Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free is for me!!!

Compost is something that all gardens can benefit from as I'm sure you've heard about. I compost but I often burn through the amounts my little bin makes in a bed or two. That's kind of a let down especially if you've been tending to your pile all season long. But, luckily...I have another source at my disposal.

The City of Warwick composts all of the yard waste they collect from their residents and offers it back to them...for free. You need to be a resident (and have proof) and be able to haul it away. Landscapers can't come and take it away in their business vehicles. However, if they were in an unmarked truck and was using it for their own gardens, that's okay. I've told many a Warwick client about the compost program but they have their reservations about the quality of it. A lot of people are worried if it is broken down enough or if they would find things in it. This is the second time we've gotten a truck full and both times I've been happy with the compost.

If you click on the photo, it should give you a larger version. You should be able to see the consistency of it then.

What the city produces in their compost piles is very similar to what I haul out of my bin. So, if you're from Warwick and you're reading this, don't fear the municipal compost. If you aren't a Warwick resident, check with your city or town and see if they have a composting program. If they do, they just may save you a lot of compost turning.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good bye and good riddence evil yellow flag irises..

There's a funny (well, funny now) story about these plants I bid a gleeful farewell to. I had gotten them from someone who worked at Chaves years ago. I had thought they were kind of cool because they were supposed to have yellow flowers and had variegated leaves. They never did well...they just kind of languished in my soil at both the Coast Guard house and now this house. Last year, it dawned on my what they were - Yellow Flag Iris which are a water plant. Cool, right? I figured I'll put them in pots and throw them into Lake Larson. Since they were in a pot, they can't spread....right??

Well, let me tell you, they were very happy in Lake Larson. They grew to almost 5' tall. 5' tall plants in little 12" diameter pots fall over...a lot. I spent most of last summer righting these stupid things where they sitting on the pond liner. We had some near the large flat rock we stand on to feed the fish and they were in the view path of Deckzilla. I never, ever expected to grow like they were on steroids and boy, did they look dumb there.

After two years of having them annoy me with their brazen growth and they started to break the pots, I felt it was time to go on to a better place (like my compost bin, for example.) Eric was a sweet guy and started to remove them from the pond when he was doing a spring clean up. All of them he removed on his own until he got to the ones by the feeding rock and this is what he had to battle -


It took the both of us to get that out of the pond...the roots had grabbed a hold of every rock it could reach. Within that mess is one 12" pot and a little 4" pot...those two pots produced Frankeniris. Now, I see very clearly why CT and MA both have this plant on their invasive plant lists. They did this in my pond in pots, could you imagine what this could do to a natural pond or lake. You would have nothing by iris in a very short matter of time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How does your garden grow and your walkways go??

This spring I have been slowly overhauling the entire website myself. (That's why you see some pages in my new, cool earthy style and some in the older sage green style.) I also do a pre-season survey of my current clients to see if there's anything they need from me during the upcoming spring. I've been asking them to share photos of their projects so I can update photos or add sections of past projects or works in progress. These photos below are from a job that we wrapped up in Fairhaven, MA in 2007 and was started to be installed later that same year.

The client had some random square cut stones laid in the turf as their pathway from the driveway to the large stairs. They really, really hated how that looked. They are right across the street from the ocean and they really wanted to have a new walkway that reflected the coastal landscape that surrounded them. Below is what I came up with...and I think this is hands down the coolest walkway I have come up with to date.

Here's the detail of the pebbles and the cobblestone skirt. OMG, I am totally in love with how awesome this turned out. They love it just as much because this was something that completely fit their architecture and existing stonework and their coastal surroundings.

I think this photo below was taken when the stones where wet so you can see the contrast of the different pebbles. So cool if I say so myself.

They have also built a stone wall across the street on the lot they own that goes down to the water. They wanted something once again that would fit the stonework on their house and the coastal feel. The clients really wanted to have some separation from the street so people would realize that someone actually owned that piece of land. They were having an issue with trespassers on that lot and since the wall has been built, the problem did decrease. For the meantime, the clients are holding off on the plantings for the front of the house and surrounding the wall across the street. As much as I love the hardscape on this property, I cannot wait to see it accented with the plants we chose.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How not to prune trees...

WOW....I didn't realize over a month has passed since I last made a blog posting. I'm really sorry about that...spring has sprung and I have been busy showing the Boy Wonder. So, the blog has been neglected. :( But now we have flowers popping up and large amounts of growth (thanks to the monumental rains), I'll have plenty of things to write about and take photos of. Speaking of those rains...Garden Consultant HQ got flooded out and now my office is in my kitchen which is a bummer. FEMA just left here this morning and hopefully, they will deem us worthy of assistance and we can put the office back together quickly.
Anyway, on to today's post and lesson of how not to prune trees. Just when I think I've seen it all when it comes to bad pruning...I see something that surpasses it. I'll go from bad to worse in this post on things I see around town...most of these photos are the work of professionals **shakes head** and one is a residential property in my neighborhood.

Here's a nice naturally shaped flowering pear in Middletown, RI.

Here's another flowering pear in Middletown that someone decided to prune and I honestly can't figure out why they would. There are no wires nearby, there are no limbs that could damage cars, and the canopy is high enough people can walk underneath them. This tree looked like it is trimmed regularly into this shape....WHY??? I'll give this person an C - for effort because they did attempt to make it a pyramid so they could maximize leaf surface area for the sun.

Now, both of these next photos I shall also give a wag of my finger (a la Stephen Colbert) for both horrific pruning practices and equally horrific design practices. Below is a Cryptomeria...beautiful tree when allowed to grow to it's natural size of 50 -60' tall and 25 - 30' wide. If you would like to see what one should look like check out this link - http://www.cnr.vt.edu/Dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=458 Why someone decided to plant one here baffles me....it's going to be WAY too large for this spot!!! So to take care of this "problem" the landscaper decides they must top it. Nice.....

This photo was taken at the same gas station. This poor suffering soul is a Cypress. Really?? You really had to plant a tree that is going to be 10+' right next to the stop sign? What's wrong with you?? What was the landscaper thinking when they cut it like this?? They should just put the poor plant out of it's misery and just remove it. Sheesh.

Oh...and this place. I totally could tear into the topiaries but am choosing not to. You can see the lovely Japanese Maple to the left of the front door. It's never been touched from what I can see. Look right in front of that pole one in from the right....see the stumps? That was another Japanese Maple the same size as it's mate....they decided for some insane reason to reduce it to 5' stumps. I thought they were going to remove it...oh no, I think that was their way of "pruning" it. Then there are the three little mushroom trees near the street and the driveway. Two of them are Japanese Maples...not the type that are the cut leaf weeping forms...but the same type as the big one. Hmmmmmm. Then the mushroom closest to the garage is a dogwood...tree. Good lord...I can't wrap my head around this at all. My brain hurts just trying to think of a remote reason for why this would be good horticultural practices.

So kids, that is today's lesson of how not to prune trees.