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

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Imagine


Can you identify the tree in the photograph? Do my local plant followers need a hint? Unfortunately this tree is not native to New England. It thrives in Mediterranean climates and its fruit is a staple in any cook’s kitchen. So why should we know or be bothered with what exists in another’s plant palette? For starters, it’s healthy to imagine settling into this bucolic scene because it sure beats the one in New England today. You can feel the warm sunshine, the breeze and the soft fragrance of spring flowers.

As Albert Einstein wisely reminds us, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Don’t clutter your mind with the drizzle outside. Spring is only a flip of the calendar and literally just days away. Imagine - this winter is almost over!
For those who are looking for the answer at the end of the book, if you guessed Olive tree, you are spot on! To get through today, think about how you can integrate the fruits of this tree into your meal this evening. The possibilities are endless!

Don’t forget to post your questions, photos, comments! You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, agbilowz@comcast.net or you can always post your comments on the blog.

Images from the Internet

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Garden Leisure Suit


The French novelist, Anatole France once said, “Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.” So is it coincidence that a recent Garden Writers Association survey provides a telling factor about our under-40 gardening population? Relaxation was the number one appeal for the 18-24 year-olds to garden, beating out all the other compelling motives (a sense of satisfaction, working with nature or growing their own food). That’s a big WOW in this industry. Why you ask? This age group is actually seeking out gardening as a way to unwind. When the 25-40 age range was asked the same question, the shift changes to a ‘sense of satisfaction’ as the number one incentive to garden and connect with the earth.

So why tell you these interesting tidbits on a snowy Friday morning in New England? Think about what these statistics reinforce about the undeniable need to work the earth. Things don’t spin too fast in the garden. What starts as relaxation becomes satisfying and rejuvenates the soul. This under-40 crowd gets it while Henry David Thoreau summarizes it best. “He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul's estate.”

Don’t forget to post your questions, photos, comments! You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, agbilowz@comcast.net. or you can always post your comments on the blog.

Images from the Internet

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It’s Swarming Up


Ramakrishna once said, “When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.” But what if the bees stop showing up for the party? For those who might be unaware, there is a strange phenomenon effecting our worldwide bee population called the Colony Collapse Disorder. Here are a couple of recent articles for your perusal to get you up to speed on this topic. http://halfmoonbay.patch.com/articles/local-beekeepers-buzz-about-the-bees-needs-to-fight-hive-losses
http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jan/28/another-pesticide-link-vanishing-honeybees/

There are a myriad of reasons tossed around for the demise of the bees i.e., pesticides, mites, a new virus but no matter how you sugar coat it, bees are a primary source of pollination. Although other insects and the wind can pollinate, this sudden demise of bees has the potential of becoming a colossal problem for the agricultural industry and not one to be overlooked by the consumer or the everyday gardener. With spring on our doorstep, will you be paying attention to what you see in your own backyard?

Some of you may be deathly allergic to their stingers (as I am) but there is a symbiotic relationship between people, the environment and bees. So as things swarm up in the spring, don’t just look for the blossoms. Look for the VIB (very important bee) guest to arrive and greet the flowers’ sweet nectar. It’s swarming up and pollination is at the heart of every blossom.

Don’t forget to post your questions, photos, comments! You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, agbilowz@comcast.net. or you can always post your comments on the blog.

Images from the Internet

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Text, Sow and Grow


Are you all fired up and itching to plant your spring veggie garden? Still stumped on what to order or how to plant your rows? Whether you are new to this veggie craze or you’ve dabbled with this gardening thing for a while, here is a great little resource for those mobile web tool fanatics. If you have a zip code and text messaging, you may want to experiment with the new Burpee Garden Coach™. Sounds like this tool can provide you with everything you need to stay on top of the gardening season. All you have to do is text your U.S. zip code to 80998 and you get introduced to your very own garden coach. Now I haven’t tried it out and I don’t text message so this tool isn’t for me. For any of you text-no-geeks, receiving ‘timely garden advice, planting instructions, harvest tips and recipes’ sounds like a slick feature to trial during the upcoming growing season. You even get local weather, which any good farmer must follow! For those more like me, you may want to visit http://www.burpeehomegardens.com/ and get your free ‘Garden Fresh’ brochure. This glossy piece showed up unannounced in my mailbox and it gets a ‘thumbs up’. No seeds, no products, just common sense information for anyone looking to dabble in this home garden thing. If you haven’t quite realized why you should plant a few edibles in your abode, J.C. Loudoun gives us humble food for thought. “For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.”

Don’t forget to post your questions, photos, comments! You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, agbilowz@comcast.net. or you can always post your comments on the blog.
Images from the Internet

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Bump in the Road


Call it a flat tire or a big pothole that just threw out the alignment, but it’s time to reconsider the vested interest in writing a daily blog. A recent New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/technology/internet/21blog.html?src=busln points out that overall, blogs may be dwindling. To narrow it down a bit more specifically, a recent survey conducted for the Garden Writers Association just released results for the ‘under 40-year-olds regarding their activities, plans and opinions about plants, gardening, using organic products, gardening information sources, and basically, why they did or did not garden.’ Garden websites and blogs fell in the middle of the pack. Well, let’s not say it’s a dying breed but the top place for garden information for this group is from friends and neighbors, followed by books, classes, nurseries, magazines and television even before they hit the garden specific web sites and blogs. Surprisingly Facebook and Twitter were at the very bottom.

From a gardening perspective, I see this as great news. Information is still being conveyed in the garden world via the old-fashion way – through personal contact with friends and neighbors. With that in mind, I’ll keep blogging along because it’s my daily message in a bottle; a gentle reminder that gardening is still holding strong. It’s part of our fabric as human beings. So remember the quote by Janet Kilburn Phillips. "There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”

Don’t forget to post your questions, photos, comments! You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, agbilowz@comcast.net. or you can always post your comments on the blog.
Image from the Internet.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Old Classic


Today’s holiday and dusting of snow is a perfect time to pull an old classic off the shelf. Grab a cup of cocoa and play this rerun from last year. Go ahead. Dust it off and take a peek. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/02/spring-early-signs.html And remember the wisdom of this old proverb. “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

Don’t forget to post your questions, photos, comments! You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, agbilowz@comcast.net. or you can always post your comments on the blog.

Today's images from the Internet. Promise to get some new photos!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunshine and Shears


Get your muck boots and tank top on - it’s time for outdoor garden fun. These warm temps are ideal for getting out in the yard and pruning your deciduous and ornamental trees. The late winter/early spring pruning season has begun. This is the time to evaluate what's happening, but in particular with the trees. Your jaunt may require big boots or snow shoes to get access but you can’t beat these temps.

Why prune now?
A) The sap flow hasn’t started in the trees which is a good thing when pruning. Think of fixing a leaky boat. You wouldn’t do the repair in the water. Same with a tree. Right now, everything is still dormant. The pruning marks cauterize before the sap starts to flow.
B) Any severe weather that we may still encounter tends to be short-lived because the days are longer i.e., slowly warmer. The worst of the winter weather is behind us.

Need techniques? You can check the endless list online for illustrations and informative videos. Also take a peek at my March 10th, 2010 blog that covers some of the basics of pruning and when you might consider bringing in an expert i.e., a certified arborist. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/03/to-prune-or-not-to-prune.html Here are two informative video links that may also be helpful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGEOtghlDhk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3he65DCEfqM
If you do find this is beyond your comfort zone or it’s time to bring in an arborist, remember many of the local companies are a bit backlogged due to restricted site access from this winter’s heavy snowfall. So call and get on their short list. Don’t drag your heels in the mud.

And as Steve Martin says, “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” So get out and enjoy yourself with sunshine and shears.

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.
Images from the Internet.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rush Order


William Shakespeare once said, “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.” You get this morning’s message. Not being properly prepared for the spring season is like hitting that snooze button one too many times and well, you know the rest of the story. Are you ready for the meltdown? This week’s weather is a reminder that the coldest part of the winter is behind us. We are in the slow transitional thaw; a snow shovel in one hand with a garden hoe in the flanks.

So have you placed all your plant orders? Think more than just seeds. Bare root stock orders are up at bat. No time to stumble and strike out on this one. If you wait too long, the crop is gone until next year. Here’s a quick laundry list of bare root stock that often disappears early in the order season:

Fruit category:

Fruit trees
Blueberries
Grape vines
Raspberries
Strawberries

If you call the nursery and your plant is out of stock, reserve your order for next year. It sounds premature to plan for the 2012 season but you get first pick and you won’t be left rootless.

Vegetable Category:

You may think this typically falls under just seeds but bulbs and tuber orders should be placed immediately.

Seed potatoes
Onion sets
Garlic
Asparagus

Ornamentals:

If you have large areas to plant and the capacity and manpower to prep these locations in time, bare root stock is a great option for some woody plants and herbaceous perennials.

Want to plant a large stand of ferns or groundcover? Ordering bare root stock may be the best way to save substantial costs. Pick from a number of bare root workhorses (i.e., Daylilies, Hostas, Ivy) to name a few. It’s worth doing some research to find the right plants that can do well with this planting method.

So that’s a wrap for Thursday. And remember this funny one liner to get you cranking on your order. “The road to success is always under construction.” Great gardens are a work in progress.

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.
Images from the Internet

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reframe Your Last Weeks of Winter


It may be too early to pack away that overworked snow blower and pull out your garden spade but it’s never too soon for scheduling a flower show. Have a free winter weekend? Looking for some creative ideas, tips and products? Here’s a surefire way to reframe this year’s snowy winter.

Two regional flower shows are taking place in Southern New England before our garden shed doors crack open for business. Are you interested in ‘Gardening with Heart?’ Then check out the 19th annual Rhode Island Flower show running February 24 – 27th, 2011. Sounds like a plan to get the valves moving. This year's show is partnered with the American Heart Association so it’s a great month to ponder how gardening can keep the ticker in check while enjoying the great outdoors. Tickets to the Rhode Island Flower Show are available for $16 in advance for adults or $18 at the door. Admission is free for children five and under and tickets are $7 for children ages 6-12. Additional event and ticket information for the Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show is available at http://www.flowershow.com/.

Next up in March, March 16th – 20th to be exact, the Boston Flower and Garden Show opens its doors to the general public for a theme you don’t want to miss - "A Burst of Color: Celebrating the Container Garden." This craze is as hot as growing your own vegetables, which by the way you can produce loads of edibles in containers. For ticket pricing and event information visit http://www.masshort.org/Blooms-and-the-Boston-Flower-&-Garden-Show. Find out how to get your free flower show tickets when you become a member at Elm Bank. This is the time to jump on board.

So why not reframe what this long snowy winter did to the gardeners’ psyche and think about ‘Gardening with Heart’ or just getting into ‘Bloom.’ As Rumi reminds us, “You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?”

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Images from the Internet

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weeding Out the Winter Wardrobe


Heinz V. Bergen once said, “Information is the seed for an idea, and only grows when it's watered.” So what are your garden plans once the snow melts? Maybe it’s time to weed out your winter wardrobe of information. See, here’s where I’m going with this one. The amount of data, articles and resources available to us these days is astounding but all this information piles up in our heads. It's like that old wool sweater dotted with moth holes in the back of your closet. You think you can wear it again when you’re cleaning or lounging but it takes up unnecessary space.

So what motivates you to water that seed of information? What gets you off the couch and into your muck boots and moth-eaten wool sweater? Cold weather is perfectly suited for gathering your nuggets and seeds. If you are just browsing and collecting knowledge, that’s all well and good. But at some point, we must rid ourselves of the collected clutter and jump head first into that anticipated garden project. Hint, hint - spring is on its way and your prized collection of data is useless if you only have a seed and don’t intend to water.

So set aside some time to sort through your overloaded closet and do some late winter cleaning. Toss out those ideas you know are just too darn cumbersome to implement and keep only those that you know are achievable. Start small and think big. Just be forewarned with Hal Borland’s clever quote. “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Images from the Internet.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Swirling in Blooms


Margaret Atwood once said, "The Eskimos have 52 words for snow because it is so special to them; there ought to be as many for love!" I guarantee we added a few more to the Eskimos count of 52 this year for snow. But when it comes to flowers, think about the meaning and symbolism of these beautiful blossoms that swirl around us on Valentines Day. Take a peek on this link for different flower meanings. http://aboutflowers.com/flower-a-plant-information-and-photos/meanings-of-flowers.html

Before we delve any deeper, here’s a quick Valentine factoid: 40% of the U.S. floral industry business is conducted in one day - today. When you think about what flowers can add to someone’s daily life, it’s mind boggling why people don’t make it more of a habit like in other parts of the world. We spend more money on donuts and coffee then we do on a beautiful blossom that has the ability to lower one’s blood pressure and it doesn’t add calories. Heck, I’m a big coffee drinker but there is always room for flowers!

You don’t need to be someone’s Valentine to swirl in blooms. Make flowers a regular part of your routine. Take the time to grow a garden, plant a container or at least buy a bouquet weekly to decorate your table. And if you follow me on a regular basis, there are always plenty of tips for how to add flowers to your life. Cupid’s best advice for love – keep swirling in blooms year round.

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Images from the Internet

Friday, February 11, 2011

Romancing the Gardener


With the weather a balmy 1 degree Fahrenheit (-17.22222222222222 Celsius) this morning, who can think gardens? There is one bright spot on this brrralmy day. It truly feels like daylight is staying with us a tad longer. Does it make it easier to stick your toes out the door? No way, no how but there is something to be said about that natural light making its stay a bit longer these days.

With this upcoming romantic weekend on the horizon, here are a few local ideas for romancing the gardener. This Saturday’s event at the Arnold Arboretum is for those outdoor types. Interested in checking out the dwarf conifer and juniper collections on snowshoes? Sounds like a blast so if you can brave the cold and you like to shuffle through the trails, click on this link to find out all the details. http://calendar.arboretum.harvard.edu/functions/popup.php?ev=2455605&readFile=1&readSQL=0&showCat=&oc=1
There is also an Arnold Arboretum event on Sunday for the “Multifaceted Edible Landscape.” This is a perfect time to start thinking about mixing your edibles with ornamentals. Don’t wait until the spring melt. Romanticize about it now and get some great ideas to boot. http://calendar.arboretum.harvard.edu/functions/popup.php?ev=2455606&readFile=1&readSQL=0&showCat=&oc=1

Popping that special question this weekend? You can always check out one of the local wineries mentioned in yesterday’s blog. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2011/02/interest-or-commitment.html Sample an artisan cheese with some great regional plunk. Pop the cork and enjoy the moment. A warm fire with a few flowers always helps.

So do the real KISS -keep it simple silly. Forgo the pricey dinners and make your pre-Valentines Day a local garden jaunt. As Emma Goldman reminds us, “I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.” That’s the true way to romance the gardener!

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Images from the Internet

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Interest or Commitment


There is one commonality, a single thread that makes something ordinary extraordinary – commitment. With Valentine’s Day and that season of love in the air, that word ‘commitment’ should not be taken lightly. As an anonymous wise soul once said, “There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.”

So let’s get serious. Let’s talk about an interesting topic swirling in and around some of our Massachusetts farmlands. That topic is wine. Just for the records, wine is the highest value added product in the agricultural industry. Another factoid – we have several vintners and vineyards producing some phenomenal locally produced wines.

So where am I going with this interest or commitment thing? Stick with me. At the annual Farm Wineries and Growers Association meeting, a major topic discussed was the recently passed legislation allowing Massachusetts farmers/wineries to sell their locally produced wines at the regions’ numerous farmers markets. Think about what this means for you, the Farmers market junkie that likes buying locally grown veggies and fruits. Now you can buy direct from the guy or gal vintner a bottle or two of outstanding wines. Yes, you may try some that still need work but even in Napa and France, vintners must work out the bugs.

Some of the wines sampled at this year’s meeting were rated in the top 10 percentile at the recent Boston Wine Expo. In plain and simple terms – Massachusetts’ locally produced wines ran up against some of the stiffest competition and products produced throughout the world. This is a budding industry in Massachusetts that we can only hope the general public embraces and pledges their support at the local farmers markets.

It’s up to you, those that are committed to locally-produced agricultural products to keep in contact with your local state rep and legislators ensuring that this new opportunity for Massachusetts wineries and vintners does not diminish from the Farmers market scene. Without this legislation staying in place, this important agricultural industry can be seriously hindered. This landmark legislation could be easily overturned if we do not pay attention and stay committed to this local industry.

To sum it up, this legislation is an important tool for exposing the general public to a particular wine without visiting the vineyard. If you decide you like the wine, that visit hopefully becomes inevitable. The Farmers market coverage is invaluable for these locally hidden gems to receive due recognition within the market place. Why let an outstanding Zin that is locally produced get overshadowed by an overrated, overpriced name brand?
Are you interested? Then stay committed to these local vineyards. Don’t forget to visit the Massachusetts Wine and Cheese trail. http://masswinery.com/featured/wine-cheese-trail/ It’s a great winter road trip.

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.
Top Photo - locally grown Chardonnay Photo by Greg Bilowz
Bottom Image - From the Massachusetts Winery Website

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Soil Call

Itching to get that veggie garden going? While some of your seeds may be ordered or ready to ship, the first step before planting any material is to run a soil test. This is the best approach prior to amending or adjusting your soil. Test for nutrient levels, soil texture and in the case of edibles, test for soil contaminants i.e., lead or other heavy metals. Once you get your results from your local extension service, then you can determine the best strategy to augment what already exists. Your goal is to maximize growth and production for one season when prepping soils for your vegetable garden. This requires the best possible growing conditions – sun, soil and moisture but it all starts with soil.

Experiencing scratchy conditions i.e., rocky soils? Situations like this can require a little machine work to hog out and replace with a good quality loam/compost planting mix. If your area is relatively small and level, raised beds can be a good option. For anyone with contaminated soils, raised beds may be your best bet to control your growing medium.

Here’s where a little legwork kicks in. Understand and determine the volume of material you need to fill your garden area. How do you calculate for a moderate-sized vegetable garden? An easy formula is to multiply length X width X depth divided by 27. (There is 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard. All suppliers of bulk materials typically deal with cubic yards.) Here is a quick example: 20’ long X 15’wide X 1’ deep divided by 27 = 11 cubic yards (cy). Add approximately 10 to 15% for a fluff factor (11 cy X 1.15 = 12.5 cy). High organic soils settle over time.

For a small planting bed, it makes sense to buy in bags. (Bag measurements are in cubic feet.) You still need to calculate your quantities even with small garden plots. For instance, a 10’ long X 5’ wide X 8” deep (.666) (8” divided by 12” = .666’) raised bed requires 33 cubic feet of material, about a yard and a bit. That’s too small for a bulk delivery and would require bags from a garden center. Don’t use standard potting soil. Buy loam-compost mixes. Coast of Maine http://www.coastofmaine.com/ is a great source. Even if you plant veggies in containers for outdoor spaces, still use similar mixes. Don’t use a soilless mix; it dries out too quickly in the heat of the summer.

Getting the right soil mix is only the beginning for good veggie growing. Before you start kicking in the dirt, understand what is in that soil. Make that call. Get your test results before you invest in plant materials. For those considering planting, remember this anonymous quote. “You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.”

P.S. Unfortunately, the funny bone goes on hiatus when there is technical lingo and formulas. Sorry for the math class. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, you can email me at agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

All images from the Internet.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Perfected Condition


Albert Einstein understood the importance of maturity and how difficult it can be in our formative years. “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.” There’s that little detail called patience that exists even in the world of landscape design. We rush for its perfected condition that can sometimes take years to perfect. Too often, magazine editors want that stylish, chic home with its brand spanking new landscape photographed before its prime. Yet the most treasured gardens and grounds that truly capture the architecture and all its grandeur often are discovered in the later years. Think England and all its celebrated gardens and you get the message.

In yesterday’s blog, http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2011/02/spring-do-over.html the first point in the spring do-over was to tackle your space with creativity and if you were getting stumped, to dig for inspiration in garden/home magazines and books. One more tip for finding inspiration - look for the mature landscapes. Visit established arboretums and gardens that may have experienced a few do-overs in its day but still show parts of the original design and structure. With a keen eye, you can see how it all comes together. You can spot the maturity of the grounds.

So I’m calling it a wrap for this beautiful winter morning. It’s time to appreciate the quiet moments before spring.
With that said, I must end today’s post in memory of Sam, the Border collie caught in the background of the top photo. A few weeks ago, our clients had to do what is the hardest day in a dog owner’s life. John Grogan sums up what dogs really are to us humans. “He taught me to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in the shaft of winter sunlight". To Kathy and Joe, Sam’s paw prints will always make this photograph extra special. Ciao.

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Top Photograph and Design/Build by Greg Bilowz
Middle Photograph by Annie – the pro is on assignment
Card and photo - by Kathy K.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Spring Do-Over


Even though these icy winter mornings might have us wishing for a do-over, it’s time to start thinking about spring projects. If you’ve been yearning to make some major changes, let’s talk do-overs. Are you considering a simple face-lift (playing plant chess by rearranging existing materials) or reconstructive surgery (a total gut and rebuild)?

Here are a few quick rules for do-overs:

1) Tackle your space with creativity. Only one option for that spot? Think again. Certain spaces may present limitations but it shouldn’t stop you from creating a fabulous look. The tip here is if you think big, you’ll get big. If you think narrow, it will always feel like a small space with no oomph. Getting stumped? Dig for inspiration in garden/home magazines and books.
2) Inventory everything currently in that space. Whether it is lawn, stone, furniture, accent pieces or plants, determine what you like and don’t like about the inventory.
3) Determine what might be missing. Shed the ‘don’t likes’ from the list and gather your ‘must-haves’ for shopping day.
4) If you have a total overhaul in mind, this may require professional help i.e., stone masons, landscape contractors, or a design consultant. Contact and interview them now. This is the time of year to do the meet and greet for your team.
5) If it’s just a plant facelift, mark the calendar for your shopping spree. That being said, you may want to reevaluate your plant materials and get really good at playing plant chess. Maximize the impact of everything you already have and love. One perennial planted 5 years ago may be big enough to divide and create a drift. Bingo! You have just changed the scale and impact of that plant. This also allows you to start thinking plant combinations. That’s when the real fun begins. And remember, no good plants should go to waste.
6) Still having a hard time getting your do-over in gear? Network and socialize with those that can plant a seed of creativity. Whether it’s on the social media front or networking at local trade shows, winter garden events or a garden club luncheon, there are loads of places to find inspiration.

Okay. So the winter blues still have you holding off on thinking spring? Here’s a deep Monday morning quote from the German classical scholar and philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche to get the juices going. “Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. -- Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.” Time for a do-over!

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Images from the Internet

Friday, February 4, 2011

If Spring Could Tell Time…


Yikes. Does spring really know what time it is? Has it counted the days on the calendar and said, “Hmmm. Time to get melting.” Nope. This old-fashion winter just keeps piling on the inches of fluff or in some cases, yuck. So as we trudge through February, it’s clear that January passed with no mid-winter thaw. So let’s knock that high hopeful off the calendar. I’m guessing that spring just doesn’t go by our datebook.

So as I dig through all the collected tidbits of new fangled products and brochures from yesterday’s New England Grows Show, Benjamin Disraeli provides us with the best advice for our remaining winter days. “But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day. “Forgo calculating the number of days until spring. But if you’re running a tally, spring is just moments away. I think it’s something like 43 days, 12 hours, ten minutes and 55 seconds but who’s counting!

Photos of the infamous Ben & Cokie enjoying the February snow taken by Annie’s blackberry camera phone – Our official photographer is off to the last day of the NE Grows show!

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Growing to the Show


Today’s quickie blog is short and to the point. I’m buckling my boots and digging my way through the slogs of snow to trek my way to New England Grows. http://www.newenglandgrows.org/ Looking forward to the Garden Writers Conference luncheon and buzzing around the booths to see familiar comrades. Denis Waitley’s motivational words sum up why it’s always worth trudging forward. “All of the top achievers I know are life-long learners... Looking for new skills, insights, and ideas. If they're not learning, they're not growing... not moving toward excellence.”

I’ve got to get growing to the show. I’m hoping to gather some snazzy new ideas and material for posting! Annie

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Image from the New England Grows Website

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Brain Freeze


If all this weather has frozen your garden thoughts, there’s always one important task for a day like today. This unruly winter weather is a perfect time to evaluate and understand the microclimates on your property. You may want to come prepared with a compass.

High wind points are easily found at this time of year with depth of snow and drift formations. It shows where the protected locations are within your property during the winter months. There are always variables depending on the direction of particular storm events i.e., the infamous Nor’easters where winds come from the Northeast. For a general rule of thumb: the standard winter prevailing winds come from the northwest; our summer prevailing winds come from the southwest.

That being said, a prevailing wind does not always indicate how air flow impacts or reacts to your particular property. Obstacles or structures i.e., houses, stands of trees, or land forms can redirect the wind. These obstacles or structures can either create protected locations or areas of high wind velocity.
This exercise helps you determine problematic high wind velocity areas where you may be limited to a more bombproof plant palette. It can also identify those protected locations where you may be able to experiment with marginally hardy or delicately structured plant materials.

Don’t make your decisions in a vacuum. Understand the natural factors i.e., the wind dynamics of your site. And as Ethel Merman reminds us, “always give them the old fire, even when you feel like a squashed cake of ice.” Despite these winter storms, brain freezes are not an option. Your gardening thoughts should be cooking on a slow simmer. Use this unruly weather to your advantage. Plus it’s something to ponder while you shovel the drifts.

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

Image from the Internet

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Head Over Heels


What’s to love about winter? As Seneca once said, “Things that were hard to bear are sweet to remember,” Let’s hope you can find the end of your snow shovels to dig out from under this winter blanket.

Stay safe. It will all be a memory come spring.

Sorry for today’s brief photo collage. I may be short on words but I have an inkling people aren’t paying too much attention to a gardening blog today! Plus, I need to find the end of the snow shovel. Happy February! Annie

If you have a minute, check out my February column in ‘Garden Dispatch’ for Ball Publishing. http://www.ballpublishing.com/greenprofit/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=18252 The thrust is for inspiring the garden centers but I’d love your comments and feedback.

P.S. For anyone subscribing via email that prefers to reply direct, I’ll keep an email address in the blog agbilowz@comcast.net. You can always post on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz.

All Images for today’s post from the Internet
I'll be digging out the camera for my own winter photos!

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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.)