What is the Value of Saving Established Perennials and Shrubs during a Home Renovation?

Wygelia and hydrangea macrophylla shrubs to be saved

Is it worth saving shrubs before your renovation begins? Wygelia and Hydrangea macrophylla shrubs will be saved at this Sharon, MA home, but how would you decide?

Imagine that when you were a child your parents loved gardening, and over time you helped your family create secret gardens and woodland paths that changed daily with new sprouts pushing up from the earth, turning into a bounty of ever-changing blooms, and you loved every petal and leaf of it all.

Now, imagine that you’re middle aged and still living in that same beloved 1950’s ranch, but you’re ready to tear it down to build your dream home, and save as many of your family’s horticulture heirlooms as possible. You’ve come to appreciate that many of the plants your family selected and nurtured are quite unique.

Sharon, MA homeowners in this situation called in Carol Lundeen, owner of Garden-911 Boston, for landscape renovation consulting and horticulture services to help them make their decisions. The excavation crew was expected to start in a couple of days, and we needed to establish priorities, make a plan, and get a move on.

How do you decide which heirloom plants to keep and which to abandon to the dumpster? Here’s how we worked together:

First, we contrasted the emotional and financial value of various plantings. The client had many childhood memories in specific areas of the property, especially around the patio, past the boxwoods (Buxus sp.) and up the path into the woodland, past the doll’s eyes plants (Actaea pachypoda). There was also the giant Wygelia whose branches arched over the front door entryway, and if it could talk it would tell more than half a century of stories.

I reminded the client that financially it costs money to remove existing plantings (and manage their debris); to lift and temporarily relocate and care for existing plantings, then replant and reestablish them; and to purchase (plant selection and delivery) and install and establish new ones (site preparation and irrigating). Existing shrubs on the property were mostly well established beauties that would be costly to replace with same-size specimens, and perennials seemed to be everywhere. This client kept her sense of humor and broad perspective of the past and future, she asked lots of questions and we figured everything out together.

While he was already on the property, we had the excavator dig a trench in well-protected areas in the front and rear of the property, and with machines he lifted and placed many of the larger shrubs into the trench. Garden-911 Boston carefully backfilled by hand, irrigated, and mulched these specimens for the best possible outcome. Perennials were dug together by hand by the client and Garden-911 Boston owner Carol Lundeen, and we placed them into a long-overgrown garden area that we first had to clear of all manner of wild invasives vines and weeds, fallen-down raised beds and tangled chicken wire as the mini-excavator went to work nearby.

Eventually, as in all renovations, comes a period of being okay with not knowing when enough is enough. But most all very important plantings are safely stashed for the fall and winter, and spring will bring a new house and new possibilities for the client’s heirloom plants to re-establish in their new places. We’ll be working on the design together over the winter.

DAYLILY DIVING SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY

Female eastern swallowtail butterfly taking nectar from a daylily in Worcester, Vt

An eastern north america native female eastern tiger swallowtail butterrfly, Papilio glaucus, crawls deep into the flower cone of a daylily to drink nectar at a friend’s garden in Worcester, VT.

How fun to watch a swallowtail butterfly dive into a daylily for a drink of sweet nectar. On the way in its wings became streaked with pollen, which the butterfly then took to and pollinated a neighboring daylily in seeking more nectar.

No daylily is native to North America as thus their value to native pollinators is limited to providing food rather than providing food, ideal egg-laying sites and food for their caterpillars that would support this butterfly species’ entire life cycle. Most native butterlies and moths have just one type of plant that is the host plant for their entire life cycle.

Native plants support not just native butterflies, but also all living things in native ecosystems, including humans, which is just one reason to have a diversity of native plants on your property or property that you manage or care for.

While daylilies have good horticultural value as colorful flowers, native plants have both horticultural and ecological value in the landscape. There are many fine native plant substitutes for non-native plants, and I encourage you to explore the possibilities before investing in non-native plants that could take the place of high-performing native plants.

 

LANDSCAPE DESIGN MAKEOVER IN SHARON

When a Sharon homeowner wanted to meet about redesigning her front yard gardens, Garden-911’s Carol Lundeen suggested expanding the vision to include improved circulation from the driveway to the front door, adding ease of use and curb appeal at the same time.

View from the front door of a Garden-911 Boston landscape design.

View from the front door of a redesigned front entry in Sharon, MA. What was a once a bare concrete landing and stairs is now adorned under a portico, with slabs of elegant granite on the landing and treads. At ground level, where you see a path of white river stones was once an asphalt walk from the driveway to the base of the stairs. The planted area was once lawn, and there was no brick path lined with cobblestones.
All these design changes improved the circulation around the home, as well as the curb appeal.
Plantings include a MA native redbud tree, Cercis canadensis, and a ground cover of variegated solomans seal.
For more informatoin about giving the front of your home a face lift, visit https://www.garden-911.com/

 

 

 

 

 

LANDSCAPE DESIGN TIP: Use foliage for contrast

Plant foliage employed as a contrast element in landscape designHere’s an example of using contrast as a visual principle of landscape design. In the foreground of this scene in Cambridge, MA, leaves of a variegated dogwood tree contrast along a diagonal with the pink flowers of a blooming azalea shrub in the middle ground, while in the background the curly-edged rumpled leaves of perennial geraniums anchor as a groundcover.

In addition to contrast, other principles of landscape design include unity and harmony, balance, hierarchy, scale and proportion, dominance and emphasis, and similarity and contrast. Design elements such as color, line, shape and volume, texture and pattern, space the illusion of space, motion and the illusion of motion and value can be combined as ingredients in a recipe that creates the various design principles that make a design a visual success.Other elements of a successful landscape design are functional, such as circulation around a home and its grounds, and water management.

Garden-911 Boston offers landscape design services. Visit https://www.garden-911.com/ or call 617-327-9254 for more information.

THE JOY OF A TULIP TREE IN YOUR LANDSCAPE

Liriodendron tulipifera flower, a tulip-shaped flower on the large native tulip tree.

LOOKING FOR A LARGE, STRAIGHT-TRUNKED FLOWERING NATIVE TREE FOR YOUR LANDSCAPE? Consider a tulip tree for your design, Liriodendron tulipifera. It grows up to 200 feet in height, and features yellow and orange tulip-shaped flowers and leaves. I came across this one at Stodderd’s Neck State Park in Hingham, MA, an off-leash dog park overlooking Weymouth Back River.

GARDEN DESIGN FOR LATE SPRING BLOOMS

THE POWER OF DIAGONAL DESIGN WITH STRONG FOREGROUND, MIDDLEGROUND AND BACKGROUND

Dappled afternoon sun glints off a latticed front entry, backed by a story-high rhododendron that anchors the middleground of this front yard garden design in Sharon, MA. In the foreground a pavered path from the driveway to the front door is lined with two masses of bearded iris that multiply the color effect of the rhododendron’s purple-pink blooms. Pink peonies provide visual pop that make this diagonal perspective so powerful in the design. Pink dianthus in the lower left mirror the peonies’ color impact. In the distance, mature deciduous trees near the property line form the background layer of the composition. Photo copyright 2018 Carol Lundeen. All rights reserved.

 

 

HOW TO STAKE GARDEN PEONIES, OTHER TALL PERENNIALS

Here’s the short answer to how to stake peonies, Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne,’ baptisia, asters and other tall and/or vase-shaped perennials that are at risk of collapsing under their own weight this season. Do these in the spring:

EIGHT STEPS TO STAKE GARDEN PEONIES

  1. Get stakes, twine and pruners.
  2. Set five stakes evenly around peony.
  3. Tie twine to one stake.
  4. Loop twine around each consecutive stake.
  5. Return to and loop around first stake.
  6. Loop twine around every other stake.
  7. Return to first stake
  8. Cut and tie off twine.

For more answers, here’s an expanded explanation:

  1. Gather five garden stakes for each perennial, plus twine and sharp scissors or pruners to cut the twine. Safety glasses or goggles are a great idea too, as getting your eye poked by a stake takes all the fun out of staking.
  2. Push your five stakes into the ground, evenly spaced around the drip line of your perennial. If you view your perennial from above, the drip line is the circle or perimeter of the foliage from which water drips to the ground.
  3. This third step completely encloses all your perennial stems. Starting with a stake that is towards the back of the perennial, tie a slip knot around the stake about 15 inches above the ground. Next, one stake at a time, consecutively, draw your twine around your circle of stakes, making a complete loop (not a knot) around each stake as you go. When you get back to your starting stake, make a complete loop around it, too.
  4. This fourth step creates a supporting matrix of spaces through which your stems will grow. Resuming at what was once your first and is now your last stake, draw your twine around every other stake, making a complete loop around each of these stakes as you go. You may need to carefully pass the twine between stems to reach your next stake. When you get back to your original stake, cut your twine long enough to tie a slip knot, and tie the knot. If you’ve done this correctly and you could look at it from above, your twine pattern will look like a star inside a circle.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 at least one more time, higher up on the stakes to support future growth. You may be tempted to cut the stakes to a lower height, but you’ll risk not having enough support for the flower stems once they elongate and your flowers are in full bloom, especially after they become heavy with rain.

SHARON GARDEN CLUB PLANT SALE 5/29 – NEW LOCATION

Join me at the Sharon Garden Club’s Annual Plant Sale this Saturday, May 19th from 9-noon, at our new location at the First Congregational Church. Simultaneously there are three yard sales and the library book sale all adjacent to one another. The Club has a seedlings initiative this year, and I’ll be bringing jumbo Primrose Lady marigolds as well as tomatoes grown from organic seeds. Shop early for best selection!

Flyer for the Sharon Garden Club annual plant sale on Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sharon Garden Club Annual Plant Sale Saturday, May 19 at the First Congregational Church on Main Street, 9-noon

 

 

 

 

GROW NATIVE MA HOSTS INTERNATIONAL AWARD WINNING LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT MATTHEW CUNNINGHAM

Landscape architect Matthew Cunningham presented at Evenings with Experts, co-sponsored by Grow Native Massachusetts and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

International award winning landscape architect Matthew Cunningham presented at Evenings with Experts, on April 4th. Co-sponsored by Grow Native Massachusetts and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, his design bring a sense of nature to his clients’ homes, creating a sense of privacy and wildness through the use of hard-working, beautiful native plants.

Last night, international award winning landscape architect Matthew Cunningham presented Revealing a Sense of Place at Grow Native Massachusetts’ Evenings with Experts talk at the Cambridge Public Library. The humble, approachable Matthew presented before-and-after profiles of several design projects he’s taken on, from a rocky, tide-swept cove in Maine to suburban West Newton and Brookline. In all cases, he borrowed concepts from nature, incorporating native plant communities into his designs, creating a sense of privacy and wildness for his clients.

The most thrilling part for me was his satellite photo of Cambridge, MA pointing out his first client there. The next slide showed that the neighbors have caught on, and now his clients are dotted all over town, creating a growing quilt of properties that support wildlife and pollinators, manage and filter rain water, and provide numerous other ecosystem services that only native plants can provide…including services for clients who disdain tree huggers and care primarily for aesthetics.

Keeping up with the Joneses now means people are investing in native plants, and it turns out that native plants don’t make a mess in your yard. They actually create a robust landscape system that hums on its own. This is the kind of news that inspires and delights me, and we could all use good news these days.

 

TOP 100 NATIVE PLANTS FOR NEW ENGLAND GARDENS

Cover of Native Plants for New England Gardens

Congratulations to Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe on publishing their extensive observations and close up photographs of their top 100 New England native plants. I’ve studied with them dozens of times while earning a certificate in native plant horticulture and design at the New England Wildflower Society’s Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA and I think of them as native plant rock stars.

Mark is Botanic Garden Director, and Dan propagator and stock bed grower at Garden in the Woods.