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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Loving Lewisias






















Looking for another one of those plant lovers’ plants? Lewisias are a great choice to add to your plant beds providing you can create the right conditions. Although this lovely succulent is a perennial, I tend to look at them as an annual because creating the right conditions can be a bit tricky. So when one planted last year popped back up in the garden, I was ecstatic.





















Whether it has enough oomph to blossom will be a tell-tale sign of its longevity. The one condition that is hard to get rid of in this neck of the woods is humidity. This is a succulent that loves low humidity so you can bet it is difficult to keep this perennial happy in sticky New England. It doesn’t stop me from still buying a few more each year. Here’s a quick link giving you some pointers on how to grow Lewisia. http://www.wildgingerfarm.com/GrowLewisia.htm

So if you love this look of Lewisias, give them a go. Michael Jordan has a perfect quote to end this month of May. “If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” That sums up the life of a true gardener. Just think. Tomorrow we jump head first into June! That’s when everything in the flower garden can be at its best.

Images of Lewisias in the garden 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, May 27, 2011

In Stillness





















 
The flag flies in stillness on this Friday before Memorial Day. This stillness reminds me of our Gold Star families’ hearts waiting for that one weekend in the year that honors their loved ones. These are the people that Memorial Day is for and about – these families that carry daily the last crystal memory of their loved ones, as clear in their minds as this blue sky. If we choose to forget or ignore these casualties of wars, we have chosen to forget or ignore them, these families; our neighbors. This is our weekend to take part and remember their loved ones.

It is our Gold Star families you see everyday at your local grocery store, the post office, or church. These families are amongst us, like the lone Lady Slipper reaching for sunlight in the woods. Take a moment for these families this weekend. Honor their loss, that empty space that never gets filled. A crystal memory of a last word or moment with their loved ones is as clear in their minds as this blue sky. Reach out and be still with them. This is their weekend.





















Images of Flag and Lady Slipper 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, May 26, 2011

Make Your Planters Versatile






















The mad dash for annuals and hanging planters has begun, making it prime time to decorate and add color for the holiday weekend. You can lose control in the annuals department when tantalized by all these splashes of immediate color. Here’s a quick suggestion for making, in this case, my impulse buy a bit more versatile. Our front porch that gets afternoon sun is not the right location for a plant that needs a bit more shade.

So here’s what I intend to do. Take an empty ceramic or terra cotta planter that normally might get filled with yearly annuals and turn it upside down and use the bottom base as a tabletop. To avoid the ugly look of the hanger with no purpose, let's snap it off the pot. Then I can move and adjust whenever I need an instant splash of color or make the base its permanent location once I find the appropriate light with plenty of free flowing space to grow properly.

To wrap it up, here’s a quote that has been attributed to many so I’ll consider it an up for grabs author. “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." So when you can’t resist that impulse buy, figure out how to adjust those sails.

Images of hanging planter 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, May 25, 2011

Snow In Summer

Finally - the sun is out with perfect temperatures and no threat of rain for the next 24 hours. Just think. We could have snow in summer. So for those of you that haven’t noticed, this wonderful spreading groundcover (Cerastium tomentosum – common name/Snow in Summer) is flowering.

Today’s post is just a simple reminder of what’s in bloom. Terri Guillemets provides our quote for the day because so many people choose to start the morning off on the wrong foot. “If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.” Enjoy the day instead of …. and complain. Yep, that was a fill in the blank. So spread spring cheer as we hustle towards the holiday weekend.  






















Images of Snow in Summer in the garden 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, May 24, 2011

Getting Up to Speed on Plant Disease



















Thinking about getting those tomato plants purchased and planted? Be aware. New York’s State Agricultural Commissioner is alerting homeowners and commercial growers of the potential for late blight this growing season. While organic is the way most of us wish life could be, when it comes to dealing with a wet, cool spring, we must be vigilant about these types of diseases. http://www.empirestatenews.net/News/20110524-7.html You can check some past posts on late blight - what to do and what not to do. The priority for any homeowner grower is to be responsible for what you are planting as late blight is airborne, which means it can easily and rapidly spread. Plants must be protected in advance, which is one of the main reasons it can get ahead of people. By the time you see symptoms, it’s too late. So for all those folks that think you plant tomatoes and your job is done, get up to speed on late blight disease. This Dutch proverb seems to wrap up this alert. “Sickness comes on horseback but departs on foot.” Stay vigilant on all the diseases that put on a saddle during our wet spring weather.

Image of late blight on tomatoes 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, May 23, 2011

One Lone Flower



















In a sea of Lavender, if there is one lone flower that stands out, do you cut it down or let it bask in the beauty of purple? My thoughts - STAND OUT!

For anyone who loves Lavender, which is “the most versatile, best loved and most widely therapeutic of all essential oils,” you should find a farm to visit. We were fortunate to discover one overlooking Skaneateles Lake in New York. Although the fields were just perking up at Lockwood Farm, you can’t deny the scent of Lavender. The essential oils of Lavender are known as “adaptogens (translation) they do whatever the body requires of them at the time. The psychological response is triggered by the effect that the aromatic molecules have on the brain.”

In Karen Lockwood’s shop, I picked up a soothing herbal balm with Shea Butter, Lavender and Balsam. This balm has some other ingredients mixed in but when you dab it on your hands, it smells like a Christmas tree farm collided with a field of Lavender. I absolutely love the intensity of this balm. For any of you who may decide to dabble with the many medicinal uses of Lavender, Lavendula augustifolia is most important. Another pointer: if you rub the leaves of Lavender you may find yourself in scented bliss but only the flowers are used for essential oil.

So that wraps up my Monday morning scent overload. But before I sign off, I should give you the data file of properties and uses from my trusted Healing Remedies Book by C. Norman Shealy MD, PhD.

“Lavender is calming, (even for Border Collies) soothing, antidepressant, and emotionally balancing. Its antiseptic, antibacterial, and painkilling properties make it valuable in treating cuts, wounds, burns, bruises, spots, allergies, insect bites, and throat infections. Because it is a decongestant it is also effective against colds, flu, and catarrhal conditions (inflammation of mucous membranes). Lavender lowers blood pressure, prevents and eases digestive spasms, nausea, and indigestion. Tension, depression, insomnia, headaches, stress and hypertension respond particularly well to its soothing properties.”

So lather on the Lavender. And when you spot a lone flower within a sea of purple, there must be a reason that yellow brightness found its way to the Lavender field. But I cannot end without a quote for the day. So let’s take one from Judy Garland that fits perfectly with the image of this lone yellow flower amongst the sea of purple Lavender. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Dedicated to the best guy I know that demonstrates this – my husband and partner, Greg.

Image of lone flower in a Lavender field 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, May 20, 2011

Favorite Friday Rerun
















Sorry, no Shakespeare today. It’s Friday and this weather pattern is not looking promising so it’s rerun time. Are you like me, getting lazy about spending time in the garden? Let’s shuffle through the archives and look for something to give a bit of get-up and go for another overcast day. Last May’s post, ‘Extend the Pizzazz’ is a quick read and should give you some incentive to do a little nursery shopping and planting for spring color that extends beyond these dreary patches. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/05/extend-pizzazz.html This weather is perfect for planting new trees and shrubs. Check the ground and make sure mud soup is not an issue. Otherwise, get planting and pick some of these choice Azaleas to extend your spring color.

As we wrap up the work week, just a reminder to keep your eye on what is growing in your garden. Diseases can be prevalent with this type of continuous damp weather so be vigilant - keep those inevitable plant ailments away by getting outside the first minute there is a break and treat accordingly.

So think about extending your spring color and remember the words of Lawrence G. Lovasik. “Nobody needs a smile so much as the one who has none to give. So get used to smiling heart-warming smiles, and you will spread sunshine in a sometimes dreary world.” Smiles and a colorful plant palette can brighten any dreary spring day.

Image of Pinxterbloom Azalea 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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mystique-ingly Blue
















The British poet, James Montgomery once wrote, “Blue thou art, intensely blue; Flower, whence came thy dazzling hue?” Do you think Montgomery knew that one day we would have a mystique-ingly blue Orchid?

I was on a hunt for one of these babies since I promised the world's first Phalaenopsis ‘Blue Mystique’ Orchid to a very dear veteran friend, General Don for his birthday. This World War II veteran was tickled pink about adding a blue orchid to his collection. We like to give the General indoor plants for special occasions to keep his green thumb active. However, after a fruitless search, I regretfully told Don that I wasn’t sure I could ever get my hands on one of these orchids. But here is where the story brightens up. Just yesterday, months after his birthday, Don left a message saying that he saw the blue orchids. You guessed it, the local Home Depot. So before the day was through, I made my trek to the box store, not knowing what to expect of this long-awaited pursuit. I spotted the orchids and there it was - a big wow of blue!

Some call it tacky; others say it is an abomination while Europeans consider this chemically induced blue Phalaenopsis quite the rage. For those enchanted by the royal blue of Delphiniums, you will absolutely fall in love with this orchid. But here’s where it gets tricky. Because it is a treated white orchid, future flower spikes are said to revert back to its original form, which is white. The blue is more of a fleeting moment then a reality but I can’t tell General Don that it won’t stay blue. He had on a royal blue shirt when he met me at the door. His blue eyes sparkled with delight, knowing he finally had his prized blue orchid. So the moral of the story is, that even if it is mystique-ingly blue, when you are patient, good things come even if they don’t last forever.

Image of Phalaenopsis ‘Blue Mystique’ Orchid 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, May 18, 2011

Crumbs are for the Birds













The poet, Mary Oliver weaves a crisp but reflective line in her most recent book of prose, ‘The Swan’ when she eloquently writes, “Joy is not meant to be a crumb.” Yikes, think about it. For everyone that woke up this morning complaining about the weather or something pretty insignificant, remember there is so much in the landscape to appreciate, even if you are reluctant to dig in the dirt. Those less enthusiastic gardening folks can still glimpse at this photo below with masses of dandelions growing freely between the rows of grape vines and spot a hint of cheerfulness.


















So think twice before buckling your complaint belt on this morning. Reflect on how many times we grumble about these problematic weeds and better yet, make desperate attempts to snuff them out with chemicals. If left to its own carpeted beauty, these dandelions can offer bright cheer and joy even on damp, dark days. Remember, “Joy is not meant to be a crumb.”


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

Image of dandelions by Greg Bilowz
Bird and swan images from the Internet

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark
















Did you ever watch the slap-stick, ridiculously funny movie Tommy Boy? One of the classic lines in the film, “That's gonna leave a mark,” weaves itself throughout the flick, including the final scene. So when a plant technique like guying trees is improperly done or left unattended, the outcome is…you guessed it. ‘That’s gonna leave a mark.’
For any of you that just bought your favorite tree at the nursery, are you ready to plant, no instructions included? One of the things you might need to consider is guying your newly planted tree. Here are the top guying tips for those newbie trees in your landscape.

Let’s just brush up on why one guys a tree. One point of clarification - guying is not meant to straighten a tree. Check out those past posts about purchasing plant material with proper structure, which truly is an art and one that you must be good at because you can find these misfit trees in almost any nursery. If you start with a structurally sound tree, plant it correctly so it stays straight on its own. This common mistake of a tree planted crooked is done more often than you think. Just do some drive-bys on some newly planted or not so newly planted properties and you’ll get my drift. Mother Nature doesn’t do all those twisted contortions; bad planting accounts for at least half of it. Now back to the basics of ‘Guying 101’. Guying stabilizes a tree during its first year to year ½ while its roots are getting established. Words of caution: this is not a ‘set and forget it’ procedure. Guying systems need periodic inspection and adjustments to be effective; in other words, never too tight or too loose. The guying cables or wires may need repositioning during the establishment period to ensure there is no girdling to the tree’s trunk. Girdling can cause structural weakness to the trunk and can be extremely problematic down the road as the tree matures. Translation – improper guying can leave more than just a mark!

So when is guying necessary on newly planted trees?

First and foremost, you guy to ensure that the tree stays straight as the soil settles around the newly planted ball.

Trees with very heavy canopies like evergreens or large shade trees also require a guying system. These trees are particularly vulnerable during the winter months when heavy snow and ice are prevalent and especially when the ground is not totally frozen.

The mud season is also another time when guying newly planted trees is crucial as the ground is extremely soft.

In areas of high wind exposure, guying is a must.

What to use in the guying process?
There are a number of systems from the simple to the complicated. Let’s start with the traditional.

Wooden stakes triangulated around the root ball with wire and hose is the old-fashion way of guying a tree. If you want to make this system adjustable, you have to add a turnbuckle into the mix. The hose protects the tree’s trunk from the wire.

Another option is cable and earth anchor/duck bill guying kits. These kits offer easy installation and all the gadgets necessary for adjustment but can be fairly pricey; however, not nearly as expensive as an uprooted tree.

Remember - one size does not fit all. All guying kits must be sized appropriately to the height and/or caliper of the tree. For instance, if you are planting a 4” caliper (diameter of the trunk) shade tree, it requires a 4-stake guying system or a guying kit appropriate to that size tree. These kits are clearly labeled and marked according to size.

So on yet another soggy spring morning, we should always think about positive ways to leave our mark. Let’s end with a bit of profound wisdom from Brandon Lee. “Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.” When it comes to guying trees, it might be easier to think about Tommy Boy’s line in the movie, “That’s gonna leave a mark.” 

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

Images from the Internet

Monday, May 16, 2011

Asking the Obvious
















Growing up, I learned a very valuable lesson from my mother - “If you don’t ask, you’ll never find out the answer.” That’s my excuse for an endless list of open-ended why, what and ‘if this happens’ types of questions. But many of us stay shy about asking what we assume as obvious to the experts. Our inquisitiveness gets squelched by prefacing the thought with ‘I know this may sound like a silly question but...” So just for starters, there are no silly questions when you land on this gardening blog and the only way to possibly answer any of the garden/design issues you may possibly ponder is simple – ask (post) the question. (Easy instructions below.)

With that said, there is always a bit of catch up for me after being away from writing this blog, even if just for a few days. The mind is a tad cluttered with loose ends so maybe you aren’t up for one of these abstract lesson plans on a rainy Monday morning. Ugggh! But whatever hobby, interest or profession, this message is a valuable one. “If you don’t ask, you’ll never find out the answer.” If you like to dabble with plants and growies, don’t overlook this important emergency broadcast for success in your gardening endeavors. Remember, you are dealing with living things and something is always changing, including the weather!

Okay. So, ‘the cat still got your tongue?’ Can’t quite get your gumption up to ask the obvious? You usually find interesting tidbits by first, venturing off the beaten path and then, when the opportunity arises, (and it usually does) asking those questions that pop into your head. There is always some fascinating proprietor or shop owner within this remarkable industry that spends hours on his or her particular labor of love. When someone else shows a spark of excitement in the why and what of their wears, gushes of information and a hands-on education about the product(s) is typical. If you don’t get that sense of passion from the place or person, that’s a clear signal to keep looking and find someone else who embraces that sense of ardor. It’s their loss, not yours so just move onward and upwards with that inquisitiveness and sense of wonder. Don’t lose it.

And for all of us that may think knowing all the right answers is the only game in life, think again. John A. Simone Sr. sums it up best on this rainy Monday morning. “The key to wisdom is knowing all the right questions.” So don’t be afraid to ask. No excuses. We’re in the heart of spring so fire away with those gardening questions. P.S. Just no birds and bees questions. Annie

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

Image from the Internet

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Up Close & Personal in the Garden
















Do what dogs do best – live close to the ground. Best advice for this upcoming weekend - make time to ‘be’ in your garden and dig deep for all that is wonderful in nature. Take this Lao Tzu quote to heart. “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” That’s a boatload of advice so best to start working on it now. I'll be capturing some great garden 'stuff' over the weekend so let's catch up on Monday. Ciao!

Image of the up close and personal Border Collie Ben 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

Up Close & Personal in the Garden
















Do what dogs do best – live close to the ground. Best advice for this upcoming weekend - make time to ‘be’ in your garden and dig deep for all that is wonderful in nature. Take this Lao Tzu quote to heart. “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” That’s a boatload of advice so best to start working on it now. I'll be capturing some great garden 'stuff' over the weekend so let's catch up on Monday. Ciao!

Image of the up close and personal Border Collie Ben 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

Weave a Thread of Spring Color

Need some thoughts on how to weave a thread of spring color with some drought tolerant groundcovers? The wordless Wednesday photo collage from this morning’s rainy garden. Take a peek. 






















Sedum weaved in with Golden marjoram (Origanum vulgare aureum). Marjoram can be used in your culinary endeavors.






















Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatile) nestled on top of a rock wall. Also good for a rocky embankment.






















Forget-me-not (Myosotis) spreads easily and offers dainty sky blue flowers in early spring.






















Ground Phlox (Phlox subulata) is from my mother’s garden and a springtime favorite. One of the few patches that seems to do well here in my own garden. 

Time to end the post with a Horace Mann quote, which ties in nicely with our topic. “Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.” Spend time in your garden each day. Make it a habit you can't break. You’ll be amazed at what you end up creating. Gardening is one of those good habits!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mary to one of my regular readers and a great sister.

Images by Ann Bilowz (One of these days I truly promise to make the shift to a big-boy camera. In the meantime, it’s just close-up shots with my blackberry.)

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, May 10, 2011

Reflecting on Water

As we start to garden and plant, remember that some towns and cities have already imposed watering bans. Every ban varies so check what is allowed, what isn’t and when you can water. And remember - be water wise. That means let nature take care of your lawn, the number one water hog. As the Taoist proverb tells us, “No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.” And if the water stops, yikes, we’re in trouble.

Image taken by Ann Bilowz (Not bad for that Blackberry!)

Check out these past blogs during the dry season on how to be water wise as you garden. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/07/toughen-your-landscape.html
http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/07/its-wonderful-night-for-rain-dance.html
And don’t forget to use black plastic for certain veggies to keep the weeds down but to also help conserve on water.

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, May 9, 2011

Paths of Least Resistance

















Lawrence J. Peter starts us off this brilliant Monday morning with some sane advice. “If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Hence, the very reasons to design and create pathways that are functional and aesthetically pleasing; the paths of least resistance. From a woodland garden footpath to a grandiose entry for the front door, any walkway or path should draw visitors in versus sending them in circles of confusion with your guests ultimately landing in the wrong location.

Need some simple design tips to send you off on the right path? Here is a brief but useful cheat sheet to help you lay out a typical pathway including the path’s purpose, general measurements and materials:

Garden path: This can vary but typically this is a meandering path through a woodland or existing planting with low-impact traffic. This path is meant to be exploratory and engaging yet meditative and calming. The measurements of this path can range from 2 ½ - 3 feet wide. Because of its informality, many materials can create this trail from gravel or stepping stones to something very organic like woodchips or lawn. A garden path’s main function: it should be comfortable to walk on, discreet in its appearance and unobtrusive.

Side door/casual path: Typically not the formal entrance to the house, this is the path used everyday by the homeowners and extended family, which means high, daily traffic use. Typically this path or entry should be 3 ½ to 5 feet wide. There are variables to these dimensions but work as a general rule of thumb. If you prefer to walk single file, all you need is a 3 ½ foot pathway. If you want to stroll comfortably with two, side by side or the kids barrel in through this door, 4 to 5 feet works best. Contiguous (edge to edge) paving i.e., concrete pavers, brick, and various types of stone pavers (bluestone, granite, quartzite etc.) works nicely in this application.

Formal entry: Depending on the architecture of the home, from humble to grandiose, this path can vary in style and scale but should always read as the most important path of the home. Dimensions can vary from 4 feet to 10 feet and beyond, depending on your degree of impact. This path is the main focal point. The materials can be the same as the above but what reflects the formality and refinement of the main/formal entrance is its application. Concrete pavers, brick and bluestone are often used but it’s the pattern and level of detail throughout the design that can create impressive or unassuming. This is the statement path that should register with your visitors – ‘that’s the door to go to’ but it doesn’t mean off the dial flash. It’s within the context and style of the project as a whole. In other words, the pathways must always be in scale with the house and its architecture.

Wondering how things really flow on your pathways? Check out this post from last June. It’s a favorite because one of my beloved Border Collies drives home the point for us. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/06/follow-flow.html
So remember Lawrence J. Peter’s sane advice for this May Monday morning. “If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Happy travels. Annie

Image of a simple garden path from the Internet. (Not sure how comfortable those small stones are for walking.Remember it should be functional, 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, May 6, 2011

Spring Rush


As Agnes Repplier reminds us,  “A kitten is chiefly remarkable for rushing about like mad at nothing whatever, and generally stopping before it gets there.” That’s great advice for the anxious gardener, too. Let’s not rush through the growing season and then, right when it matters, kick back and relax. Here’s an example. A touch of frost hit our garden last night; not enough to cause crop damage or hurt any tender buds but it’s a subtle reminder to protect and be patient with those more delicate plant materials. Wait an extra week or two (depending on your location) before setting out your annuals, certain veggies and some of your indoor plants. In the meantime, enjoy what is blossoming inside and out. Hold tight on planting your delicates and keep pampering those houseplants that carried us through the dormant season. Don’t rush about like mad at nothing! Happy Friday.


Top Images of Cyclamen by Greg Bilowz
Bottom Image of Amaryllis 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, May 5, 2011

Spring Spears




















Dreaming about creaming up some asparagus from the garden? Those tender, leggy spears are just starting to pop from the ground. So if you have a hankering for a warm and creamy soup, here’s an easy recipe coming your way on this fine Thursday morning. You can patiently wait for your own to spring up or try the recipe this weekend with some asparagus from your local produce section. The hint of extra magic I added to this Victoria Island recipe: a splash of Dill and some grape tomatoes - all the wonderful things coming to your local farm stands or your own garden before you can say ‘Cream of Asparagus Soup!’

What you will need:

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths (use the stalks)
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. each butter and flour
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup cream
Pepper to taste
Sour Cream
Sprig of Dill
6 to 7 grape tomatoes
Serves 4

Here’s what to do:
Sauté onion and butter for 3 minutes. Stir in flour. Add chicken broth slowly. Add asparagus, grape tomatoes and a small bunch of Dill. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until asparagus and tomatoes are tender. Puree mixture until smooth. (Hint- the easiest tool to puree soups is with a hand puree tool – the Braun immersion blender is a nifty gadget –another hint *(great, inexpensive Mother’s Day gift.) Okay, back to the recipe. Puree mixture until smooth. Add cream and pepper to pureed soup. If you needed to use a food processor, you may need to reheat the soup. For those who really like dill, you can serve with a pureed dill and sour cream for the top of your soup. I use one of those small grinders to puree the dill (1 or two sprigs) to mix the sour cream so it blends equally with the dill. (For a serving of 4 use approximately four tablespoons of sour cream.) This recipe does call for salt but I bypass the sodium. The chicken broth adds a sufficient amount of flavor. Serve this soup with a fresh garden salad and a hunk of crusty bread and it's all you'll need for keeping a full stomach while tending to those outdoor chores.

So score big in the soup department with this tasteful recipe and get those veggies snuck in with a hint of cream. It's time to get the recipe box chock full of delicious ways to serve up your freshly grown produce. Want to substitute the asparagus? Broccoli comes first to mind but get creative. And As Moliere, that French playwright and actor that probably knew everything about food said, “I live on good soup, not on fine words.”

The sprouting asparagus image is from the Internet; I couldn’t get my darn Blackberry to give me a clear enough shot. And my camera man – unavailable. But the spears are sprouting in the garden, that’s for sure.

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, May 4, 2011

Simply Colorful






















Spring charges our senses, stimulating us with the brilliance of color. Every living thing seems to be in bloom, including our allergies. This non-stop color rush puts a ‘spring’ in one’s step, even for the oblivious. But don’t be oblivious. Wake up to this simply colorful time of year.

As often pointed out in these blogs, the true challenge of a sequential garden is carrying color throughout your growing season. When choosing your plant palette, select those that sparkle in one season and illuminate in another. Need an example? Take a true favorite, the Rhododendron ‘Weston’s ‘Pink Diamond;’ one hardy enough to be selected as a ‘Proven Winner’ by the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. Here’s all the skinny for planting and care instructions from Weston Nurseries, the crew that developed and introduced this variety. http://www.westonnurseries.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.plantDetail/plant_id/80/index.htm

Need more encouragement on this choice? Think of this shrub as colorful bookends for the growing season. ‘Pink Diamond’ greets us with its powerful punch in the early spring and quietly leaves with its last burning embers of fall color. As Bruce Lee points out, “Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” Translation for your garden: choose simply colorful plants that last more than one season.





























Images of the Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Pink Diamond’ (Spring and Fall shots) in our garden taken 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, May 3, 2011

The Clash

















For any of us old enough to remember that English punk rock band, ‘The Clash’, those two words can occur quite often in the planning stages of any construction project, inside or out. So how does one go about adding synergy rather than creating friction when jumping off the diving board into a full-fledged project?

Remember that paper is helpful. When you see a layout, a sketch, a thought or vision drawn out, it solidifies the beginning point. Although many of us have difficulty comprehending 3-Dimensional, there is a reason behind the madness of paper. Don’t overlook it as part of your initial step before you delve in, shovel first. There’s neat technology that assists now with taking the hard-to-understand 3-D world and turning it into a real image. But you need those correct dimensions, i.e., grades/topo to work with first. Never overlook those basic steps just because you can’t get your noodle around that initial yet crucial phase of design. Letting what you don’t understand throw you for a loop only starts you off on the wrong foot.

So before you go gung ho with the shovels and start digging before a plan is in place, take this first simple step of paper to bring it all together. And don’t let the 3-D aspect set you off kilter. Whether your project is small or large-scale, the paper process puts it in the context of the whole.

To switch gears and end with the typical quote of the day, not by ‘The Clash’ but by Tom Landry, who amazingly enough sums up this whole design thing ‘to a T.’ “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” How perfectly stated; by a man who really understood how to win the game.

Image of the Gnomes from the Internet (I just liked it and thought it fit with the title!)

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, May 2, 2011

Improve Your Corner


Aldous Huxley wisely stated, “There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.”  The same goes for your own abode. So on this beautiful May Monday morning, we need to stretch our imagination when it comes to selecting plants. Reach beyond the typical and seek out areas in your garden that may need a bit of spring splash. Here’s a great suggestion – Epimediums. Also known as Barrenwort, this no-fuss plant peaks at this time of year with few gardening demands. Exactly what everyone looks for in a plant: adaptable and tough.

Mentioned in past blogs, Epimediums continue to be an underused genus considering its many attributes. This clump-form, low growing perennial offers many variations of height, flower, leaf color and texture. So let’s make it part of the gardener’s plant palette.  In general, you won’t encounter the unusual varieties of this perennial at your retail nursery, unless of course they are truly catering to the horticulturalist. You can find the standard fare, Epidmedium grandiflorum ‘Album’ (white flowering) or Epimedium x rubrum (red flowering), which is readily available and awfully attractive. As should be encouraged, don’t stop with the standards. 

Our Epimedium collection, purchased from the expert, Darrell Probst continues to surprise and flourish our garden with expansive growth each year. Here’s a Fine Gardening link written by the expert himself. http://www.finegardening.com/plants/articles/up-and-coming-epimediums.aspx This spread tells you everything you need to know or didn’t know about Epimediums.

So for the reluctant gardener that wants to perk up the garden area, look for this low-maintenance, deer-proof, tough perennial. Think Epimediums and improve your corner of the universe.    


Images of Spring Epimediums in our Garden by Greg Bilowz
Looking for additional images? More photos to follow on our Fan Page. (See below if you aren’t already a fan!)

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.)