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

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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Indecision Meets Design



Jessamyn West once said, “I am always jumping into the sausage grinder and deciding, even before I’m half ground, that I don’t want to be a sausage after all.” How often has that happened to you? You thought you wanted sausage but in the end, it was really something else. There is nothing more disappointing than a collision of indecision and a lot of unhappiness about the final results.
Are you jumping into the design process? This straightforward advice may seem too simple for some, especially the linear type, but it is the ultimate make or break of an overall design. Know what you really want. First, before stepping off the design deep end, there are certain factors (i.e., topography, wind exposure, site conditions, wetland restrictions, septic system etc.) that can’t be changed or altered and influence the design criteria. But once this is determined, the rest of the design process is truly about your lifestyle and budgetary choices.
Seems like simple advice but when given a palette of design options, many folks hit decision overload, forgetting what they like and how they live. An indecisive person ultimately picks things he or she doesn’t even want. It has nothing to do with the design or the process. It has more to do with what makes it into the grinder in the first place. In the end, you didn’t want to be a sausage after all.
There is no cure for indecision but there is hope when you need to make design decisions. Understand your lifestyle, your habits, and what you want to draw inside and out of your home. A design team helps weed through this process with pros and cons but ultimately the only person that knows what you want is the person immersed into your lifestyle everyday – you and nobody else. Don’t jump into the sausage grinder and decide half way through, it was ground beef you wanted or better yet, tofu. There’s nothing worse than ending up with the wrong sandwich and ultimately, although many things can dictate a design, you, the homeowner, are ultimately in design control. And as Jarod Kintz reminds us about this process, “I couldn't decide whether to take a nap or not, so I did what I always do when thinking over a decision—I slept on it.” This is the best advice for anyone on design decision overload.
Image by Ann Bilowz ©  
If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Millstones & Caldrons All Under One Roof

Landscape esign and why design with caldrons
When the nights get chilly, the inevitable changing of the leaves start to take place. This process symbolizes one season starting and the other slowing down. But it is the fascinating, scientific part that often gets overlooked. When the sugar produced in the leaves (through photosynthesis) during the day doesn’t flow back into the trunk of the tree, it remains in the leaves and as the chlorophyll (the green pigment of the leaf) diminishes, it displays the color of sugar.Caldrons and landscape design
And speaking of sugar, take a look at these awesome caldrons once used in the production of sugar. With such a bewitching look to them, the fall season is a perfect time to consider how to incorporate one of these unusual pieces into your landscape.

And if you missed the piece on milling around, we just love the use of millstones in the landscape as well. Fall is the perfect time to be thinking design! Paul Rand’s words wrap up this Friday thought. “Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated.”
Millstones for designing in the landscape

P.S. Pumpkin tips to be coming soon.

All Images by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ten Things You Can’t Fake

Ten Things You Can’t Fake

George Keller once said, “To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” So what do you think is on the top ten list of what you can’t fake? I just gave away a big hint. As for the other nine, well, that’s up to you to shout some back.

But here’s where the ‘Annie’ thought process is going this morning – it’s probably the most valuable lesson I brought away from the first #gardenblogconf. Can you guess what it is? It’s on my top ten things of what you can’t fake. It seems intuitive and commonsense but you can’t fake creativity.

So bouncing to the next thought – is anyone asking why the well-established print media (which most think to be dead or close to it) are being bought by some pretty well-known business moguls? Let’s hope for something called integrity coming  back to any form of media as we entrench ourselves in a cyberspace world where ‘it’s very easy to take other people’s stuff without a conscience or give due credit where credit is due.’

So here is another great point taken away from the conference by one of its speakers, @seasonalwisdom - to ‘keep moving forward.’ Seems pretty straightforward (pardon the pun) but this is precisely where creativity and original content come from. It’s not from those chugging behind, picking up leftover crumbs in the garden dust.

It was said in the early days of the Internet (which seems so many moons ago) that the government and its agency (U.S. Copyright office) would not be able to keep up with this breakneck pace. Fast forward to what’s a raging flood of social media giving way to a very shaky platform of social etiquette. Time to get some social manners.  As @urbangardens suggested at the conference, we need to talk about this issue, especially since it isn’t going away anytime soon.

Okay so there's just one more tidbit of inspiration to share from the conference. Besides her funny and unique delivery, it's a point to note - @Gardenrant does have a voice with the big boys. It was her unique and creative writing that crafted an important social media point.

So that's it in a nutshell - be genuine, not an imposter. With that, even with this welcome back, choppy thought process, I’ll end with one more of the top ten you can’t fake - a smile! Give someone next to you a huge one but make sure it’s real. It’s amazing what it does!

P.S. Note to self from conference – get the Youtube channel active. Great first video to come!

Image by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reflections on Perfection in the Garden

It's wordless Wednesday and I am still displaced from my usual creative writing space. So just a few more days of reflective garden images with a question to toss out. How often do you find 'perfect' in your garden spaces?
If there is living plant material mixed in with the hardscape features, you may find perfect moments but true perfection may only be that imaginary place. Speaking of imaginary, if you are in the Atlanta area, check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden, 'Imaginary Worlds', first time in the United States. So on that note as I reflect on an interesting last few days, let's wrap it up with an Idries Shah quote. "Because there is a word for perfection, people will always imagine that they know it." That's the garden thought for this Wednesday. Enjoy it wherever you may be. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Milling Around


In our search for unique materials, we are constantly milling around for the best sources. How would you use a millstone in your landscape? We incorporate them into many of our designs. I love the way the Atlanta Botanical garden used this lovely piece of stone.  We'll be milling around one of the best millstone sources later today. Until then, I leave you with today's quote. 

Unfortunately, I do not know the author as the following is an excerpt from one of those chain emails I would normally ignore. "Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles; it takes away today's peace."  Finding peace is often the reason we create a garden, get out and garden or just enjoy one of the many that have been created in this world.

Enjoy your Tuesday. And as always follow us... we enjoy your company, your comments, questions and thoughts. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Thoughts

Welcome the first signs of fall. And as new gateways open and pathways lead us into a new season...
Let this Monday photage take you to a magical place.
And as always, we end with the quote of the day. 

P.S. My usual format may be missing for the next couple of days, but you know where to find us. And remember, enjoy your gardens near and far.

All images by Ann Bilowz

Friday, September 20, 2013

Saying Goodbye…


Charles Dickens wrote in ‘Great Expectations’, “Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” When you live to love the garden, these magical pieces are fused together, like the image above of this colorful leaf resting on pine needles in the last bits of summer sunlight. Ah, yes, these seasonal changes we notice creeping in ever so slowly as we say goodbye to the summer garden.

Welcome fall, my favorite season but saying goodbye to summer, well, it is as J.M. Barrie once said in ‘Peter Pan’. “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” Who can forget our summer gardens? Not me, not I, not saying goodbye. The summer garden cannot be forgotten if we planted it wisely. Now get out your rakes. Our fall gift-you guessed it. There will be plenty more leaves where this one came from. Just a couple days early but Happy Fall everyone.

Image by Ann Bilowz ©  

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Show Pony


Ralph Ellison wrote in the ‘Invisible Man’, “Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it.” So is the case with Hydrangeas, including one that holds a fitting name – H. paniculata ‘Limelight'. Many of us in the industry know this show pony, but for anyone in the aisles looking for some last-minute shrubs to plant this coming fall, ‘Limelight’ is one of those Hydrangeas that has it all. Take a look at today’s image. Its seasonal pink hues are just starting to peek through.

Here's the Thursday tip for those still shopping - you can plant this deciduous shrub late into the year(before the ground freezes). And with powerful workhorses like 'Limelight', always give them plenty of room to mature and take off.

One of my favorite uses for Hydrangeas - cut flowers and dried arrangements, which takes you past the growing season for all-year interest. There is an endless list of Hydrangeas that work as fabulous choices. So as you start some fall planting ideas, pick wisely. You know when you have it. ‘Limelight’ is a true show pony - you won’t be disappointed.

Image by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It is What It is…


Whether it’s the fall season rapidly approaching or the growing trend of “fingertip gardens” (mobile apps and high technology flooding the gardening world), Leon Foucault's words resonate the same today (even if he was born almost two hundred years ago). “The phenomenon develops calmly, but it is invisible, unstoppable. One feels, one sees it born and grow steadily; and it is not in one's power to either hasten or slow it down.” On this wordless Wednesday, enjoy what still remains in the landscape…it is what it is. This Sunday is the start of fall.

Image by Ann Bilowz ©  

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Within Our Reach


Paracelsus once said, “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.” But do you know what is toxic in your own garden or backyard? Would you comprehend what to do should a small child or a pet digest a mushroom or something poisonous? That is besides the obvious, which would be the emergency room. While most, if not all of us could use a smartphone and gain instant access to a wealth of information, wouldn’t there be a level of panic that might set in, especially if you had to weed through what is accurate and what is bogus? And with organic and natural products flooding the market, it’s helpful to know what can be harmful in large quantities.

While I am still chipping away at a recent book from Timber Press, ‘The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms’ by authors Nancy J. Turner and Patrick von Aderkas, there is a primary reason to keep your personal library shelves stocked with this informative read. Having an in-depth reference guide to peruse and become familiar with at your leisure is a more settling alternative than diving into the black hole of information, especially when an emergency occurs and the mindset is panic. This book comes in handy as an educational homeowner’s reference.

The authors point out how much is actually poisonous; there are harmful plants and mushrooms in so many benign locations. Being informed and educated is a huge part of the equation, especially as small children and pets naturally explore and can potentially ingest something harmful. Rather than be fearful and stifle any exploration, you are equipped to teach or prevent them from what is equivalent to a hot oven or stove. This is also a great reference book for anyone who works in the green industry as there are tidbits in here that most of us generalists may not know but should.

While this book is clearly a reference guide, it is worthy of anyone’s read. It does require digging into the botany and mystique of the plant world. And while so many people are delving into the natural and organic, it is best to know first-hand what is healthy and what is marketing. And for anyone who wants to test the waters of mycology, everything in small doses and never eat anything that an expert mycologist hasn’t approved.  

Image by Ann Bilowz ©  

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Looking Ahead


Yes, as promised on this overcast Monday, there’s another trend to share from Garden Media’s ‘2014 Garden Trends Report’.  What’s garnering so much attention in the produce patch? It appears that ‘grow what you eat’ is switching rapidly to ‘drink’ from your garden.  Here’s the skinny from their report. “People are drinking their gardens using such super foods...like BrazelBerries® blueberries and raspberries to craft cocktails and green smoothies. "Fermentation gardens are the new chickens," says Rebecca Reed of Southern Living. People are growing hops for home-brewing, grapes for home-made wine.”

So before you hop on this growing trend, let me share what kicked off this weekend in the fermentation part of our mini-vineyard. Let's start with a word of caution before you become all caught up like many do when they want to become part of a growing trend. If you think growing and making your home-made wine is all idyllic and beautiful, get yourself ready for an eye-opening experience. And while I realize there are far worse hobbies run amuck, growing grapes is only ½ of the equation and that, in itself, is a ton of work. The image above shows a portion of the grapes harvested from our research vineyard and without sophisticated mechanical equipment, it is an extremely high, labor intensive process to getting the grapes crushed. That is if you want it ready for something drinkable and no impurities ruining your yearly crop.

Joanne Harris’ quote provides some simple foresight. “A man may plant a tree for a number of reasons. Perhaps he likes trees. Perhaps he wants shelter. Or perhaps he knows that someday he may need the firewood.” And there you have it – we do certain things but maybe for different reasons. It could start off as a learning experience or a necessity that perhaps turns into, at least in the case of our mini-vineyard, a growing trend. Compare it to the example of the tree. Get prepared to take on some hard work, especially if its use is as firewood (or as in this case, wine). It’s a multi-step process. And yes, in looking ahead, it’s quite an adventure.

Image by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Distinctive Design Trends for 2014

Garden Media recently released its 2014 Garden Trends Report. One of the many garden trends noted in their press release related to design. Here’s what they had to say – “Neat clean lines are out as explosions of color in fractional shapes like triangles, circles and squares dominate design.”

What does it take to be ahead of the trends? It often requires what author and inspirational speaker Mark Sanborn recently stated in his newsletter - being ‘distinctive’ rather than just ‘excellent.’ He points out that, “Success in 2013 and beyond isn’t about being excellent, good or even great. It is about being distinctive. Excellence is relatively easy to accomplish. A good copycat watches what the industry leader is doing and then does the same things…The biggest problem with excellence is that it isn’t distinctive.”

So back to this design trend of breaking neat clean lines. It takes testing the conventional to create great design. It requires removing oneself from that comfort zone and taking the leap beyond the usual to break those conventional lines. When the ‘biggest problem with excellence is that it isn’t distinctive’, don’t roam with the copycats. As Mark Sanborn points out, “Excellence is a moving target. Today’s “excellent” can be next month’s “mediocre.”

These final Friday thoughts, which echo our design philosophy - break away from the conventional; always be distinctive.  

© Copyright note: this design has been developed by and is the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and should 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.©

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden 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 for inspiration. Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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. You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Parks Unplugged


When was the last time you unplugged to spend leisure time in your local park? Perhaps there’s one nearby where you live or work. Do you just zoom past it, never encountering the flow and feel of your surrounding parks system? City Parks Alliance gives us reason to take another look.

"Urban parks are dynamic institutions that play a vital, but not fully appreciated or understood role in the social, economic and physical well-being of America's urban areas and its residents. Dating back to the 19th century when Frederick Law Olmsted introduced the first large-scale urban parks to this country, these green spaces provided relief from urban intensity for residents and brought people together across social, economic and racial divides. In the post-war years, when the population shifted away from urban centers, our nation's parks suffered enormously from disinvestments and many are still experiencing it. As cities across the country are attracting millions of residents again, the center of this sweeping urban renaissance are newly revitalized parks.”

With September at its half-way point, don’t let this transitional month slip by without taking some digital downtime in a local park. Pack a picnic or take a stroll through its many pathways. Take notice of the trees and plant materials. Is the park rough around its edges or is it well kept and maintained? Maybe there is something you can to do to make an imprint on its upkeep. It’s just a thought as we take a leap into today’s quote.   

Theodore Roosevelt once said this about our parks. “The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.” Our parks are the central arteries to a neighborhood or an urban area‘s natural flow. These pockets of nature combined with landscape design elements are meant to be enjoyed and not ignored.

Image by Ann Bilowz ©  

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections



On this wordless Wednesday, this September 11th, 2013, look for the reflection of life that comes in the quiet places. See the trees reflecting in the stillness of the water and listen to the fish that pop up behind the Cattails, reaching for food beyond its reach. Take a moment to be outdoors. There is so much life in the quiet places. We are defined by the reflections we choose to see.
And as Melody Beattie reminds us, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

All Images by Ann Bilowz © 

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Fruitful Field


John Steinbeck once penned this powerful observation. “The fields were fruitful, and starving men moved on the roads.” These words provide such visual impact. You can create your own photograph in your mind. It’s a powerful Tuesday message so I shall let John Steinbeck’s words do the storytelling today. How do you interpret these words? What image or photograph can you envision? Are you connected to the fruitful fields or are you moving swiftly on the road of industrial agriculture?

Image of Grapes harvested from our vines by Ann Bilowz © 

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ever-Improving Path


Winston Churchill reminds us on this beautiful September Monday morning that “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

As the summer starts to wrap itself up, is the climb over in our ornamental gardens yet? Far from it as a specialty Peony order arrived this past Saturday from Swenson Gardens. Mentioned in an earlier August post, Five Garden Tips Thursday it was duly noted that the time was upon us to order the bulbs and Peonies, at least if you wanted the cream of the crop.  And why do we love Swenson Gardens and their Peony Collection? Take a look for yourself.

Besides the rootstock being gigantic in size, how many nursery owners send a personal email after your order is placed, (during their busiest season) and remember you after several planting seasons go by, asking about your projects? It’s the whole package we look for– it’s artisan versus industry. And Swenson Gardens hits that artisan factor on every level.

Remember when planting Peonies to follow the planting directions as the rootstock must be set at the right height. Also, if you want to divide and transplant any Peonies, fall is the season based on your local weather of course.

So there you have it – Monday's garden message. There’s always room for excitement and the ‘ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.’ When you see the possibilities that extend before you, it ‘only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.’

And one more challenge to add to your work week. Eat something local in your diet each day. It can be as simple as chopped basil leaves you grew in a clay pot with a fresh tomato you produced in a Topsy Turvy on your urban patio. Remember to enjoy the season and freshness of locally grown. And as always, it’s my frequent mantra to support your local farmers. Don’t let this breed die out. 

All Images by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Viewing Points



When creating our outdoor spaces, we open up possibilities for viewing points. In many cases, we design private places for socializing and entertaining as well. So here's a quick Friday design trick. When implementing structural elements, do not place them arbitrarily - give them purpose, use them wisely. Take for instance an arbor, which can serve as a doorway. From a design perspective, an arbor creates enclosure, privacy, frames a view, it defines space. Structural elements in your layout or plan must always have a distinct purpose or in some cases, purposes. Rule of thumb – a structural element should not be arbitrary; it should always blend and lend itself to the house’s overall architecture.

Consider the possibilities of your outdoor viewing points. As Tom Stoppard reminds us, “Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” And in regards to this changing month of September, when our gardens appear to have a different look, feel and tone, do as E.M. Forster suggested in ‘A Room with a View’. “We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.” With a gorgeous September morning like this, face the sunshine and consider the possibilities of your outdoor viewing points. 

© Copyright note: this image and design has been developed by and is the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and should 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.© 

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Digitally Perplexed


We are all under the influence of social media. In some way, shape or form, whether we believe we are in consent of it or not, we are communicating with each other in ways that are downright scary. Algorithmically, someone or something collects and crunches results about us and like most things, has the potential of being harmful or good. 

It’s the fastest wave hitting though we still have not seen its forceful impact. And while this tsunami continues to take shape and form in Big Data's deep blue sea, I often ask myself why I continue to give so intently to the feeding of this wave.  

But every morning I reach for a voice that attempts to tell you something positive, funny or factual about landscape architecture, design, gardening and horticulture. Sometimes I post a favorite recipe, share an inspirational moment from the garden or an observation in nature but today I share something about me. And there it is – that digitally perplexing word – sharing. Most of us learned firsthand as children the meaning of sharing. It occurred in those initial moments of social interaction with our world and our peers. Whether it was a sandbox, the lunch table or kindergarten, we all had those moments when we were asked if we could share. 

So today’s observation comes from Terence Craig. He is the author of ‘Privacy and Big Data’. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you take a peek. This oversized book, which I read months ago, visually tells you in tidbits just the beginnings of this huge data wave. 

“It seems that we are back where we started. Historically, as small tribes of hunter and gatherers we had no concept of privacy. Then, as we became rooted in towns and villages, we continued to live primarily in the public square where everyone “knew our business.” With industrialization and the development of large dense urban areas, privacy was possible for the more privileged members of society and then, finally, for all of us. We have come full circle. Again, we live our lives in a public, although now digital, square where any person, company, or organization around the world can watch us, whether we want them to or not. There is more known about us than ever before. What does privacy mean in the world we now live in? This is not the first time (and certainly won’t be the last) that technology has leapfrogged ethics, bringing us to the age old question of what we can do versus what we should do. The question we should all be asking ourselves, our communities, our societies, and our leaders is this: does privacy still matter in the digital age? Yes, privacy still matters in this age of big data and digital devices. But what it means, how we regulate and enforce it, what we are willing to give up for it, how much power we give our governments over it, remains to be seen. Like it or not, we live in interesting times.”

So for the time being, my daily voice shall continue to be shared; even on Facebook, which most users’ feel  tap dance around ethics and values of what they share. As Craig points out above, ‘we live in interesting times.’

I shall remain digitally perplexed as this wave continues to build. There are some things in life we aren't in total control of and Big data, I fear may be one of them. So I shall resort back to what I know best - those childhood days of social interaction where ‘share’ had positive memories. I end this post with a powerful quote from a woman who chose to share her very public life with such humility. “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa’s words cross any bridge of digital data as she clearly lived the true definition of sharing each day.

Image by Ann Bilowz ©

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Always Plant Roses


On this wordless Wednesday, it is one of my favorite Roses accompanied by an Alexandra Stoddard quote. “Think of the inside of your house as your soul and the outside architecture as something like your bone structure, your genetic inheritance…Our true home is inside each of us, and it is your love of life that transforms your house into your home.”  

Image by Ann Bilowz © Floribunda Rose (Rosa) 'Hot Cocoa' on this September morning  

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September’s Horizon

 
What’s coming down the pike this September morning? It’s an early observation from an advanced copy of a book (not out for distribution) called ‘Uprisings', written by two Canadian authors, Sarah Simpson & Heather McLeod. Here's a sneak peek at why I decided to review it. It is a hands-on guide to the community grain revolution, something we (Greg and I) don’t know too much about.

Just in these first few chapters I spotted several interesting facts about milled grain, which is ground between stones versus the commercial flours we purchase, which are processed using steel rollers. While this read is still not for distribution, I’ll only share an excerpt reiterating what this blog is often about – experiencing your own food source by digging in the dirt and planting seeds. I highly encourage being true stewards of your land, even if it’s a tiny piece of soil in containers on an urban rooftop or supporting the local farmers within your region. 

But back to the book as these Canadian authors state it best. “Asking questions about where exactly our food comes from and how it’s produced takes time. Many of us don’t even know what questions to ask. We aren’t the agrarians and homesteaders who settled North America, who knew how to milk a cow or plant corn by the time they were ten. We’re not only ignorant of what farming used to look like – we don’t even know what mainstream agriculture looks like today. Many North Americans still picture idyllic red barns and silos, cows grazing grass and rows of diverse vegetables being weeded by a grizzled farmer with a hoe. The truth is, the vast majority of food we eat is not from this imaginary farm.” 

The authors continue on with this personal challenge I often toss out to you throughout the growing season. “We can learn a lot about our food by playing in our own garden. In fact, if you’ve lost your passion for food in the process of learning about industrial agriculture, growing edible plants is one of the best ways to rekindle your love affair with food.”

As September rolls in, look at your food with a fresh perspective. One of the best things I heard over this Labor Day weekend was my cousin’s young daughter saying ‘She wants to be a farmer.’ Let’s hope it’s not just the red barn she fell in love with but seeing our earth producing loads of edible plants and getting introduced to some of the local farmers from what can still be claimed as a small agricultural New England town.
 

 
© Images by Ann Bilowz
Top image - Our peach tree in full blossom earlier this season
Bottom image – Peaches harvested this weekend

If you like this blog, hope you check in for your daily share's worth of inspiration, design, and garden tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! Like our Facebook follow on Twitter 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 Annie You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on Houzz, too.



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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.)