Make a Summer Splash – with Windowboxes

A colorful, beautiful garden on a miniature scale – essentially, that’s what you are creating when you hang and fill a windowbox. Windowboxes come in many sizes and styles – shop your local garden center for one that matches your home or ask  your gardening professional to choose one for you. There are wood and metal styles, rustic to sleek and sophisticated.

Once you’ve chosen your boxes, it’s time to choose the plants. The benefit of window boxes  is that they enhance your home with greenery and summer colors – without blowing your budget. All you need is good container potting soil and an assortment of hardy plants and blooms. Some ideas for you, which look very pretty in windowboxes, include:

Pansies

Caladium

Ivy

Holly Fern

Impatiens

Periwinkle

Coral bells

Flowering kale and Sedge work well for a longer life/longer season

It’s good to choose flowers that have pretty leaves/lots of leaves, so that when not in
bloom, the box still looks nice and full. Experiment with what grows well in
your window area. Some plants need more sun than others so keep the location of
your windowboxes in mind when selecting plantings. However, another great thing
about windowboxes is the ease with which you can remove a single dead or dying
plant and replace it, without redoing the whole box.

Box gardening, container gardening – these hobbies are becoming more popular. As a
society, we have less space to work with and less time, so confining plants and
flowers to urns, bowls and boxes enables us to enjoy nature’s beauty, without a
lot of muss and fuss. Have fun filling your container – get a child or teen
involved. When they plant it, they have more incentive to care for it.

You can get creative with box plantings too. Windowboxes can brighten any eave or dormer. They can line the railing of your front porch or balcony – or line the fencing
around your backyard or deck. Take a walk around the outside of your home and
look for dull or drab spots where a hanging box or hanging planter, or a plant
stand holding a large bowl or plant pot would look attractive and add some
color. Kick it up a notch by adding a small box/planter on or beside your
mailbox stand, that matches the planters on the front of the house.

 

Window boxes typically need watered just once or twice a week. Depending on plantings
chosen, you may want to add plant food pellets or spikes. Ask your local
professional how to care for and feed the plants you’ve chosen. At HighTech
Landscapes, we welcome all questions and are happy to help you choose plants
and flowers for your home. We are New Jersey’s landscaping choice, based in
Branchburg, NJ. We know what plants thrive best in this area.

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Summer Color

Did you know that 25% of Americans look forward to summer for
the sole purpose that they get to enjoy their beautiful surroundings outdoors? This is especially true for occupants of the northern states. So why not add to your enjoyment of your surroundings by enhancing your backyard or outdoor living space with some summer blooms?

There are many perennials that bloom during the summer and are
available right now. In this article we will discuss some of the easiest to
care for, which are full sun flowers. These flowers are common to your
neighborhood plant store. Why? Because, most people like low maintenance
plantings. Read below and be sure to brighten your summer days.

Daylilies

This awesome flower actually withers on a daily basis, but do
not be concerned! The next day another bright bloom will be replaced on the
same stalk, keeping the color consistent in the warmer months. There are
actually two different varieties of daylilies, as well. The yellow, pink, and
pastel colored blooms need full sun attention, while the darker colors (purples
and reds) need shade. They are also one of the more adaptable landscape plants
growing in zones all over the country. You really cannot go wrong with this
bright perennial.

Black-eyed Susans

You probably saw fields of these as a child, but what is great
about a Susan is that they can fill a space in a quick amount of time. Growing
over three feet tall, their yellow petals average about six inches long. The
perfect summer appearance, the black-eyed susan blooms from June to October. So
you can enjoy them all summer and into the fall. They are perfect along
driveways or walkways.

Shasta Daisies

Countless games of “he loves me/ he loves me not” took place
with these flowers as children. It is a classic addition to any backyard, and
just shouts “summertime”. A fun fact is that daisies are actually said to be
America’s favorite flower! Probably because they grow in full sun and bloom
year after year after year. If you plant these in your backyard, there’s a bonus…you
will probably get even more pops of color. These unassuming flowers attract
butterflies!

Cranesbill Geraniums

There is great variety in the geranium family itself. These
flowers are most commonly used in rock and retaining walls. The way that they
grow looks like they are “spilling out” of the pot, soil, or nook or cranny.
The most common type is the salmon colored Wargrave Pink. They grow constantly
throughout the summer in most regions of the US. These flowers need almost no
care at all, and do well in semi-shade and sunlight. They can grow 18-24” tall
and are sure to attract the eye!

So there’s your recipe for enjoyment of summer color and the
great outdoors. Head out to your favorite landscaping store and grab your
palette. You can’t go wrong with low maintenance blooms like these…and visitors
to your home will enjoy the colors, too!

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Manageable Steps for Your Spring Garden & Lawn

Every season brings creative opportunities in the garden. Spring is an ideal time for gardeners as you get ready for the beauty of your garden to come alive after the winter slumber.  Sometimes the nurturing will feel like a lot of work (sigh….) — but it
is easier to master when you prioritize and organize. Here’s what we hope will
prove to be a helpful To Do List.

1. Pruning

Forblooming shrubs such as berries, juniper, and dogwoods, prune as soon as bloomshave passed. This is also the perfect time to prep your roses.  Please note, not all types of roses need to be pruned, other than for clean-up and size control, but if you are going to prune your roses, early spring is the perfect time.

(TIP: Pruning before the leaf buds open causes the rose bush to
put its full energy into new growth. If you are uncertain how to prune roses or
which roses need pruning, touch base with your favorite gardening expert or do
an internet search).

2. Deadheading

Many gardeners do not think of deadheading as an art, but instead as a chore.
Maybe it is more of a chore but, one worth doing since you are tending to your
garden in a most intimate way. To deadhead a flower, you must look at it and at
the plant it is growing on. Notice the plant’s health, how well it is doing in
regards to the plants around it and the state of the weed population. This is a
perfect time to evaluate whether or not to leave a seed pod on your pansies or
daffodils.  Consider how you wish to set the stage for how these well known standards in the Northeast will do in your garden moving forward or maybe you want to find room to add some geraniums, orange honeysuckle or something new.  Which leads us to…

3. Weeding

Get ready to get dirty and pull weeds from your beds and borders before they
have a chance to make them their permanent residence and spread.  Enough said about the joys of weeding…

4. Composting

If you piled up lots of organic matter in the fall you may be surprised to find
that it has broken down a bit during the winter.  This material can be used as a great mulch or you can simply combine new material with it and still use it as planned for compost.

Never made compost before? GOOD NEWS! Compost is one of the
easiest (and cheapest!) ways to amend your soil. It’s organic matter decayed by
the sun and soil microorganisms. It can be used to improve the overall health
(soil structure) of your earth by adding nutrients and promoting the
microorganisms that assist in soil temperature regulation and improve pH.  And, the task of making compost is easy.  You know you’re mission is accomplished when the
pile has become dark brown and crumbly (actual time depends on the environment).

5. Tools

Now is the time to take inventory of what you need for the season.  Make repairs or new purchases (TIP: Garage sales are great source for the budget conscious). Your list should include pruning shears and to find out the best for you – ask your favorite gardening professional.  You will be pleased when you have what you need when you need it (and more so, if you didn’t break the budget) when summer sets in.

6. Plant

Time to let your creative juices flow as now is the time to select and add new
plants. (TIP: Be sure, the threat of frost has past and the earth has thawed). Consider trees, shrubs, hardy annuals, and summer blooming bulbs.  And, ask your favorite gardener for suggestions that are ideal for the conditions (sun, shade, dry, moist, etc.) in your garden and region.

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All About Mulch

What is Mulch?

Mulch is any (ideally, organic) substance that you can spread or lay over the surface of your soil as a covering.  Use it to keep moisture in your earth, suppress weeds, keep soil cool and also to make the garden bed look more attractive. A key benefit to organic mulches is that they help improve your soil’s fertility as they decompose.

Examples of organic mulches include:

  • Bark, Shredded or
    Chipped
  • Compost and Composted
    Manure
  • Grass Clippings
  • Newspaper
  • Shredded Leaves
  • Straw

Organic mulch will decompose and have to be replaced but,
in the process it will also improve your soil’s fertility. Generally, the dryer
and woodier the mulch, the slower it will decompose and the less nutrients it
will give to the soil.

TIP: Be sure your mulch is weed seedling free.

How to use your mulch:

  • Bark mulches are
    best used around trees, shrubs and anywhere you won’t be doing a lot of
    digging.  Elect to use woody mulches
    where you know it will mix well into the soil and you know you don’t
    intend to move it later to make way for new plants.
  • Compost and Composted
    Manure
    can be used anywhere as long as they are weed free. You can use
    them as a coating of mulch or simply side dress plants with them during
    the growing season to insulate and give a boost of slow released
    nutrients.
  • Grass Clippings
    are a mixed bag and worthy of a warning because of the slimy consistency
    that gets matted down and restricts water from passing while creating an
    unpleasant odor as they decompose.
    For this reason, clippings are best suited to remote areas of your
    garden where you basically want to suppress weeds and don’t have high
    traffic.

TIP: The best way to use grass clippings is
to use a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the lawn to add fertility to
that soil. Best plan; place untreated grass clippings into your compost bin or
unplanted areas.

  • Newspaper as
    mulch is not new and is increasing in popularity because many newspapers
    have switched to using organic dyes, especially for their black &
    white sections. The art of mulching with shredded newspaper traditionally
    works well because it keeps plant roots moist while shipping.  And, layered sheets are effective at suppressing weeds and controlling soil temperatures.  Newspaper is also great for smothering existing grass and jump starting a new garden bed.

TIP: Moisten (4-8)
sheets to keep them in place and cover the newspaper with a 1-3 inch layer of
another organic mulch material and your weed protection should last throughout
the growing season.

  • Shredded Leaves
    are natures favorite mulch. Shredded leaves can be used as mulch anywhere
    and have the added bonus of being free. I have never had so many earth
    worms in my flower gardens as I’ve had since I started using shredded leaf
    mulch about 3 years ago. Even my compost pile doesn’t have as much
    activity as under these leaves.

TIP: Spread a layer in the spring, before plants spread out, the leaf mulch tends to blend
into the view within a short time. Spread a layer over your vegetable garden in
the fall and it will begin decomposing over the winter.

  • Straw and Salt Hay
    have always been popular mulches for the vegetable garden. They keep the
    soil and soil born diseases from splashing up on lower plant leaves and
    make paths less muddy. Straw decomposes very slowly and will last the
    entire growing season. It also makes a nice home for spiders and other
    beneficial insects who will move in and help keep the pest population in
    control. And finally, it’s easy to either rake up or work into the soil
    when it’s time to plant a new crop or put the vegetable garden to bed.
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The Cactus Plant – Resilient & Versatile

Cactus is a type of plant that really does not receive enough credit. Not only can this plant grow both outside and inside, they are a great accent to almost any porch or backyard in
the summer. Known for their ease of care, cacti are considered stem succulents,and are mostly grown in pots. However, the larger species of this plant are grown in soil – and can be too spacious for indoors.

It is believed that the first cacti were introduced to Europeans by Christopher Columbus as early as the 15th century! Although there is some controversy around this exact date, many native tribes of Brazil, the Aztecs, and also Mexican natives depicted cacti in
drawings 12,000 years ago, which mean that they would have had to be established beforehand.  As of 1753 there were 22 species named, and today there are around 2,000.

Cactus can survive in the driest of conditions due to their spines that can store water for years! The way that this works is that while many plants open their pores (Stomata) during the day, cactus open theirs at night. By opening their pores at night they are at less
of a risk of warm temperatures and water evaporation due to sunlight. Then,
while most plants would produce their sugars at night, this fascinating plant
has the ability to do so during the day to complete photosynthesis. Talk about
adaptations to overcome adversity!

Now, if you are looking to add some cacti to your plant collection they can really be a great addition. If you forget to water them for several days, no worries. If you travel for work you
should make this your ornamental plant selection. Not only are they low
maintenance but you have the option to move them to different parts of your
home in the winter, and then outdoors for the summer. Here are some of the most
common types found here in the states:

Golden Ball

Perhaps the most common type of cactus grown indoors in the United States, the Golden Ball cactus are just like their name- perfectly shaped circular thorns. They grow in clusters, and are most used as decorative houseplants. Maybe this is because this type of cactus
actually does not do well with direct sunlight. Some will grow pink or white
flowers at the top, which add to their visual appeal.

Pincushion

If you do not want to put any time into a plant look no further than the Pincushion cactus; they really need no pampering at all. Carrying both flowers and cactus fruit, the popular
Pincushion cacti are fleshy and tubular. This plant does need direct sunlight
and low humidity, so consider this when planning the placement of this “cute”
cactus plant.

Cereus Peruvianus

A larger type Cactus, the Cereus Peruvianus will grow quickly without much maintenance. You will need a very large pot with air holes in the bottom for ventilation will help this plant thrive. Really, the beautiful white flowers that grow with this type will be a
great addition to any space that you choose.

Cacti can be great conversation pieces. You can adorn them with strings of beads or white lights. You can placeSouthwest style knick-knacks around them or in the pots themselves. They really are enjoyable, and we can help you make the best selection for your home.
Perfect for a sun porch or sunny breakfast nook!  So, make the non-commitment and pick up a new cactus today. You will not be disappointed and will be amazed as you watch this
plant grow with so little of your time invested.

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Creating a Low Maintenance Lawn

NJ Landscape Designer

NJ Landscape Designer

Want a beautiful lawn, but don’t want to waste your valuable time on gardening and re-gardening after every winter? Well, there are some low-maintenance ideas here that can assist in the transition, especially after the colder months. You’ll also find some out-of-the box ideas that differ from your traditional lawn care.

Grass Options

Grass is usually what first comes to mind when it comes to traditional lawns, but there are alternatives. Groundcover is a low maintenance option, as is Clover. A nice low-maintenance choice is ornamental grasses, which require less time and care than a full lawn that you’d have to mow!

Groundcover can include such plant types as Verbena, Bishops weed, and Juniper. These types grow very short, and therefore do not require trimming. The first year of growth is the hardest, which requires weeding, mulching, and an edge barrier system, but it is well
worth it in the long run, as once the cover takes hold, then little care is needed at all. There are even edible varieties of Groundcover you can experiment with – like Strawberry plants!

If you still want the “grass lawn look” without the hassle; ornamental grasses require some trimming, but are nice because they grow well in most climates. Another benefit of these grasses is that they are also drought resistant for the summer! Ornamental grasses seldom
require fertilizer, and are supposed to be grown a little longer than traditional grass. Common types are names like Feather reed, Fountain grass, and Desert plains.

Clover many times is actually confused for grass, and is the “wild common form” that we see growing in fields or open areas. It is a soil enhancer, which means that it chokes weeds and enables other plants to grow prosperously in the area. Common types of Clover are DutchWhite and Yellow Blossom. Looking for the lowest possible maintenance from year
to year? Most gardeners recommend Dutch White as it is considered a perennial,
and will return easily after winter. This way you will not have to reseed the
area!

Flower Options

Interesting and beautiful to the eye of course are flowers. Flowers are an easy way to brighten up a lawn and keep your outdoor space pleasing to the eye. Easy, that is, if you choose the right types! Here is some information about the easiest types of flowers to maintain. Keep in mind, however that most flowers do best with at least a little sun and
moisture. And the planting period (time of year) must be followed. A common
mistake made is not waiting long enough to plant in the spring, and then
flowers freeze.

 

First, Hydrangeas are flowers with certain colors based on the acidity of the soil in the area. Colors can be blue, purple, or cream. These plants grow in shrubs, and luckily tolerate almost any soil type. They require partial shade, and will produce flowers from
summer to fall! Perfect to enjoy from spring to fall.

Geraniums are a good choice for our climate. There is a lot to be said about this flower, but most of all know that it is a tough cookie! The Geranium will stand up to winds and cold, while being flexible with soil type. They can thrive in both full sun or partial shade, and
are even resistant to animal encounters; especially deer.

 

Another suggestion for a low maintenance flower is Foxglove. This lavender, blue, or pink flower is quite dramatic as spikes surround the tall stems. The tubular shape will also seed itself for the next year, and multiplies easily. It’s only requirement is that it has well
drained soil…it cannot sit in a place that collects a lot of water.

Xeriscaping

If you are still not feeling 100% about the options above, there is a newer type of landscaping that has become very popular – Xeriscaping (pronounced “Zero-scaping”). The key part of the word here being “zero.” No doubt the most hands off you will be able to get with an outdoor space – this type of lawn care is your friend.

Xeriscaping is especially good for areas that do not have enough water supplied from irrigation, or for drier climates. On the other hand, it is becoming more mainstreamed and is being used in other areas as a low maintenance option. Popular elements for this type of
landscaping are Gravel, Garden Rocks, Succulents, Cacti, and Native
Plants.  You will definitely save money on the water bill, and these types of lawns have been said to be more visually interesting than the normal.

You simply cover an area with rocks or gravel (or even rubber mulch) and plant
hardy plants like cacti in certain spots. Or place them in pots here and there
instead of planting in the ground. Add an occasional decorative rock or fake
“boulder” to complete the look.

Hopefully after reading this article you’re not feeling so overwhelmed with creating your backyard or outdoor space for the upcoming season. There are many options at hand that you can tailor to your own personal interest and time frames. Consider finding a non-traditional lawn idea that works for you; you will reap the benefits and will have time for
more activities this spring/ summer! Don’t hesitate to ask us, your local lawn and garden professional, for more
ideas!

 

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Urban Gardening – Greening a Small Space

_So you love plants and you appreciate greenery. But you live in an apartment building or townhome and do not have yard space for a garden. Well, a trend that has been in place for a while now is urban gardening. You don’t have to live out in the countryside to be able to nurture certain plants and foliage and Green Up your home in a wonderful way!
Many methods and structures (furnishings) exist to support urban gardening. Everything from basic window boxes to shelves that widen your window ledge, multi-leveled plant stands that go from floor to ceiling and hold several pots, vertical wall boards that greens can grow out of, and much more. When you go online you will see many pictures and ideas. (Pinterest is a great source). You can also ask us, your local gardening professional, for ideas!

Some urban gardeners hang their plants upside down in a window. This can be an effective way of growing herbs for cooking, and ornamental or decorative plants.  Vines can be trained to climb up an indoor trellis or wall. (You may have heard of or seen “living
walls”  in hotels or office buildings or even restaurants, where there are many plants and ivy-type vines covering a wall. It can be truly beautiful.)

Of course when choosing the plants to grow on your balcony or window ledge, you need to consider the amount of light that reaches that area, which you can discuss with us when you purchase your plants.  You also have to be realistic regarding how often you will water your plants. Some people are better at caring for plants than others. If you know you will sometimes forget, then you should try to purchase plants that don’t need watered as frequently and are more hardy.

By placing shelves across your window, or hanging plants from above the window and placing some on the ledge, you can actually grow quite a few different plants – you’ll fit more pots than you thought you could. You can experiment to see what grows best. If you plan to put some plants beside a window and not directly in the window—such as on a tiered shelf on the wall, or a corner stand, you can choose low-light houseplants. In the summertime, you can actually build a plant shelf on the outside of your window and enjoy a lovely variety of herbs, decorative plants or even vegetables. Of course when
the weather turns cold in the fall you will bring these plants inside. There is a very cool contraption called a rope and pulley herb garden that you raise and lower at your window.

People have gotten very clever with urban gardening and come up with creative, ingenious ways to grow plants in and around their city homes. Get your own creative juices flowing and sketch something out. Then come and talk to us. We would be happy to help you plan the best way to add greenery to your home, which is good for the air, good for your mood, good for everyone! Plants make people happy!

PS – We will talk more about urban gardening and growing things
in small spaces in a future article.

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Gardening with Lines and Shapes

Especially in winter, and even in summer, we expect our garden to be colorful. Color, of  course, is simply one part of the garden equation.

Shapes and forms can make your garden and lawn more dynamic…from very large, towering trees, to smaller and more compact broad pyramids, to slender upright clustering branches that taper toward the top with conical shapes. Varying the shape, size and form of plantings will give your courtyard, garden or lawn its own personality.

When you shop for shrubs and trees, look at their silhouette. Imagine them in a line, or running along your fence. Now think about whether you want an even or staggered line, such as 3 shrubs of same height, one taller. Then 3 short, 1 tall. You get the idea. Circles are often popular in creating a garden feel – you can encircle your groomed, gardened area in shrubs or small trees. Or picture this…you start with a tall tree and form a slanted, diagonal line by planting things beside it that get steadily shorter.

Do you like tall and thin or short and wide? Do you like trees and shrubs that are squarish, with straight lines? Rounded like a ball? Or messy and uneven? Get the pen out and do a sketch, or go online and look at pictures of other gardens, to get ideas. A plant’s silhouette makes a difference in the visual look of the area. Some are more flowing or “droopy”
while others are stiff and sturdy. It’s all in what you like. Conical blue spruces are often a favorite for their stable form.

Remember, ground cover and shrubbery that is laid out with symmetry (symmetrical) give gardens a formal look. You may want a looser, more casual feel and this you use wavy or uneven lines when planting. Boxwoods and arborvitaes are good for creating a controlled, even look. Forsythia and azaleas are great for curvy, less formal lines.

If you are having trouble deciding the shape and style of your garden – square or round, sharp and clean or loose and casual – defer to your HOUSE. Follow the style of your home to help you design your outdoor space. Pristine and serious or fun and spunky?

You can also do a lot with textures, which we’ll talk about in a future article. Remember, grasses provide a touch of color and style to gardens and can be lined up, spaced out, to create a very ordered look (for example, one straight line, each clump placed 4 feet apart) OR they can be randomly planted for a cluster here, cluster there.

Remember, it is perfectly OK to have both a groomed, orderly, more formal look in one area of your lawn or garden, and a “messier”, more creative and natural looking space elsewhere. Let your own (and your home’s) personality shine!  Ask your lawn and garden professional for advice when picking out new plantings, and enjoy the garden. April is not all that far away, you can start planning in February to change the look of your lawn this Spring!

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Adding Color to the Winter Landscape

During the winter months, the landscape can get pretty bleak. Your yard and your neighbors’ yards don’t look as colorful. But it is interesting to consider the various plants that do stay green all winter long. Planting this spring or summer will give you splashes of color around your home when the snows come this November.

So let’s talk about some of this greenery. It can provide an appealing visual element when everything looks pale and gray. Even in very cold weather climates, there are some shrubs that do well. Cedar and Juniper both can handle the coldest winter weather. There are also shrub forms of Holly – ask your landscaping and gardening professional about those. If you have not heard of it, Inkberry is nice to look at with dense foliage and glossy leaves. Mountain Laurel stays green all winter as well. The nice thing about planting the shrubs is that you are providing protective habitat for small creatures and birds. So they will appreciate your efforts.

Everybody of course thinks of the evergreen tree when theyimagine what would stay green  year-round. And certainly you can plant different varieties of these trees if you want some greenery during the winter months. Spruce, Fir, Hemlock, and Douglas Fir will all do very well in our state. It is a matter of selecting the shade of green that you like because these different evergreen trees have different colors to them.  Holly trees can be a nice option but they take a little TLC so again, consult with a professional like us.

There are also some smaller plants and ground cover that stay green through the winter and look very pretty. English Ivy and Oregon Grape Holly are two good choices. Certain ferns hold up in the snow as does Creeping Mehonia. Remember, when planting trees, shrubs and ground cover, follow all planting and care instructions. If you are unsure of something, ask. You don’t want to waste your money planting something at the wrong time, or in the wrong soil, or giving it improper care, and having it die. It pays to get all the
info for successful planting and care.

There are also some creative ways to add splashes of color to your porch, lawn and garden during winter months. Place a bright red or green wheelbarrow on its side or tipped forward on the lawn or beside the walkway, and place potted year-round greens in it.  Tie up a bundle of Indian corn and hang it from the mailbox post, garden gate or on the garage door. Tie a brightly colored scarf around a pale, drab garden statue, or wrap a wide colored ribbon around columns or gate posts/fenceposts. Grab a bright red bushel basket or any
colorful basket or crate, and fill it with pinecones. Place it out front in a good spot.

If you decide to plant some permanent greens, plan now for a more colorful lawn when fall 2014 rolls around.

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Winter Gardening

The art of winter gardening dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries when European nobility would construct large conservatories to house tropical and subtropical plants.  The conservatory would act as an extension of their living space. Many would be attached to the main homes (usually palaces). Early versions would have been constructed of masonry with large windows and a glass roof, usually in the Classical or Gothic styles. An online search will  reveal some lovely and inspiring pictures of winter gardens.

In the 19th century, a trend to build conservatories out of iron and curvilinear glass developed. Winter gardens were not just restricted to private residences though.  Many were built for the greater public.  The first large public winter garden was built in 1842-46 in Regent’s Park in London and was used for evening occasions, large flower shows and social gatherings. Other winter gardens, such as The Crystal Palace by Sir Joseph Paxton (completed in 1851), were soon built and used for a variety of purposes. Back then, these large enclosed spaces full of flowers and greenery would have been something to behold!

Today, “a winter garden” is usually a reference to any garden planted to either bloom and flourish during the winter months in an enclosed space, or to remain visibly planted and slowly to develop, throughout the winter…tended to during colder months… to blossom in
the spring. Winter gardens typically contain plants that will serve as living decoration all winter. Today’s winter garden might be in a greenhouse type of room or enclosure, or outdoors, exposed to the elements.

One basic premise in colder regions is that the plants may indeed become dormant when snow covers the ground, but will grow each time the sun heats at least part of the plant to
above freezing (snow or not), especially in regions where snow cover and below-freezing temperatures are not constant for months at a time. Amazingly, growth is happening even when the cold winds blow and the snow falls, and skies are grey.

In lieu of summer’s blazing color, many gardeners brace themselves for a winter of gray
and brown, if not flat-out white, but that’s not necessary. You can brighten your landscape with color in winter, by building covered window boxes or even a small greenhouse alongside the house. Now, keeping the right temperature in your greenhouse can be tricky. Ask your friendly landscaping and gardening professional about the Do’s and Don’ts of having a greenhouse (just maybe that will appear as a future article).

You can actually have colorful pots that look nice all winter, to place near the house
in somewhat protected areas like the porch. Pots can be filled with heucheras, autumn fern, and sedums, for example. Place them close to a window where you can easily enjoy them from indoors.

The heuchera plants, also called coral bells or alum root, are especially hardy. They are a
semi-evergreen herbaceous perennial plant native to the United States.  Cultivate the plants for their colorful foliage and attractive flowers. (FYI, they work well as borders or in
flowerbeds, as well as in group plantings, as edges or as foundation plants.)

Building a green house may or may not be up your alley, but there are kits available that
make it fairly easy. And imagine having bursts of green and other colors on your winter landscape. You may find that you have a real knack for “Winter Gardening”. Feel free to ask us about what plants are best for getting you started. We’ll help you figure out how cold your plants and pots will get, and which plantings will give you what you desire.

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