Easy Flower Arranging

Took me way to many years to realize that the secret to arranging flowers when you have minimal skill is to get short vases and pick a bunch of leaves- Coleus, ferns, Japanese Forest Grass, Liriope and Coral Bell flowers.

What’s (still) blooming now???

Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’, Alpine Betony

This is a work horse plant- started blooming a few weeks ago and has kept upright and attractive through a bunch of hot, humid, rainy summer days that made me want to flop and fade.

Just wrapping up its bloom now. Maybe you’ve seen it shine on the High Line in NYC? Trust Piet Oudolf to find plants that make it easier for gardens to look great.


May Flowers

Our white Wisteria has been transplanted 3 times.  First,  from a pot in Montclair, NJ then, to our first home in  Riverton, NJ and finally, to suburban Washington, DC.   It is the first major bloomer in our spring garden, and every time I walk under it, I think about the New York Botanical Garden. 

Many years ago, I taught English in the South Bronx.  Nothing makes you appreciate green like a daily commute on the Cross Bronx Expressway.  Friday afternoons, rather than fight the exhaust and the massive lines of cars heading out of the city for the weekend, I would cross Fordham Road and walk into an urban oasis. 

3:45:  drive by a gang house and try not to stare at the men  sitting outside drinking beer and carrying automatic  weapons

4:00: smell the sweet fragrance from  banks of peonies blooming along the walk across from the perennial garden. 

When you look at the ugly, you have a hard time functioning without moments of beauty.  Gardens and flowers are not a luxury.  They are the sustenance that feeds hope. 

Winter Flowers

On this rainy March afternoon, it’s cheering to look out the window and see flowers blooming.  The pussy willow over our driveway is covered in white catkins.

There are all kinds of rules about how you should prune a tree.  I’ve ignored most of them with our pussy willow. 

Never cut back more than a third of a tree:  done that

Don’t prune in fall when the tree may be more susceptible to disease: done that

Remove crossing branches (if I did that, there’d only be 1 branch on this tree.

I may be oversimplifying a bit, but right now it seems that as long as you are comfortable with a saw, you can grow a healthy pussy willow.

Yesterday, at the middle school where I am helping students design a sustainable landscape, we walked around the school yard and noticed piles of trash, standing water, and bare twigs.  The students wanted to know what we could plant to make the garden attractive at this time of year.  Below are pictures of a few plants that are thriving in our yard, despite record snowfalls.

This witch hazel kept blooming while surrounded by 4 feet of snow.

Like the witch hazel, our hellebores survived the snow and look gorgeous.

We brought winter color inside our house with pruned aucuba and dried chili peppers that were hanging in the garage.

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