Encouraging Habitat – Add Blooms



Encouraging garden habitat offers many rewards.  Flowers are beautiful adding natural elements that offer visual and preferred habitat environmental benefits.  I try to plant my favorites in clusters or drifts. Blooms attract bustling activity from insects, critters, and people.



Three of my favorite fall activity magnets are: Aster, Buddleia and Anemone. When selecting plants it always good to choose natives as you build your garden.

Keep on planting and keep enjoying!

Fall-blooming Anemone, USDA Hardiness Zones 4–7


Benches and Stools

Garden Benches and Stools

Atlanta Botanical Gardens - Bench
Atlanta Botanical Gardens – Bench

Outdoor seating is a must when you want folks to stop and take in the aesthetic of any garden. It is a treat when the seating complements the gardens.

Cancun MX - Bench
Cancun Mexico – Bench

These are unique handmade customs benches.  Each bench is comfortable and blends harmoniously as part of the garden experience.


Miami, Florida – Viscaya

It is difficult to write about Viscaya without stringing superlatives together. Viscaya sits at the rim of Biscayne Bay. When you visit Viscaya you will enjoy the location, art, history, and the mist of the waves splashing the shoreline. I went to Viscaya to study and find design inspiration.

Boat Dock

The structural materials selected to design the gardens have an intentional weathered appearance. Some of my favorite structures are the water features. The boat dock is massive and amazing (photo 1).

Parterre Recessed Pool

Recessed at the rim of the parterre are shell shaped water features these pools have a cooling effect (photo 2).



Toad Fountain

Overlooking the parterre a toad fountain is centered on the steps connecting the home to the gardens (photo 3).

Yup, this basic garden maker has no problem rambling about the Viscaya gardens. Of course I took lots of pictures. This place is relaxing and inspiring. It is worth a visit.

Miami – Fairchild Tropical Gardens

Miami – Fairchild Tropical Gardens

Looks coconuts!

My visit to Miami welcomed me with cool breezes with temps in the upper 80’s.  Very nice.   Why did this garden maker go to Miami for plant and design study?  For me it was all about tropicals for conservation and design use.



The Fairchild history is humbling story about people looking into the future and realizing the importance to creating a place for Cycads, Palms, and tropicals for study and preservation.

What to learn about Cycads, Palms, Orchids, and iguanas?  Spend a day at Fairchild.  For me one day was a great introduction because all that I knew before was not good enough.


Lecythidaceae – Wonder fragrant Cannonball tree!

Fairchild does a wonderful job educating visitors.  They offer free trams and walking tours.  Of course you can tour the grounds on your own.  If you choose to tour the grounds on your own pay attention to the gator sighting signs!

Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show

2017 Flower Show Entrance

Yay!  Spring is here!  This garden girl has been busy making gardens.  The Philadelphia Flower Show gets this Mid-Atlantic horticulturalist garden making ideas blooming.

2017 Flower Show


Holland was the 2017 show theme.     This show displays designs from incredibility talented firms and individuals. You bet there were tulips, windmills and bicycles!  Here are some of my favorite pictures.

2017 Flower Show – Tulips!


If you have never been to the Philadelphia Flower Show add it to you to do list.

Summer Containers – Denver, CO

Denver Botanical Gardens

Welcome to the Denver Botanical Gardens.  This place has container inspiration along every walkway and garden.

Huge containers
Entrance Containers

Tall color filled entrance containers welcome you to the Denver Botanical Gardens.   These containers are lush, bright, and most important they are huge!  I love containers that howler and fill a space.

Rustic containers
Rustic box containers

Rustic wood and iron box containers skirt the length of the Greenhouse Complex foundation.  Succulents, annuals, and perennials fill these containers.  Each box planting combination is different which keeps your eye moving along the long display.

Agave and water
Agave and water!

Agaves appear to spring out from the Steppe Garden waterway.  Geez, I love this unexpected combination.

The Denver Botanical Gardens team did an amazing job displaying beautiful containers throughout the gardens.

Summer Containers – Kennett Square, PA

Longwood Gardens

Do not go to Longwood Gardens if you don’t want to see containers bursting with summer color.

Visitor Entrance
Visitor Entrance

The Visitor Center entrance displays many large box planters filled with bright Canna and towering Cyperus. The Cyperus wobbles in the breeze this movement adds interest.

Peony Garden
Peony Garden

At the rim of the Peony Garden a trio of terrra cottas filled with Geraniums sits at the entrance to the garden.

Nothing says garden like Geraniums planted in terra cotta this is a simple and cute combination.

Rose Arbor Garden
Rose Arbor Garden

The Rose Arbor Garden is loaded with colorful summer containers. At the time of my visit the roses were not in bloom. Several colonies of containers are arranged throughout this garden the colorful foliage and flowers redirect interest from the roses to the containers.

When it comes to containers more is better. The folks at Longwood Gardens like more. Love their container attitude! You will see container inspiration throughout the gardens.

ARS Weeding Sickle

ARS Weeding Sickle – Nejiri Kama

In the winter 2016 I purchased the Nejiri Kama Weeding Sickle. The primary reason I selected this tool was for removing dead foliage from ornamental grasses and dried perennial stocks.

What I like about this sickle?

This small sickle is an efficient tool for removing expired foliage down to the plant basal foliage. The flat pointed tip (or toe) allows for precision when slicing into the soil to uproot weeds.

Sickles like a pruner have a sharp edge. It is important to keep the sickle sharp. If you allow the blade to dull you will notice it becomes less effective when cutting and slicing.

What is wrong with this sickle?

ARS Weeding Sickle - Nejiri Kama
ARS Weeding Sickle – Nejiri Kama

Typically, I work 5 to 6 days per week I use this sickle on a regular basis. In a season my tools get a lot of use. The sickle blade (chine) chips with use. Sharping the sickle will give you a good edge.

Would I purchase this sickle again?

Not sure, this is my first small sickle. It is the perfect size for various garden maintenance tasks. With or without chips this tool is handy. Wish it held up better to frequent use.

ARS LongReach™ Loppers, 1.7-inch Cutting Capacity

ARS LongReach™ Loppers
ARS LongReach™ Loppers, 1.7-inch Cutting Capacity

Pruning and training shrubs and trees is a big part of what I do to restore and maintain gardens.  Most of the time I work in lush plant filled garden locations.  Some gardens are on slopes, rocky terrain, or areas that are best accessed on foot due to the location layout.  My tools need to be light weight to allow me to move and work carefully.

This year I added the ARS LongReach™ Lopper to my work tools.   This lopper is a jewel.  Light weight, easy to use, carry, and is sturdy.  When doing scheduled espalier training and routine shrub and tree maintenance this tool reduced the need to get, set up, and remove a ladder. The lopper easily slides into the interior of shrubs and trees to prune out dead or crowded branches.

Source: A.M. Leonard (www.amleo.com)



Glyphosate, several weeks ago I attended a landscape design symposium.  One of the lecture topics was on biodiversity planning in landscape design.  The speaker was from a well-known University the handout included the University and USDA logo.

The University had a grant to plan, design and install a residential landscape that improved environmental biodiversity.  The University found a homeowner that agreed to a landscape makeover.  In return the new installation would be maintained by the University for 3 years.

Sounds great!  The design scale was impressive.  Like most designs the design scale exceeded the budget.  To save money the University decided to use Glyphosate (RoundUp) to kill the lawn.  Using Glyphosate (RoundUp)  eliminated the cost of renting a sod cutter and hauling the debris.

So I was confused.  Someone is lecturing me on the environmental benefits of using Glyphosate (RoundUp) to promote biodiversity planning in landscape design.  Two weeks prior to this lecture I attended several herbicide lectures so I am not totally confused.

In my own practice there has been many times where the design exceeds the budget.  It happens.  Best practice is to discuss the options with the client.  Never has a client chosen Glyphosate (RoundUp).  Either we scale back the design or the client agrees to increase the budget.

The University had a choice.  Scale back the design and do what was environmentally beneficial.  Instead, the University knowingly used Glyphosate (RoundUp) ignoring the environment issues.  The funded University project was focused on the environmental benefits of biodiversity planning in landscape design.