Reflecting on the Still of the Garden & Seasonal Water Feature Care

July 17th, 2014 Comments Off

20140630-074206-27726176.jpgA Water Feature Needn’t be Large or Expensive to Add a Calm, Soothing, Reflective Element to the Garden

On these hot, humid summer days, my thoughts drift to quiet lakes or the sea. I often think that the only thing missing in my landscape, is a pond. Unfortunately, digging one won’t be in my budget for a long while. However, I’ve discovered that simply looking at a small pool of water can cool down a space considerably. With this in mind, every spring I place a water bowl at the corner of my Secret Garden door. I’m amazed by how much a tiny water feature can add to a landscape. In addition to the calm, pleasantly reflective surface the little pool provides, the water also creates a habitat for Prince Pickerel the frog and drinking water for birds, chipmunks, squirrels and other creatures. And I love to drink in the dark, cool refreshment with my eyes on sultry, summer days.

I’m frequently asked how I keep mosquitoes from breeding in this water feature. A recycling bubbler or fountain will prevent mosquitoes from lighting and reproducing on the surface of moving pools, but in still water, mosquitoes will become a problem unless the feature is properly maintained. Some water gardeners like to keep larvae-eating koi in their pools, while others empty their decorative water bowl and bird baths once a week to keep water free of mosquitoes. I like to sprinkle or float organic Bti —commonly known as mosquito dunks or granules— in my Secret Garden water bowl to keep the water free of mosquitos. OMRI-approved Bti is not a chemical, but a microscopic, naturally-occuring bacterium that attacks and kills mosquito and other aquatic fly larvae. It is harmless to mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds and other insects –including bees, butterflies and adult dragonflies– and safe for use in water features where animals drink. Mosquito dunks and granules must be refreshed every few weeks can usually be found wherever organic gardening products are sold (see online resource link, below).

Click here for Gardener’s Supply Company’s Organic Mosquito Control Rings for Still Water Features

Mosquitoes will breed in standing water. In order to prevent bird baths, water bowls and still pools from becoming mosquito-havens it’s essential to empty and refill these features weekly or treat the water. Mosquito dunks are a safe, biological control utilizing Bti, a naturally occurring bacterium (Bti targeted usage is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved. Mosquito dunks are harmless to mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and all insects except for certain, waterborne members of the fly family. See site linked above for more details. For more information on Bti and it’s usage, please click here to read this well-written article with an explanation of Bt strains from Colorado State University**

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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All of My Summer Days . . .

July 8th, 2014 § 2

Wildflower Walk at First Light 2014 copyright Michaela Harlow thegardenerseden.comMisty July Sunrise in the Wildflower Walk 

It’s a warm, humid, summer morning. Baskets filled with garden cuttings and wayward weeds line the wildflower walk. Time to stop for a cool drink and some journaling. I confess to a bit of restlessness this week. My mind keeps wandering to quiet waters; kayak slipping into mist. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a summer vacation. Shall I escape for a few days? Where will I go . . .Cape Cod’s white-washed sand dunes or the rocky shores of Maine? Some time away would be good. Lately, I feel the ocean calling my name, like a siren that will not be silenced until satisfied.

Summer_Studio_2014_Michaela_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Summer Sunset at My Studio 

Rudbeckia_hirta_'Becky_Mixed'_in_the_Wildflower_Walk_2014_Michaela_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Last Light at the Corner of the Wildflower Walk with Rudbeckia hirta Shining in the Sun

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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Slipping Softly into July

July 1st, 2014 § 2

20140701-114807-42487311.jpgThe Softness of Summer Sunrise

Suddenly, it’s July . . . And the days are long, hot, hazy and languid. The pace of a gardener’s life shifts. Days of dividing, planting and pruning have passed by for now. Mowing, weeding and deadheading are chores reserved for the early morning hours. Late afternoons are reserved for swings in the hammock, ice-cold lemonade and good books. Sultry evenings invite sangria on the terrace and firefly spotting beneath the stars . Hello, summer.

20140701-120439-43479063.jpgThe Scent of Freshly-Mown Fields and Slopes of Dew-Dampened Clover 

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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The Painted Landscape

June 25th, 2014 § 1

June_Tapestry_2014_Copyright_Michaela_Harlow_All_Rights_Reserved_michaelaharlow.com_No_Use_Without_Permission June Tapestry, 2014 – Pastel

It’s late June, and having finished my professional planting work, I’m currently solidifying plans for my summer sabbatical. With a sea of summer days stretched before me, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be back in my painting studio —full time— for the first summer in five years. I thought now might be the right time to introduce you to my artwork which —not surprisingly— is inspired by the natural world. I’ve been exhibiting my artwork professionally since 1994.

Of course, I will continue to write about horticulture and garden design on this blog, and share my garden and landscape photographs here. But from time to time, you will also see a few of my paintings, drawings and other artwork. You will also occasionally see the work of other artists here (remember the ‘Artists Inspired by Nature’ series?).  If you would like to see more of my oils, pastels and other artwork, please visit my studio website, and/or follow my art blog via RSS feed here or on Instagram @michaelaharlow and/or Facebook.

I hope you will enjoy these painted landscapes, a group of my recently completed pastels . . .

Rain_in_June_2014_Copyright_Michaela_Harlow_All_Rights_Resered_michaelaharlow.com_No_Use_Without_Permission Rain in June, 2014 – Pastel

Rain_on_Mustard_Fields, 2014_Copyright_Michaela_Harlow_ All_Rights_Reserved_michaelaharlow.com_No_Use_Without_Permission Rain on Mustard Fields, 2014 – Pastel

Within_the_Storm_2014_Copyright_Michaela_Harlow_All_Rights_Reserved_michaelaharlow.com Within the Storm, 2014 – Pastel

Summer_Porch_2014_Pastel_Copyright_Michaela_Harlow_All_Rights_Reserved_michaelaharlow.com_No_Use_Without_Permission Summer Porch, 2014 – Pastel

All artwork is copyright Michaela Harlow and may not be used or reposted without permission. For information please visit michaelaharlow.com

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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Peony Greed and Other Confessions

June 24th, 2014 § 1

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetFavorite, Old-Fashioned Girls: Duchess de Nemours and Sarah Bernhardt, Fresh from the Garden

Friends and clients often inquire about peony supports. “Hoops, stakes or something else?”, they ask. The rain, the wind, the weight; it all brings up the flopping fears. I nod sympathetically. “Try something natural”, I usually say, “Something like twigs, twine, branches”. But the truth is, I really have no idea what they are talking about. I’ve never had a single flopping peony in my garden.

Because I cut them all.

Kansas_and_Cat_Mint_copyright_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Violet-Blue Nepeta and Cerise-Pink Paeonia, a Long-Standing Love-Affair (Peonia lactiflora ‘Kansas’)

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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Welcome Summer Solstice

June 21st, 2014 § 6

20140621-084448-31488729.jpgWelcome Sweet, Sweet Summertime!

Happy Solstice and Welcome Summer! I’m taking a sabbatical from garden design and installation work this summer —putting focus back on my primary career as painter and beginning work on a little side project— so it’s been an especially busy spring for me. With a late, wet start to the season, trying to tie up all of my planting by June 21st was a real challenge. But I am happy to say that all projects are 98% complete.

You will still find me here —in fact, probably more so as I won’t be running around quite as much over the next few weeks. I hope you are looking forward to summer as much as I am this year. Travel, long days in the garden, time for family and friends …What are your plans for the sweetest season?

20140621-092208-33728990.jpg Will This be the Year I Swing More in My Hammock? Definitely! 

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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In the Blink of an Eye . . .

June 17th, 2014 § 2

Madrigan_Front_Entry_Garden_2014_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comIn my client’s garden this morning: Salvia nemerosa ‘May Night’ and an endless sea of peonies

Creating beautiful, sustainable gardens takes careful planning, time, patience and effort. As a garden designer, one of my greatest professional rewards is returning to my clients’ gardens year after year, to delight in both the growth of the landscape and the friendships created through them.

I met Susan and Bob three springs ago when they invited me to consult on new gardens for their home in southern Vermont. Since that time, I have designed and installed terraced gardens, an outdoor dining/living/sitting room/firepit enclosure with sweeping curves, a kitchen-garden side niche, and a new, naturalized, wildflower meadow in addition to the welcoming, front entrance garden pictured here. Three years have come and gone and yet —as I look at the glorious sea of blooming peonies along the stone walk— the time, like June itself, seems to have passed in the blink of an eye . . .

Madrigan_Front_Entry_Garden_Design:Photo_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Salvia nemerosa ‘May Night’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker’s Red’, Heuchera, Stewartia pseudocamellia & Paeonia lactiflora galore line a stepping stone walkway created by Vermont Stone Trust certified waller, Curtis Gray. Garden Design & Installation, Michaela M Harlow

Madrigan_Garden_Stephen_Procter_Vase_Photo_Copyright_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Pretty details make the garden: handmade ceramic vessel by Vermont artist Stephen Procter

Madrigan_Front_Entrance_Garden_June_2014_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Seems like yesterday, but it will be three years ago this summer that I planted this front entry garden for my clients, Susan and Bob

Madrigan_Garden_Michaela_Harlow_Garden_Design_copyright_michaela_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Earlier this spring: Leucojum aestevium, Phlox divaricata, Heuchera and Narcissus all aglow upon a May Night

Thank you Susan and Bob, for your encouragement, trust, support of my work and most important, your friendship throughout the years.

xo Michaela

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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Welcome, Pretty Papillon! Attracting Butterflies & Moths to the Garden

June 6th, 2014 Comments Off

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) in My Wildflower Meadow, Visiting Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus) on Lilac Blossoms (Syringa vulgaris ‘Mme. Lemoine’ ) in My Garden- Read More About This Lovely Butterfly in My Previous Post by Clicking Here.

Fritillary on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)Read More About This Native Butterfly Magnet by Clicking Here

Is there anything more magical than the first butterfly sighting of the year? Much as I delight in the beauty of horticulture, I must admit that even the most spectacular of flowers pales in comparison to the poetic papillon. And what gardener wouldn’t want to work surrounded by butterflies dancing on the wind? I can’t imagine a more delightful way to spend my days. Of course butterflies are more than just pretty, and while bees are recognized as the most effective pollinators of food crops, butterflies also perform an important role in the pollination of flowers. As this fascinating insect moves within each blossom —gathering nectar with its long, curled proboscis— the butterfly’s entire body —legs, head and wings— acts as magnet for dusty pollen, which is redistributed as it moves from one part of the flower to another; from blossom to blossom and plant to plant.

Watching beautiful butterflies and moths while they work their magic within flowers is easy, but for many gardeners it’s harder to appreciate these insects when they begin their lives as voracious caterpillars. Butterflies and moths undergo a complex life cycle from eggs to caterpillars, followed by metamorphosis to moths and butterflies. As gardeners, it’s important that we become familiar with the changing appearance of moths and butterflies in order to protect these insects in all of their life stages. Butterfly and moth caterpillars all eat plant foliage, and one of the keys to creating a healthy habitat for butterflies, is learning to accept less-than-perfect-looking plants. Avoid the indiscriminate use of all pesticides —including organic solutions like insecticidal soap and Btk— in order to protect young butterflies and moths. Spray only when you absolutely must, and be sure that you can properly identify an insect before pulling out the pesticide…

The Bold Pattern and Bright Colors of the Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar (Danus plexippus) Make it Easy to Recognize as It Feasts on the Leaves of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Learning to Accept and Tolerate Less-than-Perfect-Looking Plants is Key to Creating Healthy Habitat for Pollinators. In Addition to Adopting a More Tolerant Attitude Toward Chew-Marks, Provide Habitat in the Form of Wildflower/Wild Plant Areas. By Studying the Preferences of Butterflies, Soon You Will Come to See “Scrubby” Understory and Meadow Areas as Beautiful…

Later in Summer, the Adult Monarch Butterfly (Danus plexippus) Emerges from It’s Cocoon and Lights on Potted Butterfly Weed (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Red’).

Pretty Impersonator: The Viceroy Butterfly (Limenitis archippus) Lighting on Straw in My Potager Looks a Great Deal Like the Monarch Above, But It’s Actually a Different, Smaller Butterfly. Even the Viceroy Caterpillar Looks Quite Similar to the Monarch. Read More About and See More Photos of the Viceroy and other Species at the Incredible Butterflies and Moths Website by Clicking Here

As you begin to familiarize yourself with the caterpillars, butterflies and moths visiting your garden, you may notice that while they enjoy many plants and flowers, they are definitely more interested in certain species than others. Providing a continuous supply of food and fresh water —be sure to provide butterflies with a safe “island” such as a stick or other place to light to prevent drowning in water features— from early spring through late fall  —for both caterpillars, butterflies and moths— is the best way to attract and keep these lovely creatures in your garden. But it’s just as essential to consider the “big picture” of your landscape and neighborhood. Instead of viewing natural areas as “unkempt”, try thinking of them from the butterfly’s point of view. Understory shrubs, trees and wild grasses provide essential habitat for caterpillars and migratory butterflies. Wildflower meadows, swamps and emerging forests with tangled stands of birch and poplar trees are prime real estate for egg-laying butterflies. Consider the consequences before you mow in the name of “necessary” maintenance. Before you cut, ask yourself how much manicured space you really need.

Caterpillars rely upon the foliage of many native, deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, as well as herbaceous plants for sustenance. In addition to protecting natural areas, try planting some caterpillar favorites in your landscape. While each species has its own preferences, some of the most important larval hosts for moths and butterflies include the following native trees and shrubs (this list is by no means complete and is limited to North American plants), many of which also provide beautiful and beneficial flowers and/or fruits: Amelanchier (Serviceberry), Asimina (Paw Paw), Betula (Birch), Carya (Hickory), Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam), Cassiope (Mountain Heather), Castanea (Chestnut), Ceanothus (California Lilac), Celtis (Hackberry), Crataegus (Hawthorn), Fagus grandifolia (American Beech), Fraxinus (Ash), Juglans (Walnut), Juniperus (Juniper), Malus (Crabapple), Pinus (Pine), Populus (Poplar), Prunus (Cherry and Plum), Quercus (Oak), Sassafras albidium (Sassafras), Ulmus (Elm), Arctostaphylos (Bearberry), Lindera benzoin (Spicebush), Myrica (Bayberry), Potentilla fruiticosa (Cinquefoil), Rhus (Sumac), Ribes (Gooseberry/Current), Salix (Willow), Sambucus (Elderberry), Vaccinium (Blueberry) and Viburnum.

The Hummingbird Moth is a Member of the Sphingidae Family, Which Includes Hawk Moths, Sphinx Moths and Hornworms. The Hummingbird Hawk Moth, A Beautiful and Important Pollinator, Begins Life as Large, Green, Very-Hungry Caterpillar; Related to the Tomato Hornworm. If the Hummingbird Moth Appeals to You, Learn to Protect and Provide for Its Curious Caterpillar (Many Feed Upon the Leaves of Shrubs and Trees). The Hummingbird Moth Above (Hemaris thysbe ) was Photographed on Fragrant Abelia (Click Here for More on Abelia mosanensis). This Fantastic Flier Visits Many of the Same Flowers as Butterflies, Bees and True Hummingbirds. Learn More About the Hummingbird Moth by Clicking Here. 

North American, Native Amsonia illustris Attracts Hummingbird Moths, Butterflies and Bees. It’s Also A Beautiful Garden Plant, Offering Clear-Blue Blossoms in May, Fine-Textured Foliage Throughout Summer, and Clear, Golden Autumn Foliage. This Lovely Native —and Other Bluestar Species; Including Amsonia hubrichtii and A. tabernaemontana— are Frequently Featured Here as Fall Foliage Superstars.

Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe) Gathering Nectar from Amsonia Blossoms. Read More About Hummingbird Moths by Clicking Here.

As adults, butterflies and moths are most attracted to cluster-flowers. In my previous posts on butterflies —including a post on my visit to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory with tips for attracting butterflies to gardens and an article on the top three plants for butterflies— many of these annual and perennial flowers are included. Mosy butterfly flower lists include Asclepias (Milkweed/Butterflyweed family); one of the most important, cluster-flowered, native butterfly plants. In addition to the non-native species listed in my previous posts, linked above —such as Verbena bonariensis and Butterfly Bush* (Buddleia davidii, *which is considered an invasive plant in some areas of North America, and therefore restricted)— there are many more, beautiful North American wildflowers and native, garden-worthy plants for pollinators.

Some of the best perennial wildflower choices for attracting butterflies and moths include the following: Actaea simplex (Cimicifuga/Fairy Candles/Black Cohash), Agastache (Wild Hyssop), Allium (Wild Onion), Amsonia (Bluestar, pictured above), Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard), Ascelepias (Milkweed/Butterflyweed), Asters, Baptisia (Wild Indigo), Boltonia (False Aster), Campanula (Harebell), Castilleja (Paintbrush), Chelone (Turtle Head), Coreopsis (Tickseed), Dicentra (Bleeding Heart), Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Epilobium (North Americn Native Fireweed), Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed), Filipendula rubra (Queen of the Prairie), Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), Gaura, Geranium (Wild Geranium and cultivars), Helenium autumnal (Sneezeweed), Helianthus (Sunflower), Heliopsis (Oxeye), Hibiscus, Liatris (Blazing Star), Lilium (Lily), Lobelia, Lupinus (Lupine), Monarda (Beebalm/Bergamot), Penstemon (Beard’s Tongue), Phlox, Physostegia virginiana (False Dragonhead), Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder), Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal), Rudbeckia (Coneflower/Black-Eyed Susan), Salvia (Sage), Sedum (Stonecrop), Solidago (Goldenrod), Tiarella (Foam Flower), Verbena, Veronia (Ironweed), Viola (Violets), and Yucca (Soapweed).

In addition to providing perennial flowers, plant cluster-flowering annuals in garden beds and containers to maintain a steady supply of nectar for butterflies and moths…

Cluster Flowers are Particularly Attractive to Butterflies. Pictured Here is Asclepias tuberosa, Native, North American  Butterfly Weed. (Read More Here). Try Supplementing Perennial Cluster Flowers with Those of Annual Plants like Verbena bonariensis.

Plants Blooming at the Beginning of the Continuum —Very Early Spring, When Food Supplies are Limited— are of Great Importance to Returning PollinatorsNorth American Native Labrador Violet is a April/May-Blooming, Early Butterfly Favorite. Read More About this Fantastic, Ground-Cover for Shady Places by Clicking Here.

Later On in the Year, Mid-Late Season Flowers Provide and Important Source of Sustenance to Butterflies and Moths as They Emerge from Their Cocoons. Many Gardeners Shop for Plants in Late May and Early June, Purchasing Plants Like Peonies and Roses. Lovely as the May/June Bloomers are, to Attract and Keep Butterflies, the Gardener Must Provide Season-Spanning Bloom. Later-Season Flowers like the Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan) —pictured above in my wildflower walk above— as well as Echinacea, Sedum, Eupatorium, Actaea simplex, Solidago, Helenium and Asters are Key to Providing a Steady Supply of Nectar for Butterflies. Read More About Oli’s (My Dog) Accidental Wildflower Walk, by Clicking Here.

In addition to providing habitat and caterpillar forage, flowering trees and shrubs also provide sustenance to adult pollinators of all kinds. Again, butterflies and moths are particularly attracted to cluster-flowering species, including many fruit and berry producing plants. Some of the best North American natives, “nativars” and hybrids in this group include the following: Aesculus and A. parviflora (Buckeye Trees and Bottlebrush Buckeye shrub), Arctostaphylos (Bearberry), Callicarpa (Beautyberry), Castanea (Chestnut), Clethra (Sweet Pepperbush/Summersweet, pictured below), Cornus (Dogwood trees and shrubs), Crataegus (Hawthorn), Diervilla lonicera (Native Bush Honeysuckle), Diospyros (Persimmon), Gleditsia triacanthos (Honeylocust), Gymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky Coffeetree), Fothergilla (Witch Alder, pictured below), Halesia (Silverbell), Hamamelis (Witch Hazel), Hydrangea (Wild and Cultivated),  Hypericum (St. John’s Wort), Ilex (Holly), Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire), Kalmia (Mt. Laurel), Leucothoe, Lindera benzoin (Spicebush), Malus (Apple), Nyssa (Tupelo), Philadelphus (Mock Orange), Physocarpus opulifolius (Eastern Ninebark), Pieris (Andromeda), Potentilla fruiticosa (Cinquefoil), Prunus (Cherry and Plum), Rhododendron (Azalea), Rhus (Sumac), Rubus (Raspberry/Blackberry), Salix (Willow), Sassafras, Sambucus (Elderberry), Sorbus (Mountain Ash), Spirea alba (Meadowsweet), Stewartia, Styrax (Snowbell), Ulmus (Elm), Vaccinium (Blueberry/Cranberry), and my favorite, Viburnum…

Perfect for Early-Season Pollinators (April/May) and Late-Season Color (October/November), North American, Native Fothergilla (Pictured here: Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’) is One of My Favorite Plants. Read More by Clicking Here. For Smaller Gardens, Consider Dwarf Witch Alder (Fothergilla gardenii and the Fabulous Blue-Leaf Cultivar F. g. ‘Blue Shadow’)

Horse Chestnut Blossoms are Popular with Butterflies, Moths, Hummingbirds and Bumblebees. Read More About this Gorgeous Cultivar ‘Ft. McNair’ by Clicking Here

Wonderfully Fragrant, Late-Season Bloom and Gorgeous, Golden Fall Foliage Make Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet/Sweet Pepperbush) a Favorite withBees, Hummingbirds, Moths, Late-Season Butterflies and Knowledgable Gardeners, Alike. Such Beauty in July/August Makes Up for Her Scruffy, Springtime Appearance. She’s a Bit of a Late Sleeper, That’s All! Read More About the Wonderful, Native Clethra alnifolia by Clicking Here

For more information about butterflies and moths, including ID keys, I suggest visiting the Butterflies and Moths website, butterfliesandmoths.org, by clicking here. For more information about wildflowers and other native plants, check out some of the resources in this post. And to learn more about gardening with butterflies in mind, check out some of the books below at your local library, bookstore, or linked online source.

Enjoy the beauty of the poetic papillon and help protect their future!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Syringa vulgaris ‘Mme. Lemoine’ in My Vermont Garden. Click Here for More Information on the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.

Sally Roth’s Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard 

Allan Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens

William Cullina’s Wildflowers

Watch the Complete Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly by Clicking the Link Above. A Duncan Scott Film Produced for the Chicago Nature Museum in Chicago, IL (If You Have Trouble Viewing the Video, Click on This Direct YouTube Link). Film Copyright Duncan Scott, All Rights Reserved.

This post was originally published by The Gardener’s Eden, June 4, 2012.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, 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. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book 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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Sweet, Sweet June . . .

June 5th, 2014 Comments Off

512x768xCornus-kousa-Sunlit-Bracts-and-Blossoms-michaela-medina-harlow-thegardenerseden.com_.jpg.pagespeed.ic.PG7lMgXxfbCornus kousa in Morning Light

Opening my datebook this morning, I could hardly believe my eyes  . . . Can it be June 5th, already? Yet when I look around the garden, there’s no denying it: springtime is waning. The daffodils have come and gone and the lily-of-the-valley is slowly fading. Peonies are swollen-to-bursting and even the early roses are budding. Is it possible that the solstice is little more than two weeks away? Yes, it’s true . . . Soon it will be summertime again.

Welcome, sweet, sweet June!

514x668xSwallowtail-Butterfly-on-Hydrangea-anomala-ssp-petiolaris-michaela-medina-harlow-thegardenerseden.com_.jpg.pagespeed.ic.AIyf1-vvr3 Swallowtail Butterfly Lights Upon Hydrangea petiolaris 

512x768xSecret_Garden_water_bowl_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com_.jpg.pagespeed.ic.5HWq1IlX16 Secret Garden Water Bowl

Prince Pickerel of the Secret Garden, copyright 2014, Michaela Medina Harlow - thegardenerseden.com And His Royal Highness, Prince Pickerel of the Secret Garden 

512x768xSunrise_Silverbells_Halesia_tetraptera_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com_.jpg.pagespeed.ic.lT3kxMrnfk Welcome, Sweet, Sweet June (Halesia tetraptera blossoms above the terrace)

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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Upon a May Night . . .

May 25th, 2014 § 5

Upon_a_May_Night_2014_Copyright_Michaela_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comJPG An Evening Stroll to the Secret Garden, through a Carpet of Wild, Blue Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Awake before the dawn this morning —listening to the forest come alive with the songs of hermit thrush and the yelps of young fox— my mind drifted back to yesterday evening, and a few stolen hours in the garden at twilight. A glass of wine and few moments to  collect fresh Lily-of-the-Valley, Daphne, fragrant Viburnum and Wild, Woodland Phlox for beside the bed. Spring is such a fleeting season, and oh, how I treasure May nights.

Memorial Day is the biggest gardening weekend of the year in New England, and yesterday was a busy work day for me. I spent the day shopping at nurseries and making multiple trips to and from growers with truckloads of plants. Hours in my own garden are so limited in May; with available time for maintenance confined mainly to early mornings and evenings. Thank goodness for lengthening daylight hours and French-pressed coffee to greet the sunrise.

Secret_Garden_with_Ostrich_Fern_and_Sterling_Narcissus_copyright_Michaela_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com The Secret Garden: from Fiddleheads to Feathery Fern, in the Blink of an Eye

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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Seeking Perfection in Imperfection

May 16th, 2014 Comments Off

Fothergilla_major_'Mt._Airy'_ in_the_May_garden_michaela_harlow_thegardenerseden.com_all_rights_reserved Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’ in the garden at last light

Over the years, my garden is becoming more and more like an old friend. With time, we come to love our friends less for their style and more for their substance. Tiny flaws and quirky habits become treasured character traits. When long parted, we miss the wonderful, beautiful little things that strangers might find ugly: an overgrown vine, a low-leaning limb, a crooked path, a lawn invaded by wildflowers, rough bark chewed by a fostered squirrel. Learning to see the perfection in imperfection is to discover that a garden’s beauty comes less from this particular plant or that particular combination, than from a presence, a mood, a feeling. It’s that certain something. Beautiful imperfection. How do the French say it  . . . Je ne sais quoi, or perhaps jolie laide? To me, it’s nothing less than magic.

It takes time and love to have a friend. It takes time and love to have a garden.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, Narcissus poeticus and Heuchera in the Luminous, Misty Garden Today

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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Gardening Tip of the Week & Welcome, Merry Month of May . . .

May 5th, 2014 § 1

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWarm, Golden-Hued Narcissus & A Merry Welcome to May

Although the air is still a bit chilly, and the sky so stubbornly grey, it’s time for May merriment and a happy Cinco de Mayo anyway! Welcome, welcome, sweet May!

Garden tip of the week: make photo notes of your garden beds and place discreet popsicle sticks to help remind you of where you’d like to add more bulbs in autumn! I’ve never met a gardener who has said to me, “darn, I planted too many bulbs!”.

Fire and Ice Follies - copyright 2014 - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Fire & Ice Follies (reminder for fall: more early Narcissus, like this reliable beauty, ‘Ice Follies’, in the background). Fire sculpture by Vermont artist, Dan Snow.

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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Springtime Reflections . . .

April 29th, 2014 § 3

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

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

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

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 Dr Goof Oversees 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

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

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!

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