Articles on this Page
- 11/19/13--06:00: _Portable Garden Fur...
- 11/19/13--08:00: _Gardening 101: How ...
- 11/19/13--10:00: _The Shade Gardener'...
- 11/19/13--12:00: _5 Favorites: Modern...
- 11/20/13--03:00: _Tara Getting Marrie...
- 11/20/13--06:00: _Gift Guide: For the...
- 11/20/13--08:00: _Steal This Look: An...
- 11/20/13--10:00: _Raise High the Roof...
- 11/20/13--12:00: _Design Sleuth: Town...
- 11/21/13--03:00: _A River of Stone at...
- 11/21/13--06:00: _Gardenista Giveaway...
- 11/21/13--08:00: _A Concrete Bench Wi...
- 11/21/13--10:00: _10 Easy Pieces: Fre...
- 11/21/13--12:00: _DIY Outdoor Planter...
- 11/11/13--08:00: _10 Easy Pieces: War...
- 11/11/13--10:00: _A Painter's Legacy:...
- 11/11/13--12:00: _The Unhouseplant
- 11/12/13--03:00: _Garden Visit: Andre...
- 11/12/13--06:00: _Yes We Can! Bringin...
- 11/12/13--08:00: _A Winter-Weight Wov...
- 11/19/13--06:00: Portable Garden Furniture for a Tiny Balcony
- 11/19/13--08:00: Gardening 101: How to Draw a Garden Plan
- 11/19/13--10:00: The Shade Gardener's Challenge: Impatiens Blight
- 11/19/13--12:00: 5 Favorites: Modern Pavers
- 11/20/13--03:00: Tara Getting Married: DIY Wedding Flowers
- Hire a local florist and hope for the best?
- Consider a minimalist approach with as few flowers as possible?
- Plant 4,325 bulbs in autumn, timing their bloom time next spring with your wedding date?
- From Netherland Bulbs, 200 deep purple "Queen of the Night" tulips, priced at 50 for $17.50, and 200 white "Maureen" tulips, currently out of stock.
- From Colorblends Bulbs, 500 Spanish Bluebells; 100 for $31, and 200 Allium christophii, priced at $15 for 25 but currently out of stock.
- From Brent and Becky's Bulbs, 500 Triteleia, 50 bulbs for $34.50.
- 11/20/13--06:00: Gift Guide: For the Houseplant Enthusiast
- 11/20/13--10:00: Raise High the Roof Beam: A Steel Garden Pergola
- 11/20/13--12:00: Design Sleuth: Town Garden in Stoke Newington, London
- 11/21/13--03:00: A River of Stone at Tiger Glen Garden
- Subscribe to our Gardenista Newsletter and leave a comment sharing one of your own techniques for taking care of your favorite garden tool. (If you are already a Gardenista Newsletter subscriber, mention that when you leave a comment below.)
- The winner will be randomly selected on Monday, December 2, 2013—be sure to check back to see if you've won. (We'll announce the winner on December 3.)
- 11/21/13--08:00: A Concrete Bench With a Side of Greenery
- 11/21/13--10:00: 10 Easy Pieces: Freestanding Wood Stoves
- 11/21/13--12:00: DIY Outdoor Planter: Rich Fall Hues
- 11/11/13--08:00: 10 Easy Pieces: Wardian Cases
- 11/11/13--10:00: A Painter's Legacy: Madoo Garden Lives On
- 11/11/13--12:00: The Unhouseplant
- 11/12/13--03:00: Garden Visit: Andrea Cochran's Courtyard Vignettes
- 11/12/13--06:00: Yes We Can! Bringing Back Grandma's Violets
- 11/12/13--08:00: A Winter-Weight Woven Hanging Planter
Problem: A balcony with hardly enough room to stand, let alone squeeze a table or chair. Solution: A portable table designed to balance on the edge of the balcony railing. Torafu Architects in Japan worked in collaboration with Ishinomaki Laboratory—a design co-op born of the devastation visited on Ishinomaki, Japan after the 2010 tsunami—to design a genius table for propping in tiny spaces. Even as the weather cools, we're dreaming about the possibility of a little al fresco entertainment. Hot chocolate for two on the fire escape, anyone?
Above: A moveable arm wraps around the balcony railing and provides a counter balance to the tabletop.
Above: The table collapses for easy transport up to the rooftop or balcony.
Above:The Sky-Deck is available for sale through the Ishinomaki Laboratory online shop for 8,680¥.
Have a little more space on your balcony? Consider this Green Vitrine.
Have you already forgotten where you planted those tulip bulbs last week? And how exactly are you planning to locate that clump of wilted foxglove you cut back (without accidentally digging it up)? Keep track of your plants—and your schemes for next spring—by drawing a garden plan:
Keep it Simple: All you need is a piece of white paper (on which to plot the existing elements of your garden); a piece of tracing paper and tape (to add a layer for planned additions); a pencil (colored pencils optional); an eraser (you know why), and a measuring tape. Bonus points for gathering inspirational garden photos to spark ideas.
Need to Know: To draw your plan to scale, you will need to measure distances in the garden: the perimeter, the size of existing garden beds, the size and shape of your trees and shrubs.
Step 1: Jot down measurements on scrap paper.
Step 2: For an average size backyard garden (18 feet wide), we assigned a scale of 3 feet=1 inch.
Step 3: Outline the perimeter of the space on a sheet of white paper (you can use graph paper if you prefer) and sketch in existing plants and other permanent features (such as fences, grass, and paths).
Step 4: Tape a piece of tracing paper on top. On the tracing paper, sketch the plants you plan to add to fill in holes in the garden.
As word spread last summer about a mysterious disease that was wiping out impatiens, I often thought of my former neighbors in the leafy enclave of Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, New York. When I lived there during the 1990s, impatiens was the go-to plant for providing color and charm to the tiny front yards of our attached brick homes, shaded out by the statuesque old London plane trees that lined our streets.
There were no nurseries nearby, so a nice man down the block took orders. You could choose a color, but impatiens was the only plant he offered. Later he distributed the flats of the little flowers after they arrived at his house. I was new to shade gardening and my attempts to grow other flowers such as salvia and verbena had failed miserably, so I eagerly signed up. With a deadly mold attacking impatiens in at least 33 states and the District of Columbia—and spreading fast—these days I wonder how those gardeners, hooked for so many years on that one dependable little flower, are faring.
So, how can you fight the blight? Read on:
Above: Photograph via Mini Manor.
The disease in question is a strain of downy mildew (Plasmopara obducens). So far it affects only Impatiens walleriana, while other members of the Impatiens family such as New Guinea impatiens seem to be unaffected. In the US the blight has struck on both coasts, in the Midwest, and in Texas. Cases have also been reported in parts of Canada.
Above: A popular pre-blight planting scheme for a shade garden. From L, white impatiens, variegated hostas, Swedish ivy, and maidenhair ferns. Photograph by Patricia via Flickr.
To get an idea of the scope of how beloved this plant is, read the Missouri Botanic Garden's pre-blight description of it: "Impatiens (sometimes commonly called bizzy Lizzy) is the most popular annual bedding plant in the U. S. today. For easy-to-grow, non-stop flowering in shady conditions, it has no equal."
Above: Impatiens Walleriania leaves with symptoms of blight. Photograph via Ball.
Surprisingly the blight has apparently been around since it was first identified in the 1800s; no one is sure why it suddenly has become a problem now. The symptoms are easily confused with many other conditions, such as slug damage and inadequate watering. First a white, downy growth can be seen on the undersides of leaves. Then flowers and leaves drop; soon all that is left of your plant is a clump of mushy bare stems. There is no known remedy.
Above: A Rockapulco White Double Impatiens Walleriana is $7.49 from Proven Winners.
So, what to do? If you have put off your fall cleanup, experts agree that you should dig up the affected plants immediately and discard them along with any associated soil or mulch. Do not compost them; send them off with the garbage to be incinerated or buried in a landfill. Containers that held impatiens should be thoroughly washed before being reused. The spores of the disease travel easily on the wind and could show up in packaged soil or mulch. Because there is no known way to prevent the disease, don't even think about planting impatiens in the spring.
Above: A clump of purple browallia via Monticello.
The good news is that you have plenty of time to find replacements. So far begonias seem to be at the top of the recommendation list. There are many varieties that are colorful, good in shade, and widely available. Breck's sells a five-plant Picotee Begonia Mixture for $18.74. A gardener friend of mine recommends browallia. She has found it in purple and in white and says it is a prolific bloomer that does just fine in the shade. Monticello sells a packet of Browallia Americana seeds for $2.95.
Above: A shady begonia. Photograph by Rise Liao via Flickr.
Consider it a shopping opportunity. If gardening catalogs' offerings don't inspire you, perhaps it's time to consider some shade-loving perennials. You could even plant them now and they will come back year after year... certainly at least until scientists can come up with a blight-resistant impatiens.
For more information on the impatiens, blight the Suffolk County Cooperative Extension has produced a handy fact sheet.
For more on shade loving plants take a look at color in the winter shade garden.
Spotted in Oregon at the Portland Japanese Garden, a staircase of simple pavers that reminded us how much we like a path that incorporates such natural elements as gravel, stones, or moss. We've rounded up a few of our favorites:
Above: Trying to walk down a graduated staircase edged with rocks and moss often feels like trying to navigate an obstacle course. Not at Portland Japanese Gardens, where each comfortably sized paver makes it easy to feel sure footed. Photograph by Blackthorne 56 via Flickr.
Above: Edging a path, a clump of purple heuchera complements the colors of the stones. For more of this garden, see "Steal This Look: Water Troughs as Raised Beds." Photograph by Marla Aufmuth for Gardenista.
Above: Hand cast concrete pavers of varied sizes are set in gravel to create a loose naturalistic look in a San Francisco townhouse garden designed by Alma Hecht. For more, see "Small Scale Gardening in San Francisco." Photograph by Marla Aufmuth for Gardenista.
Above: Portland, Oregon-based landscape architect Karen Ford created a pathway with drainage grates cut into the grout between paving stones.
Above: Underneath Ms. Ford's walkway, a 4-inch-deep, 4-inch slot was constructed to drain water.
Above: The Subterra Permeable Paver offers the look of natural stone with the benefits of a fully permeable paver. Use for patios, walkways, or driveways. Available through Belgard Hardscapes. For more, see "Eco-Friendly Paving Solutions."
N.B. This is an update of a post that originally published on October 3, 2012.
Here's a dilemma. Imagine you are a New York City horticulturalist specializing in garden and floral design, and you are getting married on May 3, 2014. Not only are you getting married, but your wedding will take place very far away in the historic Columbia, Missouri home of your great-great grandparents. You are the third generation to be married there, 150 guests are being invited, and it has to be perfect.
Over the next few months, we'll be following Tara Douglass' adventures in growing her own wedding flowers (all 4,325 of them). Here's the first installment:
Photographs by Tara Douglass.
Above: If you are Tara Douglass, owner of Brooklyn Plant Studio, you stand up tall and flex your impressive gardening muscles, Not only will you make your own arrangements, you will insure that your flowers are just exactly what you want. You will do this by growing them yourself from bulbs. In Missouri. One thousand sixty-six miles from where you live. Starting now.
Above: Built in 1846, this house is the site of the wedding.
Above: Tara's Brooklyn garden. While her plan may sound unrealistically ambitious, don't think that Tara has committed to it lightly. After all, she is a professional, all too aware of the potential pitfalls. You have only to take a look at her personal garden behind her Brooklyn home to see that she has a way with plants and a designer's eye.
Above: Before selecting her wedding date of May 3, 2014, Tara consulted a number of almanacs and weather forecasting services to make sure the prospects for pleasant weather were good. Calculating how much time she would have if she planted in mid-November, she determined that she needed bulbs that would be likely to be in bloom within five and a half months.
Then came the fun part of studying catalogs and finding the plants that would fit her timing and her white, blue and deep purple color scheme. In the end she ordered a selection of 4,325 bulbs from three companies and had them shipped to Missouri. Her choices include alliums, tulips, muscari, fritallaria, triteleia, actaea, and Spanish bluebells...a veritable who's who of spring's greatest bulbs.
Above: Tara in Missouri.
This month Tara traveled to Missouri to singlehandedly plant all 4,325 bulbs over a five-day period. She reported that as she began to dig up the beds she discovered a forgotten clump of iris, which she divided and replanted.
So far Tara has paid $1,300 for the bulbs and says, even with the hours of backbreaking labor involved, she considers that a good deal. It is far below what a commercial florist would charge. If you are curious about which bulbs Tara chose, here are details on a few:
Above: Tara's compost bin, made of industrial pallets.
Because deer are a problem, one whole day in Missouri was totally devoted to planting 500 tulip bulbs into 50 1-gallon pots. Then she buried the pots in the old vegetable garden, which is surrounded by a deer-proof fence. For further protection against tulip munching critters, Tara interplanted the pots with garlic.
Above: Seed heads at the end of autumn.
Now Tara is back in Brooklyn but In early March she will return to Missouri to check on the progress of the bulbs and do a spring cleanup of the property. When she returns again for the May wedding, she will have to hit the ground running. Among the arrangements that will have to be created very quickly are 16 centerpieces, a wedding bouquet, five boutonnieres, and a garland for the front porch. Tara says she will have help from relatives and the use of the vases her late grandmother collected, but it still remains a formidable task.
Above: Rusty metal barrel bands give Tara's garden a post industrial touch.
What if the flowers don't bloom in time for the wedding? Tara says she will make use of the foliage. (Check back for updates; we'll be following her progress all the way through the wedding.) In the meantime, let's all offer up a little prayer to the weather gods that those thousands of bulbs survive the winter and burst into glorious bloom at just the right time.
Want to grow your own bridal bouquet? See DIY: Secrets of Growing Your Own Wedding Flowers and Ask the Expert: 10 Tips for Wedding Flowers from Kate Middleton's Florist.
What to get for the houseplant lover this season? Here's our roundup of glamorous gifts to treat the indoor gardener.
Had we been passengers on the Mayflower, you can bet we would not have been the Pilgrims assigned to make the Thanksgiving succotash. We would have been foraging in the woods for seasonal floral arrangements to adorn the dining table. This year, inspired by our partner The Home Depot, we've scoured our gardens and the store's aisles for inexpensive (and surprising!) items to create an easy and elegant tabletop. Here's how to recreate the look:
Photographs by John Merkl.
Above: Some years getting ready for Thanksgiving—ironing the tablecloth, polishing the silver, and arranging a complicated floral centerpiece—feels more like preparing for a NASA moon landing than a holiday. This year, we want things to be different: more relaxed. So we've put together an easy table you can start to set five minutes before the guests arrive. (Don't worry; they'll still think you've been working on it since Sunday.)
Above: We started with inspiration from the garden. Our friend Kate gave us a bag of persimmons from her tree the other day; the bright orange color is enough to set a tone for the tabletop. (If you can't get persimmons, you can substitute purply pomegranates or lemony lemons or even tangerines or apples—choose a beautiful fruit from the produce aisle at the grocery store.)
To provide a backdrop to the fruit, we're relying on greenery. We trimmed 2-foot-long boughs from a bay tree in the yard. As a substitute, you can use privet (extra points for the dark purple berries), euonymous, camellia, olive, or evergreen boughs from your yard.
As an accent, we're adding scabiosa pods and DIY gilded walnuts. Here's how to make the walnuts:
Above: We bought 15 whole walnuts at the grocery store and then painted them. A 10-ounce can of water-based Martha Stewart Vintage Gold Satin Metallic Paint (dries to the touch in 30 minutes) is $5.48 and a three-brush Martha Stewart Artist Brush Set is $5.97 from The Home Depot.
Above: We're foregoing the high-maintenance tablecloth this year. Instead, we're using a brown paper runner along the length of the table. If somebody spills a glass of red wine on it, no problem. A 180-foot roll of 18-inch-wide Brown All Purpose Masking Paper is $3.97 at The Home Depot; for narrower dining tables, consider a 12-inch-wide roll of 1-Ft. Brown All Purpose Masking Paper for $2.97.
Above: We placed our greenery, fruit, and walnuts directly on the brown paper runner: no need for a vase or vessel. The free-form design is nice and low, so you can see the person across the table.
Above: Our best find (if we may say so ourselves): plumbing supplies repurposed as candlesticks. We bought five lead-free brass adapters normally used to connect pipes and gave them a more elegant purpose for the evening. A 3/4-Inch SharkBite Brass PushFit Adapter is $6.98 from The Home Depot.
We love tapers at the table—they add vertical interest to a table with a low centerpiece—but if they're too tall, they look like a seance. To avoid that, we are pressing into service used candles. We found these five dripless candles in a drawer in the dining room sideboard; used at a previous party, they're the perfect height.
Above: A seating arrangement is a must; otherwise the guests automatically gravitate to someone they already know all too well, and where's the fun of that? To hold simple place cards, we are using 3/4-inch Mini Spring Clamps; 48 cents apiece at The Home Depot.
Above: Yes, we said 48 cents apiece. At that price, we could afford enough mini clamps to try different arrangements.
Above: We think a 3-inch-wide wood-handled Martha Stewart Linen Dragger Brush is just the thing to brush crumbs from the table; $6.98 at The Home Depot.
Above: Complete the look with white dishes, your best silver (we are leaving ours tarnished this year—the dark color goes well with the rough brown paper runner), and many bottles of wine.
What's your go-to Thanksgiving tabletop tip? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
Made in Michigan and meant to last a lifetime: a steel lattice pergola from Branch Studio that adds architectural interest to the garden.
Based on the design of an antique French garden piece, the all-steel pergola weighs a lot; in fact, it' "so heavy that it can in most cases be installed without a foundation." (You can install it on a pad of decomposed granite and compacted gravel.)
Above: Complete with roof and finial detail, a Branch Lattice Gloriette pergola is $12,000 from Detroit Garden Works.
Above: The pergola can be powder coated in the color of your choice or left unfinished to age naturally. For more details, see Detroit Garden Works.
For another dramatic pergola, see An Instant Garden Walkway, Courtesy of a Swedish Pergola.
When we spotted this garden in London's Stoke Newington, there was something reassuringly workable about it. As a design brief, it could be a template for the way we live now: small town garden with low-maintenance planting and year-round interest.
"This has become my trademark garden," says Anna Wardrop of the eponymous garden design company. "It's been very popular as it fits into the kind of space that many people have, plus it's not expensive and uses good materials." Let's linger a minute:
Photographs via Anna Wardrop Garden Design except where noted.
Above: Anna is based in Dorset but many of her clients are town-dwellers. To address the requirement for "low-maintenance," Anna uses paving instead of a handkerchief lawn and puts in oak sleepers which serve a dual purpose, as bench and raised bed. Untreated, they quickly age to the kind of gray that mingles very well with the other hard materials.
Above: As a cheaper and less slippery alternative to Yorkstone paving, Anna uses Indian Raj Green Sandstone, available in the UK from Rock Unique for about £15 per square meter. For more information about untreated oak sleepers, see UK Oak.
Above: For a similar effect, Crab Orchard Sandstone in the US is hard-wearing and durable. Quarried from the Cumberland Plateau.
Above: People who do not want to spend loads of time gardening still need something to look at. Anna likes to use perennials which retain good leaf color after the flowers have faded. She also favors glossy evergreen foliage. Shown here: Hart's tongue fern with Heuchera and Sarcococca, the latter having the double advantage of winter scent. Hart's tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) from Fibrex Nurseries in the UK, £3.75 each. For US readers, Asplenium is available for $13 from Plant Delights, in season.
Plum slate is used as a shingly mulch. It comes in two other colors which are best avoided: "Green and blue are awful," Anna assures us. "Plum is good." Plum Slate Chippings from any good garden center in the UK or £2.30 per bag from Decorative Aggregates.
Above: In the raised beds, Anna relies on Agapanthus to provide more verticals and good foliage. She likes to use the self-seeding perennial Verbena bonariensis as it provides a tall wavy screen without taking up much ground space. Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' flowers around the same time (late summer) and is another favorite: both go on for months.
Unevenly shaped stones look more robust in exposed areas. Scottish Pebbles from Decorative Aggregates as before.
Above: You can make your own diamond grid for training vines like the one in this north London garden by using inexpensive hardware. Try 3.75-inch-long stainless steel Lag Eye Bolts (Top) for $1.99 apiece; Stainless Steel Cable for $62 for a 125-foot roll, and Stainless Steel Turnbuckles for $24.05 for a package of ten; all available from Sears.
For more verticals in small backyards, see Design Sleuth: Vines as Espalier.
When the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY built a new wing, architect Pei Cobb Freed & Partners was hired to expand on the classic I.M. Pei design from 1973. A Japanese garden was part of Pei's original plans but was never realized. To complete the look, landscape designer Marc P. Keane, who trained in the art of Japanese gardens in Kyoto, Japan for 18 years and lives in Ithaca, was brought on board to design a courtyard garden. The result—the Tiger Glen Garden—is a gem. Inspired by an ancient Chinese parable, it's dense with detail, showcasing what a Japanese garden is all about.
Photographs by Don Freeman.
All of Keane's work is in the Japanese mode, which he explains, "consists of a very simple palette of materials brought together in an organic way." He has written many books and lectured extensively on the subject and has designed a number of Japanese gardens for private and public clients. To see one of Keane's gardens is to take a journey to Japan. He is not interested in the artifice that has become so cliché in North American interpretations; what he creates is the real deal. Soon he will be off to Beirut, Lebanon to install one of his designs on a rooftop.
Above: Garden designer Marc P. Keane in the dry river he created at Tiger Glen Garden.
For the Tiger Glen Garden, Marc was inspired by the karesansui or dry-landscape style of garden, where the image of a landscape and water is created without the use of actual water. A simple palette of green moss and gray stones was used to create the effect of a river. The stones are a metamorphic rock called gneiss, deeply weathered and covered with lichen and moss. Stones are an essential part of Japanese gardens and Keane went to Sticks and Stones Farm in Connecticut to carefully hand pick each for its unique attributes.
Above: Another overhead view of the river of stones. Azalea is planted along the edge.
Azaleas, when in bloom, are the only point of color in the garden. Most of the year the garden is composed of only shades of green and gray. At Tiger Glen, Keane used no less then 12 different species of moss to form a ground cover quilt. For the focal tree, Keane found "the tree that no one else wanted. It had too much irregularity for most gardeners who are looking for the perfect straight specimen," he explains. The Japanese choose trees for their personality, the more sculptural the better. A Japanese red pine called Tanyosho ( Pinus densiflora 'Umbraculifera') was craned in and is pruned by a Kyoto-trained gardener each year, and the bark is polished to maintain its form and luster.
Above: Palm fiber twine is strong and resistant to rot, it is used in Japan for protective and decorative purposes. Here it protects the pine where it was damaged during transplanting.
Above: A view across the courtyard garden to a large Vermont granite bench.
Above: A favorite view of Keane's: the stone river.
Above: A wide shot of the courtyard garden. The Japanese red pine shows off its well-pruned and maintained structure. The wooden walkways are made from Ipe.
Above: Hand picked stones that have a human-like quality symbolize the three men in the ancient Chinese parable that inspired the garden.
Above: Keane's talents in Ithaca have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year Tiger Glen was awarded the gold prize from A'Design in Como, Italy along with two others, the International and American Architecture awards.
Inspired by Japanese gardeners? See A Gardening Shop Plus Café in the Mountains of Japan and get the look in Garden Style Inspired by Japanese Workmen.
We think every gardener should experience the joy of owning—and taking care of—good tools. And by "good," we mean last-a-lifetime tools. The folks at Garrett Wade, sellers of fine tools since 1975, agree. They're giving away a $234 collection of the company's high-quality pruners and loppers, along with supplies (and tips) for sharpening and cleaning them, to one of our readers.
Founded by a former investment banker with fond memories of the high-quality woodworking tools of his childhood, Garrett Wade has over the past few decades expanded its selection to offer 1,700 of the sorts of products—including gardening tools, outdoor equipment, and shop tools—good enough to inspire nostalgia in a new generation. "The last 15 years we've spent combing the world for really well made, interesting tools that will last a lifetime," says Craig Winer, Garrett Wade vice president.
Garrett Wade will be giving away the $234 pruning collection (accompanied here by tips from Garrett Wade product development expert Anthony Francis for cleaning and caring for them) to a randomly selected reader. Here's how to enter:
Photographs by John Merkl.
Above: The Garrett Wade giveaway collection includes (clockwise from ten o'clock) a set of three diamond paddle hones; a pair of anvil loppers; a pair of French leather handled garden pruners with a leather grip; a box of garden tool oil wipes; a pair of heavy duty bypass loppers with adjustable length handles, and a carbide sharpener in a leather sheath.
Above: An 8-inch-long pair of Leather Grip Bypass Pruners is made from forged steel by a family company in France; they come in a leather pouch with a belt loop and are $59.80.
Here's how to sharpen them and keep them oiled, year after year:
Above: Think about how you use your tool. "With pruning, I think of it as having a dialog with a plant," says Anthony Francis of Garrett Wade. "You want to control growth by shaping it, and you need clean, sharp tools that cut efficiently and don't leave dirt and debris from previous pruning."
Step 1: Put on gardening gloves for safety. Remember: you are actively sharpening a blade and keeping it close to your hand.
Step 2: Trap the tool against a work table with one free hand
Step 3: Identify the beveled cutting edge. Starting about 1/3 of the edge's length from the joint, press a carbide Universal Sharpener ($32.45) on the beveled edge and stroke evenly toward the tip of the blade, using moderate pressure. Repeat until the blade is sharp (to test, run a fingernail over the blade; a sharp blade will leave a faint white streak on the nail).
Step 4: Oil the blade and the articulating joint. A box of 24 Ballistol Garden Tool Oil Wipes is $9.95 from Garrett Wade.
"There's a lot of material on each wipe, so at the end of a day I line up all my tools and touch them up all at once," says Francis.
Step 5: Work the oil into the joint. Wipe it off the blade with a clean, dry cloth unless you are putting away pruners for the season, in which case you can leave excess oil on the blade for rust protection.
Above: Specially designed for cutting green wood, a pair of heavy duty Bypass Loppers is $49.95.
The process of sharpening both bypass and anvil loppers is the same—and easier, in many cases, because there is more space to work with. Bypass loppers have blades that overlap to cut; in anvil loppers, the blades meet to cut.
"The common practice among gardeners is that bypass loppers are used for cutting live wood and anvil loppers, with their big flat cutting area, for dry wood," says Francis. "The reason is the anvil loppers' slightly more aggressive face could potentially cause harm to living tissue."
Above: Made in Canada, a pair of heavy duty Heavy Duty Anvil Loppers with a specially designed rapid ratcheting mechanism and telescoping handles is $69.95.
Above: You can mark the beveled cutting edge with a Sharpie to give you a line of sight when sharpening the larger blade.
Above: Made in France, a carbide Universal Sharpener is $32.45; it comes in a soft leather sleeve.
Above: A set of three Diamond Paddle Hones with three grits is $17.50.
After sharpening, flip over the tool and use a Diamond Paddle Hone to remove rust or, in a well-used tool, to burnish off little bright spots where the metal has folded over on the blade.
Above: Enter to win the Garrett Wade collection by subscribing to our Gardenista Newsletter and leaving a comment sharing one of your own techniques for taking care of your favorite garden tool. (If you are already a Gardenista Newsletter subscriber, mention that when you leave a comment below.)
See more of our Gardening 101 posts.
Tao Concrete is a design and fabrication shop based in Tempe, Arizona. The company's concrete and wood planter bench recently caught our eye, and now we're thinking that every piece of furniture should come with an option for adding a spot of greenery.
Above: The concrete wood planter can be used indoors or out. Perfect for a spot against your garden wall, the bench is 16 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 86 inches wide.
Above: Benches are available in a choice of natural gray or white concrete bases with tops in light hickory or dark walnut wood.
Above: A bench in dark walnut and white concrete. Plant and rocks not included with purchase.
Above: The Concrete/Wood Planter Bench is available for $1,300 from Tao Concrete's Etsy shop.
Not your grandmother's wood stove. A new generation of wood stoves offers high fuel efficiency, high combustion temperatures, and lower emissions to be environmentally responsible powerful heaters for your home.
You can eschew burn bans, and avoid soaring gas and oil prices, with a wood stove that combines the best of the old (baking/warming shelves, wood storage) with new technologies that greatly reduce ash, carbon emissions and lost heat. Best of all, when there is a burn ban, EPA Certified Stoves can keep on burning.
N.B.: Different stoves generate varying levels heat output. Be sure to consider stoves with heat output appropriate to the size of room where they will be located.
Above: The black steel Wittus Shaker Wood Stove, designed by Antonio Citterio, is made in Germany of black steel. Offering the look of a fireplace with the efficiency of a wood stove, it is available with a short bench under the door (as shown) or with a long bench, so you can sit comfortably close to the fire; $4,860 and $5,430 respectively.
Above: From Denmark-based Rais, the Rondo Wood Stove is a modern classic. With the latest in air flow and combustion control technology, it offers the most heat output of the moderately sized Rais stoves. The Rondo has a convenient wood storage space at the bottom (with a door) and a baking shelf with a soapstone slab as standard equipment; $4,610. Contact Rais to locate a dealer near you. The Rais Rondo Wood Stove is available with a rotating base as an optional extra.
Above: The Rais Gabo Wood Stove has flat sides and a curved front with a totally sealed firebox that ensures optimal combustion control. It has a convection grate above the combustion chamber and wood storage space underneath. Available in black or gray steel; $3,890. Contact Rais to locate a dealer near you.
Above: Made of black steel with a top vent, the Rais X-Basic Wood Stove offers a large surface area, creating efficient and effective heating for oversized rooms. This powerful heater carries an equally powerful price of $10,900. Contact Rais to locate a dealer near you.
Above: We like the simplicity of the Stuv 16-H Wood Stove. This high-efficiency stove from Belgian-based Stuv is designed in such a way that the combustion gases provide the room with as much heat as possible. Unfortunately, this model is only available in Europe (not approved for US sale). Contact Stuv for retail locations in Europe.
Above: Another model by Belgian company Stuv is available in the US. The Stuv 30 Wood Stove has a unique multi-function glass and steel door that can operate in three positions: open glass, closed glass or closed steel to slow the burn; $5,495 through dealers in the US, including AJ Fireplaces.
Above: The highly efficient Wittus Cubic Wood Stoves were designed by the Danish architect Anders Nørgaard. All the models utilize the same highly efficient fire box and are EPA certified. They feature a thermal “air wash” system that constantly self-cleans the clear glass fire door to keep it free of soot. The “cool” door handle is nearly invisible, and has finger-tip control. The freestanding models are available in three sizes and range in price from $4,740 to $5,820.
Above: Our UK-based readers can consider the Dovre Astroline 350CB, a clean burning, high-efficiency cast iron wood stove with a small footprint. Available with an anthracite finish; £1,125. Contact Dovre for retail locations.
Above: Here's a traditional Scandinavian-inspired look: the tiny Classic Forest Stove from Morso, which is based on a design from the 1930s, but incorporates the very latest in combustion technology for greatly reduced smoke emissions. At 28 inches high, 13 inches wide, and 28 inches deep, this stove is a good small-space choice; $1,700. Contact Morso to locate a dealer.
Above: An affordable option is the Englander 17-vl Wood Stove. Crafted of black steel, this freestanding top-vented stove will heat rooms up to 1,200 square feet. This high-efficiency stove meets EPA standards and is $549 at Home Depot.
N.B. This is an update of a post that originally published on December 19, 2012.
Want to warm your hands by an outdoor fire? Take a look at our earlier post Playing with Fire: Favorite Fire Pits and Bowls.
I was born in New York, and when we moved to almost-always-warm California during my childhood, one of the things I missed most was fall, and all the sensory delights that I associated with living in a colder climate. Like jumping into giant piles of crunchy leaves, savoring just-made hot cider from our local produce stand, and marveling at how nearly all of our trees put on a brilliant foliage show. And while we do get a small dose of the leaves changing color where I live in the Bay Area, I still envy the East Coast's vivid autumn trees and try to pay homage to the colorful season with plants in lush shades. For this November planter, I chose plants in deep burgundy, green, and bronze.
Photographs by Meredith Swinehart. Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.
Above: Before shopping, I often cut a sturdy paper template that's the same size as my container's opening. I bring this with me to the nursery and use it as a guide for how many plants I can fit in my pot.
Above: A palette of burgundy, deep green, and a touch of bronze will look good all through the season.
Above: 'Obsidian' heuchera—one of the deepest, darkest heucheras you can find—anchors this arrangement with its scalloped leaves in a super-saturated plum hue. Great Garden Plants sells Heuchera Obsidian in 1-quart pots for $13.
Above: Trifolium repens 'Atropurpureum' is one of my new favorites. It forms a dainty mound of burgundy-edged-in-green clover that tops out at 8 inches tall. Plants are $5.50 from Joy Creek Nursery.
Above: Creeping thyme is perfect for planting between everything else. This low-growing ground cover creates a soft, delicate mat that will spill over the pot's edge as it fills out. An organic Creeping Thyme seedling in a 3-inch pot is $5 from Mountain Valley Growers.
Above: Thyme's teeny leaves also balance out the broader leaf shapes in the pot.
Above: Upright, spiky leaves of 'Surfer' phormium offer contrast to the other plants' rounded leaves and mounded forms. Its olive green foliage has deep mahogany edges that echo the others' reddish hues.
Above: If plants have been squished at the nursery, I like to fluff them out a bit (rather than waiting for them to fill out on their own) so they look good right away.
Above: Keep this combination happy by growing it in full to part sun and giving it moderate water (though I often keep these plants on the drier side and they still look great). They're all evergreen in mild winter zones, so will look good year round. You may want to remove some plants when they fill out after a number of months, but you can always transplant them elsewhere in your garden.
Want to know why leaves change color? Learn all about it in Fall Foliage 101.
A precursor to the terrarium, Wardian cases were invented in the mid-1800s to transport rare plant specimens. Today, they are useful for protecting your prized plants. Here's a roundup of our favorites.
Wondering what to put in a Wardian case? See Gardening 101: How to Plant a Closed Terrarium.
Above: Tabletop greenhouses provide shelter and warmth, and promote growth, for moisture loving plants. Plant directly onto the base or leave in pots for easy rotating. The cases work well with ferns, carnivorous plants, and orchids, as well other small, delicate plants. They can also be used to propagate seeds for spring planting. Image courtesy of Ikea.
Above:The Ikea Socker Greenhouse measures 17.75 inches wide and 8.75 inches deep; $19.99.
Above: A Steel/Glass Indoor Greenhouse with glass panes and an adjustable ventilation lid; it's approximately 10.5 inches long by 6.5 inches wide and is 19.8€ from Manufactum. Use it to house small orchids; for more equipment, see "5 Favorites: Essential Equipment for Orchids."
Above: A handmade glass and metal Edwardian Case Terrarium with a hinged top for easy watering and ventilation is 9 inches wide and 6.5 inches deep; $128 at Terrain.
Above: Measuring 9.25 inches square and 12.75 inches high, an English Greenhouse Terrarium is $129 from Ohio-based Hirts Garden via eBay.
Above: A Glass Specimen Display Case measures 9-by-9 inches square by 12.5 inches high; it's $105 from Industry Home.
Above: Modeled on the 1800s variety, the Wardian Case from Paxton Gate measures 9 inches wide and 5 inches deep and is $125.
Above: Available in three sizes, a Specimen Display Case from Restoration Hardware is made of glass and fir. Prices range from $129 to $159.
Above: A classic conservatory style in miniature, the H. Potter Wardian Case Terrarium measures 5.5 inches wide and 9 inches deep; $79 through Amazon.
Above: A Clarus Brass Display Box, available in three sizes at prices from $59.95 to $119.95 at Crate & Barrel, is on back order; ships in January.
Above: A pared-down version (minus the Victorian-inspired details), the H. Potter Rectangular Terrarium has a hinged door in the roof that allows for easy access to your plants; $72 through Amazon.
N.B.: This is an update of a post published October 24, 2012.
Earlier this fall on September 14 the garden community lost one of its enthusiastic members, Robert W. Dash, a poet of the New York School, a painter of the Long Island School, and the creator of a two-acre garden that became an institution, Madoo in Sagaponack, NY.
In 1967, Dash purchased a farmland property in Sagaponack at the time when New York artists where migrating out east. He called it Madoo, which is an old Scottish word meaning "my dove." With a keen vision he turned the nondescript land into a series of whimsical gardens, and the old farmhouses became his home and painting studios. Twenty years ago Dash deeded the site to the Madoo Conservancy, a nonprofit foundation with a focus on study, preservation, and enhancement of Madoo. On his death his extensive garden library, decorative arts collections, and artwork by his contemporaries and his own works were transferred to the Conservancy.
He had an impressive collection of plants on his death and over the years the garden became a place for events, artists, and garden enthusiasts to gather and roam. He traveled to England where he met the great gardener Rosemary Verey, who became a friend. In her honor, he recreated many of her trademark designs, including her famous yellow blooming laburnum arbor walk and her frog fountain.
Dash was known for a number of his own original design gestures that have been mimicked by others. His sculptural stand of fastigiate gingko with boxwood balls planted among the trees still holds today as a strong statement and is witness to his witty infectious character that many will miss.
Photographs by Mick Hales.
Above: The gingko grove at Madoo with 50-foot-tall fastigiate gingkos pruned every year to emphasis their linear form and underplanted with common boxwood trimmed into balls.
Above: The new gingko grove underplanted with Chamaeycyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea.'
Above: The Chinese bridge with bent hoops painted Imperial red. The bench is vintage Lloyd Loom from Dash's grandmother.
Above: The telephone path is made of approximately 8-inch thick pieces of discarded telephone poles.
Above: The potager garden is inspired by the late Rosemary Verey's potager at Barnsley House, which in turn was inspired by the potager at Villandry. In this photo, the leeks are about to bloom, foliage of the cardoon adds structure, and roses and clematis climb the blue Madoo forms—and two varieties of crabapple are trained to create the entrance arch.
Above: The rose rill looking back toward the winter house. The borders are planted with Rosa rugosa 'Hansa,' stachys, allium, lythrum, and asparagus. Rose 'Applejack' is trained on the hoops along with clematis and hops.
Above: The secret garden of the Summer House with Lythrum Crocosmia 'Lucifer' and casablanca lilies about to come into bloom.
Above: Yellow flag iris surrounds the pond with the Chinese bridge to the far right. The bronze fountain was created by sculpture and garden designer Win Knowlton.
Madoo is open to the public on Friday and Saturday from noon to 4 pm during late spring and summer. For more information, see Madoo Conservancy.
Ten years ago, designer Brandon Gore had a hankering to create things from concrete, funded by "a few years' worth of savings and a bunch of credit cards." Fast forward to 2013, when Tempe, AZ-based Gore Design Co. offers a line of functional art: sinks, furniture, fireplaces, countertops, and one whimsical set of houseplants no one can kill. Ever.
Above: Made of concrete, a set of three potted Grey Thumb cacti comes in two colors and weighs four pounds; $124 from Hard Goods.
Above: "De-spined for your protection."
In Northern California, a modern house with multiple courtyards affords green views year-round. To take advantage of the full-height, pane-free windows, SF-based landscape architect Andrea Cochran created garden vignettes on the other side of the glass:
Photographs via Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture.
Above: Seen from above, Cochran's courtyard planting schemes soften the modern lines of the Marin County house.
Above: The same view at ground level: tall, spiky perennial grasses in a Cor-ten steel planter.
Above: Low-growing grasses planted en masse like a bedding plant, create a gray-green blanket against which other, brighter colored leaves pop.
Above: A mixture of pavement materials including smooth gray river rocks have the same effect as a patterned rug.
Above: By limiting the color palette to green and white in a tight corner, Cochran visually expands the space.
Above: To create a similar carpet-like effect between large paving stones, you can plant moss or baby's tears or a springy, low-growing thyme.
Above: A deciduous tree without its leaves has a sculptural mien in winter.
Above: Playing with textures. Pea gravel and river rocks aid drainage.
Above: An oversize planter emphasizes the Seussian shape of a potted tree.
For a larger scale Andrea Cochran garden, see Stone Edge Farm: A Peaceful Retreat.
"Where do you keep your African violets?" It wasn't a funny question, but the man behind the counter at the flower shop laughed. When he realized I was serious, he looked at me quizzically, as if my space ship had dropped me off in the wrong decade. I knew that African violets had lost popularity since the 1950s, when they seemed to be everywhere: on your grandmother's Formica countertops, next to olive green kitchen appliances, and behind the boxy, black and white television with the silly antenna sticking out on top. Like Pop Tarts and Spam, for better or worse, African violets make us feel nostalgic. What I did not know is that they had reached near faux pas status among the houseplant-savvy.
Why, I began to wonder, did the African violet fall out of fashion? To me it seemed perfectly pretty. I admired its adorably petite stature, dark green leaves the size of tea saucers, and festive purple blossoms with their minute yellow centers. It was in need of a tough defender. I decided to figure out what went wrong and to vindicate this poor little plant. The African violet, I vowed, would laugh last.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
Above: Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.
To build my case (yes, I am studying to be a plant attorney), I hit the archives to gather evidence. The best and most indepth advice I could find on how to care for an African violet came from an article in The Free Lance-Star from June 29, 1950. It was on the Women's Page—between an article titled "Good Grooming Important for Getting Job" and an advertisement for "cool lawn frocks trimmed with lace and fagoting as low as $3.95"—that I found Mrs. Gouldman.
I would've been lost without her. "Mrs. Gouldman, Who Grows 200 African Violets, Tells How to Do It." The piece follows Mrs. Gouldman (to whom I now suspect I am related) who manages to keep seven varieties of violets blooming all year. Ever modest, she insists that there is "no special secret" to raising African violets, although they are reputedly difficult to grow. Mrs. Gouldman may not have been forthcoming about secrets, but after a few glasses of sherry—I'm improvising here—she was willing to spill 1,000 words on how to care for these finicky houseplants. Three cheers for Mrs. G.
Native to the Nguru mountains of Tanzania (no, this is not a J. Peterman catalog), the African violet thrives in warm, humid climates, which in theory would make it the perfect indoor plant. However, small changes in temperature disturb its growth and can interfere with its flower production.
Mrs. G. Power Tip No. 1: Try to place the African violet in a room where the temperature will be consistent, on a windowsill where it will receive ample sunlight without overheating and burning the leaves.
The African violet, alas, has more idiosyncrasies than light and water needs. Avoid, at all cost, spilling cold water on the foliage as this will cause the blooms to discolor. If you are placing the plant on a kitchen counter, make sure to keep it away from gas stoves. Mysteriously, it seems that the African violet is allergic to gas, and the blooms will close up shop. (Part of me wonders if I could use this to my advantage, using a potted plant like a canary in a coal mine to detect a gas leak, but I don't think I'd sacrifice my African violet even in the name of safety.)
Last but not least, African violets tend to be prudes. What better to remind us of the 1950s? When they are forced to grow indoors, they only can reproduce asexually. Many growers get frustrated when their violets refuse to bloom. But as when dealing with pandas in the National Zoo, take matters into one's own hands. Send your African violet into shock by trimming some of its older foliage or, if it is in a plastic container, squeezing its roots tightly. The "instant reboot" will have your violet springing into action, with flowers following shortly thereafter.
African violets may be tricky to grow, but if we believe the wise words of Mrs. Gouldman, wherever she may be, they are far from impossible. They are unique-looking and bring back warm memories of family and home. Not every plant can say so much for itself. Is it possible that after a generation gap, people abandoned the African violet because they simply forgot how to grow them? To save the African violet, pass the torch to your children and grandchildren. I certainly will. Someday, if we succeed, African violets will be blooming on the inside of spaceships and perhaps even at wedding receptions in Brooklyn's trendiest neighborhoods.
The defense rests its case. You're the judge, jury, and witness. What's your African violet story?
"Isn't it difficult to live with a hanging plant?" Julie asked me the other day. Depends on the planter, I said. For example, if I were a plant, I'd want a woven or knit—or yes, macramé—pot holder just because it looks like it would be so cozy to live inside.
Here's Exhibit A: from Portland, OR-based artist Kati Von Lehman, a woven hanging basket that holds a handmade ceramic pot. We spotted the set via the Spartan shop in Austin, TX:
Above: A Kati Von Lehman Planter With Woven Basket is $65 from Spartan.
Above: A handmade ceramic bowl with a drainage hole is set inside a handwoven basket; its diameter is 6.5 inches and it measures 3 inches tall.
Above: Four adjustable hanging cords; 25 inches long.
Looking for an attractive hanging planter? See more of our favorites in 10 Easy Pieces: White Hanging Planters.