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.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Little Girl Magnolias



In anticipation of the warm spring days ahead, don’t forget the Magnolia blooms that await us. Fyodor Dostoyevski states it best. “The soul is healed, by being with children.” The satin petals and soft fragrance of this Little Girl Magnolia, Magnolia ‘Jane’ lightens any dark corner in the garden.

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Image of Magnolia ‘Jane’ by Greg Bilowz

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In Your Own Backyard


Spring is this alive, jiving kind of season. So much is ready to pop from the ground and bring us great surprises. With plant enthusiasts in every nook and cranny, don’t miss out on the local opportunities in your own backyard. This is the time to get involved with what’s happening in your region. If you blink, you might miss out.


Remember yesterday and the exclusive club Hosta ‘Grape Fizz.’? If its August fragrant blossom wasn’t convincing enough for you to join your local Hosta society, http://www.americanhostasociety.org/ here’s another reason that might persuade readers, especially in the New England region http://www.nehosta.org/ to jump on board. The National Hosta Convention is taking place smack dab in Central Massachusetts this June. http://www.hosta2011.org/ It’s a first-hand opportunity to become part of something bigger than your own backyard. This is huge - it’s the Hosta hall of fame.


For every plant lover and plant, you can uncover specialty growers or a society. Don’t stop at Hostas; there’s an endless list. Your local garden clubs only require enthusiasm and a love for growie things. So dig for what’s in your own backyard. There’s always something happening now that the spring season has opened up for business.


Want to find a hidden, unique place in your area? Scour the local papers or snoop around the nurseries. Find out where the true plant lovers hang out. Here’s one event happening in Westford, MA that combines a plant sale (we’re talking trees and shrubs) with unusual imported home and garden pieces from around the world. Check out Nonset Farm, 76 Carlisle Road (Rte. 225). This event takes place end of April into May.


Here are the dates so you can mark at least one day on your calendar.


Friday, April 22nd and Saturday, April 23rd 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday, April 29th and Saturday, April 30th 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sunday May 1st 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday, May 6th and Saturday, May 7th 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM


Wow. I’m finding William Arthur Ward’s quotes inspirational as spring unravels and brings us special treats each day. “Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.”


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Image of an early morning May shot of Hostas in our own backyard by Greg Bilowz

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Snap, Crackle, Pop


When the ground still crackles underneath your feet in the morning, it’s a sign that it’s too early to do anything else other than clean-up, prune or meander through the garden to see what’s popping up. For some reason, the cold seems to be lingering a bit longer this spring. So I’m digging through the archives for one of my favorite banana bread recipes. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/04/going-bananas-over-bread.html I happened to have one of those dangerously rotting bananas hanging around the kitchen and decided to whip up this easy recipe last night. More a dessert than just breakfast bread, the sweet aromas wafting in the air make you forget how chilly it still is outside.


But before I scoot off, I wanted to mention the 2011 exclusive Hosta club plant, Hosta ‘Grape Fizz’ from Green Hill Farm. http://www.hostahosta.com/descriptR/GrapeFizz.html


The only way you can get this unusual Hosta is through your local Hosta clubs. It’s a good reason to join and be the first one on the garden block with this slow growing, sun tolerant Hosta (more so for us Northern gardeners) with a late fragrant flower display in August. I don’t know about you but I’m always looking for flora that spruces up the beds mid to late summer.


In the meantime, just enjoy the snap, crackle and pop of these chilly spring mornings. E.M. Forster wraps up today’s blog, reminding us about the importance of getting outside. “What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?”


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Top image taken by Ann Bilowz Image of Hosta ‘Grape Fizz’ from the Green Hill Farm website – http://www.hostahosta.com/

Friday, March 25, 2011

Budding Promise


In our gardens, we often learn that while we love to plant something special, no matter the protection, the care and maintenance we provide to it, some force greater than what we have control of can abruptly take it away. Be it a storm, a late season frost, a disease that ravages its roots or infects its leaves, any or all can shorten the span of that budding promise in spring.

The Cercis Canadensis, the Eastern Redbud is one of those small to medium-size deciduous trees that when planted in a protected microclimate can offer a spectacular burst of color. These trees can be short lived even if all the proper care and protection is provided. I always looked forward to the Redbud’s vibrant blossoms that stretched across the front yard until a blast of Arctic air destroyed its trunk.

I write this as my nephew, Adam flies home today from Spain to bury one of his best buds, David Plamondon. It is always the budding promise that seems to be taken away too soon. But where we garden, there is rebirth. Where we love, we share wonderful memories of that budding promise. Hold Mother Teresa’s healing words in your hearts. “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

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Image of Cercis canadensis and David Plamondon from the Internet

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Early Days of Green


What a beautiful morning. With merely a dusting, we escaped the threats of a New England spring snowstorm. The few flakes that gathered on the grass and terraces can be easily swept away with a broom. Our flowers continue to wake in our backyards. We embrace the early signs of green in our landscape.

So when it comes to this wonderful color that dominates our spring garden, one must wonder about the simple, passive ways to encourage the true practice of living lightly, living green. Now that the snow has dissolved near the clothes line, hanging the sheets out to dry is already marked on the ‘sunny day’ agenda. When you incorporate the free use of solar energy, you won’t experience the fitted sheet dryer nightmares (i.e., hidden socks in the corner pockets.)

Speaking of lost socks and this timeless method of using the sun to dry and whiten our garments sweeps one back to the days of the Great Depression when nothing got tossed aside; everything was saved and served a purpose. Carol Gura writes about returning to another gone by the wayside tradition in her book, “Seasons of the Soul.” She remembers her grandmother’s washed, bleached and dried out rags that were used and reused for the household chores. She summarizes why she decided to return to this custom. “I lament the rolls of paper toweling – so many trees used and tossed into landfills. I am stunned that so many pay for rags, treated and touted with cleaners and toxic formulas to make the art of cleaning easier. Sensitive to the ecology and to voluntary simplicity, I want to promote the return of the humble rag. Rags that cost nothing. Rags that recycle discarded clothing. I am glad I had a grandmother who was so careful with the common rag.”

As we enter our gardens to enjoy the air and the initial signs of spring blossoms, think back on the earlier days of green. Remember the simplicity your grandmother or mother incorporated into their everyday living patterns. Take heed to the old New England proverb, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Time to clean out those drawers and return to the humble rag!

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Images of the spring snowstorm taken by Ann Bilowz

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Calm Before the Snow


Okay, so there’s a little trickery going on with our weather patterns this week. What little is sprouting in the garden must continue to duke it out with the snow shovel. Who wins this match is yet to be determined.

A wise word of advice: pinch yourself and relax. Give yourself a reminder that we just entered the throes of early spring. Mother Nature can toss anything at us and humble the best of the old-time gardeners who brag ‘they’ve seen it all’. So why fight the weather? Just relax and enjoy the calm before the snow.

With white stuff lurking in the forecast, let’s end with a Harriet Ann Jacobs quote. "The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also." Just in case, have some spring sniffing salts handy for reviving your garden spirit. Let’s hope this beaten up snow shovel doesn’t have any heavy lifting scheduled for tomorrow morning.

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Image of early signs of spring taken by Ann Bilowz

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lining Up a Spring Road Trip


Ellis Peters strikes a gardening chord with his simple words. “Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.” But most of us get so busy with outside chores that we forget to take some down time for a dose of inspiration. So what to do when one needs a bit of gardening encouragement? What works for me is a road trip. Although Moore State Park in Paxton, MA http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/more.htm
can be visited during any time of the year, it shines best when the Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Mountain Laurels are in bloom. Plan this one accordingly and lose yourself in the vast open space or wooded trails and soak in the best moments of spring.

But there is another reason why you should mark this one on your upcoming to-do-trips. An interesting research project is taking place at the park; a great horticultural comeback story. It’s the hopeful return of the American Chestnut. Before the Chestnut blight in the early 1900’s, this species comprised over 20% of our native woodlands i.e., one out of every five trees was an American Chestnut. If you visit the park, stop by the research orchard. Take a minute to read the history of this species. Then you might grasp how integral this tree was to our ecosystem and its devastating loss as a food source to both wildlife and humans. Chestnut, a rot resistant tree was also the choice building timber of its day. Here’s a recent article http://www.acf.org/pdfs/news/2011/Pages%20from%20Planting%20a%20comeback.pdf that goes into the skinny on crossbreeding the American Chestnut with the blight resistant Chinese Chestnut. It’s exciting that Moore State Park has the ‘lowest mortality rate of any of the research orchards in Massachusetts’.

Want to get involved? The local American Chestnut Foundation http://masschestnut.org/index.php encourages you to become part of the research. Make it your 2011 garden challenge to find an American Chestnut tree in bloom. Every seed tells a story.

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Top Image of Moore State Park from the Mass Info Website
Bottom Image of an American Chestnut in bloom from the Massachusetts Chestnut Foundation page

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Weather Math Equation


Mark Twain puts it to us lightly. “"In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours." Divide those numbers out and see what you come up. So after yesterday’s first official day of spring fever, let’s snap back to weather reality. This is New England. And here is today’s gardening message for these transitional spring days ahead - use the teaser days wisely for clean-up. Don’t go all guns a smoking.

While in this shoulder season, take it from the top – literally. The best tip for dealing with these spring fluctuations is to prune woody plant material and leave your delicate plant beds resting a while longer. In other words, don’t wake those fussy ones up too early. The layers of mulch and winter debris can actually protect the delicate plants during these erratic weather fluctuations. So where can you make some headway in the garden? Deal with your woody plant material, i.e., the early risers, your trees, shrubs and vines. These hardy types experienced the worst of its weather conditions and are ready for a good clipping. For woody plants, it’s time to prune any damaged or dead material and tighten its structure. This is particularly important for anything that is fruit bearing i.e., apples to grape vines. This clean-up process is not aesthetical; it’s essential when producing a crop.

So take it from the top. Get up and at ‘em with your early risers and keep your delicates hibernating a bit longer. Space out your garden clean-up according to the weather and remember just how frequently we get fooled by these teaser days. With that said, don’t get ahead of yourself with spring fever.

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Images of winter grape vines and pruned grape vines by Greg Bilowz
Image of Cokie basking in spring sunshine by Ann Bilowz

Friday, March 18, 2011

Recipe for Disaster


Let’s make Friday a recipe day. But wait! Do we have everything we need in our pantry? Better yet, let’s skip the recipe and just wing it. Well, that’s a surefire way to head for disaster in the kitchen. This same thing can happen in our garden. Yesterday’s warm temperatures unglued the best of us with rushing thoughts of garden chores and shopping lists. Many folks experienced a snowy, cold winter and our bubbling enthusiasm is about to boil over.

So let’s step back and take a simple tip from ‘America’s Test Kitchen’. This piece of advice can be applied to gardening as well as recipes: measure out all your ingredients before you start whipping up your favorite dish or dessert. Sounds easy, does it? Well, you need to relax a bit and plan for success. Many of us want to jump the gun and get right into it but desire less chaos in the garden. First things first; you need to make sure everything is lined up and ready to go. No need to conjure up a recipe for disaster.

So let’s dig into last March’s archives and pull out a simple reminder for folks about digging and transplanting. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/03/dig-it-its-friday.html It’s a straightforward recipe to follow while we move through this tricky transitional period. You can find other tips and ideas on the blog’s search button.

Enough said. Let’s end Friday’s post with a quote from a Portuguese stone mason. “If you start out crooked, you never straighten out.” March 20th is the first day of spring but put things on a slow simmer. Don’t bring it to a boil. Spend your initial burst of enthusiasm lining out your ingredients. And remember, there are a few recipes you can wing in life, but with everything else there’s planning.

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Image from the Internet

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Trees-R-Us


Lining up at the nursery to get the spring season’s first pick, you may want to stake your claim early on the best specimen trees. Although there are many varieties in the maple, oak and birch category that top my list of favorite trees, here are a few suggestions that may deviate from the norm, depending on your growing conditions and space.

Stewartia: The Stewartia is an ideal small to medium-sized flowering ornamental tree. One of its best features is its stunning exfoliating bark, which offers four-season interest. Searching for summertime flowers and fall color to boot? Try the Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese Stewartia). This sought after specimen is the caviar of the ornamentals. If you have moist, acidic soil with full sun conditions, give this one a go.

Zelkova serrata (Japanese Zelkova): Wondering what might be a good replacement for the diseased-ridden Elm tree? Take a look at the Japanese Zelkova. Related to the Elm, this deciduous shade tree has a similar structure. The Japanese Zelkova can handle some pretty tough conditions and provides fall color without too much leaf clean-up. It makes for a great street tree.

Ginkgo – Ginkgo biloba, another deciduous favorite, is a unique pest-free tree dating back to pre-historic times. Not particularly fussy, this tree can handle extreme conditions (Zone 3 to 9) as well as drought, wind and various soil types. A word of caution with this unique slow grower - don’t get stuck with a female, which you may not know until it is too late! It seldom occurs in the industry but the wretched smelling fruit can be a real show-stopper; and not in a good way. A tree of sacred symbolism to the East, this may be one for the meditative spot within your garden.

Fagus sylvatica (European Beech): Majestic in its own right but a bit slow to mature, this long-lived tree requires plenty of elbow room. It can grow as wide as it can grow tall. These big boys may get the standard, run-of-the mill diseases but if you are looking for massive with long-term impact, this is a primo choice. You can also consider the Fagus grandifolia (American Beech), which is equally bold and beautiful. It’s a tough, native nut tree.

While it’s always fun to play at the nursery, the right location appropriate to its habit, form and growing conditions is essential. With many more choices to pick from like the Yellowwood, Shagbark Hickory, Hornbeam, and of course, the weeping trees that everyone loves, you have to stop your shopping somewhere. So pick a favorite and get in line with your spring order. As the Chinese Proverb reminds us, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. “

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Image from the Internet

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Go Fig-ure


Got the fruit bug? Strangely enough, one of our teenage nieces became fascinated with our fig plants and requested a ‘Black Jack’ fig for her birthday. Now she needs directions. Go fig-ure! So for Cait and anyone else that ventures into ‘bare root ‘ territory, here are a few hints when the box labeled – ‘Fragile – live plants’ arrives on your doorstep.

Storing:
Typical for anything bare root and dormant, store in a cool, dark place and maintain adequate moisture until ready to plant. You do not want the roots to dry out. No overwatering, either.

Potting:
For a 2 ½ foot tall plant, use an 8 to 10 gallon pot with proper drainage at its base i.e., holes on the bottom. Line the bottom of the container with ½” to one inch of clean crushed stone. Use a potting soil that has soil in it, not a soilless mix, which is predominantly peat moss. You become a slave to the watering can. Try a potting soil brand like Coast of Maine. http://www.coastofmaine.com/ Fill the container half to two-thirds with your potting mix, depending on the length of the roots. Place your plant straight in the pot while spreading its roots evenly. You don’t want the roots left in a gnarly, twisted mass. This can hinder the plant’s growth. Evenly distribute soil around the roots while holding the plant at its appropriate height in the pot. The final level or grade of soil should be no less than 1” below the rim of the pot, making it easier to water during the heat of the summer. One tip before you initially water your plant. Lift the pot off the ground and tap it a few times. This helps the soil to settle and works out some of the air pockets. If the plant needs to be adjusted or straightened, now is the time to do it.

Growing:
After potting your new fig, store in a cool, dark location. Keep it watered to maintain proper soil moisture. After a few days of dark storage, you can transition your new plant to a greenhouse, solarium or a sunny window. If you don’t have a decent indoor sunny location, keep the new plant in a cool, dark place. Maintain the plant’s dormancy. Here’s the reason why. If the plant is not hardy to your climate, you need to properly transition it to the outdoors. In the Northeast, figs are not hardy. The transition period, typically the end of April, beginning of May is when you can start bringing your figs outside. For a newly planted fig, its leaves are thin and delicate. When transitioning your new plant outdoors, do not initially expose it to direct sunlight. Overexposure will cause the leaves to scald and burn. You must also keep an eye on extreme heat or extreme cold fluctuations. Springtime temperatures can often change rapidly; from below freezing conditions to 90 degrees within a day. So treat your fig like any delicate houseplant that needs to be hardened off to the outdoors. Once you get past this transition point, typically after the threat of frost, you can expose the figs to hot, blazing sun for best growing results.

To wrap up on figs, it’s great to see the next generation of plant geeks. As Hodding Carter stated, “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.”

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Image of a ‘Black Jack’ fig from the Internet.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Create Your Canopy


Denis Waitley, a motivational speaker points out the obvious. “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” Spring is ready to roll out the red carpet, bugs included. Haven’t made any plans yet? What are you waiting for? Plant something of permanence. Create your canopy. 




If you like this blog, 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.  And you can also find us back on our Google+ Business Page. (Landscape architects/Landscape Design/serving Massachusetts and New England.)
Image from the Internet.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wordless Friday


A William Alexander quote accompanied by a photo I took the other day makes this morning a wordless Friday. “Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring. ” With this most recent earthquake and Tsunami causing devastation across the world, let’s pause and take notice of our seasons.

Image taken by Ann St. Jean-Bilowz

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bridging the Gap


Long before the days of concrete and steel, local masons created exceptional architectural structures with mortar and stone. If you came upon this ancient bridge in your travels, would it evoke a sense of wonder and mysticism, appearing as though it was always a part of its surrounding landscape?

What makes this bridge one to be admired is how its form and materials relate to its setting. Look at the outer profile of the bridge. The soft, rustic masonry style created from native materials compliment the controlled lines, blending with the indigenous surroundings. This bridge serves a function in proper proportion to its setting.

While many of us would never have a structure of this sort in our everyday landscape, the appreciation for bridges and how composition fits into the existing surroundings is the trick of the trade. As Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous 20th century architect once said, “Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.” There – we have bridged the gap!

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Bridge Image from the Internet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crossing Point


Whether it’s a rickety covered bridge in the foothills of Vermont or a few boards crossing a creek in the woods, it’s not uncommon to stop and take pause at its center point. A bridge can provide a charm and an elevated perspective. Often there is movement with water, a distant view or a change in topography. The bridge itself may be dramatic or something very non-descript but whether it is functional or purely aesthetical, there is something that draws one to its crossing point.

Today's assignment: on your drive to work or a stroll in a nearby park, count the number of bridges you cross and determine the function and aesthetics of each structure. As Bruce Jackson reminds us, “Bridges become frames for looking at the world around us.”

Photos taken by Ann St. Jean-Bilowz
(From my low-tech Blackberry camera phone - not high quality digital but you get the picture!)

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mid Summer Sparkle


Barely at the get-set, ready, go for spring, here’s a deciduous woody shrub to consider for hot pink summertime dazzle. To make this plant even more special, get this. It’s a recent 2011 Cary Award winner, http://www.caryaward.org/history.html which means it’s a standout amongst its counterparts. This year’s woody shrub award goes to the Rhododendron 'Weston's Sparkler’, one of the many plant introductions made by the late Ed Mezitt of Weston Nurseries. http://www.caryaward.org/2011_rhodo.html

A quick nursery tip: when plants get recognized, it soon becomes the best act in town. So make sure you get this shrub on your early shopping list. All the planting tidbits you need to know about this fragrant July blooming rhododendron can be found in the link. And if you think the hot pink is the best part, just wait until the fall foliage. Come October, you get its second showing of brilliant color.

It’s about time this shrub got recognized. This winner has been a backdrop in our yard for many years. And as the old saying goes, “Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit.” Check out this versatile Rhododendron and add some mid-summer sparkle to your landscape.

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Image of Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Sparkler’ from Weston Nursery

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Morning Excuses


George Washington Carver poignantly expressed many years ago that “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” That’s a hefty percentage. Whether Mr. Carver statistically collected this data is another story but it points out an often overlooked problem with any challenge we take upon ourselves. Despite all this rain, flooding and mud, let’s start our Monday morning off without the excuses. Just a for instance. If you want a better garden this year, formulate fewer excuses and make it happen. Flops are part of the process. Just no excuses for why it can’t be.

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Images from the Internet

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring Sound Check


Hear the chirps, tweets and mating calls? The spring symphony of bird songs is about to begin. For those of you still hibernating, it’s time for a system check. Nesting time for some of our bird population has arrived in town. While certain species overwinter in the nearby brush, thickets or other available housing structures, the birds that migrate south are scurrying back with that loud, clear signal of spring.

Haven’t been paying attention to the show that’s due in town? Take an early morning walk and listen as the chirps, tweets and call volume amplify each day. Grab your seat on a nearby bench and settle in. This year’s spring bird symphony is about to begin.

So as this blog week comes to a close, let’s pull a Rumi quote for a weekend boost of garden inspiration. "I want to sing like the birds sing not worrying about who hears or what they think.” So get outdoors and sing with the birds. Your gardening days are soon to follow.

Just in case this blog sparks interest in supplementing your spring symphony of sound, check out these audio equipment options made specifically for your outdoor living space. No more lava ‘rock in a box’ look!

http://www.sonance.com/products/speakers/detail/613

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Bird images from the Internet

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wallflowers


If you are a fan of the sitcom ‘The Office’, you may appreciate this recent news clip about cubicles getting even smaller in today’s workplace. http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/03/02/office-cubicles-are-shrinking/ Being a half-full rather than a half-empty kind of gal, this trend presents just one more reason to find solace in the garden.

Whether you have a tiny balcony, a kitchen window or a parcel of land waiting to be dug and sown, it’s time to make a growing space of your own. Never ventured into dirt? Think back to when you were a kid playing in the sandbox or jumping in those piles of raked leaves. There was something invigorating about that quiet outdoor space you embraced as an inquisitive youngster.

Here’s a suggestion for those being shifted into smaller cubby holes. Create your own garden space. You can always kick up your feet and watch re-runs of ‘The Office’ or you can sow and grow a place of your own.

St. Thérèse de Lisieux provides the perfect inspiration for seeking solace in the garden. "The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent or the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”

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Image of Wallflower (Erysimum cheiri) from the Internet

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action


Take a seat in your director’s chair and put some perspective on what season is about to unfold. Most of us are like Mexican jumping beans, ready to move into outdoor action and living. Spring is literally around the bend but is your exterior space ready when the weather finally breaks? Are you geared up for lights, camera and action?

Okay, let’s pull back the reigns to set the scene and take a peek at a developing landscape craze. In a recent ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) 2011 Residential Trends Survey, some interesting material was revealed. “The most popular outdoor living features this year include lighting, with 96.2 percent indicating the feature as somewhat or very popular for 2011.” http://asla.org/land/LandArticle.aspx?id=30853 The rest of the survey is well worth your gander but this lighting thing illuminates suggestions made about this very subject in my December 2nd, 2010 blog. Take a second read on this one. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/12/showcase-your-winter-landscape.html

Before you jump back into that director’s seat, let’s be clear about well-done landscape lighting. It isn’t just bunging in a bunch of random fixtures. This may resolve illumination or safety issues but to create a mood, it requires proper planning. You want the fixtures to enhance not obscure or overpower your outdoor living space. Sometimes less is more and getting the correct layout, the right light fixtures and tweaking the system is 90% of the battle. What’s the other 10%? Enjoying it!

Time to wrap up today’s set with an inspirational thought. An Edward Abbey quote illuminates this lighting trend best. “You can’t study the darkness by flooding it with light.” Enhance, not overpower your outdoor living space!

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Run-off


Is there one sign of spring that can make many of us cringe? Heavy rain events that cause spring flooding and erosion can often dismiss our magical moments of apple blossoms and crocuses. Mix this year’s record breaking snowfall with warm temperatures and rain and the combination may spell flooding troubles with a capital T.

So what design principles are in place to alleviate these troubles? With any newly constructed projects, the end goal is clear - the precipitation that falls on a property remains on that property, residential or commercial. One design principle that is often implemented is the use of rain gardens. Although rain gardens, which are shallow vegetated detention areas designed to capture and percolate rainwater runoff from roofs and impervious surfaces aren’t anything new, there have been a number of adaptations to the look and performance. There is more to these mini detention ponds than meets the eye.

A tastefully designed rain garden can offer aesthetic and functional relief while others, less stylishly laid out may appear to be nothing more than an unmaintained drift of weeds. A properly designed and executed rain garden has the potential to substantially reduce runoff, erosion and contamination of surrounding waterways, often times outperforming formal structures. Unfortunately, in the U.S. we are years behind the Europeans on this topic with some serious catch up. With that said, here is an interesting five-year study from the U.S. Geological Survey's Wisconsin Water Science Center that sheds light on the use of prairie grass and its effectiveness with various types of soils, specifically clay soils that can be fairly impervious. http://www.sustainablecitynetwork.com/topic_channels/water/article_b65fe518-3de0-11e0-82aa-00127992bc8b.html?utm_source=SCN+InBox+e-Newsletter&utm_campaign=d157714b5a-Newsletter_2-23-11_Vendors&utm_medium=email

So while today’s information is a bit dry, the goal is to avoid an enormous wet mess. Our end result is to keep our waterways clean. As the West African proverb profoundly reminds us, “Filthy water cannot be washed.”




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Images from the Internet

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.)