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August 8, 2016

Why do you need a landscape design?

I’ve been a landscape designer for over a decade now and yet I still have some friends and extended family that have no idea what I actually do. They always just assume that I only do plant layout for foundation beds or small residential gardens.  So when I show them photos of my projects that are full of not only plants, but walkways, patios, walls and lighting they seem genuinely shocked. ‘You really designed all that?’ or ‘I had no idea you did that!’ Are common responses that always makes me laugh.  As a landscape designer knowledge of plant material is very important, but so is knowledge about different hardscape options, drainage, lighting and construction practices. All of these elements are important aspects of a well thought out landscape and a great reason to hire someone who specializes in landscape design to help you design your dream outdoor space!

 

Working here at di Stefano landscaping means being a part of a full service landscape design and build company. We offer the broad spectrum of landscape services from landscape design, to installation of hardscapes and gardens, as well as maintenance of planting beds and lawns. We take landscape designs and make them a reality! Often when meeting with a client for the first time to discuss a project, the most frequently asked question is ‘Why do I need a landscape design?’  The answer to this question is that there are many reasons why having a plan is helpful when thinking about a landscape project for your home or business.  The first being that a landscape plan shows the overall look of what the space is going to be like when the project is completed. You will be able see where walkways or patios will be situated, how garden beds will help to create spaces and nestle hardscapes into the landscape and how each outdoor space corresponds with not only each other but also the building and the surrounding environment. Having a plan is especially helpful if you are thinking about a multi-phase project. The reason for this is because everyone involved in the project can see the long term goal of what you want to accomplish with your outdoor living space. Smaller projects within the whole can be picked off one or two at a time over a span of months or years.

Here is a helpful list that we keep in our office, it mentions some of the many reasons other reasons why a landscape design can benefit you. This list also highlights some of the many things that are taken into consideration when a professional landscape designer is working with you on your project.

Why Landscape Design?

The Arrival Experience:

  • How does your landscape make you feel when you arrive home?
  • What do you see first and is this something you want to change?

Outdoor Living

  • How can we maximize the outdoor living spaces for our needs?
  • Where will dining, play, entertainment or work take place?
  • How are each of the desired spaces defined?

Sightlines:

  • Are there views that need to be highlighted or blocked?
  • Do you need wind screens or plantings to help muffle the sound of traffic?

Grade / Site Challenges:

  • Can slopes be turned into assets?
  • Drainage concerns and where to direct/handle the water?

Housekeeping and Functionality:

  • Screening of existing utilities, panels, septic or AC units?
  • Location of new utilities, panels, septic or AC units in correspondence to the desired use of the outdoor space.
  • Where will chickens or other animals fit into your landscape?
  • Where will wood, boats or RVs be stored?

Conserve Resources:

  • Can we conserve resources by limiting lawn spaces or adding shade trees to help cool the house?

Customize:

  • How can we create a truly one of a kind space for the homeowners to enjoy?
  • How can we incorporate all the elements that the homeowner is looking for, like specific plant material both new and transplants, pavers or stone for hardscapes or raised beds for vegetables?

Value:

  • What can be done to enhance curb appeal?
  • How can we maximize the resale value / marketability of the home?
  • How does the project provide value for the client? Does it purely make them happy to spend time in their landscape? Does it provide comfort or safety by installing a new front walkway and steps or do they see that there will be a financial return when they go to sell their home?

 

Let us know if you have a landscape project you would like help with and we would be happy to create a landscape plan for you!

June 27, 2016

Giant Hogweed

With the glorious Vermont Summer weather we have been having, everyone seems to be out and about enjoying both their residential landscapes and our natural surroundings. At our weekly safety meeting one of the crew members mentioned that everyone needed to be careful of Wild Parsnip while they are installing and maintaining our landscapes. If you are unaware of this plant then please check out our previous blog on the topic! Along with that nasty plant there is an equally awful plant that seems to be much less known and I wanted to draw some attention to it for your safety.

giant-hogweed-infest-flowering

What is Giant Hogweed?

Heracleum mantegazzianum or Giant Hogweed, is a perennial  plant that can often be found along roadsides, riverbanks and along wood lines. It can reach heights of 15-20 feet tall.  This plant looks like a ginormous Queen Anne’s Lace with a flower that can measure 2-2.5’ in diameter. The large stock is often mottled with purple. The stalk and the extremely large leaves are also covered in bristles. For more images of this plant check out the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England or The Vermont Gardener Blog.  Giant Hogweed was brought to the United States in 1917 as an ornamental garden plant for it’s curious height,  it was planted to provide interest in perennial gardens. It eventually became invasive and is now on the federal noxious weed list.

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Why should you pay attention to Giant Hogweed?

Much like it’s evil cousin Wild Parsnip, the sap of the Giant Hogweed will react with sunlight and cause serious burns to your skin, with blisters and swelling. If the sap of this plant comes into contact with your skin wash immediately. And if you don’t catch it in time and burning occurs seek medical assistance immediately. The images of these burns were literally making me so queezy I just couldn’t include one here….so please be careful if you come into contact with this plant!

For information on removing Giant Hogweed from your landscape visit the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

May 6, 2016

Vermont Arbor Day

IMG_3621Today is Vermont Arbor Day! It’s a splendid holiday that helps spread the need for conservation each year. All of us here at di Stefano Landscaping strive to create beautiful landscapes not only here in Vermont, but in parts of New Hampshire and into the Adirondacks of NY as well. We each do our part here, whether that means me creating the perfect residential or commercial landscape design, Chris and Andrew working in the office to coordinate all the moving parts for each upcoming landscape installation, to the many members of our wonderful crew installing and maintaining these landscapes with ample trees, gardens and hardscapes like patios, walkways and stone walls. In honor of today’s holiday, here is a brief history of how this day came to be as well as a few links to both the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry page that has great Arbor Day events being held throughout Vermont.

 

Julius Sterling Morton was an avid tree lScreen Shot 2016-05-06 at 9.03.06 AMover and conservationist and is attributed to establishing the 1st American Arbor Day.  J. Sterling Mortan was among the pioneers to the Nebraska Territories from Detroit in the 1850s. He and his wife Caroline Joy French settled on 160 acres, all of which were treeless. They spent years planting thousands of trees throughout their property. Mortan was a journalist and eventually became a politician. He took every chance he could get to give agricultural advice and urged people to plant trees and gardens. In 1893, President Grover Cleavland appointed him as the US Secretary of Agriculture.

The 1st American Arbor Day was celebrated on April 22, 1885 in Nebraska. It is believed that nearly 1 million trees were planted on that day by thousands of volunteers which included all the local school children and a majority of the towns people. Today Arbor Day is nationally celebrated on the last Friday of April.  However many states have adopted their own day. This was done for optimal planting weather, with many southern states choosing dates in January or February and northern states like us, choosing dates in May.Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.34.40 AM

January 14, 2016

Vermont’s Poor Man’s Fertilizer

As I was walking my dog Tucker last night through some freshly fallen snow, these thoughts popped into my head.  Why do some older Vermonters call the snow “Poor man’s fertilizer”? And is the snow beneficial to the landscapes we install here at di Stefano Landscaping, as well as farmer’s crops? Didn’t read about this in an Old Farmer’s Almanac once?  I know it’s probably a strange thing to think about on an evening stroll, but when it’s pitch black at 5:30pm and about 18 degrees, I figure it’s okay to let the mind wander to positive things instead of what might be lurking around the corner! With these questions still on my mind this morning when I got our office,  I did a little research on the matter. I found that indeed there are not only natural fertilization benefits, but also several other benefits to having snow in your ornamental landscape.

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  1. Along with the fact that snow is made up of frozen water, it also contains nitrogen. When it snows it deposits it into the soil. This is true of lighting and rain showers as well. In fact they contain higher amounts of nitrogen than snow. However the long melting process of a thick layer of snow allows for the slower release of nitrogen and the soil is able to better absorb it than in a quick summer rainstorm. Traditional fertilizers provide a much stronger dose of nutrients to your ornamental landscape, but every little bit helps right!garden
  2. Snow acts as an insulator against the freezing temperatures of our Vermont winters. A nice layer of snow helps to prevent the frost from penetrating even deeper into the soil.  This increased layer of ground frost can damage the roots of trees, shrubs and perennials.   A layer of snow also aids in protecting covered plants from the harsh winter wind and sun that can dry out plant material and cause winter kill of branches.garden in snow
  3. A thick layer of snow helps to preserve soil moisture for the plants throughout the long Vermont winter.grasses_snow
  4. Snow can highlight different aspects of your garden.  A good landscape design takes our long winter into consideration. Evergreens are incorporated throughout the design not only for structure, but also to provide the landscape with a little green that we miss during the winter. Ornamental features such as exfoliating bark, interesting branching patterns, bark color or texture tend to catch a viewer’s eye more this time of year. Plants like Red Twig Dogwood show off red branches brilliantly against the snow and ornamental grasses left standing provide texture and movement to the landscape in the winter breeze.

 

 

 

October 19, 2015

Apples

Apple trees are an extremely common sight in the Vermont landscape, and really throughout most of the world.  The beautiful pinkish white blossoms are one of the sure signs that spring is here and summer is on the way.  Fruit slowly ripens throughout the heat of summer and is ready for harvesting in early fall. Many of us look forward to apple picking each year and of course the baking that results from each trip to the orchard.

This fruiting tree originated in Asia and Europe, appearing often in both early religion and mythology. The earliest know apples have been traced back thousands of years. This tree was even deemed important enough to be brought to the Americas by early colonists.  The small more bitter fruit was grown mainly for use in hard ciders, and were slowly cultivated into the tasty sweet eating apples we know today. There are now more than 7,500 known cultivars growing worldwide. For more fun Historical information check out the History Channels Hungry History.

This ornamental and fruit bearing tree can be both grown from seed or grafted.  Depending on the method of propagation you choose the tree will vary widely in growing habit from 6-15 feet tall. Pruning is also an important process for cultivating your trees for fruit. Timing and where to prune each branch are important as you want your trees to thrive.  Click here to learn about proper pruning practices.

It is said that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away….but does it really?  This healthy and nutritious snack is high in anti-oxidants, fiber and in vitamins such as A, B, C, and K. They are also said to aid in the prevention of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and oddly enough tooth decay. They have also been said to aid in decreasing your chances of getting diabetes, suffering from strokes or even getting certain types of cancers. To learn more visit the American Institute of Cancer Research website.

August 24, 2015

Late Summer Color in Your Vermont Landscape

As summer is winding down, so are many plants in the Vermont landscape.  The key to a beautiful backyard garden design is being sure to incorporate plants that have varying bloom times throughout the growing season. You may think that this is easier said than done, but with a little research, a visit to your local garden center or the help of a Landscape Designer, you can have a beautiful garden from early spring to the 1st fall frost.  An example of a landscape with varying bloom times would be to incorporate Iris, Cranesbill Geranium, Peonies, Daylily, Black-Eyed Susan and Aster into the garden.  The color and interest will be spread from May to October starting with the Iris and Geranium, progressing to the Peony and Daylily, transitioning to the Black-Eyed Susan and then finally the Aster.

Click here for more information on our Landscape Design services, or if you are up for the challenge of incorporating fall blooming perennials into your own garden, here are a few perennials that can provide your Vermont Landscape with some late summer / early fall color:

 

Yarrow

Achillea (Yarrow)

This is an old fashion perennial that has been seen in Vermont Landscapes for generations. It has whispy grey-green almost lacy foliage. The flowers range in colors from white, yellow, pink and red. This long blooming perennial should be deadheaded when blooms are spent. It prefers moist well drained soils, but is also drought tolerant.

Aster

Aster Novae-angliae (New England Aster)

This is a favorite fall blooming perennial and is a native.  The dark purple – vibrant dark pink bloom colors are welcomed this time of year, as many fall blooming plants tend to be more yellows to reds. This is a pretty problem free easy to grow perennial that will provide the garden with some color from late August until October.

Helenium

Helenium (Sneeze Weed)

This is a native wildflower that comes in colors that range from yellow, orange to red.  Several varieties that are made up of more than one of these vibrant colors. This perennial blooms from July to late September and should be deadheded to promote longer blooms.

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Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)

This is an low maintenance native perennial. Blooming from July to late September into October, you will certainly get bang for your buck with the vibrant gold color of this plant.  There are several varieties of this perennial with varying heights, so you can choose the one that is appropriate for your growing space.

Sedum Autumn joy

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Stonecrop)

Like all Sedums it is draught tolerant and prefers to be planted in full sun.  This variety is known for it’s fall color and has small clusters of flowers of dark pink flowers in September and October.  This perennial will outlast most of the other herbaceous plants you have in your garden, and will still look great well into the late fall.

 

 

 

 

 

August 10, 2015

Lawn Care

There is nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass on a summer day.  My family laughs at me for having “Fresh Green Grass” and “Riding Lawn Mower” candles burning throughout my house year round.  I love the smell and the happy summer memories that smell brings to mind. Lawns are an integral part of all residential and commercial landscapes in Vermont. They make up a major portion of most landscape designs, as they have different importance to different people. Some of our clients like seeing a large spreading lawn, giving a clear view to their homes / view or providing open space for play. Others want the smallest amount of lawn possible as they feel that lawn maintenance is a waste of time and not a sustainable practice.  Whether you have a large or small lawn, it needs to be taken care of properly to thrive.  With the right mowing, fertilizing, watering and aerating you can have a beautiful healthy lawn. If you need help with maintianing your lawn please contact us through our website or at (802) 279-5900. We would be glad to help!

For some general information on lawn care, check out the University of Vermont’s Extension Service Lake Friendly Lawn Guide or keep reading!

Proper Mowing Practices:

Always remember to keep mowing blades sharp. Keeping the blades sharp will ensure that you are cutting the grass cleanly and not tearing the blades of your grass. This will aid in the health of the lawn. The mowing height will vary by the time of year, the growing conditions and the type of grass you have.  With the correct mowing height your lawn will need less maintenance and be more drought tolerant. Most Vermont lawns are comprised of a mix of Fine Fescue and Kentucky Blue Grass.  The recommended mowing height for these types of grasses is between 1.5”-2.5”.  If mowing in a shady portion of the yard, you should keep the grass a bit higher as the grass is apt to grow better. Try not to mow when the lawn is wet, as this is more apt to tear the grass blades and the tires of the mower could damage the lawn.  In general you should mulch the lawn clippings back into the lawn, as this helps to restore nutrients to your lawn.  If you choose to use a bagger attachment on your mower, the clippings should be composted.  When mowing, a striping pattern will give your lawn the nicest overall appearance. This is performed by mowing in straight lines and over lapping the lines by a tire width.  Stripe direction should be changed each time you mow. For more information on mowing, visit Safelawns.org.

 

Fertilizing:

There are many schools of thought and many companies that specialize in lawn fertilization. This practice will help to promote healthy root systems, which will in turn help your lawn be able to withstand cold, heat, mowing, foot traffic and many other stresses. In most cases it is recommended that you feed your lawn in the spring and fall.  But even just one application a year will aid the health of your lawn tremendously. For more information you can check out either Scotts or Natural lawn of America.

 

Watering:

Watering needs will vary depending on your location and the type of grasses that make up your lawn. In most cases Vermont lawns need about 1” to 1.5” of water per week through natural rainfall or irrigation. It is better to water your lawn a few times a week for extended periods of time, rather than just a light watering every day. You want to make sure that the roots are getting a good soaking.  The best time to water any plantings, whether they are lawns, trees or gardens is in the early morning or in the evening, as less evaporation will occur.

Aeration & Dethatching:

Aeration is completed to help allow water and air to reach the roots and penetrate through the built up thatch of the lawn, as wellas relieve some soil compaction. There are two types of aerators that can be used. One is a spike aerator and the other is a plug aerator.  One has spikes that simply poke holes into the soil of your lawn and the other actually removes tiny plugs of grass and soil. Best results are seen from the plug type aerators. This should be completed during the growing season, so your lawn can recover from the process. Click here for more information on aerating.

Dethatching your lawn is often an over looked process that really makes an impact on the health of your lawn.  Thatch is simply a layer of dead grass that gets built up over time and eventually hinders water and nutrients from reaching the soil beneath. Once the thatch layer becomes about a ½”, it is time to remove it. This can be done by hand or there are dethatching machines that can be purchased or rented. Lawns should not be dethatched during the early spring as the grass of your lawn is tenderer when coming out of dormancy. Click here for more information on dethatching.

 

July 10, 2015

di Stefano Landscaping’s Favorite Plants

When people find out that I am a landscape designer here in Vermont I always get asked one of two questions or sometimes both.

1. Can you come take a look at my yard?

or

2.   What is your favorite plant?

I typically answer the first question with a laugh and briefly discuss their project, before steering the conversation in another direction. It’s that second question that is certainly a hard one to answer,  especially when you spend so much time creating landscape designs for residential and commercial properties in Vermont and New York.  I of course have my favorite Vermont landscape plants which are tried and true performers. The ones that are hardy enough to handle our cold Vermont winters and never disappoint with their blooms year after year or the plants that perfectly highlight our stonewalls, walkways and patios.  But are any of them my favorite plant?  When asked to pick just one, out of all the trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, that is a hard task indeed. I usually spout out my favorite in each category. I guess that is cheating a little, but it can’t be helped. I love Northern Catalpa, Serviceberry, Quick Fire Hydrangea, Black-Eyed Susan and Royal Velvet Petunia! (All pictured above.)

But this question has certainly made me think lately. So for this month’s blog I decided to ask my fellow di Stefano Landscaping employees what some of their favorite plants are and why. It has provided some great onsite conversation and I got some great answers ranging from trees to house plants and some great reasons why they chose them. Some were chosen because they liked the form or branching patterns, for some it was the incredible fragrance or taste, some have fond memories from childhood, and others had no particular reason they just liked them. I have to say I have learned a lot about my co-workers and got to learn a little bit more about a lot of awesome plants!

Chris (Owner) – Weeping Larch / Larix decidua

Weeping Larch

This deciduous tree has an irregular drooping habit and has an almost mounding form when mature. Branches are covered in fine green needles that grow in little tuffs and give a soft appearance to the plant. Larches have vibrant yellow color in the fall before they shed their needles for the winter.  They do best planted in full sun and can handle moderately wet soils.

 

Andrew (Operations Manager) and Kristin (Gardener) – Peony / Paeonia Festiva Maxima (They even picked the same variety!)

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Peonies are among the most fragrant, beautiful and quintessential Vermont perennials.  They are extremely long lived plants, which will thrive with little maintenance if planted correctly.  They require full sun & well drained soils. Peonies grow best in cooler climates as they will only bloom well after the Winter chill.  Once established they do not like to be transplanted, so be sure to choose wisely when planting them in your garden. At maturity they can be almost 3 feet in diameter.

 

Marie  (Landscape Designer) – Serviceberry / Amelanchier Canadensis

Amelanchier

Amelanchier is a small native multi-stemmed tree that is one of the first things to bloom in the spring. It’s showy white flowers are present before the leaves emerge. Dark green summer foliage is offset by the dark purple edible berries. This small tree has beautiful fall color of oranges to red. The multi-stemmed smooth grey bark provides some winter interest as well. There are no serious disease or insect problems associated with this awesome Vermont native.

 

Mike (Foreman/Stone Mason) – Tomato / Solanum lycopersicum

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Tomatoes are sadly an annual here in Vermont, but certainly a staple of the summer garden.  Even one plant can produce an enormous amount of fruit and there are so many varieties to choose from.  They should be planted in the spring after the last frost in full sun. By planting two-thirds of the plant in the ground, you will provide a stronger root system to help sustain the heavy fruit bearing plant. Tomatoes grow quickly and usually need to be surrounded by a cage or staked to help keep them up off the ground. Pruning away withered leaves and fertilizing throughout the summer will help these plants thrive.

 

 

Eric (Stone Mason) – Rhododendron / Rhododendron

Rhody

Rhododendrons are broadleaf evergreen shrubs with around 1,000 species worldwide.  Their glossy deciduous looking evergreen leaves provide interest in the winter landscape. They bloom in spring with showy displays of whites to dark pinks. In Vermont they should be planted in a more sheltered portion of your landscape, they like more acidic soil than most plants and will need very little pruning if planted in the right place.

 

Jeremiah (Foreman/ Stone Mason) – Poppy / Papaver

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Poppies are a short lived perennials that do well here in Vermont landscapes. They can be easily started from seed or you can purchase larger more established plants. They like full sun and well drained soils and can tolerate relatively dry conditions. Poppies look best when planted in masses, but be sure to plant them in the back or amongst other perennials, as their foliage dies back to the ground after they have bloomed.

 

Geoff (Stone Mason) – Lacinato Kale /Brassica oleracea ‘Lacinato’Lacinato Kale

Lacinato Kale is commonly used in Italian Cuisine and is sometimes referred to as Tuscan Kale or Black Kale. It’s dark greenish blue heavily textured 2-3 foot foliage provide interest in both the vegetable garden and ornamental plantings. Thomas Jefferson incorporated this plant into his gardens at Monticello for this very reason. This versatile plant can be eaten on it’s own raw in salads and sautéed or can be added to soups, pasta dishes and stir-fries!

 

Eddie (Installation Crew) – Knock Out Rose / Rosa

Knock out rose

Knock Out Roses were first introduced in 2000 and have quickly grown in popularity. They are a cold hardy, relatively disease resistant, heavy blooming rose. If pruned properly they will bloom from late spring until frost here in Vermont.  They have an unbelievable magenta red bloom that is long lasting and extremely fragrant.  The Knock Out Rose family has expanded in the last 15 years to include a wide range of colors from reds to pinks and yellows.

 

Noble (Installation Crew) – Lilac / Syringa

Lilac

Lilacs are one of the most well-known Vermont shrubs, with it’s early spring blooms. There are more than 20 varieties of this hardy shrub in multiple shades of whites to light and dark purples. They have a fragrance that is unbeatable. Depending on the lilac variety it can grow from 5-15 feet tall. Lilacs should be pruned after they have finished blooming. Dead branches should be removed and you can cut back as much as a third of the plant, to promote new growth.

 

Jay (Installation Crew) – Stonecrop / Sedum

Sedum

Sedum are perennials here in Vermont and have more than 600 varieties. These unique looking plants have succulent leaves and can range from groundcovers to 2 feet tall. They have a color range from light to dark green and dark maroon to purple foliage. Their tiny flowers range from yellows to pinks and reds. They should be planted in well drained soils and are a popular choice for green roof plantings because of their ability to tolerate dry condtions. Shorter varieties look great in rock gardens and taller one add texture and interest to perennial beds.

 

Andy (Maintenance Crew)  – Snowberry / Symphoricarpos albus

Snowberry

Snowberries are an oldfashioned deciduous shrub known for their white waxy berries.  These shrubs provide an excellent source of food for birds, but are poisonous to humans. This shrub should be planted in full sun with well drained soils. They have strong root systems and are good for bank stabilization. This plant was actually found by Lewis and Clark on their westward expedition and sent back to the east coast.

 

Gabe (Maintenance Crew)  – Aloe / Aloe vera

Aloe-Vera-Plant

Aloe is a succulent plant that can grow up to 2-3 feet in the right conditions. It is sadly just a house plant here in Vermont.  The fleshy rather thick leaves of this plant have rough white serrated edges.  Aloe has been used for centuries for it’s healing and rejuvenating medicinal properties.

 

Jeremy (Maintenance Crew)   – Smoke Bush / Cotinus coggygria

Smoke bush

This unique large shrub can grow up to 15 feet tall. It is usually planted as a specimen when seen in Vermont landscapes. After the flowers have gone by long lasting fluffy smoke like seed heads appear, giving this plant it’s common name. They require little maintenance and do best when planted in moist/well drained soils in full sun. Their fall color becomes an even more intense crimson scarlet.

 

Cole (Maintenance Crew)  – Fiddle Head Fern / Matteuccia struthiopterisFern

This native Vermont Fern can grow up to 3’ tall and spreads rapidly. They have an almost vase shaped growing habit.  This fern takes time to establish when first planted and will thrive in damp shady portions of your landscape. The first fiddleheads that emerge in the spring are sterile and can be harvested for eating. If doing so be sure that you take only ½ the fronds as you don’t want to damage the plant. Many Vermonters look forward to having this tasty delicacy each spring either sautéed, steamed or stir-fried!

 

Jon (Shop Mechanic)  – Eastern White Cedar / Thuja occidentalis

Cedar

Eastern White Cedar also known as Arborvitae, is a native evergreen tree often used for screening and hedges here in Vermont. They are long lived plants that grow best in moderate to well drained soils in full sun.  The Latin translation of Arborvitae means ‘Tree of Life’ and was named such for the plants supposed medicinal properties. Cedar’s rot resistant wood is often used for outdoor furniture and fences.

May 21, 2015

Poppies And Memorial Day

As Memorial Day approaches many of us think about those we know who are or were in the military, especially those who were lost. You see veterans groups selling Red Poppies for remembrance this time of year, as well as in November at Veterans Day.  I have often wondered why this practice takes place. As a landscape designer here in Vermont, I always find it interesting when plants are used as symbols for something and not just part of a garden in someone’s backyard landscape. After doing a little research I found out that the practice of selling Red Poppies has been taking place since the 1920’s. Poppies as it turns out are native wildflowers in Europe, Asia and north Africa and as such were seen growing throughout country sides, along stonewalls and on battlefields during WWI. The famous poem “In Flander’s Field” was inspired by the magnificent display of these red flowers that was present among the fresh graves on a battlefield in France. In 1915 John McCrae was there visiting the site where he lost many friends and comrades during battle.  He was taken by what he saw and wrote this while he was there:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

 

Poppies are a beautiful short lived perennial that does well here in Vermont landscapes. They can be easily started from seed or you can purchase larger more established plants at local garden centers or nurseries. Plant them in the garden in a spot with full sun and well drained soils. They can tolerate relatively dry conditions as well.  Poppies look best when planted in masses, but be sure to plant them in the back or among other perennials, as their foliage dies back to the ground after they have bloomed.

For more information on growing Poppies check out American Meadows or to learn more about their use as a remembrance flower you can visit the VFW or American Legion sites as well.

April 21, 2015

National Park Week

I know that this doesn’t have much to do with landscaping in Vermont, but the blog this week is in honor of National Park Week April 18th-26th 2015!  The National Park Services is offering free admission days, amazing programs and promoting these one of a kind natural environments this week.

As a landscape designer here in Vermont, I am always looking for new inspiration to bring fresh ideas to our client’s backyard landscapes. I love to travel and one of my life goals is to visit each and every one of the US National Parks and several others around the world. I am slowly checking them off my list and am always amazed at how drastically different and breathtaking each one is.

Below are some of my favorite photos from my National Park Adventures to date, and a little history about our National Parks. I hope it inspires you to get out and visit them too!

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In March of 1872 President Ulysses S. Grant and Congress established Yellowstone National Park. It was the first national park ever created and started a worldwide movement to protect and preserve beautiful and unique natural wonders and historic places. Today more than 100 countries are home to 1,200 national parks and preserves. There are more than 400 national parks, historic sites and monuments comprising 84 million acres in the United States and US territories alone. That’s pretty amazing!

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President Theodore Roosevelt who was in office from 1901- 1909 has been called our nations “Conservationist President”. During his time in office he created 5 national parks, 4 national game preserves, 51 Federal Bird Reservations and 18 national Monuments. He strived to protect public land and promote their use.

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President Woodrow Wilson signed an act on August 25, 1916 to create the National Park Service. Part of this act reads “…the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations… which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” There are more than 20,000 employees making up our National Park Service and dedicating their time to protecting some of the most breathtaking and unique places in the world.

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The Civilian Conservation Corps was established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a public work relief program, to help our nation deal with the Great Depression from 1933-1942. Over the course of the 9 year program 3 million young men worked to conserve natural resources and helped reforest land, fight forest fires and build and improve parks.

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The National Parks have been inspiring writers, musicians and artists since their inception. Writer John Muir endeavored to promote visitors to the National parks through his writings and publications, which inspired thousands of visitors to venture west from the east coast. Ansel Adams created awe inspiring images of the National Parks and photograph all but one of them throughout his career. Thanks to the contributions of the likes of people like them the masses have been able to get an appreciation for these places even if they have never seen them themselves.  You can get involved with an artistic contribution too! Check out the National Park Foundation website to see how.

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” –John Muir

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Here is a complete list of our US National Parks and more information on the National Park Service.

Photos taken by Marie P. Limoge

Everglades National Park 2014, Congaree National Park 2013, Biscayne National Park 2014, Great Smoky Mountain National Park 2013, Virgin Islands National Park 2012, Grand Canyon National Park 2011