Covering Ground

New healing garden at the Center for Hospice Care, Norwich, CT What makes a garden a healing garden?

I've heard the term "healing garden" more and more lately, particularly in relation to new or renovated health care facilities. At first take, it may seems a little obvious that any garden in a health care environment could be called a healing garden.

Or as a friend of mine asked when she heard I was writing about this topic, "Isn't every garden a healing garden?" Perhaps.

Yarrow in bloom at Lake Hayward, East Haddam, CT Lake Hayward buffer garden, year two

I had fun last year designing and assisting with the installation of an all-native, waterside buffer garden at Lake Hayward, East Haddam, CT. Now the garden is maturing and we saw yarrow and penstemon (aka beardstongue) in full bloom on June 21, 2014. Both plants have a lot of ecological value. Penstemon is recognized by the Xerces Society as attracting large numbers of native bees.

shrubs too close to house foundation Benefits of planning the landscape before planting the garden

Many a homeowner opens our conversation like this: "Something's missing."

The speaker is not talking about missing car keys or eye glasses, or lamenting an unsatisfying love life. It's the lack of curb appeal, an underperforming foundation garden, an unpleasant view, or the lack of privacy around their homes that's bothering them.

Connecticut meadow in June. Meadows where lawns once grew?

Ever hear of meadow-in-a-can? It's a clever marketing idea but ever so misleading to the would-be grower. A wildflower meadow is a special type of growing space, not a place where we toss some seeds and hope for the best. 

A meadow isn't a lawn gone wild. 

Five ideas to reduce yard work this year

When I meet a new landscape design client, the conversation almost always begins: "I want something really low maintenance."

Monarch butterflies require plants of the milkweed family to complete their life cycles. Love a monarch (butterfly), discourage a deer

Plant shopping, anyone? If you want to encourage our bees, butterflies and birds this year, think native plants. Monarch butterflies, for instance, require plants of the milkweed family to complete their life cycles. And--what a bonus--milkweed happens to be very deer-resistant. 

Marsh marigold, Caltha palustris April's wildflowers: Fleeting bright spots in the spring forest

I've heard them called ephemerals. Indeed, they tend to be small, bright, and short-lived. They sprout on the forest floor, peaking out from beneath leaf litter, or tucked between tree roots or along streams and vernal pools. Here are some that greeted me from April 20 -22 on forays into the woods of a western Pennsylvania town, McMurray, PA.

Beverly O'Keefe, Rhode Island Water Lady A visit to the Rhode Island Water Lady

In the middle of a dry July, wouldn't it be nice to have some rain barrels brimming with H2O? A visit to the Rhode Island Water Lady can make it happen.

Gravel barrier around tick-safe zone in backyard Landscape practices reduce the odds of tick bites

I've talked with people who hesitate to go outside, so worried are they of getting another tick bite. It's been almost 40 years since the disease some ticks carry was named for our local town, Lyme, CT. Researchers from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) have investigated the problem for years.

Cedar waxwings eating winterberry in April Why we plant winterberries

On April 6, 2014, these cedar waxwings were pecking berries left over from the 2013 growing season--our brilliant red native winterberries (Ilex verticillata). The berries are said to be too hard and sour for the birds until about this time of year, late winter, early spring--when most food sources are scarce. It's just one more reason to plant native and let nature do its work.