Covering Ground

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed leaf Homely, helpful: Don't pull that weed!

More than a few plants that we humans call weeds, other creatures call home. Even among our cherished ornamental flowers, some need to stand long after the beauty pageant is over in order to support the insects they host.

Formal gardens at Harkness State Park In full bloom: Wide Range of Landscapes at Harkness State Park

Have an hour to spare? Let's take a walk. First, take in the flowering meadows, visit a wildlife preserve, then saunter down the sweeping waterfront lawns. There, catch views of lighthouses and ferry boats. Next, walk the formal gardens, the cutting gardens, and see the new working greenhouse. 

Project Native, Plant and Butterfly Haven

Update on Project Native: New Owner, New Directions

View the photos from my 7/1/14 visit to this native plant nursery and butterfly sanctuary in Housatonic, MA: 

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.

Meadow insttead of lawn 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. 

Red Trillium, Trillium erectum 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. Aside from providing us with a pop of color in the still-brown landscape, spring ephemerals provide sustenance to early insects such as queen bumblebees. Ephemerals sprout in unlikely places, peaking out from beneath leaf litter, between tree roots, along streamsides, and in vernal pools.