Bob Farmer, owner of Gristmill Landscaping, considers more than color, shape and texture when he’s selecting plants for a garden. “Sounds, scents and shadows can really tie a garden together,” he says. The sounds of water in a water feature soothe and add ambiance. Water draws nature to the garden, particularly birds whose calls then fill the garden. The trees that the birds use also contribute sound in the form of the rustling leaves on deciduous trees and the whispering of pines. “Yes,” says Farmer. “Conifers do add sound.”
Later in summer crickets add their symphony. Garden sounds even distract from the cacophony of traffic sounds on busy streets. The combined sounds in a garden help human inhabitants enjoy the space, sit and relax and have moments of reverie and reflection.
“Scent is the most vital of all your senses,” says Farmer. Besides the most obvious scents, Farmer likes the smell of dew on the grass and plants, the smell of rain, even the smell of snow. In summer the smell of cut grass fills a garden after mowing. When planting and weeding, the loamy smell of earth arises.
The smells of all elements – earth, wind, water and fire – are present in the garden if the garden has a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. In three seasons, spring to fall, the sweet smells of daffodils, hyacinths, viburnums, daphne bushes, lilacs, roses, lavender, monarda, lilies (especially ‘Stargazers’) and autumn clematis. “And don’t forget Styrax japonicus,” Farmer says of the elegant, compact tree that blooms in spring.
“Shadows play such a part in the landscape too,” says Farmer. “Morning shadows are different than any other shadows.” First thing in the morning, he explains, the shadows are more intense. With the sun at noon, shadows begin to lengthen. Open plant material further elongates the shadows. “The same plants you plant for texture also create rewarding shadows,” Farmer says giving hinoki cypress as an example. “The whole plant is laced with shadows at any given time, because of the fan-shaped foliage that casts off unusual shadows.”
The day ends with softer light and deeper shadows. “The dark becomes darker, and the light becomes lighter,” says Farmer. He likes white flowers to brighten the garden at dusk, moonflowers especially. Each large white trumpet unfurls in evening and stays open until sunrise. For an added bonus some moonflowers are fragrant.
Sounds, scents and shadows not only tie a garden together, but they also carry through the garden, creating movement and adding sensory dimension to enrich the experience of working in and living with a garden.
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Spring is simply the best time of year for those of us who love plants. With leaves unfurling and flowers in bloom, one just can’t get enough time in the garden—or enough space for all of those plants we love to take care of. Feed your inner botanist with a shopping spree at the Cylburn Arboretum’s 46th annual Market Day plant sale. You can get your hands on a huge variety of annuals, perennials, native plants, and even vegetables. Whether you’ve got a certified green thumb, or have yet to successfully keep a house plant alive, this plant sale has something for everyone—particularly because the arboretum’s own garden professionals will be on hand to offer expert advice on how to incorporate plants into your space, and then how to keep them healthy and beautiful.
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.
If you missed the Spring Maryland Home and Garden Show last weekend, you can still attend this weekend, March 7-9, 2014, at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Along with the region’s most talented landscapers showcasing 15 vibrant backyard designs and more than 300 expert exhibitors showcasing the latest innovative indoor and outdoor products, services and solutions for homeowners, Orioles’ Head Groundskeeper Nicole McFadyen headlines an all-star line-up of expertly-led seminars and workshops.
To help homeowners (and show attendees!) prepare for a winning season in growing good grass, here are a few expert tips on producing and maintaining grass like a lawn MVP from one of only two female head groundskeepers in Major League Baseball.
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.
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.
Yes! Compost pick-up has come to Baltimore! Yeah, okay, maybe it seems odd to be quite so excited about this late-breaking garbage-related news. But I have to admit, I’ve never been quite so excited about garbage. Or news about garbage, rather. Because what’s there to get excited about (usually)? Sure, more and more people in our city are “going green” by reducing their energy consumption, switching to wind power, and supporting local agriculture, but we still end up throwing away much more than we really need to. And anyone who’s a gardening buff knows that the secret to vibrant, lush (and effortlessly organic) gardens is good old-fashioned compost. That is, the deep, dark, organic matter created from broken down food waste. You can buy it from the gardening store, or put in the effort (and equipment) to make your own—or, now, you can have your food waste picked up weekly, and have the compost delivered back to your door when it’s time to garden.
If you’re walking around Harford County and a guy hops out of his pickup to offer you a great deal on a watermelon that weighs as much as an adult human, do not take him up on it. Instead, get his description and call the cops, because that thing is stolen.
On Friday, Bradley Northcote of Street reported that a 150-pound watermelon was stolen from his garden. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said the giant fruit is valued at $1,500, but I’d like to know where the thief plans to cash it in.
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.