Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
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: http://efg.cs.umb.edu/nantucket/
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.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The second picuture is a large Hedgerow in my country garden. This protects me from our main road which is now paved, but formerly was very fine clay dust blowing over the nursery all summer - the Hedgerow caught most of the dust.
Can't see much of it here, but again I anchored the Hedgerow with Scots pine, variety "East Anglia" very blue for a pine, mixed in are Elderberries, Inkberries, Winterberries, Viburnums, Naive Cherrys, a wonderful Cape Cod Rambling rose, Sea Laurel, Bayberry.
It is in bloom from May through October, and then sports berries - the Viburnum, Elderberry, Winterberry, Rose hips all serve to keep the Hedgerow full through winter with happy birds. The birds also nest in here providing me with a happy crew of insect gatherers through out the year.
The first picture is a Hedgerow that runs thru the middle of my garden - most of it was here when I developed the garden - I left it because once more it provided a windbreak, and I needed the space divided at that place. i have added in Callicarpa, Lilac, Bridalwreath Spirea, some Japanese Red Pines because they are so pretty at the New York Botanical Gardens and I wanted to see how they survived Nantucket... good so far, about 5 years from bare root stock.
Featured in the second photo is Viburnum dentatum, our native "arrow wood" with it's pretty white umbel flower in June, wild roses, wild Cherry, a Pitch pine and Bayberry. The Milkweeds are there for the butterflies.
Watch here for some new pictures of "New English Hedgerows" mixed species sheared as a standard hedge, but more diverse, not monocultures, so they reflect greater textures and colors - country garden.
Remember that "do no harm" part of my nursery? well i've developed a bit of a prejudice regarding the ubiquitous Privet. I have a basic prejudice against any plant that is overused, I love plants so much I really like to see all of us get "out of the box" and play with them. Also always keep in mind that "monocultures" are susceptible to elimination if a disease affects them.
I love Hedgerows. Hedgerows are the lovely wild shrubs, trees, wildflowers that farmers leave between fields. Hedgerows define the English landscape. They serve the same purpose as hedges, break the wind, provide protection, establish a boundary - but because they are mixed species they also provide food, shelter for birds, flowering times for human interest - diversity.
These are pictures of one of my favorite Hedgerows. This is a country garden in a very difficult place - opposite the entry to the harbor - the winter storm winds are fierce.
The Hedgerow consisits of Scots Pine, Hydrangea limelight, purple leafed Cherry, native Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Inkberry, Eastern Ninebark, Switch grass. It celebrates diversity with color, texture and season long interest.
Back to that Privet - we use a lot of Privet on Nantucket, it's hardy, it provides a lot of employment to keep it pruned crisp, doesn't need much fertilizer or water to survive, but is is invasive, highly invasive. I pull around 300 privet seedlings on my property a year from a neighbors hedge that they choose not to keep trimmed, so it sets a large amount of seed. A
former clients property was so filled with Privet seed that we could not open the soil for any reason - planting, laying hardscape, stubbing your toe - and up would sprout Privet seedlings within a year. Their property was surrounded, for years, with unpruned Privet. Pruned Privet will also set seed, just not as much.
All that is ok for Town gardens - most Town gardens are manicured within an inch of their lives, mowed, mulched, pruned, not much chance for a seedling to survive and stage a takeover.
In Country gardens it is a different story.
And for that story you will need to look for my information on invasive plants on Nantucket.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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 meting 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. 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.
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.
In case my swing to organic vegetable gardens seem odd to some...take comfort, really nothing has changed. I've always believed that the homeowner is the "key" to a healthy environment, or at least key to eliminating use of products and plants that cause harm to our environment.
My commitment to gardening has always been a holistic approach to the earth and plants, the Wildflower Farm was the second chapter in that expression.
When i first came to Nantucket I was just in awe at this prairie surrounded by ocean - what and odd, wonderful and peaceful place.
I was working at the airport in those early days, meeting lots of people excited about our early 80's building boom. Often they would invite me to see the land they had just purchased, share with me their dreams of their new home.
More often than not, I would look at this beautiful piece of land that had welcomed me with its serenity and see the inherent destruction that was going to result from their efforts.
I have worked as a Designer most of my life: Theatre, Film,Television, Corporate retail, home interiors, fashion -it's just in my blood, a part of my senses - and what my senses were telling me is this doesn't make sense!
So I booked back to school for retooling. Horticulture, which got mixed in with Ecology. I came back even more fascinated with this place - i understood so much more of this place. I began the Nantucket Wildflower Farm to support my interest in leaning to propagate every native plant on Nantucket. I had hopes of working in Ecological Restoration, restoring some of the degradation, teaching more people how to put back what belongs here, what our birds and butterflies needed to thrive here.
I did a few projects with the Town, the beautiful Hypericum off the Polpis bike path; restoring the Birds food Violet at the airport; working with the Nantucket Shad bush on the Old South road bike path; and a few clients who understood the need. about 6 restoration projects in 20 years - there just wasn't enough interest.
Most people know me from my years of Nantucket Wildflower, nursery and shop, a few know me as their Landscape Designer. To be consistent with my understanding of what helped the soils, flora, fauna and waters of Nantucket flourish necessitated that I run my nursery, gardens, client's gardens with the highest regard for the ecological systems of Nantucket - organics.
Regardless of what a plant material is chosen to create a design for the garden, organic principals most honor our native ecosystems. They also honor our own bodies and health.
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: 508-228-2093
Thursday, March 12, 2009
May 9, 2009 we are hosting our first Nantucket Organic Vegetable fete.
This is a workshop for the community, and any and all who wish to learn more about growing organic vegetables. Workshops will be lead by community members with experience in organic vegetable growing.
Subjects covered will be:
In ground growing
Square foot gardening - book
Lasagna gardening - book
Raised bed gardening
These are just different methods of planting and or preparing your soil - two marked have books published.
Emphasis will be on soil preparation ( most critical in organic growing) soil amendments, organic fertilizers.
We will also discuss seeding, seeding schedules, replacing crops thru summer (lettuce) perennial vegetable crops, what plants work on Nantucket, how to plant, maintenance, managing pests, fencing, pollinators (bees mostly) composting, harvest.
Real nitty gritty of how you do it start to finish
This is a community project, working with sustainable nantucket, nantucket land council, and just gardeners - some more experienced than others - sharing our strengths and skills. Call me at 508-228-2093, of course there will be rain dates. expect to bring your own tools.
Workshops will run about 1 hr and will be scheduled, you may attend one , or all, registration will help us plan. we hope to have other resources here for consultation on their product
There will be a charge for the workshops, we need to cover costs for handouts, materials used in demonstrating garden types
Be there or be square! 84 Egan lane (off OldSouth) at The Gardens - park considerately - don't block the road for my neighbors.
Register : firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 508-228-2093, expect to leave a message and someone will return your call.
Try this: http://eatthegarden.blogspot.com
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
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 "new" garden is where we had
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
Monday, March 2, 2009
Those who know me know my passion for soil. and the most important thing i can say about soil is " don't treat your soil like dirt!"
Dirt is the stuff you have on your clothing, hands, face, and floor that you want to clean off - it's disposable.
Soil is a fully living organism. it lives, it breathes, it needs to be fed and watered, it needs to be handled with care and yes, reverence.
Soil is earth, earth is where we live.
On Nantucket we all have the opportunity to become land stewards, not just in supporting our various wonderful conservation groups, or trekking and loving our considerable conserved lands - but at home, every day.
In working with Nantucket soils either in a mode of Restoration Ecologist, or as a Gardener I have learned a great deal about our soils. We have a good selection of soil types - of course mostly sandy, but there are pockets of clay, good fields of loam. What is consistent in them is that they are acidic - due in great part to the amount of rain we receive, and the quality of the rain (no acid rain is not gone). Rain is not exclusively the acidifier, sand is really just tiny rocks, there isn't much humus between those rocks to hold buffering agents that would modify the soil pH.
These sandy, or clay soils with low pH ( acidic) are great for the native plant communities we enjoy, and that make our island special. Not so great for gardening with non-native plants, or for growing vegetables.
When I restored the Birds Foot Violet at the airport some years ago I was working with soils that had been stored for the better part of a year. And I learned my first big lessons on Nantucket soils.
Standard practice, one pile for the "top soil" another for "sub soil". Same as for home builders - the dark soil is considered top soil, the yellowish soils is the sub soil.
Top soil is dark because it has silt and organic matter in it - and supposedly when we put that down it is good to plant in.
What I have learned is that stored top soil is not alive soil, it is dark, but it is dead. Without active growth to keep the micro organisms alive, and humus accumulating, it just leaches out life. You can see this when you dig into it - it "plates" breaks apart in little shelves. Add to that is that it probably was applied with heavy equipment and is squashed. No self respecting plant is going to grow in this soil - including native plants.
If you are spreading "top soil" expect to amend it. Compost, Peat moss, Manure - well mixed in, a bit of organic fertilizer to feed the micro organisms and cover it - plant it to get the life force active once more. If you are not ready to place permanent plantings then use a soil enhancing "cover crop" to give it life, and to prevent erosion.
Nantucket soils are extremely fragile. It is "thin" soil. Our soil erodes easily - sandy mixes blow away, wash away, leach away. Leaving "open" soil anywhere is in my book unforgivable - it is asking destruction. If you are in construction, cover crop what you can until you can move your soils where you want them permanently . This will keep them from eroding while stored, and keep the soil alive while stored.
I've a long history with soil, my mother grew up in a region that experienced the worst man made environmental disaster this country has every experienced - the infamous Dust Bowl of the middle west. A short grass prairie that had survived as a functioning and beautiful ecosystem for eons - destroyed in a decade by government supported "farming" efforts, the mold board plow, greed, and ignorance. Read " The Worst Hard Times" for the full effect, and then remember: Nantucket is a short grass prairie.