Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I"m still here!

Sorry for the gap in time - just a quick check in at the end of summer 2010 season. Last year we were left asking "that was summer?" because of the cool, rainy, fungus filled season. This year we certainly knew it was summer - record breaking heat starting in May - and of course accompanied with the famous east coast humidity.

It has been a exhausting season for both gardeners and for the plants - when the august plants started blooming in July the big question was "what will we have for August?" Think this must be like gardening in Florida where you spend most of your time cutting things back.

Back to my favorite garden style - build in great foliage - color, texture, form - because sometimes you just aren't going to have flowers regardless of how you planned to cover the season. An all foliage garden should have as much excitement (tho quieter) as a flowering garden. Shade gardens are great in this department as you get delightful "white" leafs, nice purples, good limes that love the shade.

Not that sun gardens are shy on foliage selections - the Artemesias are great for light color and texture contrasts, lots of purple leafed plants & limes -

I also added many beautiful Asters - usually a September flower - for our August color.

The veggie garden is picking up - all that "lasagna" work we did last winter is paying off with a much deeper soil this year - good yields on everything - can't believe my Tomato crop - a first for me in my cool microclimate.

I've a huge compost pile that will go in there come November - covered in black tarp to cook it over winter.

Also got in some late season seeding that I plant to cover with "winter blanket" - expect I can harvest well into January if not longer - a more mild winter is predicted for us this year - with this summers heat that makes me sad as I've been looking forward to cool, clean snow and piles of it! Might also mean more bugs and disease - so keep an eye out and be sure to get your dormant spray on woody plants.

Off to finish my Beach Plum jelly!

I'll dig around for some photos - or head out to take some to illustrate

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some like it Hot!

I love this clients choice in colors! Nantucket's palette is generally soft - the color of sky and the soft grey greens are prominent here, and pinks are outstanding combinations in general.

This client is not so reticent, and I love her for it - I've hardly ever met a plant I didn't like and it is so great to have such striking combinations to work with.

The site is Squam, about 500 yards off the Atlantic - very sandy soils, extreme winds - grasses are the answer, interwoven with Japanese Maples, Crocosmia, this sensational Spirea "Ogon", Ladies Mantle - lime and red/orange

Country Garden 2 - Wind, Hills and Grass

Another site opposite the mouth of the harbor - a few years back the harbor froze so solidly that when break up came there were sheets of ice a foot thick sitting on this site.

So yes, I've used many grasses.

The bulk of the garden on this site is behind the structure, sheltering from the extreme winds - mostly a steep hillside that we designed with a traversing terrace-like rock and grass garden to give it movement - previously one rather felt that the hill might slip down and into the house a any given moment - it now invites adventure,

The hillside rock and grass garden, looking back toward the entry.

The Faux Bois small table and chair are contemporary and are seamless with the paving and hillside - a great look.

You can see more of this landscape under the Hedgerows blog.

Country Garden 1, beginning the pool

In the beginning - to make an omlet you need to break eggs. We were limited as to where a pool could go. This was the only site for it, but it was a slope.
We built a very grand retaining wall, carefully veneered with native stone, and placed the pool in the new space.

Standing further back than the first picture, the pool finished, "hardscape" complete - new stone walls to accomodate slope from former garden areas, the area left center, paved with rough Bluestone is the patio where the Faux Bois table and chairs now sit.

Now standing where the first picture was taken and looking back toward the entry - one year later - it's one of my favorite gardens.
The hedge in background is Rose of Sharon with a climbing white rose interwoven for an earlier bloom, thyme is planted in the patio to soften and bring in a more country feeling.

Country Garden 1

Country Garden 1

Unfortunately I can only put 4 pictures per blog on here - I will try to take you on a journey of this garden as it has been through so many changes over the years.
Very harsh site - opposite the mouth of the harbor - extreme winter winds, most of the garden is sheltered behind the house, but still very difficult conditions.
It is a Country Garden : informal, lacking stiff edges, linear axis. this is a summer home, my client requested that it provide her with some flowers to cut, season long color, dog space, some kitchen garden elements.
Pictured here is a lovely antique French "Faux Bois" table I was lucky to find, accompanying it are contemporary Faux Bois chairs from my Design Studio. Faux Bois means "false wood" the original work was late 1800 early part of last century, primarily in France. There are some great examples in Central Park, NYC, the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Ca, I once walked down a staircase built inside a giant hollowed out tree - it took me 10 minutes to realize it was all fake - the lichens had so transformed the tree trunk, ferns sprouting along the walls and steps.

The classic Faux Bois furniture is made with an iron framework, and then covered with concrete - i believe the best furniture for Nantucket - too heavy to steal, doesn't need storing in Winter, functions much the same way as our grey shingles, it is quiet, blends in that the garden will "shine"

I have wonderful resources for Faux Bois, both contemporary and antique, some examples I keep at The Gardens, prices need to be quoted as everything keeps changing - shipping is a major factor with this furniture.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Your garden Wedding

There have been so many requests over the last 15 years to rent space in The Gardens for special events - Weddings, Benefits, Birthday parties, engagement parties - now that the nursery and shop are closed, we have the time to accommodate those requests.


The Rose Garden , above, is a lovely area for guests to take their place in the Wedding party.

The alle' is continually shifting - changing colors with the flowers of the season a lovely setting for the Bride

The "new" garden is where we had
our potted perennials. It is now an organic vegetable and cut flower
garden with an area set aside for a tent that can accommodate 125 people.

following will be more pictures of the
gardens in various seasons - look for them under moods in the garden.

I can only post 4 pictures per blog - so do "stroll" thru the various blogs for a more complete picture.

call for details:
cinda @ 508-228-2093

Garden Doctor

Garden Doctor/Consultations

There are times you might not want to hire on for a full design of your gardens, but have a problem with your space.

A consultation is a flexible option. You can ask for advice on any aspect of your garden. It could concern the choice of plants for a border, where to place a patio, nursery visits to select plants, proper planting demonstrations, soil analysis is an important consideration to many garden problems. Communicating with your gardener. Solutions will be discussed on the spot and you can have follow up notes for your future reference.

Charges are by the hour at $85. per hour, including time spent on follow up notes.

Should you decide to go on to a full Design service, the payment for the consultation can be deducted from your fee for the Design service.

To book a consultation with the Garden Doctor call: 508-228-209

Designing your Garden

The Design Process

I have chosen Nantucket as my home because I fell in love with the unusual plant community that is indigenous to the Island.

I work closely with my clients in designing a garden/landscape that they would love to live in, but perhaps cannot visualize themselves. I also work within the principals established at my nursery: Do No Harm - So the garden can remain a source of joy within our fragile ecosystem.

My initial visit to a new site is $500. From this I can give a quick overview of your site, problems I can spot, plant communities we need to be aware of - information from the surface of the site. Should you wish to proceed following the initial visit the process involves the following steps:

1. Initial meeting to gather all the elements you would like in your garden. I ask that you collect images - from magazines, books, photos for your travels - "a picture is worth a thousand words.." We list all the uses the garden will have. From this I can draw up the brief, which forms the basis for the design.

2. Survey the site. Sun angles, drainage, soil analysis, sound, views from the interior, areas needing screening, wind direction, native plant communities, invasive plants, rain and storm infiltratio. Depending on the complexity of the site I may sometimes enlist a professional Surveyor, whose fee would be billed separately from design fees.

3. Using the above I can then develop an outline design, which does not include all the detailing, but will give an idea of the proposal. We meet again to discuss this and make any changes clients may feel are necessary. If changes are significant we have other meetings to discuss, until we arrive at a comfortable design outline. I will not move on until everyone is happy with the design.

4. The agreed design is then sketched out with detailing, ready for the estimating. I much prefer to do the installation of the design working with my own crew, or specific contractors with who i have experience. I will give you an estimate quote based on the survey, design, planting plan.

Often times designs need to be broken into areas of priority, land use problems, budget, are all considerations in executing the design. It is very helpful if you have a budget in mind, as well as your priority areas.

5. I then begin the process of procuring planting material, scheduling components of the design installation.

Fees are calculated on the basis of the size, complexity and location of the site. My fee of $85./hr applies to hours in meetings, drawing plans, developing estimates for the design. i charge a 15% administrative fee applied to the installation to cover time spent ordering and collecting plants and materials, and additional up date meetings once we have begun the installation process. On site supervision time is charged by the hour.

I usually request a 50% deposit on the client accepting the design and committing to the installation. Further payments that might be required during the execution of the design installation. If the design process is delayed for a significant time, for example by planning applications, a staged payment may be requested after discussion with my client. If for any reason the design process is terminated before completion, an invoice will be submitted for work completed up to that point.

Additional charges:

Changes made during state 4 and 5 will require evaluation and new estimates


1. A 50% deposit against plant and material procurement is required

2. Plants ordered, trees viewed and selected, stone viewed and selected, subcontractors scheduled, materials arrive.

3. Schedule determined

4. Soils work performed

5. Installation of hardscaping, plants, irrigation, mulch

6. Installation complete, final payments due.

7. Follow up work to assure success of the installation - 3 years, working with yet to be determined landscape maintenance personnel. If you have a dedicated landscape crew, I will work with them on an hourly basis to train them to the specifics of the garden. I will assume that my crew will be assigned unless notified otherwise.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh those invasives

Wanting a new low care, drought tolerant plant for a client in a tough location I started looking away from  the first choice of grasses (because of potential invasive qualities if I don't get those seed heads early) into Rhamnus frangula asplenifolia "fine line" - don't have the time to do that much research!! the Buckthorns in general are invasives and not something I wish to be remembered for introducing to Nantucket - but can't find if research has been done on the "fine line" which some nurseries are promoting as non invasive due to low fruit set and non viable seed  - anyone have access to the u conn database?

A regional supplier in "America" suggested Hippophae rhamnoides "Sea buckthorn" (not a Rhamnus)  and it sounded good - and then it sounded too good - turns out it's not on our invasive list yet - but is in the top 5 in Canada - and impressive category along with Phragmites - not company I wish to keep - but a great plant for nutritive fruit - gees, go figure eh?

Do my clients know this much work goes into selecting plants for their landscape?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New York Times January 5, 2009

I couldn't get this to load from their site - but this is so important to share for anyone who didn't see it in the Times.
These 2 men are my greatest living cultural heros, do enrich your lives and read more of their works.  And when issues surrounding the Farm Bill come up - pay attention and contribute, I believe it is the most important legislation our congress undertakes.

A 50-Year Farm Bill

Published: January 4, 2009

THE extraordinary rainstorms last June caused catastrophic soil erosion in the grain lands of Iowa, where there were gullies 200 feet wide. But even worse damage is done over the long term under normal rainfall — by the little rills and sheets of erosion on incompletely covered or denuded cropland, and by various degradations resulting from industrial procedures and technologies alien to both agriculture and nature.

Soil that is used and abused in this way is as nonrenewable as (and far more valuable than) oil. Unlike oil, it has no technological substitute — and no powerful friends in the halls of government.

Agriculture has too often involved an insupportable abuse and waste of soil, ever since the first farmers took away the soil-saving cover and roots of perennial plants. Civilizations have destroyed themselves by destroying their farmland. This irremediable loss, never enough noticed, has been made worse by the huge monocultures and continuous soil-exposure of the agriculture we now practice.

To the problem of soil loss, the industrialization of agriculture has added pollution by toxic chemicals, now universally present in our farmlands and streams. Some of this toxicity is associated with the widely acclaimed method of minimum tillage. We should not poison our soils to save them.

Industrial agricultural has made our food supply entirely dependent on fossil fuels and, by substituting technological “solutions” for human work and care, has virtually destroyed the cultures of husbandry (imperfect as they may have been) once indigenous to family farms and farming neighborhoods.

Clearly, our present ways of agriculture are not sustainable, and so our food supply is not sustainable. We must restore ecological health to our agricultural landscapes, as well as economic and cultural stability to our rural communities.

For 50 or 60 years, we have let ourselves believe that as long as we have money we will have food. That is a mistake. If we continue our offenses against the land and the labor by which we are fed, the food supply will decline, and we will have a problem far more complex than the failure of our paper economy. The government will bring forth no food by providing hundreds of billons of dollars to the agribusiness corporations.

Any restorations will require, above all else, a substantial increase in the acreages of perennial plants. The most immediately practicable way of doing this is to go back to crop rotations that include hay, pasture and grazing animals.

But a more radical response is necessary if we are to keep eating and preserve our land at the same time. In fact, research in Canada, Australia, China and the United States over the last 30 years suggests that perennialization of the major grain crops like wheat, rice, sorghum and sunflowers can be developed in the foreseeable future. By increasing the use of mixtures of grain-bearing perennials, we can better protect the soil and substantially reduce greenhouse gases, fossil-fuel use and toxic pollution.

Carbon sequestration would increase, and the husbandry of water and soil nutrients would become much more efficient. And with an increase in the use of perennial plants and grazing animals would come more employment opportunities in agriculture — provided, of course, that farmers would be paid justly for their work and their goods.

Thoughtful farmers and consumers everywhere are already making many necessary changes in the production and marketing of food. But we also need a national agricultural policy that is based upon ecological principles. We need a 50-year farm bill that addresses forthrightly the problems of soil loss and degradation, toxic pollution, fossil-fuel dependency and the destruction of rural communities.

This is a political issue, certainly, but it far transcends the farm politics we are used to. It is an issue as close to every one of us as our own stomachs.

Wes Jackson is a plant geneticist and president of The Land Institute in Salina, Kan. Wendell Berry is a farmer and writer in Port Royal, Ky.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring progresses

A first few peeks of spring - beyond the daffodils, pre Shad bloom - green fuzz beginning to show, an idea of color on the far "Poppa" tree ( Kwanzan cherry) 
and then one week later, the Eastern ninebark begins it lime glow (Physocarpus opulifolius v lutea). the Poppa tree giving serious thought to budding and bloom. Clematis montana leafing out on porch and ..... in foreground.

Closer view of this week - Dutchmans breeches ( Dicentra) Christmas Rose ( Hellebore) Peony leaf, a whole crazy mix of blue tone bulbs, the last of the Daffodils (white) and wild violets that find there way here, and my pigs.

Next week the "Bridesmaids" bloom - flowering Crabapples I brought bare root across country one freezing February in my moving truck. It is my favorite week to be here - and I will be on the road collecting plants for clients - last weeks heat wave is pushing my schedule.


Ah, true spring comes to Nantucket - the Shad have bloomed.  And I'm sure the Herring are running at the Massasoit bridge, Night Herons standing guard like Egyptian paintings and Gulls circling.

Amelanchier canadensis - Shadblow, Shadbush.  It only lasts about a week, very delicate blossoms and of course our weather is way odd this month.

I love how tender the emerging  leafs are, and the red, almost blood, life force tinge.

They are a member of Rosaceae, have tasty fruits in a July - a good small tree or shrub for a bird habitat.

This is Amelanchier canadensis.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wildseed packets

A young artist, Laura Thorton created the artwork for these some years back, I've not had the time to design a display for them until now - many thanks to Anne Sutherland and the painting of my truck, Charlene, I now have a display and they will be on counter tops of Nantucket stores this season.
They were designed to create a small balanced garden for homeowners and contain some Nantucket native seed, some seed native to America that balance the garden and are not invasive on Nantucket.

The pink is Nantucket indigenous Hibiscus palustris, Eupatorium purpureum, Ascelpias incarnata, and non indigenous Echinacea purpurea and Monarda fistulosa

The blue consists of Nantucket native Iris Versicolor, Lupinus perennis, Aster novae-angliae, and non indigenous Lobelia siphilitica.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This is a great painting of my beloved Charlene. Thank you to Anne Sutherland ( of the eat your garden poster carrots fame)

Charlene is my "flower truck" a 1953 chevy, named for the mad fellow i bought her from - Charlie.

I loved my Grandfathers '53 Chevy truck, when I was 8  he promised that  it would be mine when I grew up. We both got a bit busy and just forgot that promise - but somewhere in my childs heart that love never ended. When I began to sell cut flowers on Main Street the whole memory returned - woe, I had just bought land, built a house, planted an acre and was subsisting and rice and lentils - and where on earth would I find one anyway?

Racing down 195  in my friend Lens van loaded with our findings from a great nursery visit and hoping to get to the boat in time - Len napping for a hot date when we got back - what should be in front of me? Charlene! booking a pretty good clip - and a FOR SALE sign in the rear window - my heart racing I caught up - no phone number - argh - so I just forced him off the road.

Len woke up with a mild grumble ... we test drove it, looked under the hood (he knows as much as I do looking under a hood - 0) oh, this was agony - to have found the truck, and a good one,  and no money geeeeeeeeeessss - Len, dearheart that he is pulled out his check book and gave Charlie a deposit - knocked my sox off.

Story already too long - so Marcia bought her - dearheart that she is, lent her to me, I had body work done, repaint, new bed and one day finally she was mine.

The young women who drive Charlene to town each summer are thrilled to meet such a grand lady (on occasion bodacious broad - look at those curves!) learn to drive an automobile that has a real personality, and she keeps purring along - we pray.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nantucket Spring

I used to believe that spring on Nantucket was the 3rd week of May, followed by summer the first on June. But those were my early years and my eye had not attuned to the subtlety  of this island. Nantucket is a "Zen" visual - subtle is the theme, meditate, look closely, learn to appreciate the small changes, soft coloring of this short grass Prairie that has found a home surrounded by ocean.

This is  Scrub Oak in "bloom' and tender pink leaf, ground cover is Huckleberry is bright spring leaf.

We have several "Springs" on Nantucket.  This weekend we celebrate Daffodil Days - a gracious Garden Club several years back began planting thousands of Daffodils about the roadways - one of the few flowering plants the deer do not eat - and they cheer us in this odd season when the mainland is warming and we stay cool due to ocean temperatures.  As in many places, we gardeners have imported bits of Spring - Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Scilla, English Bluebells etc.  As well as our lawn grasses, and flowering trees - I enjoy almost all of them - Nantucket is a very grey and rather drear place through winter and the color and movement is wonderful.

However - I always keep in mind what I look for as indicators of the real Nantucket Spring - when the Shad bloom!  Shad is the local name given to the Amelanchier species - it blooms at the same time that the Shad ( River Herring) are running - when the fish run upstream to lay their eggs.

We have several varieties on Amelanchier on island - most notably is our very own  Amelanchier nantucketensis  - a State listed species of special concern forms thin shrubby thickets primarily at roadsides.  I moved some a few years ago as part of the Old South Road bike path - wanted to propagate them for backup, but it was a busy season for me and I felt great sending them to New England Wildflowers new nursery knowing they would be well cared for by the pros.  All the transplants have survived.

Our other most visible Shad is the Amelanchier canadensis - larger, tree forms look like clouds that have settled down over the landscape as you drive out the Madaket road looking toward Head of the Plains.  They only last about  a week as storms blow the petals - but it is a beautiful week.

I have several planted on my property so I'm sure to know when the true Nantucket Spring has arrived.

Pictures are now above - a few blogs.

Those Fields

Fields of grass - this color mosiac is true to life Nantucket grasses - note the swath design nature has given us.

Asclepias syriaca, common Milkweed
 in Madaquesham Valley - oh the fragrance!

So once  Spring actually gets underway, I start dreaming of the lovely fields we enjoy on our little island.

The ox-eyed daisy is a favorite of mine. not indigenous, can be a problem in sensitive areas where rare native plants need the space. 
 It seems most places I have lived that the wild daisy has been a staple - in college it was our standard bouquet for all events, I use them on our Flower Truck in June before the Shastas come in.

This "drift" of Daisy is a natural distribution - growing between Little Bluestem grass and other native grasses and forbs.

This pattern is a common plant distribution on Nantucket - drifts, waves of a particular plant - and if one is planting a meadow it should be considered.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nantucket Beacon

Ah, remember the days of the Beacon?  Great photos by Rob Benchley.

So many of these old articles I can only access from print copies I  have saved - sorry for the poor reproduction quality - you can click on these to make them readable.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"N" Magazine July 2004

I regret that the day we finally got around to taking pictures for this article, only 1 plant had a flower on it.  I like "green" gardens, but as you have seen in other garden photos, this is a highly unusual - it was an Iris ensata.

Articles: "N" Magazine - Tea in the Garden

Our "Tea in the Garden" was such fun!  Relaxed, a Country Garden Tea - whole fresh food, Butterflies flitting through, birds calling in the background, and our whimsical tent made for many happy afternoons in the summer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Invasive Plants

In the early 90's The Nature Conservancy began their "Last Great Places" designation.  They wanted to label places around the world that were the last of their kind, special, in need of protection.

Nantucket was named a "Last Great Place"

In pre settlement ( European) times most of the Eastern Seaboard was covered in what we call "Sandplain Grassland"  a mixture of native grasses that held together and built up the  fragile soils in these sandy areas.

The Sandplain Grassland is a wonderful ecosystem, diverse, colorful, deeply rooted.  Today about 80% of what is left of this magnificent ecosystem is living on Nantucket.  The   Last   Sandplain   Grassland.  There are also pockets on Marthas Vineyard,  the  Cape, bits of it here and there - but what counts for the fauna that needs this ecosystem to survive is not bits and pieces.

Plants of the Sandplain Grassland:  Little bluestem grass, Pennsylvania Sedge, Bearberry, various Asters........ this list needs more

You know the Sandplain when you are out at "Head of the Plains" and those magnificent rolling hills are before you, or when you are in the Middle Moors and that soft waving landscape is at your feet,  going by the  entrance to Sanford Farm - especially in fall when the Little Bluestem is in bloom - it looks like a giant animal lying in the sun, coat waving in the fall breeze.

Invasive plant species are rather like thugs.  The reason they are "invasive" is that they 1. are from somewhere else ( Asia, Europe)  2. they usually have not brought along the things that keep them in check ( beetles, browsers) so 3. they can out compete most plants that are native to a place.

Plants are very good a surviving - they employ humans to make them popular, to plant them, to nurture them.  They don't have brains, hands, opposable thumbs - they just perform some popular trick to get them noticed and enslave us to that end.

People have brains, hands, opposable thumbs - and the ability to discern, make choices, embrace morality.

In my design work, at my nursery "do no harm" is a by-word.  That applies to how I treat the soil, but also in the choices i make for myself and for my clients.  I do not want to be known as the person that introduced  "plantus terribleius"  to this fragile ecosystem - the unknown plant that eventually destroyed every native species on Nantucket.  Simple.

Invasive Plant list:

is the web site for the Maria Mitchell assn, invasive plant list, complete with pictures.

Photo is  Fall in Middle Moors, Little bluestem in bloom, Huckleberry in color.