Tag: flowers

Farming Flowers in Baltimore’s Vacant Lots

Photo via Hidden Harvest Farm
Photo via Hidden Harvest Farm

There are vacant lots all over Baltimore. Some people have devoted time and effort to planting vegetables in those empty spaces; now, the Baltimore Sun reports, there’s a growing movement to turn other vacant lots into flower farms.

Displays and Gifts Offer All Treat, No Tricks at Dutch Floral Garden


As Halloween nears and we feel the change of seasons, Dutch Floral Garden in Belvedere Square gets into the spirit with seasonal decor and gifts to get you ready to fall into fall!

Botanical sculpture is an art.  The careful combination of colors, textures and contrasting materials adds visual interest to a centerpiece, entry table, or any large room that beckons a focal point.


How Does Your Garden Show: Sculpturesque


DSC05908 At this year’s Celebration of Art benefit for the Cylburn Arboretum Association, sculpture was shown for the first time. Although every one of their floral arrangements at past Cylburn events has been eye-popping, this year Nolley & Fitzpatrick Event Design created a sculptural masterpiece.

flower magazine Editor Comes to Baltimore


flower magazine march-april 2014

Last week Margot Shaw, founding editor of flower magazine, was the 25th anniversary lecturer during Art Blooms at the Walters Art Museum. She spoke about a year in the life of flower, not a plant, but her magazine. A fellow Hollins graduate, I felt lucky to be included in a dinner with her.

Learn More About Gardening with Flower School at Butterbee Farm


Flower School

 catch of the day fish (2)It may still be too early to fully visualize how gorgeous your garden will be in a couple of months, but it’s exactly the right time to sign up for any (or all) of Butterbee Farm’s Flower School offerings. The series of classes begins in June, but space is extremely limited, so early registration is a must. Each class covers a different subject—from “Getting an Early Start” to “Growing Edible Flowers” to “Your Autumn Garden.” Even for experienced gardeners, the folks at Butterbee probably have something to teach about gardening. After all, they’ve been named Baltimore’s Prettiest CSA by the City Paper, and its 2014 CSA is already completely sold out. But that just means you’ll have to grow your own flowers this season—which they’re happy to help you learn how to do.

This Week in Research: More Wildflowers!

Photo by David Inouye, via University of Maryland
Photo by David Inouye, via University of Maryland

So often when I write about what’s going on in our local research universities, I’m talking about things like Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, and insomnia. But it’s the first full day of spring, and I have a happier subject:  wildflowers.

According to a University of Maryland professor’s study spanning nearly four decades, our contemporary wildflower season is more than a month longer than it was in the 1970s.

The Elements of Period Gardens

p172.2_Old-fashionedGardenSundial_Tracy Di Sabato-Aust, DiSabato-Aust Design
From “American Home Landscapes”. Photo by Tracy DiSabato-Aust.

This is a big week at Cylburn Arboretum. Located off of Northern Parkway, this green oasis is increasingly enjoyed by both city and county residents. In recent years, the Cylburn Arboretum Association  has connected nature with art through exhibitions in the Vollmer Center, programs for adults and children and an artist-in-residence program.

Cylburn’s first artist-in-residence, Patricia Bennett opens her exhibit of paintings done during her past year there. Well-known as an event painter, Bennett has also produced an impressive series of Impressionistic paintings of the gardens.  An opening reception takes place Friday, November 1 at 5:30 p.m. The show continues through the weekend, then November 5-7.

A new effort begins Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m. with the Arboretum’s first book talk and signing. In cooperation with the Ivy Bookshop  and Timber Press, author Laura Burchfield will speak and show excerpts from her newly released book American Home Landscapes, A Design Guide to Creating Period Garden Styles


I’ve been working to replant the gardens around the 1922 Roland Park house where I grew up and live. Not until I saw the Timber Press book did I realize what a period garden we still have.  Essential elements of American, Colonial Revival gardens from 1900-1930 include:  symmetry, balance and a central axis, geometric beds, a picket fence, old-fashioned flowers.


In Roland Park, fences were originally permitted only in limited form, never in the front yard, because of the Olmsted design principal of low hedges instead of fences. At our house, however, the second owner was granted an exception to the architectural restrictions, because he thought Cold Spring Lane was too busy. If only he could see it now. Boxwoods were used for the front border, but along the sides and back, he installed brick pillars with sections of square, white spindles in between.

American Landscape pic 2

No flower garden was in front or along the sides, just more boxwoods and a long lilac border on the east side and privet hedge on the west.

At Marders in The Hamptons



I am an unlikely Hamptons-goer. I am behind the times, not a trendsetter. I eschew crowds and expensive cars. I do not travel in the fast lane, yet every summer, I find myself in the Hamptons.

More than a decade ago my college roommate, a scientist, rehabbed a house in East Hampton to be near good kayaking on Three Mile Harbor. Another close college friend has a house in Bridgehampton, where she rides in The Hampton Classic.  This year a third college friend from England was going out, so how could I resist?

While I prefer off-season visits, the peak of summer brings a profusion of plants. The light (reflected off surrounding bodies of water), sandy soil, the absence of humidity and the regular rainfall create ideal growing conditions.

Nurseries do a booming business. A must for me each summer is Bridgehampton at Marders,  a spectacular nursery and garden center, where even mature beech trees are in burlap balls ready to plant.

This year’s discoveries were annual purple laurentia  and a big-leafed plant that looked like lambs’ ears on steroids.


Of the same family, perennial silver sage made a showy appearance in containers and beneath a tree, next to purple petunias.


Kalanchoe ‘Flap Jack’ was a star in troughs and pots.


I’d like to find a few in Baltimore for my unused trough. I also want a spot in my garden for fluffy, native Joe Pye weed.

How Does Your Garden Show: Hydrangeas



A cool spring and abundant rain have brought a bumper crop of hydrangeas this summer. Hydrangea blooms are many and huge, and the bushes themselves have grown substantially over the last few months.
On July Fourth we walked into our friends’ Roland Park garden, and it was hard to believe that one year ago a derecho had devastated the trees, knocked out power for days, and covered this garden with massive fallen limbs. This year, with tree removal, pruning, and light and plentiful rain, the same space is bejeweled with hydrangeas.

Wild Gardening: Learning From Something Toxic

Photo by Cynthia Zanti Jabs
The author’s beautiful, but deadly, Poison Hemlock. Photo by Cynthia Zanti Jabs

When I leave my gardens behind for summer adventures, I try not to think too much about what I’ll find when I get back. This year that’s going to be hard to do. Because I never planned to grow what grew in my garden last year. Really.

That spring when I was clearing weeds to make way for this year’s vegetables, there was one I couldn’t bring myself to yank out. It was a neat little tuft of parsley shaped leaves. Very different from all the familiar vines I was pulling. I thought it might be from one of last year’s carrots. I decided to let it grow and find out.

There are lots of weeds that look like carrots, my elder sister warned. I didn’t care. I always have loved wildflowers. I started learning their names before I could read.

This one kept on growing and so did my attachment to it. I loved the symmetrical whorl of its stems, the vivid green its leaves held onto through weeks of drought. I started to imagine I might harvest some kind of lovage or ligusticum for an herbal decoction. Or, at least, some salad greens.

Then, in late spring, we got one of those phone calls that rearranges the landscape. My wonderful father-in-law had just died. A massive heart attack. Totally unexpected. Doctor told him his heart was just fine the day before it happened.

We were away most of the next two weeks. And when we were home we weren’t paying attention to the garden.

When I finally got round to it, the little plant I’d spared had shot up eight feet and blossomed. Bunches of little white flowers hovered over a massive clump of feathery leaves. It was just stunning and I loved it.

It wasn’t til I peered deep into the thick of it that I noticed blood colored blotches on its stems. That’s when I knew this had to be Poison Hemlock. The stuff Socrates was famously sentenced to drink for “corrupting the youth” with his mind-bending questions. My favorite part of that story was how he supposedly kept conversing with his students while the toxins slowly killed him. I couldn’t stop staring at those spots, as if staring might make them disappear.