Art brings garden feel to subway tunnel
By Michael Leach
I didn’t expect to have a garden moment in the subway of the Atlanta airport, but it happened.
Shunning the train to get in some needed walking en route to my gate, I passed several pieces of sculpture by African artists in one of the connecting tunnels between concourses. The greenish color of some of the stones, the serene faces and fluid lines suggested life outdoors and fresh air. I coveted several as focal points in my landscape.
Among my favorites were Galactic Dancer by Tapfuma Gutsa, Woman Showing Traditional Salute by Edronce Rukodzi, and Caring Mother, by Lameck Bonjisi.
Adding further outdoor ambience was a colorful installation suggesting a leafy canopy running the entire length of another connecting tunnel. Recorded tweets and trills of bird songs added to the fantastical effect of being deep in a whimsical, shaded garden.
Had I known my flight would be delayed by nearly an hour, I’d have hoofed it through the rest of the tunnels to see what was on exhibit. Or backtracked to look more closely at the photo exhibit and permanent exhibit of Atlanta’s history.
To learn more about art in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport visit: http://www.atl.com/about-atl/airport-art-program/.
By Teresa Woodard
Heartland Gardening headed to the International Gift and Home Furnishings Market at AmericasMart Atlanta to uncover trends in outdoor furnishings. Here are a few to inspire your outdoor spaces.
1) Upgraded Recycled Furniture – One furniture manufacturer is transforming landfill waste into attractive, all-weather furniture.
2) Retro Camp Gear – The growing fireplace craze is generating renewed interest in camp tools like pie irons, marshmallow sticks and popcorn poppers.
3) Cutting-edge Metal Furnishings – The laser-cut trend of the fashion industry is now entering the outdoor furnishings industry with metal benches cut in intricate patterns.
4) New Heights for Miniatures –The miniature craze remains strong with holiday additions and whimsical nature-inspired abodes.
5) Parisian Bistro-Weave –The classic French bistro chairs of the 19th century cafes are popping up inside kitchens and outside on patios. Available in a variety of colors and patterns, they easily mix with rustic or sophisticated pieces.
6) Tiki Fun – The Tiki culture, more of 1930s Hollywood than true Polynesia, is enjoying a revival in today’s backyards as homeowners create tropical backyard vacation destinations.
7) Modern Zen – Stone sculptures make striking centerpieces in minimalist and meditative gardens.
8) Statement Containers – Today’s containers go luxe in grand scale, jewel-tone colors and stone and metallic finishes.
9) Stacked stone fountains – These smaller bubbling water features offer the alluring sound and wildlife water source without the stagnant water of traditional bird baths or the maintenance hassles of larger water features.
10) Salvaged wood furnishings – Look for painted pieces to add some colorful funk to your backyard.
Professional Conferences and Trade Shows = More Plants, People and Gardens
By Debra Knapke
I have been attending the Annual Symposium of the Perennial Plant Association since 1992. This conference is held in different locations in the United States and Canada. It combines education sessions and tours geared toward designers, growers and retailers for whom herbaceous perennials are a part of their business focus. I have visited many prestigious Botanical Gardens and Arboretums and countless private gardens that are not often open to the public. This year, I travelled to Minneapolis, and this was the best yet (I say this, every year).
Below is a very small sample (out of 110 images) of what I experienced in early August.
Plants, Plants and more Plants
Sages are among my favorite plants: gorgeous flowers, hummingbird and other pollinator attractors, herbal uses, and easy to grow. Above is one of the Brazilian sage species (Salvia guaranitica ‘Amistadt’). Its electric purple blooms call you from across the garden. An older sibling (below) is Black and Blue sage (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’). When you grow this sage in your garden be prepared to be strafed by hummingbirds if you happen to be weeding when they wish to feed.
From time the time, the experts are stumped. This lovely little annual had many of us asking: “What is this?” When we found a docent who had the plant list and learned that we were looking at a large-flowered laurentia (Isotoma axillaris ‘Avant Garde White’), there were more than a few sheepish expressions. The flowers were approximately 1.5” in diameter – they are usually much smaller – and they danced in the breeze. And, another plant goes on the list for next year!
Alliums are another useful plant in the garden. One downside is their excessive seeding. After three to four years, you may have only alliums in your garden. Enter some of the new hybrids that make few to no fertile seeds. Pink Planet allium (above) is one of those new hybrids; Millennium is another – Millennium allium is now in my garden. I will let you know about its fecundity.
At Kelly and Kelly Nursery, we saw what patience and vision can achieve. Need a fence? Create a ginkgo espalier. If you start this project now, you can have this in 10 to 15 years, or so.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a picture from the edible garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. If you are looking for the tastiest crabapple for jams and jellies then Dolgo crabapple (Malus ‘Dolgo’) is your tree. What is the only difference between a crabapple and an apple? The diameter of a crabapple is two inches or less; an apple is larger than two inches.
Not all of the plants we see are in pots or gardens. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum has an extensive collection of rare books in its library. This gorgeous lily was hand-colored and sold in limited folios to those who could afford books back in 1542 — 50 years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue. (De Historia Stirpium, Leonhart Fuchs, 1542)
Plants are the designer’s medium. We use the tools of line, form, texture and color to create borders, beds and vignettes. We make places of order, activity, privacy and repose. Here is a border that is peaceful and textural in nature.
… while this border is a riot of hot colors. It also happens to be complimented by a “Big Bug” assassin bug.
Speaking of insects: bee hotels have been making appearances in all the best gardens. I’ve seen recommendations for creating tubes from paper or thin cardboard. If you look closely, you can see that all of the materials in the houses are from the garden: small drilled branches and herbaceous plant stems that are usually relegated to the compost pile. Here are two versions — a multi-level hotel and a simple bee hostal.
Being a plant addict is not a hopeless condition. There are times when something other than a plant grabs my attention. This green tree frog nestled in a ligularia leaf may have been one of the most photographed garden visitors on the garden tour. Of course we were discussing the perfect color harmony of the reddish-brown markings on the frog with the veins on the leaf. Get a bunch of designers together and what do you get? Endless discussions of color, form and texture in the garden!
Wishing you a beautiful fall!
Soft yellow flowers combined with dark green to maroon foliage placed in part to medium shade is like a breath of cool air similar to the winter wind that this plant was named for: Mistral Yellow begonia. I am currently growing the orange selection in my garden; next year I will grow yellow.
Sunflowers (Helianthus Vincent Choice) in combination with lisianthus (Eustoma grandifloruim ‘Black Pearl’ and ‘Rosanne’) make a luscious combination in a vase. Plant lust hit again…
Talented designers compete in several categories. One category is: here is your plant, create an arrangement around it for a center piece, a mantlepiece or a bridal bouquet. The plant this year was one of the tender hen and chicks (Echeveria hybrid). This is not your grandmother’s bridal bouquet.
Carrying on our current love affair with succulents in the home and garden, many framed displays of succulents were scattered around the trade show. This “picture” was one of three set up along one of the primary cross-paths in the show. I was trying to think where a four by four foot display would fit in my living room.
The other two easels were mixes of succulents, grasses and ferns. Note the potted plants close to the center of the picture. These turmeric plants (Curcuma hybrid) were selected for their gorgeous flowers. I grew turmeric years ago thinking that I would harvest and dry the rhizome for use in the kitchen. The flowers were beautiful, but not as free-flowering as the new hybrids. Note to self: another plant that will be grown next season.
Proven Winners sets up booths that showed how their plants could be used on decks and porches. While you might not want as many plants in the above two “idea rooms”, it definitely makes you think of fall display possibilities; and then, there is next year…
Twelve Ideas You’ll Dig
By Teresa Woodard
Throughout the heartland this summer, private gardeners have graciously opened their garden gates for public garden tours. Whether it’s a pocket garden, estate landscape or suburban backyards, I always find plenty of inspiration. I jot down notes on new plants to try, clever plant combinations and innovative design details to borrow.
Here are a dozen of my favorites.
1) Design a seating area around a container water garden. It’s a conservation piece, easier to install than an in-ground water feature and adds to the view from indoors.
2) Look for a spot to plant an allee of trees like this one of hornbeams.
3) Vertical gardening: Whether its a wall with fabric pockets, cement blocks or pots on a fence, these vertical gardening options offer a new way to garden up and maximize tight spaces.
4) Underplant shade tree and garden bench with liriope. The plant blooms purple flowers in the spring and offers an attractive groundcover to thwart weeds. Simply weed-wack the liriope in the late fall or early spring.
5) Support the craft brew craze and plant some hops.
6) Be more creative and try the unexpected.
7) Spray paint salvaged finds blue then add them to an all-green landscape bed like this one filled with hostas.
8) Add this native Queen of the Prairie to a moist spot in the yard. I love its showy June blooms.
9) Go beyond the conventional turf.
10) Find a spot for water-loving spring primrose.
11) Incorporate more annuals. They add seasonal color and fill bare spots in the landscape.
12) Create a small bog garden and fill it with pitcher plants like these.
By Michael Leach
One of our readers, Rebecca Stultz, asked about bringing no-till farming practices into the home garden. This was in early March, just as the spring rush burst upon us. Thank you for your patience, Rebecca. We hope this guides you in making yours a more sustainable landscape.
At first, no-till may sound exotic but probably most gardeners use aspects of this approach to agriculture. Do you mulch to reduce watering, weeding and improve the soil? Have you spread sheets of cardboard or layers of newspapers to transform a portion of lawn into a new garden or landscape bed to spare your aching back? That’s part of no-till.
No-till has been out on the farm for years. Time, fuel and soil erosion are reduced simply by skipping traditional plowing. Remains of the old crops serve as mulch that eventually decomposes into organic matter that enhances soil quality. Cover crops are planted to enhance soil nutrition and tilth. This approach requires special seeding devices to minimize soil disturbance that brings fresh weed seeds to the surface where they sprout and cause trouble.
Now to Rebecca’s questions.
When and how should compost and/or fertilizer be added/incorporated in each year’s cycle for no-till?
A professional soil test will show what type soil and its nutrient content, the amount of organic matter and other aspects of your soil so you can tailor amendments precisely.
Some anecdotal information I found shows that Ruth Stout, garden author and contributor to Organic Gardening used no-till for decades. At planting time, she scratched the soil’s surface enough for the seeds to make contact, lightly covered them, and sprinkled cottonseed meal along the “furrow.” Her 8-inch layer of hay (preferably slightly spoiled) continually decomposed and was renewed, so compost, cover crops or other amendments weren’t necessary. She touted thick mulch as a way to eliminate watering, weeding and most other maintenance. That amount of mulch seems excessive but it quickly settles to a 2- to 3-inch mat.
Lee Reich, a national garden writer and no-till fan for 20 years, prepares the planting area by covering it with a 1-inch layer of compost at planting time.
If fall leaves are not tilled or forked in, how thick a layer is practical to leave on the beds and still plant rows of seeds?
Remember the mulch is pulled back at planting time to expose only the soil you want to plant in. You don’t cover the seeds with mulch.
As for handling leaves, personal experience shows that 2-foot layers of sugar maple leaves “stored” overwinter in a vacant bed become a 3- to 4-inch layer by late May. This layer goes to nothing before the next leaf drop. No forking or spading is needed.
Because my leaves are collected with the help of a lawn mower, they mix with grass clippings, that probably speeds decomposition. Even without being chopped and mixed with grass clippings, autumn leaves in the forest all but vanish by mid-summer.
The more mulch the better
“Whatever you use, don’t skimp on mulch,” Barb Flick says in an Oregon State University Extension article. “A heavy layer not only keeps weeds from growing, it also keeps the underlying soil moist, greatly reducing the amount of watering you need in the summer.”
Using a thick mulch over several years adds more organic matter helps soil become like a sponge in absorbing water, says Mike Hogan, Ohio State University Extension educator and professor.
If the recommended 8 to 10 inches of mulch is hard to come by, Flick suggests using sheets of cardboard or layers of newspaper on the ground. This smothers out most weeds and keeps weed seeds from germinating. Cover this with a layer of mulch.
This is what Christine Voise does. In addition to her regular job as geographic information system and accession specialist at Ohio State University’s Chadwick Arboretum, she grows fresh vegetables for restaurants. Thick mulch keeps plants — and gardener — cleaner because there’s no mud to splash onto leaves, fruit or track inside.
Voise only waters the plants after planting and relies on a thick mulch around to get them through. Years of heavy mulching has enriched the soil to that sponge-like quality.
If straw is used as a mulch around plants, in the fall should it be left on the beds under the leaves or put in the compost bin?
Add mulch whenever it’s needed. Whatever the material — leaves, straw, hay, compost, grass clippings — it all eventually decomposes. If there’s still several inches of straw or other mulch on the beds, fewer leaves will be needed to maintain the desired cover depth.
What cover crops work well in suburban garden beds?
There’s plenty to learn about cover crops in an article in the July 8, 2015 edition of Organic Life. Cover crop benefits include suppressing weeds, building productive soil and helping control pests and diseases.
You may not need to use them. A thick mulch also cuts weeding, watering, soil erosion, while improving soil quality after it decomposes.
Personal experience makes me leery of cover crops. The only one I tried was so vigorous it took weeks to kill and delayed planting.
Precautions — Common sense dictates some basic sanitation no matter what approach you use to gardening. Reduce chances of diseases or pesky insects hanging around to attack future vegetable crops by collecting vegetable leaves as they fall off. Remove spent plants for municipal composting collection. If you have a hot compost pile, such debris can be disposed of there because high temperatures kill pathogens.
Posted in Gardens to Drive
A Big Idea for Pint-Sized Urban Green Spaces
By Teresa Woodard
Two Midwestern cities — Chicago and Columbus — are converting public parking spaces into postage-stamp-sized parks called “parklets.” And, thankfully, they’re outfitting them with plants and seating areas.
According to Governing Magazine, the parklet idea started in 2005 in San Francisco when a design company descended on a downtown parking space, fed the meter and created a p0p-up park complete with sod, public benches and leafy trees. They called it Park(ing) Day, which eventually became an annual event.
Late in 2009, New York City adopted the idea of pint-sized parks as it converted street spaces into pedestrian-only plazas. San Francisco opened its first permanent parklet in March 2010 and has since completed 27 parklets and has plans for another 40.
In Chicago, the parklets are called “People Spots.” The first opened in 2012 in Andersonville, and five more followed as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Make Way for People program to turn streets, alleys and vacant city-owned parcels into vibrant urban hubs.
In Columbus, a non-profit group PlaceMakes has opened four microparks, including three temporary parklets and its latest West Cherry Street project. Here, two underused city blocks have been temporarily closed and turned into a dynamic public space. Community residents painted the street bright blue with big red and small yellow polka dots. They further enhanced the space with picnic tables, planters and a community mural – all funded by grants, business donations and volunteers. They’ve also organized a “Cherry Sunday” series including events from poetry readings to vertical gardening workshops.
A few blocks away, the latest Columbus parklet stands in a parking space in front of a cafe and just got approval from the city to remain two months longer than planned – until September – because it’s been so successful. The parklet features a wooden structure with seating, planters and two semi-transparent lithographs of Columbus buildings by local artist Leah Storrs. The parklet is also equipped with solar panels that power the letters “A,R,T” on a sign mounted on the street side that reads “PARKT.”
Check out these websites to find a parklet or build one near you.
Posted in Gardens to Drive
A Love Affair: Bumbles and Common Milkweed
By Debra Knapke
Check out this season’s garden tours for a bounty of inspiration.
By Teresa Woodard
This summer, garden gates across the Midwest will open to welcome guests for tours. In search of inspiration, I attend several tours and walk away with a list of ideas and renewed motivation to spruce up my own garden. Here are several don’t-miss tours.
- Old Louisville Hidden Treasures Garden (June 11-12)
- Cincinnati Secret Garden Tour (June 18)
- Shake Rag’s Garden Tour and Art/Plant Sale (June 18)
- Gross Pointe (MI) Annual Garden Tour (June 24-25)
- St. Louis Pond-O-Rama 12th Annual Pond and Garden Tour (June 25-26)
- German Village (Columbus, OH) Haus & Garten Tour (June 26)
- Olbrich (WI) Home Garden Tour (July 8-9)
- Lake Co. (Libertyville, IN) Master Gardeners’ Garden Walk (July 9)
- Sheboygan (WI) Area Garden Walk (July 9)
- Lakeside (OH) 10th Annual Garden Tour (July 13)
- Annual Secret Gardens of Wauwatosa (WI) Tour (July 11)
- Friendly Garden Club Walk (Traverse City, MI) (July 16)
- Sheffield (IL) 47th Annual Music Festival & Garden Walk (July 18-19)
- Westaflora (Westerville, OH) 24th Garden Tour (July 19)
- Elkhart (IN) Quilt Gardens Tour (All summer)
- Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Tours (Find a private garden tour in your area.)
What’s your favorite garden tour?