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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wrong Time, Right Thing

 

On this last day of April, Rose questions have been coming in fast and furious. But first, a couple of tips a tad more imperative during this turning point of spring. Don’t worry. Tomorrow the ‘Corner’ will go from wordless Wednesday to a Rose post you won’t want to miss. 

So back to today’s topic - the wrong time, the right thing. Are your fruit trees already in bloom? Noticed some pests that you want to remove? Do not apply any insecticidal treatments while a fruit tree is in bloom. Any application for insects applied during bloom time can potentially kill or eradicate any pollinators. We all know the importance of pollination. 

During the wake-up and growth season of spring, it’s important to use common sense. But it (common sense) often gets forgotten when we notice a problem. If your fruit trees are on a regular spray program, all insecticidal treatments should be applied just before bloom and/or immediately after petal drop. For example, a very problematic pest, plum curculio, (which hits more than just a Plum) can cause great havoc to a crop by piercing the tissue of the newly formed fruit, causing deformity. That’s not good. 

So think roses for tomorrow because what’s a garden without a few roses or better yet, a rose garden. But let’s wrap up today’s post with some sound advice from Joshua Harris. “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.” How true that statement is, even as it applies to our own gardens.

P.S. One last tip in the spring clean-up category unrelated to fruit trees. For your deciduous plant material, before it flushes out, make sure you prune out the dead or damaged wood.

Image of a Peach tree in bloom by Ann Bilowz© 

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Epic of Epimediums

 

As we near the end of April on this beautiful Monday, it’s time to catch our breath from spring clean-up and ask that typical garden question, “What plants can I add to my perennial gardens?” Startling enough, there are still too many garden folks who don’t use or even know about Epimediums.

So would you like to venture into trying beyond the typical perennials? Do you wonder the best way to find out about a plant? My recommendation is to always test it, get to know it and like all good things, fall in love with it. For me, Epimediums don’t fall under the ‘infatuation’ category. It’s not that perennial where I plant one and lose interest the following year. Just look at its fine attributes –easy to grow, long-lived, can handle some rather cold temperatures, act as a weed smothering groundcover and drought-tolerant once established, deer-resistant and did I say these unusual perennials like the shade? I can’t forget the delicate flowers and the lovely intricate leaves.

But what’s the most exciting is that if you are a local, you can visit the Queen of the Epimediums – Karen Perkins at Garden Vision’s Open Nursery weekends coming up this Friday-Sunday and the following weekend as well. Here’s the link for those who are interested http://www.epimediums.com/garden-vision-holds-open-nursery-weekends/ in seeing these plants up close and in display. But if you can’t make it due to location, she also visits some other Northeast regional locations http://www.epimediums.com/visit-garden-vision-at-these-plant-sales/ where you can purchase her wide and unusual collection of Epimediums. You won’t find them anywhere else. As I said, she is the Queen of Epimediums. For everyone else, you can purchase your collection via mail order. She is not taking online orders so it’s mail or fax (the old fashion way) but what’s not to love about old-fashion these days?

So if you’re past the spring clean-up mode asking what you can add or change in your perennial gardens, my recommendation is to find those plants that are long-lived and can handle some adverse conditions. As Joseph Addison pointed out, “Admiration is a very short-lived passion that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object.” So don’t just admire a plant. Look for its long-term possibilities if you want success in your perennial garden. 

Image of an Epimedium in bloom by Ann Bilowz©  

You can also check out our Facebook albums that show some additional images of Epimediums in our gardens. If you don’t follow us on FB, hope you’ll join us there for these extra tidbits that often get shared. https://www.facebook.com/abilowz/photos_albums  


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.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Snap and Sheen


Snap with a natural sheen - two tools in the garden box today. It seems everyone’s attention span has been somewhere in garden limbo this week. Here’s an easy remedy – let’s point out what is naturally coming into its own in the garden with some snappy imports brought in to assist.  


This Snapdragon (with purple Pansies in the background) will add some quick wakeup color to a colorless bed but not too soon. If you recall the April 11th post, you want to protect any plant materials that were forced in greenhouses, protected from the weather or came from warmer climates. You must transition them into your flower beds. It’s just too darn soon to get these annuals planted in the ground quite yet. But you can still bring your choices in now and stockpile them in a protected place. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2013/04/forcing-bloom.html


Now for the natural sheen of that colorful green - Pachysandra terminalis 'Green Sheen' is one of the most sun-tolerant of the Pachysandras. Its green leaves are glossy and makes all your surrounding plants pop. It is deer-resistant and if given the right conditions, it can act as a weed smothering groundcover. Here it is in the spring garden showing off more than its glossy green leaves with its petite white flower.

As Pablo Picasso once said, “Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No, just as one can never learn how to paint.” Time to start thinking color combinations; it’s that snap and sheen part of spring!

Images by Ann Bilowz©  

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Thursday, April 25, 2013

To Be or Not to Be a Garden Geek

 


Ella Fitzgerald, who would be 96 today once crooned, “Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.” It’s a perfect segue as to why some folks might give up on a vegetable garden. Have you thrown in the shovel or turned over the wheel barrel, calling it quits on growing a small vegetable garden? Overwhelmed with the technical details or just struggling with the love or inspiration to dig into the soil?

Well, what uncanny timing as this great how to, 'not just for Gardening Geeks’ landed in my mailbox for a book review. Although its title ‘Gardening for Geeks’ could make one think it’s only loaded with technical and in depth techniques, this easy to handle paperback has everything you need in 224 pages (including glossy photos for those who like visuals). You can be certain of repetitive topics that you find dabbled throughout Annie’s daily blog postings, including tasty recipes, soil testing, when and what to seed and other geek-proof technical garden information. Want that same straight-forward vegetable talk in an easy to handle book, all in one place? That's as simple as it gets even for us garden geeks.

For those of us on the East Coast, some of Wilhelmi’s information may need adjustment due to wetter and colder growing conditions but there are tidbits in here that are both innovative and interesting. At $15.95, (not a bad price for a book that costs a lot less than a quick run through the supermarket produce section) this quick read offers food for thought; even to an experienced vegetable gardener. For those wishing to start out or move beyond amateur status, it’s a must-have to add to your garden library. I especially recommend it for those with lots of basic vegetable garden questions. Your search is over; this is a good place to start. And it is specifically geared toward the small garden plot as Wilhelmi’s own vegetable garden is less than 200 square feet.

Here’s the quick skinny for the book information. ‘Gardening for Geeks’, April 2013, Adams Media Paperback.
+http://gardenerd.com/gardening-for-geeks/index.html
Plus a button for bonus material for Chapters 4 & 6, Planning Your Garden Season and Planting Nitty-Gritty.

That’s this Thursday’s tidbit as we launch into the New England planting season. It’s time to become the vegetable Geek king or queen of your neighborhood. There’s nothing better than growing your own produce. And for those who just can’t find the love, time or inspiration, remember to always support your local farmers.

Image by Ann Bilowz – Gardening for Geeks Book Cover©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What’s in Your Bowl this Morning?

 

Yes, it may be an oatmeal kind of day but it is also wordless Wednesday, which means it’s an Annie image reflecting all that’s beautiful about the spring. I just love this Daffodil and Forsythia combination for bringing some sunshine indoors. There’s nothing more cheery than yellow lighting up your home. Plus Daffs and Forsythia - it’s an easy to grow spring plant combination in your garden.

As Anne Morrow Lindbergh reminds us, “Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer.” Get your clippers. It’s time to fill your bowl with your favorite spring flower combination for this wordless Wednesday. Mine seems a little light on the Forsythia branches so off with my clippers I go.

Image of Daffodils and Forsythia branches in a vase by Ann Bilowz © 

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Amazing Changes We See

 

The best part about a slow but certain spring is noticing the smallest of changes occurring over the course of a short period, even in the 24 hours of a day. Have you noticed what is waking up in your garden? Even if it is slow to start, there is so much activity and growth taking place. Just notice how the grass turns its rich, deep green and the trees’ branches puffed up with buds that brighten this dreary April morning. 

This slow but sure change is the wonderful part about spring. And if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss out on the simplest of these changes. The words of Richard Paul Evans convince me of these graces of spring. “Grace surrounds us, whirls about us like the wind, falls on us like rain. Grace sustains us on our journeys, no matter how perilous they may be and, make no mistake, they are all perilous. We need not hope for grace, we merely need to open our eyes to its abundance. Grace is all around us, not just in the hopeful future but in the miracle of now.”

Spring is happening. It is all around us. Look at the miracle of these amazing changes we see. 

P.S. April garden tips abound, there are plenty of searchables in the archives. But here are a couple of recent ones. In case you missed last Thursday’s tips, we should be getting past pruning and clean-up and into planning and planting soon. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2013/04/three-tips-for-thursday.html And for all the green grass lovers out there, here is one from earlier this April. The Lilacs are ready to bloom soon. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2013/04/loving-green.html  

An Apricot Tree in Blossom -Image by Ann Bilowz ©  

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrate – It’s Earth Day

 

It is officially the celebration of our Earth today so I draw upon Nahoko Uehashi’s words to give us hope. “But look around at this world, how perfectly it's made. Flowers can't move, yet the insects come to them and spread their pollen. Trees can't move either, but birds and animals eat their fruit and carry their seeds far and wide.” On this Earth Day, let us celebrate that each one of us has a special purpose on this planet.  

Image by Ann Bilowz © Last summer’s garden - A bee enjoying an Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower) 

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wordless on this April Friday

 

Too difficult to write today so it shall be a wordless Friday. Our image of an H. paniculata ‘Unique’ accompanied by the words of Steve Maraboli. “Every great tragedy forms a fertile soil in which a great recovery can take root and blossom...but only if you plant the seeds.” 

As I write this, may our law enforcement bring back a sense of peace to our city of Boston and our state. Stay safe.

Image by Greg Bilowz H. paniculata ‘Unique’ ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Three Tips for Thursday

 

It is another brilliant start to a spring day but our hearts, at least mine, still weigh heavy. Thoughts and prayers from across the world still reach out in the aftermath from this past Monday’s senseless bombings. In order to bring back sense to our own lives and gardens, here are three tips for Thursday that we can focus on this sunny April morning.

Landscape Lighting: 

When it comes to lighting up your landscape, it’s not just about safety and illumination. It is to create a mood and this 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 fixtures and tweaking the system is 90% of the battle. These temperate evenings are a perfect time to linger in the sunset hours. Take a moment to contemplate what might be missing or what you need to light up in your landscape.

Invasive Species: 

This is a moan and groan topic for any garden lover because we all know the dilemmas of what this takes – eradication. First, become familiar with and know invasive lists including any new pests that can harm our landscape. Follow the rules so as not to spread what is invasive. And when dealing with invasive plants, now is a good time to see what is raising havoc in your outdoor spaces.

Don’t miss out on the Season:

Remove any of the protective mounding for your roses. We are at the tail end of cut back and clean-up and getting deep into the dividing department. Make sure you are spreading your perennials throughout your garden. It’s also time for any veggie gardeners to get on deck with planting potatoes, peas and those cool weather crops. That’s the Thursday mix for three useful spring landscape tips. 

As we continue to struggle with and make sense of this past Monday, I rely on Mother Teresa’s words to help me find some comfort. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” If you have a gift, a talent, be ready to share it. Anger and displaced hatred spreads venom, not beauty. It is amazing the difference you can make doing small things with great love. 

Flag at half-mast Image by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April Showers Bring…

 
  

This rainbow unfolded late yesterday afternoon while dodging an unexpected April shower. It seems the perfect sign that despite this week’s Marathon bombings, the healing could and would begin. As Sylvia Voirol says, “Rainbows apologize for angry skies.” Her words remind me that each day, despite troubles and sadness, there is always a bright spot if we truly look for it. So as we wake, see the sunrise and attend to whatever we are meant to do, look for the rainbows, those bright spots to help us through. On this 17th day of April, a toast to my Dad to celebrate his birthday. Clink and toast to rainbows. Cheers to life, laughter and love even if you are no longer here to share it with me! 

Tomorrow back to flower blossoms, garden design and all things that shout spring.

Rainbow Image by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yesterday

 

Yesterday we woke, we saw the sun rise, and we attended to whatever we were meant to do. It was Patriots Day and I asked myself, do I really need to write my daily blog post? I wrestled with the message, the words, and when I finally hit the publish button, I saw an indelible number – 911. (It was the Google Blogger indicator – yesterday marked 911 published posts written.) That number stopped me; it brought me pause to a flashback of that crystal clear day in September. Only to have but hours later that same numbing feeling as the news broke and life changed forever at the Boston Marathon finish line.

As I write this 912th blog post, I recall that following September day as clearly as 9/11. It was cast as and remembered as the day after (9/12), when our world was rocked and there seemed no sense in the simplest of tasks. But our days somehow moved forward. 

Over the course of the following weeks and months, stories shall be shared and prayers prayed and what cannot and does not make sense, we shall scream why. In this small but illustrious state, we will all know someone truly affected by this tragic day; my own brother and niece included, thankfully safe but truly rattled. 

On days when we feel like throwing the towel in, like yesterday when I considered ditching this daily blog, it’s that one person, a client, a friend or a stranger who says something that makes me continue on. And so it is this continuing that makes us strong. It’s about keeping faith when it seems that maybe our whole world has gone wrong.

 So on this day, April 16th, as we wake, watch the sun rise and attend to whatever we are meant to do, I leave today’s readers with what some often come here for – the inspirational message or quote. It may be deemed politically incorrect but these words by C.S. Lewis are truly profound.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Remember to live, laugh but above all else, love!

 
 
Images by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/
 


Monday, April 15, 2013

April Saturday Escapes

 

April – that in-between month of spring when unpredictable weather patterns can lure us into the garden or simply keep us an arm’s length away.  Often times we need to pace ourselves and find reprieve from the garden list; if for nothing more, to find some fresh design ideas.

We happen to have two Saturday events coming up very soon. One is this Saturday, April 20th at the Cozy Tea Cart in Brookline, NH. Need a reader refresh about this unique off the beaten path tea shop?  http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2011/04/stuck-on-tea.html  Greg will be speaking there on the influence of English gardens from across the pond.

Since my post from two years ago, the shop has moved to a larger location. When I visited this past December for some holiday teas, this new space seemed a perfect setting for an intimate April event on one of Greg’s specialties.

Perhaps you can squeeze in a Saturday afternoon escape to gain design inspiration while discovering some wonderful teas. The allure of British gardens - it's a perfect April adventure. Plus the setting is one of those hidden jewels in the quiet town of Brookline, NH.  

We hope you make it this Saturday but if this isn’t your cup of tea, there’s another lecture the following Saturday, April 27th at Tower Hill Botanic Garden where Greg will be hosting a workshop on Landscape Design & Construction Q &A. It should be an invaluable session for anyone taking a leap into any size design project. You can visit our FB events page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz/events to find out more information. Tower Hill is another hidden jewel in the town of Boylston, MA.

That's a Monday wrap with Mark Twain’s famous words completing the post. "In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours." To his point, if you need a reprieve from the spring, we hope you can make one or both of the Saturday learning adventures. Today’s images prove Twain’s point with last night’s drop in temperature leaving a layer of ice in the bird bath this morning.   
 
Images by Ann Bilowz ©
If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Friday, April 12, 2013

Accumulating Favorites

 

Lloyd Alexander, the American author once said about books, “We don't need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites. Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favorites. They're always with us. We just sort of accumulate them.” 

Insert ‘plants’ rather than ‘books’ and nailing down a favorite (at least for those who love to garden) can be tough to say the least. But this old favorite, Hellebores, though it has gained in popularity, is still often overlooked. If you haven’t planted this special perennial somewhere in your garden, look what you are missing on this dreary spring day. This Hellebore image was taken in the ‘soon to be under renovation’ shade garden yesterday at dusk. Isn’t it just lovely? 

So be off and enjoy this Friday; a favorite day for most. And if you need to infuse some early spring blossoms in your garden space, keep adding and experimenting until you find those that speak to you. For those who haven’t yet discovered Hellebores, maybe today’s blossom from the spring garden gives you that extra boost.

P.S. Here’s one past link where you can find out why we love Hellebores and some planting tips. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2012/04/whats-pinning-today.html Plus you can find a couple more mentions about this wonderful perennial if you search the Annie archives or you might just find some of your own spring favorites. Until then; happy gardening.  And if I haven't told my readers lately, much appreciation to all that follow my posts. Cheers.

Image of a Hellebore blooming in our spring garden by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Forcing the Bloom

 

Today’s Thursday garden tidbit may seem trivial at best but it’s worth repeating because it happens so frequently at this time of year. When you shop and peruse for delicate annuals, shrubs and perennials to give you instant color, remember where most, if not all of these containers and flats have been for the past few months. If any plant materials were forced in greenhouses, protected from the weather or came from warmer climates, you must gradually transition them (harden them off) to your local climate. With the potential for frost and nasty weather still looming in the April/May background, you don’t want to cause unnecessary damage to these tender plant materials. Don’t be fooled by blueberry bushes you bought at a box store busting out in bloom. It isn’t like the fully dormant bare root stock that came in a cardboard box, which should be planted now in the ground.

This is just a friendly reminder for those who insist on hurrying spring along. It happens more frequently when we humans are forced into dormancy longer than expected. Consider this past winter we just experienced in New England. 


Be careful with what you force into action. Patience works so much better, including in our own gardens. As Henry David Thoreau pointed out in his book, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, “I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.” That’s the wrap so enjoy what is naturally in bloom.

 
The top two images are of potted Mums purchased on Easter weekend, which should not be planted in our own garden until late May. The bottom image is from yesterday’s post. Just in case you missed the Spring Connection http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2013/04/spring-connection.html you can find more images of early spring blooms.

All Images by Ann Bilowz ©
If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/
 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Connection



 J.B. Priestley once said, “I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.”


Then there is Alan Cohen’s advice. “Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”

 
 
Have you been making your connections with spring?



All Images by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shade Day


When we think flower borders, one might think bold and beautiful blossoms swaying in full sunlight. We often underestimate what is unique and stunning about plantings that flourish in the shade. Here’s a collection of our images depicting some different shade options on this Tuesday in April. 
 
 
 


 

This also explains yesterday’s post http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2013/04/glass-cases.html and why replanting and redesigning this shade garden is important to us. There's that quirky apple tree in the background of this planting. And as Orson Welles pointed out, “Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.” If you’d like, drop a line and let me know your favorite shade plant and why.

All Images by Greg Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Monday, April 8, 2013

Glass Cases

 

J.D. Salinger’s words resonate this AM. “Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.” Funny, sometimes we see our gardens in this same light. We get them to a perfected place. We fight the nature odds, hoping that everything, including the structure plantings that anchor a garden just won’t change.

Yes, it was our own Saturday saga of an heirloom apple tree left on its own with no chemical sprays. It was an original (at least a hundred years old) but it truly was on its last legs. Riddled with disease, insect issues and devastating winter storms - all the pruning and TLC in the world could not save this quirky old tree. It was the true anchor to our shade garden yet it held such sentimental value even if its fruit was abysmal and clearly inedible except to our Border collie, Cokie.


So when something structural and important suddenly becomes a missing piece, well, note to be made. That shade garden is going to be a busy place this spring. Too many specialty shade plants in that area not to recreate and redesign the space.

 Images by Ann Bilowz ©

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Loving Green

 

My greatest daily challenge is providing a perfect blend of technical with inspirational. But for those looking for a stellar Instagram in the throes of early spring, you may not make it to the bottom of this post. If you do, consider yourself a rarity but rest assured. Your garden or your green space shall be the real deal and not virtual. 

Chugging through a few paragraphs filled with technical tidbits can be quite a chore as our attention span literally shrinks to instantaneous. To pin the perfect lawn or outdoor living space and think it happens without basic facts plus a little work, well, Judy Garland profoundly said it best. “We cast away priceless time in dreams, born of imagination, fed upon illusion, and put to death by reality.” To translate into garden and design lingo, stop pinning away your springtime and make it real. It’s time to create your outdoor green space.  

With yesterday’s blog talk about our soil’s sweet spot, we can’t leave out lush green lawn lovers. Are you one of them? Below is an excerpt from a past 2010 April Annie archive that you won’t want to overlook. Just a few spring hints and prep work for establishing and maintaining a healthy lawn. So here it is. 

Think of growing a green lawn as you would a healthy vegetable garden. You must prep the soil prior to planting your crop. The current ideology with turf grass is to feed the lawn, not the soil. Due to very effective marketing from lawn chemical companies, we are programmed to think a green lawn comes in a bag, much like the Easter Basket stuffing. So when prepping for your lawn, don’t just think green grass; think healthy soil. Sand, silt, clay and organic matter make up the main components of soil. Often overlooked are the complex communities of interdependent bacteria and fungi that assist in the simulation and absorption of nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals used in turf grass management can be detrimental to these organisms. A counterintuitive process but enough with the soil science - what should we do in our own backyards?

Think basic, think organic and think slow-release. If you currently use synthetic chemical programs, you must wean the turf from the reliance of these chemical fertilizers and treatments. Is your lawn going to look perfect? No. Are you going to have some weeds? Yes. Crabgrass is probably the most problematic weed for lawns. If you use one chemical application, use your pre-emergence herbicide applied between forsythia and lilac bloom to keep the crabgrass at bay. If you decide to use these herbicides, don’t use the clippings in your vegetable garden for mulch. We don’t use any chemicals. We let our grass duke it out with the weeds.

Start your season off on the right foot. Assess your lawn now. We are within a week or two of the first fertilizer application. Begin with some cultural practices. Thatch and core aerate your lawn. Then apply organic fertilizer. Is it going to respond immediately? No. Unlike the synthetic fertilizers, you won’t see quick results. It takes time for these organics to respond.

It’s important to improve your soil and make conscious efforts to reduce your chemical and water usage. When seeding or reseeding any lawn area, use the newest varieties of drought, disease, insect-resistant fescues and rye grasses. This alone can reduce your water consumption. These varieties require a 1/3 less water and fertilizer.

While this above excerpt is from my April 2, 2010 http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/04/what-makes-grass-grow-greener.html blog post, the information hasn’t changed. These cultural practices need repeating again and again for those who have the ‘green lawn’ syndrome. And if you missed yesterday’s post, don’t forget to check out the importance of knowing your soil. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2013/04/the-sweet-spot.html

Image by Ann Bilowz © of a not so perfect lawn but it's a real green space with no chemicals or irrigation used.

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Sweet Spot

 

The sweet spot in soil can make all the difference in any one growing season. Time for a friendly Thursday reminder to mark somewhere in your calendar – ‘Soil Test’. Oh, but you may be saying – “Didn’t you remind us a few weeks ago and why bother you might ask.” Well, the number one reason you should test your soil is for its acidity. And although we can make guesstimates about what may be lacking or too abundant, your pH sweet spot should range from 6 to 7 with 7 being the ideal place to be.


So here are a few soil testing tips to consider as we venture into this spring’s planting season.

1) Plan on testing your soil once every two to three years. If it is a troublesome area, you should test it more frequently.
2) Always be consistent with the time of year you send in your sample. (Hence, marking it on the calendar is a helpful way to achieve that consistency with your soil fertility.)

3) Fall is the optimum time to test your soil. Why you ask? You have the winter to work and amend the soil. It’s also the best time to apply lime because it takes a few months for it to break down in the soil. It gives you a head start on the upcoming growing season. But stay consistent to achieve the best read on your soil.

4) Use the right tool to take soil samples – a soil probe is best. You can use a shovel but you need an even slice of that profile.

5) Do not skim the top. You should probe the soil to get a 6” deep vertical slice of top soil; maximum 8”. Any sample sent to the lab that is too high or too deep skews the final test results.

6) You must mix your sample extremely well to ensure a homogenous mix. The lab will only use a smidgen of what you send them for testing. Therefore, if you didn’t mix it well, you will not get true and accurate results of the soil. 

7) Even if you are testing a small area, you should send the best representative sample. This means a minimum of 12 samples should be taken and mixed together. Again, you want to ensure it is homogenous within a small area. And if within that area, you have a troublesome spot, send a separate sample or keep it out of your sample test. 

8) Make sure your soil sample is dry in your bag. Prior to testing, the lab needs to dehydrate the soil. Therefore, the drier your soil sample that you send to the lab, the faster you’ll receive your testing results. 

So here I am, already beyond my limit of a few soil testing tips. Time to wrap it up with a quote from Daniel Coyle, as written in his book, ‘The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math and Just About Everything Else.’

“The sweet spot: that productive, uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where our reach exceeds our grasp. Deep practice is not simply about struggling; it's about seeking a particular struggle, which involves a cycle of distinct actions.” And that includes our soil, the garden and the ultimate design of your outdoor space.

Images by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. Like our fan page https://www.facebook.com/abilowz follow on twitter https://twitter.com/annbilowz or subscribe to 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April Images

 

Two different images taken within seconds of each other; yet both included the same white rose. It’s just a provocative way to suggest how we often look at and interpret our surroundings. 


Jeffery R. Anderson’s quote completes this thought. “We often think that there is just one way to look at things - the way we always have. In fact, there are an infinite number of ways to look at most everything. An open mind allows for a multitude of perspectives from which to choose in any given moment. That suppleness of mind allows for true choice, and opens us to a whole new realm of possibility.” It just seems like good advice on this chilly morning in April to accompany the only unusual Wednesday images I could creatively find to photograph.

Images by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. You can like our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Early Morning Sunbeams

 

Thomas Love Peacock pointed out, “The juice of the grape is the liquid quintessence of concentrated sunbeams.” Plus soil, the combined art and science of tending to the vines and creating a tasteful wine.

As our small vineyard slowly establishes itself, we enjoy meeting folks who also have an appreciation of the vines. Just last evening, a newfound grape connection said he would bring his dad for an informal Portuguese session of pruning, homemade cheese and a sampling of wine.  

This unspoken knowledge, which may soon become a rarity, is both pure and instinctual yet it blends quite nicely with the science of it all. It makes one wonder, especially me. Can we find everything wrapped up neatly in a mobile app where our future seems destined to be?

That’s been the Annie dilemma these days. How do you combine algorithms and big data with this fine art of sculptural pruning and an instinct of when and how it is done? Maybe there should be a translator app so someone can understand a language like Portuguese that one has never learned. (There could be one out there; I haven’t a free minute to look.) 

But can it replace this unspoken language? Call it gut or instinct; it’s apparent when you’re into this sort of thing. It is this unspoken language of love and connection to the vines, the garden and the earth, plus the concentrated sunbeams that create the juice of the grape.

Early morning sunbeams hitting the recently pruned vines by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. You can like our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tomorrow’s Promise




Ansel Adams once said, “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” So for today, it’s a wordless Monday. I’m still trying to plant some new ideas after this very intense holiday week. And for all the blog visitors, hope all had a wonderful Easter. Tomorrow, there’s promise that we’ll dig into the garden dirt.

Image by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in daily. You can like our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz 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. Contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com You can now follow with visuals on Pinterest, too! http://pinterest.com/bilowzassoc/

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/

© 2009

© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)