Springtime Reflections . . .

April 29th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetDawn Viburnum Blossoms (Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’) Reflected in the Secret Garden Water Bowl

With a fire in the wood stove and a chance of snow in the forecast, it feels far more like early March than late April today. Still, the peepers sing on and ruddy maples scatter blossoms to the forest floor. It’s spring, Michaela, can’t you tell?

We New Englanders may grit our teeth at the meteorological phrase ‘Wintry Mix’, but the unseasonably cold weather does have its advantages. I note that early spring bulbs (Galanthus, Crocus and Chinodoxa), as well as the first flowering trees and shrubs are blooming longer than usual. But I do confess that as I gather firewood for the upcoming chill, I find myself yearning for new green leaves and warmer days. Come now spring …May Day fast approaches!

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Violet Beauty' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comJPG Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Violet Beauty’ at Woodland’s Edge

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

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Daffodil Days . . .

April 27th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Basket of Daffodils - Michaela Harlow - thegardenerseden.comGarden Clean-Up Rewards: Baskets of Fresh-Cut Narcissus

Finally, despite prolonged, unseasonably cold weather, the early daffodils have begun to unfold their golden petals. Narcissus ‘February (<—?) Gold’, ‘Lemon Silk’, ‘Ice Follies’, ‘Rip van Winkle’ and ‘Rijnveld’s Early (<—?) Sensation’ are in full bloom now and so many more about to burst into flower.

Designing_Gardens-Michaela_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com With Planting Plans to Create, Meetings to Make and Seminars to Prepare for, These April Days are Amongst the Busiest in My Calendar Year. On My Desk This Week: French Press Coffee, Master Copy of Scale Planting Plans, Tulips from Dad, Email Notes and Overlay Drawings on the Laptop and an iPad filled with Consultation Sketches Atop an Over-Booked Calendar! 

After a packed, rainy Saturday morning seminar at Walker Farm and a cold and dreary Sunday in my studio and garden, the sun finally made an appearance and lit dark corners of the Secret Garden at golden hour. Hard to believe we’ve just a few days left in April and still the pussy willows and witch hazel blossoms remain.

Lemon Silk Daffodils - Copyright Michaela Harlow - thegardenerseden.com And Many More Left to Gaze Upon in the Secret Garden (Narcissus Lemon Silk & Heuchera) 

First Daffodil Bouquet of the Season - Michaela Harlow - thegardenerseden.com And on My Studio Desk Today: First Garden Daffodil Bouquet of the Season

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

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How to Dress Up a Perennial Garden? Put a Clean, Fresh Edge on It . . .

April 25th, 2014 § Comments Off on How to Dress Up a Perennial Garden? Put a Clean, Fresh Edge on It . . . § permalink

english edging one - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comCleanly cutting the edge of a border with a half-moon edger, and mulching the “V”, helps with maintenance throughout the growing year {Pictured: a freshly planted & mulched garden with English-style edging. Pretty vessel is by Vermont artist, Stephen Procter}

Having recently presented a gardening seminar on mixed border maintenance, now seems like a good time to cover one of the simplest and least expensive ways to dress up a perennial garden: ‘English style’ or earthen edging. This is a seasonal re-publishing of a very popular maintenance post from a couple of years back . . .

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and every gardener has their own, unique preference in garden style. But well-maintained gardens, be they casually designed or strictly formal, alway seem to elicit the most oohs and ahs. So what keeps a border looking neat and tidy all season long? Well, if your gardens connect to lawn, one of the secrets is an English-style edge, and a thick layer of weed-supressing mulch.

english edging two - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com

english edging five - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comFrom the simplest, cottage-style garden design to a minimal, modern scheme, every garden is elevated to elegance by cleanly edging and mulching the border {pictured: three of my clients’ newly installed gardens; edged and mulched}

english edging three - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comJPG

A classic English-style edge is a simple and clean-looking way to define the line between lawn and garden. Although the look is quite precise, English-style edging is appropriate in most any garden setting; from formal to country casual. Inexpensive to create and blissfully easy to maintain, I just love the way a sharp edged line brings the bold shapes, colors and textures of a layered perennial border into focus. When designing new gardens in landscapes with sweeping lawns, I often opt for the English-style edge to maintain distinct, weed-free boundaries between grassy pathways and perennial borders. Crisply cut edges help to keep a garden looking great all season long.

english edging four - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comJust as neatly trimmed ends make long hair look gorgeous, crisply defined edges in a garden highlight the beauty of a well-maintained perennial border {one of my client’s gardens in late spring}

Large landscaping companies often use mechanical edgers to create deep, sharp-lined trenches between a lawn and garden and then dress these trenches with mulch. Mechanical tools work very well on big projects, but they are quite expensive and consume unnecessary fossil fuels. For home landscapes, I have always used a manual half-moon edger and my own elbow grease to create and maintain perennial borders in style. It’s great exercise!

519JmG5+R5L._SL1500_ Forged, Half-Moon Edger by Truper

The line of the garden is measured and, if new, marked out with chalk dust or string. A straight line is then cut (with the half-moon edger or a straight blade spade) through the sod to a depth of about 4-6 inches. When working a new bed, the sod is then removed from inside the cut line, and compost/loam is added to the planting bed. In a renovation of an older bed, re-establish the line by digging a new trench to a depth of at least 6 inches. I rock the too back and forth a bit to create a “v” shape. New mulch is mounded up from the center of the “v” and into the garden bed to create a weed barrier. If you are trying this method for the first time, be patient with yourself. With a little practice, your edges will become clean, precise and even. I’ve taught many gardeners how to use a half-moon edger. A little patience goes a long way when you’re learning something new! The border pictured below is the very first effort of a new gardener. Not bad for a first shot!

english edging six - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comThis freshly-cut edge on a new perennial border —the first effort of a new gardener— was cut with a hand held edging tool, like the one pictured above

Although some gardeners like to fill the trench with aluminum or plastic strip to hold border edges, this isn’t really necessary. With with yearly maintenance and mulch, the earthen edge will hold back weeds on its own.  In my own garden I prefer to keep the earthen trench filled with mulch, and maintain it twice a year with touch ups from the half-moon edger. The first round of edging happens along my lawn/garden borders every spring during April clean-up, just before seasonal mulch (I use well rotted compost mulch mixed with just a bit of dark, natural bark). The second round of edging usually happens in early to mid July, when perennials borders begin to look a bit blowzy and need a bit of deadheading and primping. But twice yearly maintenance isn’t always necessary. In the cottage garden atop the article and the minimalist garden pictured above and below, a crisp edge is cut and mulched along the borders once a year in early spring. In landscapes with lawn and perennial borders, I’m  very fond of English-style edging. This clean but natural look works well with many different garden styles and it’s both inexpensive and easy to maintain.

english edge seven - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comThe edge of this welcoming garden —filled with a colorful border of North American native plants— is looking neat and pretty, even in late summer {pictured: my client’s garden in late summer of 2012}

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Wake Up, Sleepy Gardens . . .

April 19th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

sleepy secret garden - michaela harlow - thegardenerseden.com - all rights reservedA Freshly Filled Water Bowl Returns to Its Place Beside the Secret Garden Door

Happy spring holidays, gardening friends! With landscape design season back in full swing —and many projects and drawings on the drafting table— it’s a working weekend for me. But I did manage to slip outside this afternoon to cut back and rake out the Secret Garden. It’s quite late in the season for this early spring chore, but the snow has only just receded from the darkest corners of this beloved, shady space. Unusually cold temperatures and early-spring snowfall delayed my annal rake up and wake up. What a joy to finally place and fill the water bowl, returning it to its seasonal position, beside the Secret Garden door. At your service, Prince Pickerel!

working weekend - michaela harlow - thegardenerseden.com  Work on Sketches and Planting Plans for a Garden in Amherst, Massachusetts

Last weekend I presented a pruning and perennial garden maintenance seminar at Walker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont. Many good questions were asked and I will be posting some tips and notes from the seminar, later this week. If snow has only just receded from your garden, it is wise to begin your spring clean up by cutting back exposed debris with clean, sharp shears (or a string trimmer if no woody plants are in your borders). Be sure to avoid compacting wet soil: minimize foot traffic in garden beds by staying on paths and stepping stones when possible. Lightly pull away mulch and debris with a wide rake (I use a bamboo lawn rake for the first round of clean up), using a gentle hopping, rather than dragging motion. Work slowly and carefully; watching for emerging bulbs and perennial crowns (especially the delicate, pink-rose eyes of peonies). Once beds are more fully dried out, I do a more thorough manicure with an adjustable metal rake and edging tool. But the ground here is still quite wet, so I will give the borders another week to dry out before beginning my second sweep.

Narcissus 'Rip Van Winkle’ - Michaela Harlow - thegardenerseden.com Happy Surprise: Punk-Rocker Narcissus ‘Rip Van Winkle’, Warmed by Radiant Heat from a Nearby Stonewall, Decided to Bloom Before the Other Daffodils This Year

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

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Pink Moonrise & Twilight Peeper Song: Oh Spring, You Give Me Fever . . .

April 14th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset April’s Pink Moon will be Full on Tuesday the 15th at 3;42am ET. But at 98%, the Waxing Gibbous Beauty Looked Full to the Naked Eye as She Rose Between the Ghostly Paper Birch on My Southern Vermont Hilltop Last Night

I have been a bit under-the-weather this past week, with a health issue draining my usually-boundless energy. But last night I rallied a bit in the evening, lingering long in the warm, April twilight out on my terrace. Serenaded by a chorus of spring peepers, I watched as the waxing gibbous moon rose through blue mist and ghost-white paper birches. So beautiful.

The Pink Moon will be 100% full on Tuesday, the 15th at 3:42am ET, but at 99%, it will appear completely illuminated to the naked eye as it rises both this evening, (April 14th, at 7:07pm ET), and tomorrow night as well.  The Pink Moon takes its name from wild ground phlox, which blooms at this time of year. I confess a special love for the first full moon of spring. Songbirds are calling out claims of nesting territory, bees are buzzing hungrily out of their hives, and flowers are bursting to blossom. Spring is here and it always seems to give us a crazy kind of fever! Have you caught it?

Viburnum_x_bodnantense_'Dawn'_copyright_2014_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerdeden.com_all_rights_reservedAt long last, the first petals of my Dawn Viburnum have begun to unfold, and their spicy-sweet fragrance fills the air. Spring has been so slow in coming this year, that every little change seems especially delightful. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, the essence of springtime

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

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Embracing April’s Coquettish Charm . . .

April 1st, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Hamamelis_vernalis_April_sunset_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com_ Welcoming April’s Warmer Days & Sweet, Warm, Golden Light (Hamamelis Vernalis in My Garden Last April)

Hello April, you little flirt. Seems you have put aside the foolishness for now and you’re greeting us with warmth and sunshine. Yes, this week it’s all charm, charm, charm —and oh how we love you for it. Oh, we are easily lulled into thinking that this affection will go on forever. And then, as soon as we are hooked, you’ll turn on the cold shower. Brrrrrr…

pussywillow_michaela_medina_harlow The Softness of April Showers and Silvery Tips on Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

Mmm Hmm. Tease that you are, dear April, we know that your cold shoulder will be coming. But we’re letting you take us for a ride anyway. We can’t help it. Spring flings with you are always such a thrill . . .

Erica-carnea-Spring-Heath-ⓒ-michaela-medina-thegardenerseden Love on the Rocks: Spring Heath on the Ledges (Erica carnea)

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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