A Gardener on the Go!

This time of year you will be hard-pressed to find a gardener who is just sitting around. Our minds are focused on gardens. Take us on a trip and we ask,  where are the gardens? Ask if we want to go shopping and we assume you mean the garden store. And if there is a bench, hammock or chair in the garden you won't see us sitting in it for there is just too much to do!

Recently, Darryl and I took a trip to Chattanooga. As we drove along a mountain ridge, he would say, look at the view, look at all the Civil War monuments as I said, looking the opposite direction, look at that house's gardens!  He knows me well enough to know that gardens is what I will see first. The town, the battlefield, the mountains, were beautiful and we are looking forward to another trip next year.
Water garden in downtown Chattanooga hotel.


A Very Short Garden Jaunt

Wow, it as been a while since I posted pictures of gardens from my neighborhood. I am out and about often, walking, running (not conducive to carrying a camera) and making my jaunts to the gardens at Ault Park, but I had not taken the time to scope out great gardens to share with you here. I have posted pictures before of the gardens that are within walking distance from my front door. It is a real treat for this Landless Gardener to have so much beauty, color and gardens to enjoy.
This garden wraps around the front and side yard of the home. Perhaps the best way to describe it is a riot of color. Just about every flower, every color in the garden world can be found here. To some, the garden may be too wild and messy, but one things if for certain; when you pass it by it is hard not to be infected  with a bit of cheer when you see all the color.
And now for something completely different. Formality, balance, restraint and order rule this front yard design. The gravel path and center water feature solidify the design of this landscape. The home has a bit of a cloister feel, at least to me it does, and the landscape is reminiscent of the gardens and architectural features I saw at the Cloisters in NYC. The formal garden becomes a bit more lush and densely planted as you near the front door. The garden design is perfect for this home. Located on a main street, the garden creates a place of calm and order in an otherwise busy location.

Perhaps this flight of stone steps was once the main path to home. Today, residents and visitors access the front of the home via a walk off of the driveway area. The low hanging limbs of the evergreen along with the Oakleaf hydrangea gives the path a woodland feel. It is as though if you pass through and climb the stairs you may find yourself at the door of a cozy cottage. In reality it is a very roomy cottage!


A Teeny, Tiny Garden

An after work stroll around my neighborhood is always a delight. The streets are lined with mature oaks, tulip, and maple trees. It is easy to be swept away by the gardens perched on sweeping front lawns or kept safe from those who would love to wander through them (who me?) by wrought iron fencing.

Last night I spotted this tiny little garden. How wonderful that this gardener saw this small shallow spot in the stone and thought, "Here's the perfect place for a garden!" And it is perfect, don't you think?


Gardens, gardens everywhere!

In the Live Fire Cooking Theater at Franklin Park, gardens and plants take center stage. From the traditional community garden plots to the more formally designed culinary gardens and Chef's Allee, plants are the main attraction. Even the roof of this wood fire oven is green. Sun loving succulents bring the garden to eye-level, ideal in an area designed for gathering for conversation about cooking with plants.


Viewing Gardens in a New Way

All I can say is I have been having a lot of fun working with this new camera. I recently went to Franklin Park in Columbus and toured their community gardens which, may I say are amazing! Part of the trip was fun, part story mining for my blog and my posts on Horticulture magazine and part a way to re-think how I approach photography.

As a gardener, I am drawn to the plants. I love good garden design but found myself focusing most of my photos on individual plants. Now I look for a photo opportunity that would show readers the beauty and essence of a garden. Close up photos are beautiful, but they do not tell you enough about a garden.


Shhh, Wordless Wednesday!

You lookin' at me?

The photos will draw you in like nectar.

Gail Eichelberger has a trick up her sleeve; amazing photography. With just a glance at the images on her blog you are drawn like a bee to pollen, unable to resist and coming back for more. For over 25 years Gail has been working magic with her clay and limestone plot of earth. Her passion for native plants shows in the beauty of her gardens and in her blog, aptly named Clay and Limestone, the latest recipient of our Best Gardening Blogs 2011 award.


A Closer Look at Wegerzyn Gardens

I went to Wegerzyn Gardens in Dayton, Ohio to work on my photography skills and to visit one of my favorite gardens in the area. I took a lot of images, some to show the garden landscape, some to use as teaching aides for good design and others, well, they were for pure fun. 

I hope you enjoy some of these closer looks. 

I would like to hear from you, what you like and do not like. Be kind :-)   ~~ Jenny

A Love Affair Fizzles

I have been thinking about mulch rings- yet another sign I may be a garden geek. I have always been a fan of the mulch ring and its tidy, clean lines and added shaped and flow in the home landscape. For a while now though my love affair has been fizzling. As I walk around the neighborhood I see the same effect of curving lines and clean edges created by lush green (imagine that, color in the landscape!) ground cover.

Pachysandra is high on my list of ground covers to love. It thrives in the shade, making it well suited for under mature trees, and it does not climb! As much as I like the jungle feel of mature ivy cascading from a towering oak’s canopy (not), I prefer a ground cover that, gasp, stays on the ground. Of course there are many other plant options to choose from for sun or shade areas, but this is not a chat about ground cover- exactly.

Thomas Rainer, author of Grounded Design shares a great case against the mulch rings. And here is another radical discovery; in the woods, plants grow up to the base of trees and everything seems to do just fine. We were lured into the belief that mulch rings were needed to protect the roots from water hungry plants, like grasses. Secondly, we convinced ourselves that roots only grow as far as the tree’s drip line.

Photo from Grounded Design

As mature, educated gardeners we know that roots grow until they can grow no longer. If the soil allows them to expand, even beyond the tree’s trip line, they go for it! We also know that trees do not have one giant tap root that reaches far into the earth’s crust seeking out water; because we often see such a root on tree tip-ups in the woods (note sarcasm). Hmmmm, I am seeing a theme of studying the woodland landscape, AKA nature, for tips on what to do in our landscapes.

We know from simple observation that trees rely heavily on a network of small roots, located close to the surface. Which brings me to another reason to dump the mulch rings, edging. The best edging, I think, is made by deep cuts, dramatically differentiating the lawn from the mulch. I think you know where I am going here. The deep cuts are severing vital, life sustaining roots from the tree.

No mulch here!
So what is the need of the mulch ring? In some cases, where commercial grade mowers are used and it is not feasible to establish an attractive understory, mulch may be a better option than weeds and the dreaded tree trunk machine collisions. But I think this is few and far between.

For the rest of us, in our humble home landscapes, I see mulch as a thing of the past, out of fashion; much like Astroturf and carpeting on outdoor patio floors and steps.


A Photography Lesson with Rich Pomerantz

Honing your photography skills is a surefire way to improve the quality of your blog and create unforgettable photos. We want you to get the most out of the time you spend with your camera. That is why we are excited to present to you Rich Pomerantz Photography, the newest recipient of our Best Gardening Blogs 2011 award. While this may not be a gardening blog in the purest sense, Rich Pomerantz does share our enthusiasm for gardens.

Photography and gardening are a lot alike. To become a better photographer or gardener takes hands-on practice, the willingness to go back and try again (how many times have you moved a plant?), a desire to learn from others and the understanding that there is always something new to learn.  To read more....