Archive for March, 2011

What’s What With Spring Colors in the Landscape!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Color is emerging this time of year quickly.  It is fun to know what you are seeing at times.


  • Winter jasmine- A clear yellow flower on masses of evergreen leaves. The first yellow you see!
  • Forsythia has a larger growth habit with no evergreen leaf at all.
  • Bulbs like crocuses (also white and purple) and daffodils.



  • Purple plum trees usually come first with a small tight bloom.
  • Cherry trees get confused and bloom sporadically with the warm days.
  • Redbud trees are usually found along wood lines.  With the emergence of the forest pansy redbud, however, these are found more prominent in the formal garden.
  • Camellias bushes with broad shiny evergreen leaves and a variety of flower shape and color will be here by the end of the month.






  • Star Magnolias- Clear white flowers on pale gray barked trees, which often get frozen off if we have any freezing after the buds come forth.
  • Pear trees –Bradford, Chanticleer, Cleveland multiple flowers in a cluster
Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia

“Cutting and Edge” Along Your Garden Bed

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

“Cutting an Edge” is a term I use daily in maintenance and installation to describe how we give definition to garden beds. It is the task with the biggest return on making a garden look well tended. Architecturally, cutting an edge is also what leads the eye through the garden. The clear line of the green lawn next to the bed line creates a strong contrast in color and allows the eye to easily follow the bed line.

You can rent or buy mechanical edgers from the hardware store.  With this approach I put money on the chance that you will either cut an irrigation line, cable, lighting wire, dog fence or (Heaven Forbid!)  A Fios!

We prefer to make slow deliberate cuts by hand with a flat edge shovel. That way you can sometimes feel resistance and stop, if you hit an obstacle.

How To

  1. Use a straight edge shovel.
  2. Cut the earth at a 45 degree angle toward the plants.
  3. Throw the dirt up into the bed just few inches away.
  4. Keep checking behind and in front of you to be sure the line is not crooked or silly with too many bumps and twists.  The eye likes it simple.
  5. Go back to the beginning and clean out the upturned weed and bits of lawn.
  6. Flatten the dirt with a hard rake or your hand so it curves nicely up the mulch side of the bed.

When mulch is put in the bed it should lay flat to the lawn in the end- not dip way down in the cut edge. The edge is to hold the mulch away form the lawn not create a ditch.

A good tip is to get a straight edge shovel with a long handle that doesn’t break your back.  You don’t have to cut down more that 2” to get the effect. Do it when the dirt is not too wet.