll see winter damage for sure.
3) Don’t apply winter mulch on the plant beds quite yet. Keep the ground bare until it freezes. A protective winter mulch spread too soon creates that comfy habitat for rodents.
4) Remove any damaged limbs from the surprise October snowstorm or any other weather pattern that shook your trees a bit. Do this before the season closes in and please don’t put the broken limbs and brush in the streets. Major scratches on the car finish don’t come out easily and putting the butt end of the branches sticking into the roadway is a hazard for everyone, including our plows should we get hit with another surprise storm. Speaking of trees, inspect all for weak crotches that may require support cables prior to the long and ferocious winter months. If the plant has a stress crack, support it structurally or remove the branch in question. Best to seek an expert opinion from an arborist for any dangerous, hazard trees.
5) It is still not too late to plant your bulbs including your garlic. But do it soon!
6) Make sure your irrigation system has been properly winterized. Don’t forget to remove the backflow preventer from the house and store it. A little bit of water in this gadget can freeze and break mid-winter. It’s a bit pricey to replace so this little extra step is a given.
7) It’s not too late with the no-freeze ground to still edge your plant beds. It may look like the lawn is somewhat dormant but there is a lot of root growth that occurs during this time of the year. It’s a good time to remove the encroaching lawn, which makes for an easier spring start-up.
8) So there’s just one more tip - protect any young fruit trees with rodent guards. Rodents love fruit trees. It’s like Skittles for them. These buggers can girdle the bark right off the tree below the snow line and you won’t see the damage until it’s too late.

So take this reprieve and use it wisely. Sorry if the checklist lacks Shakespearean style and finesse but there’s no time to waste. But I’ll use a Shakespearean quote to wrap this post up. “To climb steep hills requires slow pace at first.” If you paced yourself slowly with your garden clean-up list, we need to reach the summit soon or else…winter suddenly comes in its place!
Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Speechless




















This time, this year
The turkey is here
So it’s time to prepare
For my favorite holiday
Before it disappears!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

And in case you need some interesting turkey talk around the table, here’s a link for review so you can debunk and refute all those turkey facts. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/11/111122-thanksgiving-2011-dinner-recipes-pilgrims-day-parade-history-facts/

Now it’s time to set the stage for Judy Hand’s quote, "An open home, an open heart, here grows a bountiful harvest.”  Let’s hope the grocery store still has fresh turkeys!

Image by Greg Bilowz   

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remember Them at Thanksgiving

With so many preoccupied with the holiday buzz, this stirring image taken by Greg on our recent trip to Assisi drew me to the lyrics of Paul Simon’s song, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ These powerful words remind us of those who travel over troubled water during this holiday season. If there is any time to remember, it is now.  

‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out,
When you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silvergirl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

© 1969 Paul Simon



















Remember them at Thanksgiving. Don't drive by.

Images of Assisi by Greg Bilowz   

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Decorate or Not to Decorate





















Hosting the turkey dinner this year? Besides getting all the fixings ready, how do you decorate the table with harvest festivity? Is your centerpiece homemade or do you keep it simple with cloth napkins soft to feel? Or do you fuss with a floral arrangement - is it paper, silk, plastic or the real deal? 




















You can make it like the kids’ table with the basics and lots of room. As John Hughes reminds us, It's like being at the kids' table at Thanksgiving - you can put your elbows on it, you don't have to talk politics... no matter how old I get, there's always a part of me that's sitting there.”  My favorite place to sit if you can get clearance!

Today's message, whether you decorate or not - I hope you don’t go flying over the Thanksgiving speed bump and jettison right into December. With the warm temperatures this past weekend, lots of folks put the holiday lights on the trees. Don't illuminate just yet. Let's enjoy Thanksgiving please!

P.S. It’s Monday before the feast so let’s get creative and engaged. Post your favorite decorating tips or if you forgo the decorations, post why you do what you do! I’ve posted two of my top picks from http://www.squidoo.com/tabledecor so share yours, too.   


If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, November 18, 2011

Button Up the Loose Ends


If you’re still cleaning up leaves and storm debris or buttoning up the loose ends in the garden, you may be falling behind with the Thanksgiving dinner menu. Need some new twists for the usual veggies? I’m pulling two posts from my trusted archives to give your holiday table a quick boost in the flavor department. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/11/rooting-for-rutabaga.html

All set with your menu? Lucky you! Maybe a refresher on that annual check-up list for the garden might come in handy. So here’s another post from the archives to assist you with the final garden showdown.  http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/12/yards-annual-checkup.html Hopefully, that will do!

Final advice - take a deep breath and pace yourself. It’s paramount during this holiday season. Not coming unbuttoned at the seams is huge! Remember these wise, anonymous words. “In life, there is no pause button, no rewind, and definitely no replay.”  Button up your loose ends and enjoy the day!

Image by Ann Bilowz    
(Back to the Blackberry shots!)


If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keeping Your Eye on the Market

An advocate of buying local and supporting the area farmer, this recent article, which indicates the high growth numbers of locally grown food reaching over 4.8 billion as a business should not come as a surprise.
http://www.startribune.com/local/133791058.html With any industry, it is always wise to decipher the marketing and perception from the real deal. The following article, although from 2009, gives you lots to ponder when choosing your locally grown producer and things to consider when shopping at open markets or your chain grocery stores. http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/rip-offs/10-things-your-farmers-market-wont-tell-you-17698/ Getting to know the person who grows what you purchase is huge. A fresher idea - learn to become a novice grower yourself.

So that’s the quick wrap on the countdown to Turkey Day, my favorite holiday and a great time to serve locally grown! In the words of Alan Alda, keep it fresh! “It's really clear to me that you can't hang onto something longer than its time. Ideas lose certain freshness, ideas have a shelf life, and sometimes they have to be replaced by other ideas.”

Image by Greg Bilowz  (An Italian Farmers Market)

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Few Words for Wednesday

 

 A simple rose climbing the walls of Assisi accompanied by an excerpt from the Tao.  Look for the small, the unnoticed and enjoy your Wednesday.

“To perceive the small is called insight.
To remain yielding is called strength.
If, in using one's brightness,
One returns to insight,
Life will be free of misfortune.”

From the Tao Te Ching no. 52

Image of a red rose in Assisi by Greg Bilowz  

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

About Me

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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/

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© 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.)