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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Between a Rock and a Hardscape

A few years ago, a friend was installing night lighting in a garden for his client who wanted stone features as accents among the plants and around a backyard patio where he entertained family and friends. My friend invited me to accompany him to a garden center specializing in stone products. I was amazed at the choices of stone available – from small natural stone, to flat cut stone, to relatively large boulders. Displays showed examples of stone for terraces, walls, benches, paths and water features.

The possibilities seemed endless, and I began to see stone and rocks in an entirely different way. I began to notice them in fields and woods, along roadsides and in other natural settings. I began to realize that no garden could be complete without stone.

>> read “Between a Rock and a Hardscape”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
The Lowdown on Mulch

You may be wondering, why write an article about mulching? Everyone knows how to mulch, right? You buy mulch and place it around your plants. True, it’s not rocket science, but I have seen enough bad mulching jobs that it does merit more attention.

>> read “The Lowdown on Mulch”       #Landscaping   #Misc   #Soil
Living the Good Life Outdoors

You have probably heard the term “outdoor living.” This has been listed as a major landscaping and gardening trend in recent years. But what does it really mean?

>> read “Living the Good Life Outdoors”       #Hardscaping   #Misc
Slow Down and Smell the Flowers

During the past few years, the Slow Flower movement has been generating a lot of buzz in the media. Following the success of the Slow Food movement, Debra Prinzing, author of The 50 Mile Bouquet, coined the term “Slow Flowers” in an attempt to talk about some of the reasons for supporting local flower growers as well as appreciating in-season blooms.

>> read “Slow Down and Smell the Flowers”       #Flowers   #Misc   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency
Bridges in the Garden

The most admired image of a garden bridge is the one at Giverny in France, immortalized in paintings by Claude Monet and photographed by scores of visitors intent on capturing Monet’s vision. Gently arching over a narrow part of the lily pond, this Japanese-style bridge has green railings and an arbor that rises above it, entwined with trailing wisteria vines. Looking across the glistening pond filled with waterlilies, the bridge creates a romantic and dreamy background in harmony with the graceful weeping willows and the green lushness of the garden.

Garden bridges can be both purposeful and enchanting. They not only provide access across a pond, a small stream, a ravine or a swale, but can also create a dramatic focal point. Bridges are a symbol of transition and passage, and are often considered a metaphor for life. Crossing a bridge and looking down into a swiftly flowing stream or still pond opens up vistas into and across the water. It also gives you a new perspective as you view the garden from such a vantage point.

>> read “Bridges in the Garden”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
The Thrill of a Threshold

New beginnings are easily born on thresholds. Whether it’s in the garden or in life, this point of transition symbolizes a new beginning. For brides, being carried across the threshold of a new home marks the start of a new phase of life. For my own wedding in 1988, my husband and I were married on the banks of the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Va., on a dock that served as the threshold of our new life together.

A threshold is where one moves from one space to the next – an arbor, a bridge, a gate, a break in the hedge, a set of dramatic steps leading to a level change or even a pair of columns – made of either shrubs or trees, or hardscape materials. They punctuate a space, alerting visitors they are about to experience a change in scenery.

>> read “The Thrill of a Threshold”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
The Art and Science of Concrete

The hardscape of a landscape provides the “bones” of an overall design. Typical hardscape features are patios, pathways, stairways and various garden structures.

Concrete is often used for paved areas, and the number of options available to homeowners is only limited by one’s imagination. The bright white of new concrete is highly reflective and sometimes isn’t the first choice of a finish. Given a little bit of time, any concrete will begin to age and the bright-white tones will mute to a tan, earthen color simply through normal weathering.

>> read “The Art and Science of Concrete”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
The Allure of a Gazebo

Whether for entertaining guests, enjoying the view or finding solitude, a garden gazebo adds a focal point to the landscape that draws the eye and invites a visit. The placement of the gazebo, materials used and the selection of surrounding plants are all elements that determine the style and personality of the gazebo and help tie it in with the existing home and landscape.

>> read “The Allure of a Gazebo”       #Misc
The Southern Romance of Swings

Tap the Southern mind and I promise you, a swirl of porch-swing memories will pour out. For me, the gentle wind of a summer rain transports me back to Grandma’s veranda swing as she sat with her Burpee Seed catalogin hand anda cold Coke nearby on the porch rail … the two-note song of the back and forth swing harmonizing with rain hitting the tin roof and the far-off sound of rolling thunder. In To Kill a Mockingbird,iconic Atticus, immaculate in his linen suit, sways with Scout on the front-porch swing, teaching her about compromise on that stressful first day of school. Eli Wallach in Baby Dollpreys on sultry Carrol Baker in her front-yard swing. In Deliverance,the deep-country banjo player settles on the porch swing as he duels with the city guitarist, his effortless fingers a blur on the strings, making the city guy sweat.

We can sway on the porch as fireflies flicker at dusk and enjoy the garden perfume of peonies and roses, tea olive, magnolia, gardenia, phlox and on and on. Mosquitoes are kept at bay by our personal breeze and we enjoy being outside even as the great heat rises from the earth to engulf us. We inhale the aroma of supper cooking inside, laugh with our cousins, cry alone, and sleep easy on the screened-in porch swing with our pillow, quilt and favorite little mutt ...

>> read “The Southern Romance of Swings”       #Misc
A Checklist for Summer Entertaining

Your lovely, flower-filled landscape is the perfect setting for entertaining friends and family, but if you don’t have much experience in throwing a party it can be a bit daunting. Whether you’re hosting a graduation party, birthday bash or Fourth of July celebration, completing this simple checklist of tasks will help you organize and pull off the big event in style. Let’s get started!

>> read “A Checklist for Summer Entertaining”       #Decorating   #Misc   #Summer
Potting Sheds: A Gardener’s Haven

Gardening requires gear, and gear requires storage. But gardeners’ gear is often relegated to nooks and crannies in garages where it soon collides with cars and the paraphernalia of other family pursuits. We often spend half our gardening time looking for the tools of our trade.

A place to play with plants and to store stuff is the dream of many gardeners. But where to put that horticultural hideaway? What should it look like? How should it function? Following are two examples to give you inspiration for building your own potting shed.

>> read “Potting Sheds: A Gardener’s Haven”       #Design   #Misc   #Tools
Fire in the Landscape

Earth, wind, water and fire – yes, fire in the landscape. The glow of a flickering flame invites guests to relax, and it’s a great way to create an interactive environment in your garden. Fire lures guests in and provides a connection with the garden that’s enjoyed both physically and visually. Fire adds a mesmerizing element of mystique and magic to your landscape.

>> read “Fire in the Landscape”       #Design   #Misc   #Summer