Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I was smitten... these benches at Dimitri's were truly great.

Dimitri's Garden Center

Dimitri's is an old NYC gardening resource, it keeps moving farther and farther north and now it is in the Bronx. I trekked up there today to spend a client's $500 gift certificate and pick out some pots to plant up tomorrow. I got a few big frost and UV resistant polyethylene pots that look just like terra cotta but weigh about 80% less.I like this little Acer in the big stone dish.

This was my favorite specimen in the whole place (and I rarely admit to picking favorites) Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' or Fernleaf Full Moon Maple espalier! Yum yum yum it was so pretty! I totally filtched one of the seed clusters to go gorilla some empty lot with!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Re-do job

This is a shady back yard in the West Village, a lot of the plants are dying and unhappy. (Annual ferns, microbiota, some bamboo...)I inherited this client from a former co-worker, and while there to do maintenance last week she told me she wanted plants that would make it wild and jungle-like.. Just no more Hostas!
First I removed all of the existing plants and put them aside. Then I mixed 3 bags each of compost and soil conditioner into the soil which turned out to be a whole lot of gravel and sand! The big wooden "sculpture" is actually a play structure the clients liked a lot so it was partially disassembled and left (their son is 16 now!)

Some things I chose for this install: ostrich and maidenhair ferns, hakonechloa, tricyrtis, campanula, cimicifuga, monkshood, polygonatum odoratum and humile, some coleus and abutilon as annuals.

Sambucus Racemosa (Elderberry) with a 3' leaved monster I forget the name of, starts with a "p" - I'll re-post later what it is...

I decided to prune heavy and pot up the clumping bamboos since they were pretty unhappy and half dead, I think they're come back around!

what is this?!?

This mystery plant, which I was convinced was an Impatiens, is growing in a couple of spots in my neighborhood. I tried to look it up, but can't find it. I think we even grew it from seed one year at the nursery... any ideas?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Luke calls this urban camo... The London Plane trees in the park across from our office.

Would you take a look at that hole?!? Great diggin Bandit!

YES! Turk's-cap Lily (Lilium superbum) BLOOMED! This was a found plant in the front yard, I moved it to a sunny spot and gave it some triple phosphate... I love these lilies, they remind me of barns in the country. It's covered with little black bb's of seeds, could form quite a colony someday.

More work stuff

I couldn't believe I found this weeping variety of Cornus Kousa with the same last name as my client, which is not a common name at all! Underplanted with rhododendron, dwarf iris and white blooming fuschia. There is also a climbing Hydrangea vine (Hydrangea anomala) A woody vine that attaches to the mortar between bricks with aerial roots, climbing high and blooming in mid-summer.

These Japanese Maples are so old, inherited from the previous owner, saved for a few years and now finally planted! They flank a hydrangea tree underplanted with more rhododendron and the pink cleome (below).

This Styrax japonicus (Japanese Snowbell) was also a reclaimed specimen, I pruned a lot off the top to compensate for what had been taken off of the rootball... I love it hanging over the edge like this, very Alpine and unexpected... And by unexpected I mean slightly bizarre, but I have faith that it will grow quite nicely into it's new shape.


This is a deciduous, dwarf Magnolia underplanted with lavender and assorted annuals.

Fire escape beautification

Abutilon underplanted with coleus, Passiflora 'Lady Margaret' climbing the railing.

I dug this Salvia and the above Abutilon out of the front garden where their reds weren't mixing well. I accidentally cracked half of the plant off when I repotted it, but I think she'll do just fine! Shares a pot with some white blooming Browalia, a burgundy cascade geranium, Coleus 'Freckles' and....

Aristolochia, food for larvae of Swallowtail butterflies and known as birthworts, a large genus of plants with over 500 species. Aristolochia gigantea or Pelican flower, grows 8-10' over the summer and ought to bloom profusely and lemony. The guy at the farmer's mkt in Union Sq. could sense my weakness and told me it will be biennial (hmmm. really..?) and it had a single hypnotic bloom.
"Nevertheless, aristolochic acid is said to cure wounds or snakebites in a spectacular way. Decoctions of birthwort stimulate the production of white corpuscles and increase their activity. Furthermore, birthwort contains a disinfectant which drains off fluid from the wound. Birthwort was therefore highly regarded by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans."

"The flowers grow in the leaf axils. They are inflated and globose at the base, continuing as a long perianth tube, ending in a tongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe. There is no corolla. These flowers have a specialized pollination mechanism. The plants are aromatic and their strong scent attracts insects. The inner part of the perianth tube is covered with hairs, acting as a fly-trap. These hairs then wither to release the fly, covered with pollen. The appearance of the flowers gives rise to the genus' common name Dutchman's pipe."

Hypertufa update

There is a big difference in the textures of the 2 different batches: the top has more cement, while the bottom is more 'cottage cheesy' with more perlite and spagnum peat in the mix.

Sometimes I just don't know my own strength! The more porous batch also did not have the reinforcing chicken wire layer in the bottom, so drilling the drain holes proved to be too much... One down,three survivors!

The farthest trough is planted with a mishmosh of different succulents that had been laying around. The middle trough has sempervivum "Hens and Chicks". The closest is from top to bottom; Sedum spathulifolium 'Carnea', Sedum nevii and Sedum divergens. Now I just have to sprinkle them with cayenne so the squirrels don't dig into them!

Masanobu Fukuoka is my hero

When I was in college, I minored in sustainable agriculture and small scale farming, during which I learned several different techniques and approaches. One very small farm I worked at blissfully followed the theories and principles of Fukuoka. This farm is also very special because it is where Delilah, as a very small and scared puppy, got dumped by some one who didn't want her... I instantly fell in love and have never recovered (I had to chase her around for a long time before she got tired and I grabbed her and took her home with me).

Natural farming is Fukuoka's complete method of growing, harvesting, and renewing an entirely sustainable way of life. Covercropping with nitrogen fixing legumes and red clover, his vegetables grow from seeds broadcast in his orchards. He never plows or otherwise disturbs his soil, allowing for super rich communities of bacterias, fungi and insects to reside.

"Natural farming is gentle and easy and indicates a return to the source of farming. A single step away from the source can lead one astray."

"People think they understand things because they become familiar with them. This is only superficial knowledge. It is the knowledge of the astronomer who knows the names of the stars, the botanist who knows the classifications of the leaves and flowers, the artist who knows the aesthetics of green and red. This is not to know nature itself - the earth and sky, green and red. Astronomer, botanist, and artist have done no more than grasp impressions and interpret them, each within the vault of his own mind. The more involved they become with the activity of the intellect, the more they set themselves apart and the more difficult it becomes to live naturally.

The tragedy is that in their unfolded arrogance, people attempt to bend nature to their will. Human beings can destroy natural forms, but they cannot create them. Discrimination, a fragmented and incomplete understanding, always forms the starting point of human knowledge. Unable to know the whole of nature, people can do no better than construct an incomplete model of it and then delude themselves into thinking they have created something natural.

All someone has to do to know nature is to realize that he does not really know anything, that he is unable to know anything. It can then be expected that he will lose interest in discriminating knowledge. When he abandons discriminating knowledge, non-discriminating knowledge of itself arises within him. If he does not try to think about knowing, if he does not care about understanding, the time will come when he will understand. There is no other way than through the destruction of the ego, casting aside the thought that humans exist apart from heaven and earth.

It means being foolish instead of smart."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Work stuff

This weeping Tsuga will always stay low so that it doesn't block the view of Central Park. I stuck some Mandevilla in the back to climb along the railing.

Two steps forward, one step back at one of my design/install jobs... The planting is 90% finished, now I'm just working on details like arbors and cushions for the benches I designed. This was my first time creating and dimensioning a piece of furniture from my imagination, then having it built. And what's so cool is it looks just like my drawing! Great carpenters!! My client's style is very French country, hates modern, loves lattice. The seats are all hinged to create storage for the cushions, also the irrigation controls are hidden under there...

This pine was salvaged from the original garden, new trees are an Amelanchier planted with an evergreen gardenia, and a dwarf evergreen Magnolia, under planted with Perovskia, lavender, lamb's ear and allium.

This Vitex is attracting some big bees from the park!

#*$%ing squirrels!

I came home the other night to this:

Jessica from downstairs said she saw dirt raining from the sky! I hope at least they got a good bellyache!

The lone salvia survivor... She was sprinkled liberally with cayenne pepper!

The brewery garden

I haven't been up to the brewery roof top garden for a couple of months, it's pretty self-sufficient as long as one of the guys is watering - which they do a great job of! Since it's all annuals, there was some deadheading to be done and the hops vines needed some serious food, their leaves were yellowish and curled in... nitrogen PLEASE! So I left them with a bottle of Alaska fish fertilizer and instructions to feed "Weakly weekly".

Mark's garden

Mark has a squash and a tomato growing in his kitchen window! That's the Hudson River and New Jersey out the window...

Sometimes we spy on Lincoln Center with his telescope!

A garden I love

I walk past this garden on the way to one of my job sites & love the intricate simplicity of everything. It is all about the hardscaping, which is almost entirely security! I love the paint color and the massive elephant ears adding a completely organic element to something so controlled...

Came across this little cutie, an urban wildflower, on Houston. It's growing through a fence, probably planted by the wind or a bird!