Leave the leaves! It’s an exhortation to gardeners to stop raking and blowing tree, shrub, and perennial leaves that drop in autumn, keeping the leaves in the garden as a natural mulch. If you think about how a forest functions, leaving the leaves makes sense. But does leaving the leaves in a residential garden really help?
Where do I start? It’s a question heard repeatedly in gardening webinars. Or maybe the question really is, how? When you’re contemplating a piece of ground you’d like to convert to a gardened space, how do you figure out which plants to select from the many thousands available? And how do you arrange those plants to create a design? For practice, start with a manageable space.
Whether classified as fen, mire, tropical swamp forest, or permafrost bog, peatlands store more carbon than the vegetation of all other landforms on Earth combined. With their unique ecology and thousand-year histories, peatlands also are places of mystery and beauty. Reconsidering peat in the garden is one way to contribute to their survival.
Intentional or not, natural light affects how we see. It has the power to capture attention, turning an ordinary garden into a memorable experience. Natural light becomes a design element, along with color, texture, landform, and plant type. How can we include this element in a garden design plan and control its impact on what we perceive?
The butterfly bush — Buddleja, or Buddleia, davidii and other species — is a butterfly magnet. An easy to grow, rapidly developing shrub, it seems a good choice for the pollinator garden. But it’s not.
If you read enough gardening and garden design literature, a few rules of thumb will emerge – guidelines to follow for planning and planting. Keeping these in mind can help when you’re not sure where to start or when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the advice available.
Green spaces—gardens, parks, nature trails, urban forests—are a lifeline at any time but especially, as many of us have discovered, during a pandemic.
Trees are a natural choice for creating the framework of a garden, marking the perimeter, serving as focal points or a kind of sculptural art, and providing shade and privacy for intimate areas within the larger space.
A Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) blends the solid structure of the red oak family — think of the Northern Red Oak or the lesser known but similarly impressive Shumard Oak — with the fine-textured appearance of a willow tree’s leaves. Given room to grow in full sun, it is magnificent.
Native plants have virtue. They’re good for the environment. Planting them is the right thing to do. Planting them may even save the planet. How could any gardener or landscape designer not choose native plants? I confess to reacting with a bit of resistance when I first heard statements such as these.