Journal

fallcolor05ppt
A few years ago I started planting flowers in my vegetable garden. At first, it was because I simply ran out of room in my yard and had nowhere else to go but the vegetable garden.

By adding flowers and herbs throughout my vegetable garden I had unknowingly created a habitat for beneficial insects. I started to notice my vegetable plants were thriving and producing more with less bug and disease problems.

fallcolor05ppt
In fall I feel so fortunate to live in the Northeast, where people travel to see the beauty in the changing of the seasons. This is a time of year when plants native to the Northeast really shine with a variety of vivid colors. When designing a landscape, Catherine Volić takes care to consider how plants look with their fall foliage, so you can enjoy the contrasting colors of the season in your own space. Clients are often pleasantly surprised by the dramatic changes they see as fall arrives. Even when summer blooms are finished, fall brings plenty of color and beauty to a well-planned garden.

Monarch Report from Christine's Garden

This September, horticulturist Christine was amazed to find over 100 monarch butterflies roosting in a tree in her yard! Monarchs “roost” (gather to sleep) in groups overnight in sheltered spots on their long, yearly journey south to Mexico. While Christine is used to seeing a few monarchs in her large home garden, this year at least 20-50 of them dropped in daily in September and October.

Winged Visitors to the Garden

Winged visitors are a pleasure to spot in the garden. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies, song birds, and birds of prey interact with the plants we choose and each other as they fly through in search of food, shelter, and mates. Learning to identify garden visitors and making sure to plant the native vegetation they need can transform gardening into conservation. Here are notes on some of the winged visitors Catherine has photographed at her home garden and in the gardens of clients.

Favorite Plants for Hummingbirds

Using the right plants can make a garden inviting for both humans and native pollinators, including one of our favorites - hummingbirds. Sweetgum Horticulture founder Catherine says, “visits from these winged creatures add a surprise layer of movement, sound and color to my designs.” Read on for some of our favorite plants for attracting hummingbirds to your garden. We think you will enjoy these plants and their visitors too.

Composting in Winter

Yes, it is possible to compost in the winter, even with more than two feet of snow on the ground! It also makes a great excuse to get outside and enjoy a few minutes of fresh air (and sometimes even sunshine!) on frigid winter days.

Rustic Kitchen Garden Fence

Last summer, when I was playing with my kids at Weezie’s Garden for Children at Elm Bank in Wellesley, I made the acquaintance of Frank Hamm, who was doing maintenance work on some of the many structures that he had built in the garden. My kids have spent hours climbing in his two story “tree house”, as well as in the woven twig “birds’ nests”. I was always amazed by the creativity and craftsmanship of these structures, and so I was pleased to meet him in person. I took his card, and when it was time to build a fence for a future kitchen garden in my backyard, I gave him a call.

The Life of a Container Garden

Looking back over the images of the herbs and vegetables that I grew in containers around my patio last summer, I was struck by how an edible garden in a container does not have to be a static creation that you just plant at the beginning of the season and forget about. It has a life cycle comparable to that of a garden in the ground. A great example is the miniature herb and vegetable garden that I planted in this large ceramic pot in May. It contains lemongrass, variegated nasturtium, curly parsley, red cabbage, yellow Swiss chard, red Swiss chard, golden pineapple sage, and yard-long beans (on the tripod of bamboo stakes). While the yard-long beans are getting a slow start in the back, all the other components are growing strongly.

The Life of a Container Garden, Part Two

As I mentioned in my last post, a vegetable and herb garden planted in containers can be just as dynamic as a garden planted in the ground. The baskets in these images were found at my town’s reusable area. The brown baskets are florist baskets that were already lined with plastic. I poked several holes in the plastic to allow for drainage. The green basket came without a liner, so I lined it with a scrap of permeable weed barrier before filling it with my special potting soil/compost/fertilizer mix. The weed barrier prevents the soil from washing out through the spaces in the basket, but allows water to drain freely.

“A Sense of Humus”

That was the phrase printed on the box that arrived at our house a few days ago. (Humus = the organic component of soil.) Cute, huh? The box contained our new Soilsaver compost bin. In pieces, of course. With just this tiny plastic wrench and...

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Lots of design inspiration on this visit to Frederick, MD: outdoor stage in a burnt-down buildin....
Lots of design inspiration on this visit to Frederick, MD: outdoor stage in a burnt-down building, historic homes juxtaposed with architectural trees, and a drainage ditch transformed into an appealin Read More
Just completed this boulder retaining wall enhanced with rugged bluestone risers.  It functions ....
Just completed this boulder retaining wall enhanced with rugged bluestone risers. It functions as a sitting wall, and even includes an armchair! With the existing decorative pavers by Stonecutter Fa Read More
Very excited to start my first native plant seeds from Wild Seed Project in Maine! #wildseedproj....
Very excited to start my first native plant seeds from Wild Seed Project in Maine! #wildseedproject
#nativeplants
Asclepias incarnata—Swamp Milkweed—my favorite perennial for fall color.  It’s been showin....
Asclepias incarnata—Swamp Milkweed—my favorite perennial for fall color. It’s been showing color for over a month now, gorgeous shades or maroon and yellow. The spectacular fall color follows the fr Read More
The one and only mum I buy every year.  I never get tired of this color.
The one and only mum I buy every year. I never get tired of this color.
Sunday morning reading in the garden—#plantinginapostwildworld My latest inspiration, this boo....
Sunday morning reading in the garden—#plantinginapostwildworld My latest inspiration, this book articulates and expands on a lot of the ways my own design work has been moving in recent years.
#nativ Read More
I never get tired of strolling around the garden to see who’s at work in my #pollinatorplaygro....
I never get tired of strolling around the garden to see who’s at work in my #pollinatorplayground.
#pollinators
#pollinatorgarden
We liberated this home that sits in our #sherbornsanctuarygarden from its oppressively overgrown....
We liberated this home that sits in our #sherbornsanctuarygarden from its oppressively overgrown foundation shrubs and installed a drip edge of river stone around the foundation. In addition to creat Read More
When I’m designing, I always start with the pathways.  I love how this one in our #sherbornsan....
When I’m designing, I always start with the pathways. I love how this one in our #sherbornsanctuarygarden leads you from the more conventional front foundation planting to a secret oasis behind the h Read More
Always fun to see these guys in the garden, on dill and fennel.  Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.
Always fun to see these guys in the garden, on dill and fennel. Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.
Lush greens are ready to harvest just two weeks after planting.####ediblelandscaping#vegetablegarden
Lush greens are ready to harvest just two weeks after planting.
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#ediblelandscaping
#vegetablegarden
1st installation of the season—A tribute to Lopez Brothers Landscaping that these Wintergreen ....
1st installation of the season—A tribute to Lopez Brothers Landscaping that these Wintergreen arborvitaes look so good after being planted on a day of screaming 50mph wind. These will make a much-app Read More
First mowing after installation of Black Beauty sod on our family tetherball court, after the ar....
First mowing after installation of Black Beauty sod on our family tetherball court, after the area was dug up for a new drainage system to alleviate flooding of the garage. In my designs, I use very Read More
So happy to finally plant spring veggies in my new cedar planting table.  It features gorgeous p....
So happy to finally plant spring veggies in my new cedar planting table. It features gorgeous plants from White Barn Farm and Russells Garden Center.
Looking forward to another Aronia harvest this summer!  Last year, we simmered berries from my g....
Looking forward to another Aronia harvest this summer! Last year, we simmered berries from my garden into a simple syrup, which we mixed with homemade Aronia liqueur from the mountains of Bosnia into Read More
Taking inspiration from nature—on a hike through Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, I was impresse....
Taking inspiration from nature—on a hike through Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, I was impressed with the texture contrast provided by the delicate fronds of cinnamon fern and the bold foliage of skun Read More
Spring flowers, including many #nativeplants, are about to bloom in our #wellesleymeditationgard....
Spring flowers, including many #nativeplants, are about to bloom in our #wellesleymeditationgarden, featuring statues that our clients brought home from their travels. Stonework by Grignaffini Earths Read More
Love this new mini greenhouse from IKEA!  I bought several to harden off plants for my garden an....
Love this new mini greenhouse from IKEA! I bought several to harden off plants for my garden and clients’ gardens.
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#gardensofinstagram #gardenersofinstagram #ediblegarden #vegetablegardening #v Read More
Working hard to plan all of our clients’ ornamental kitchen gardens with vegetables, herbs, ed....
Working hard to plan all of our clients’ ornamental kitchen gardens with vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, and flowers that attract pollinators and beneficial insects. *
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#gardensofinstagram #gard Read More
These seeds are ready for the germination chamber (which in my house means setting them on a hea....
These seeds are ready for the germination chamber (which in my house means setting them on a heated floor and covering them with black plastic until they sprout, which usually only takes a few days).

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Sweetgum Horticulture is serving clients in the Metro West communities of Boston, MA, including Wellesley, Weston, Newton, Needham, Natick, Wayland, Lincoln, Dover, Sherborn and Sudbury.

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