Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Congrats to the Greater Providence’s Southside Community Land Trust

This wonderful email found its way into my inbox this afternoon. The Southside Community Land Trust in Providence receives national honors from National Garden Clubs and is a 2012 Award of Excellence recipient!! Way to go guys!!!

Winners Hail from Rhode Island, Virginia and Wyoming
ST. LOUIS (May 22, 2012)—National Garden Clubs Inc. recently announced the winners of its highest honor: the 2012 Award of Excellence. The winners, who were recognized at NGC’s annual convention May 19 in Buffalo, N.Y., include Southside Community Land Trust of Providence, R.I., Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers of Richmond, Va., and Shane Smith of Cheyenne, Wyo.
“The Award of Excellence program annually recognizes three truly exceptional individuals, organizations or institutions that have made significant contributions to their communities in such areas as environmental and civic responsibility, conservation, beautification and promoting the love of gardening,” says Shirley Nicolai, president, National Garden Clubs. “By recognizing these deserving award recipients from different parts of the nation, NGC hopes to educate and inspire others in communities coast-to-coast.” National Garden Clubs Inc. is recognized as the largest volunteer gardening organization in the world.
Nominated by Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs Inc., Southside Community Land Trust, www.southsideclt.org, is an organization that fosters awareness of urban and sustainable agriculture programs and provides land, education, tools and support to encourage people to grow food in Greater Providence.  The organization was selected for the Award of Excellence based on its local efforts to provide ongoing gardening education and offer comprehensive urban agriculture programs. Among the many programs offered by Southside Community Land Trust are 13 neighborhood-based community gardens, a city farm located in the heart of Providence, and the Urban Edge Farm, a 50-acre business model farm that offers new area farmers a place to make the transition to commercial agriculture. Southside Community Land Trust also created an urban agriculture task force that brings together a coalition of growers, community professionals and environmentalists to collaborate with community development groups, farmers, chefs, policymakers and health care professionals to promote practices and policies that strengthen Providence’s local food systems. Katherine Brown, executive director, Southside Community Land Trust, accepted the Award of Excellence from National Garden Clubs Inc.
Nominated by Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs Inc., Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers, www.stranges.com, is one of Virginia’s largest greenhouse growers and one of the largest retail garden centers in the U.S.  Strange’s, which has been led by four generations of the Gouldin family, has been a fixture in the local Richmond and Virginia business community for 75 years. They are one of the state’s largest greenhouse growers, as well as one of the largest retail/grower organizations and garden centers in the U.S., offering a wide variety of flowering and green plants to gardening enthusiasts as a viable alternative to “big box” greenhouse retailers. Strange’s offers to the consumer gardening educational opportunities through in-house seminars and how-to instructional materials. As a retail florist, Strange’s is a member of the Florist Transworld Delivery Association and is consistently ranked in the nation’s top 40 FTD florists for wire orders. They also support the work of numerous civic and non-profit organizations through sponsorships and donations of plants and floral materials, including the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Orchid Show. William J. Gouldin, Jr., president, Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers, accepted the Award of Excellence from National Garden Clubs Inc.
Shane Smith, who was nominated by Wyoming Federation of Garden Clubs Inc., is a noted garden author, consultant and the director and founder of the award-winning Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, www.botanic.org, Wyoming’s only public botanical garden. This nationally recognized garden has been lauded for striving to promote the beautification and enrichment of the High Plains through gardening, volunteerism, education and stewardship. In the 1970s, Smith’s vision was to create a non-profit botanic garden and sustainability center in Cheyenne—a city situated 6,000 feet above sea level renowned for its harsh weather conditions. As part of this vision, Smith also directed the area’s efforts to construct one of the nation’s first solar-heated greenhouses on the site. He also was instrumental in developing the Paul Smith Children’s Village, the first public children’s garden in the U.S. to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Smith is the author of the Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion, the top-selling greenhouse book on Amazon.com.  He serves coast-to-coast and internationally as a guest lecturer and consultant on greenhouse gardening, community greening, horticulture therapy and community-based botanic gardens.
Headquartered in St. Louis, National Garden Clubs Inc. (www.gardenclub.org) is comprised of nearly 190,000 members, 6,000 local clubs, eight regions, 50 state clubs, a National Capital Area club, and hundreds of international affiliates. NGC offers members extensive educational programs on topics of current interest such as plantings for public spaces, protecting aquatic ecosystems, greening and beautifying the community, conservation, recycling, floral design, flower shows, garden therapy, healing gardens and youth programs. Working in partnership with other organizations, NGC offers several projects, including Habitat for Humanity Landscaping and Penny Pines.  Among NGC’s most nationally honored projects are the Blue Star Memorial marker program and funding and support for the Butterfly Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things are a little out of whack this spring....

          Unless you live under a rock, you are well aware that we are had a very mild winter which is now leading into a very unseasonably warm spring. I've been watching how things are emerging since the end of February. My Witch Hazel which usually is the harbinger of the RI Flower Show week, bloomed a whole month early in January. It also held it's flowers an insanely long time...the petals just dropped last week. The perennials in my gardens started to make their appearance from the soil at the end of February. That is unusual. This week, my gardens look like what they normally would look in about a month from now in the middle of April.

          My spring bulbs are on schedule which surprised me. I figured they would have made an early show this season especially since the ground never froze this year. Old favorites like the crocus are up now (which matches up to when I posted photos of them last year) and they are just now starting to fade. The white crocus are hanging out better than the blues in this nutty 70 something degree weather.

I planted some new things this past fall like these awesome little snowdrops. I love them! I actually think they are a little behind schedule and they should have shown up earlier in March. Go figure....

More Crocus by Lake Larson...you can see the white variety coming up. This photo was taken last week.

This is a new bulb to me...I can't remember exactly what it is. It's definitely in the Hyacinthaceae family. It very well could be a type of Hyacinthoides. I just scoured my Facebook fan page and personal page without success to see if I posted about planting them. I'll see if I saved the label from the bulbs packaging in my office because my curiosity is getting the best of me.

Now this is where I get concerned about what I see...my hydrangeas breaking their buds with gusto. These guys are insanely early. This winter with it's mild temps are setting us up for a hydrangea season for the books because there was very little winter damage on them. The majority of the Big Leaved Hydrangea bloom from buds on last year's wood. So, if we get temps that are below freezing at night for an extended period of time...these blown out buds could get fried. There goes our awesome Hydrangea season. :( If you have Endless Summer or any of their other cultivars, you'll be okay because they bloom on this year's and last year's wood. I only have one of those...my others are the more classic hydrangea. So, I'm wringing my hands over them until we get to our past frost date. I've also seen my clematis and Sargent's Crab Apple being over zealous about pushing new spring growth. I'm not liking seeing all of that either...

I was out and about yesterday and saw something I have never seen before in all of the years I've been involved with plants professionally. Flowering Plums blooming in March...before the Forsythia. I took this pic in Tiverton, RI at a client's condo complex. This is not right...not right at all! I also find it interesting the Forsythia and Korean Rhododendrons who are supposed to be blooming now are holding to their schedule. I've seen some Forsythia that are just starting to show some color. I'm baffled by why somethings are pushing blooms/growth on some crazy schedule and things that you would think would be blooming early because they usually do aren't.

Here's some news you may be aware of if you are a Facebook friend of mine. The office has a new customer service intern. :) His name is Ocean....he's Lars' cousin and their mothers are littermates. He's been here since the end of January and he was a total surprise to us. Lars' breeder was looking for a working home who could take on another boy and she had more girl homes lined up than boys. So to Rhode Island, Ocean came. A lot of people have asked how did he get his name. This was the O litter and Ocean was the blue puppy. The unofficial tradition with Deerwoods pups is the call name and registered name should start with the litter letter. (That actually makes it really easy to know who is out of who and who are litter mates.) So his breeder and family had nicknamed him Ocean and we had decided to keep it. First couple of weeks were a little bumpy with Lars and Ocean figuring each other out. Ocean is already "a lot of dog" in a little body and he's a very different puppy than Lars was. "Strong Willed" and "Pushy" are the words that gets thrown around a lot when talking about Ocean. At first, I wasn't sure if I had made the right decision to let him come and live with us...and that went on for a couple of weeks. But, now that he has settled in and we're more used to him...I'm looking at it as he was sent here to teach me something. I've even said to Eric "I wonder why he's here..." I wasn't looking for him at all and he found us instead. I just finished listening to a book about dogs and one of the sentences that stuck with me was "We don't find the dog we're looking for. The dogs we need find us." I think that is very true...I'm eager to see why Ocean found me.

Without further ado...the Larson Boys at Second Beach in Middletown, RI last week -


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I think I feel the same way!

As seen on facebook! :)

Garden Consultant HQ is starting to wake up from it's long winter nap. This was a winter of soul searching and getting back to what is really important for me and myself as well as the landscape design stuff that I do. I'm feeling good about this year and hope that this growing season is fruitful and prosperous. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Irene was nice to Garden Consultant HQ last week

As you are all aware, Tropical Storm Irene came a knockin' the other weekend. I won't lie and say that I wasn't wringing my hands over her. The weather geeks made it sound like she was the real deal...and for some people she was. We had minimal damage here at our place...we just lost a couple of big limbs in the back yard. We had a bunch of leaf litter and little branches all over the ground. It only took us one day to clean up after her...and it almost looked like nothing even happened here.

One decent sized limb out of the last of the junky red maples in the back yard. Eric really wanted to take that tree down but decided not to because he wasn't going to do the shed this season. That junky tree does provide us a lot of privacy from the deck off of the neighbor behind us.

The top of a sassafrass tree fell down into the back forty. There are a couple of limbs that got all broken and twisted up in another red maple back there. They haven't fallen, but I think I'm going to take the loppers to them with a ladder.

Lake Larson made it through the storm completely unscathed. I was really worried about this because of potential power loss. We only lost power for about 8 hours. Once again, we were lucky because there were hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders who didn't have power for days on end. Why power outages are bad for water gardens is the waterfalls which supply oxygen to the fish shut down. The fish can actually smother to death without waterfalls or air stones aerating the water. Thank goodness, that was a non issue. Eric has been toying with the idea of putting the waterfalls on solar panels on the garage roof. I think I may make a push for that, not only for the savings on the power bill but also so the waterfalls and wet pets aren't completely reliant on National Grid.

Probably the worst of the damage we sustained...our neighbor lost a good sized dead limb out of his oak and it squashed part of Agility Land's fence. Oh well...we straightened it out the best we could. It still does the job of keeping Lars from saying hi to the neighbor and his little boy.

Again, we were lucky. We saw this on our ride back from the marina to check on Eric's boat and to grab his power inverter. That puts things into perspective doesn't it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless water garden Wednesday

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big Brother is watching!

I will every once in a while go on Google Maps or Live Maps and stalk clients gardens just for the heck of it. I think it's fun to see what season the satellite was over head or to see if the photo was snapped before or after the landscape was installed. I checked out one of my favorite projects in Portsmouth and I wasn't ready for what I saw...

See that red jeep in the driveway?? That's mine. See those two figures with the shadows in the garden in the backyard...that's me having a consultation with Kelly, my client. How freaky (and a little disturbing) is that!!

You never know when Big Brother is watching...

(oh and FYI, this was early spring and after the installation! LOL)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Window Box Wednesday

I do love creating this window box every season and then changing it out. I actually did put pansies in it early this spring. I think I was so over the glum and snowy winter we had here in New England and really felt the need to have some spring where I could see it. Our couch is on the other side of the window and I (and Lars) perch there a lot.

When we first moved into the house, the light exposure was way different than what is there now. I could plant full sun annuals and have them do well...but now? Not so much. Because of the large oak that is growing on the opposite side of the walkway and the house corner to the left of the box sits due south, this area is now solidly part sun/shade. The gardens in front of the house under the box have changed too and are still in a state of flux. Over the seasons the window box has had more and more shady annuals, starting with impatiens and coleus. Now's it's primary shady annuals with the same impatiens, large leave begonias (who are getting eaten by the impatiens,) Tri-color sweet potato vine and the two full sun annuals who are holding their own - eucalyptus and the diamond frost Euphorbia in the center of the box. I think this is a winning match for right now and I'll stick with it. I'll probably do some minor changes like in placement of the annuals and the colors for years to come...but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I think more people in gardening need to follow that mantra! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bluesday Tuesday

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh yeah...about that grass.

Grass seed really likes 4+ inches of rain in little over week. This area was nothing but dust not too long ago. Now, it looks like Ireland back there. The turf gods apparently approve of agility land.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Since it's soggy today -

The only gripe I have about my new iphone is it doesn't seem to take good pics of the water lilies. It takes fantastic photos overall but for some reason it washes out the colors of the lilies. The lilies yield has been respectable. We've had numerous yellow ones (which is what is featured above) and peach ones. I have to say, the peach are my favorite! I need to get some pics of them soon. There is a white and baby pink lily out there which we've had very few flowers on. I wonder if the fish are messing with the root system like they have with some of the other lilies that have passed on.

I am very pleased at seeing inches of rain fall again in August. As of right now, we've had 3.8" of rain which the gardens and lawns have been drinking up. We put down grass seed in agility land last week right before the rains started...and we have grass back there...lots of it.

This was last Wednesday and you can see the hint of green which came to our surprise. Over the weekend, it continued to shoot up and now it's approaching lush. I'll have to take photos in a couple of days to show the progress. Granted it's not wicked sunny back there...but you can grow grass seed in the summer if you have the right amount of water and temperatures that aren't blistering. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

There is a lot of stuff I didn't talk about this season!

As with any garden, things are in flux all year round. Here, we (well...Eric) did some hardscape stuff which we've been toying with since we moved in here 7 years ago. True to his nickname at work - The Larsonist - Eric scored a ton of pavers and stone which was destined to the grinder at a gravel yard. Here was our crappy asphalt walkway before:

And this is what I came home to one night after work: 

 as you can see...this would most definitely qualify as an "Oh Crap" project! LOL It was fun trying to figure out with Eric how the walkway was going to work with a mix of materials. He had grabbed a bunch of Unilock pavers in tan and these beyond wonderful, large tan/gray/pink stones. Luckily the colors worked well with the pavers and the bluestone caps he had for the stairs. We decided to make the stones the featured part of the walkway and used the pavers as a border, more or less. Luckily as well, the old walkway's width worked beautifully with what we thought up:

The finished product ended up being stunning if I don't say so myself! I am so blessed I have a husband who can "do stuff."

Love it!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Considering it's something more than the spring crush...

That's kept me from posting on my blog on a regular basis. I've been grappling with a feeling I haven't been quite able to put my finger on this spring and summer. But I think these past two weeks I've identified what I haven't been wanting to admit. I'm suffering from burnout. There, I said it. This post isn't going to be about gardens and plants...it's going to be more cathartic of where I am in my place on this planet.

This spring and summer I have been running around like a complete lunatic and there were beyond numerous weeks where I wasn't home at night. Between meetings, the spring work load, nursery and landscape association stuff,  agility classes several times a week, me teaching dog training classes, and then working or dog showing weekends...I have no candle left because I burned it up months ago. I've made promises to clients I can't keep without killing myself this year in order to cinch projects. I haven't done newsletters for clients for two quarters now, and there's this general apathy that looms over me. That was the feeling I couldn't describe...the overall "Meh" feeling about my business, work, and my own gardens. Most of what I was doing felt like it was "one more freakin' thing I have to worry about." Then there was the anxiety I was feeling over what was supposed to be a fun hobby with Lars...we weren't progressing fast enough at the agility shows and we started to backslide in fact. It become something that wasn't fun anymore and there was one glaring moment in a class where I had an epiphany that ultimately lead me to putting my finger on what this post is about.

What it boils down to is "I do too much." and I am exhausted by it. 

Agility Land complete with newly sprouted grass!
It was about 5 years ago where I felt like I felt overwhelmed by life. Sure, I have felt times where my life is spinning out of control...but those were usually short lived for a couple of weeks. But this is the first time I've felt burned out. I stepped away from all of the agility classes I had been taking. I didn't realize how important it was for me to not have to go someplace every night. Eric and I have been working on in area in the waste land that is the foam finger that is a couple of weeks shy of officially becoming my own "agility land." I can train and practice at home now when I feel like it without an hour drive each way. I actually made this week in the office meeting free for the most part and it's made a big difference for my psyche. I've taken the time to work in my own yard a little bit at night and it feels really nice to have leisurely evenings.

I need to be way more honest with myself about what I feasibly can and what I can't do. I need to look at why am I doing things in my life both work and personally and who am I really doing this for. There's an inventory that needs to be taken and I have a feeling I need to really cut things that aren't working for me or my self care. I think being centered and content needs to win out over "look what I have accomplished." I need to simplify my life and start enjoying all of the aspects of it again.

The big guys, Chunk and Rorschach, snooping for munchies.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Arising from the spring crush again

Happy 4th of July everyone!!! I found this handy app that allows me to post to my blogs with my phone. I think may make it easier for me to update things more frequently.

This spring has been pretty normal weather wise and the gardens here are loving life. I have been commenting to Eric this is the year everything looks really robust. I'm willing to bet it's because of our shift to more organic methods like mulching with compost and using exclusively organic fertilizers. I'm sold on the benefits and the results.

I haven't really done anything new gardens around the yard other than extending a bed near the pond. I think I have a few holes in various beds but they won't be a big deal to fix. I am gathering some inspiration on perimeter plantings along the fence and what will become agility land soon. I probably will start moving on those this fall. So stay tuned!

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Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Indeed Mother Nature

Conflicting messages abound this spring!!! Mother Nature said last night "Winter's not over!" as the huge snowflakes fell from the sky. I will say, I am 100% officially over Winter 2011. I'm really, really hoping that was her last snowy hurrah. The snow wasn't that big of a deal...an inch or so of slop fell from the sky. It was pretty much gone by morning. I even think the rain is over today which will be nice.

Someone else in my in my yard who refuses to let go of winter (but this is okay in my book.)

The Jelena Witch Hazel is still blooming for almost 6 weeks!!! She's never bloomed this long before. Normally 4 weeks is how long she grants us her beauty. The blooms are starting to get tired looking now and I suspect they'll drop in about a week. If it stays cold, we'll see...maybe she'll go 7 - 8 weeks in flower!

But, like me, there are a lot of things in the garden and in my plant world that says..."Come on Spring!!" The fig below has started to fire out some serious growth these past couple of weeks. It may actually balance itself out soon.

The Crocus popped their heads about the soil in the last two days. I welcome them and their violet/blue blooms. I only have a couple of clusters around the Lake. I need to plant more just so I can really feel like spring is coming this time of year.