Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When the carnival came

The carnival came to town and my cat ran away. I bet your laughing, but it's true. Zinny, our black short hair has been with us for 14 years. She is really an unusual cat in that when we walk Oliver, our dog, she follows. She loves being outdoors just sitting under the hostas keeping an eye out for chipmunks and bunnies of which our neighborhood is full. so when she didn't come in for her hourly drink, we started getting worried. Suffice it to say that by 9 pm we were convinced that she was a) lost b) stuck somewhere c) caught by a coyote d)dead! It was horrible. If you don't have a pet it's hard to understand how attached our family is to Zinny and Oliver. What followed was a harrowing 4 days while Maya put out a Pet Amber Alert, canvassed the neighborhood, and plastered the area with poster of Zinny. Everyone knows Zinny and no one could find her. This story has a happy ending, however. She appeared at Maya's window at 3 am. None worse for the wear and hungry as all get out. The carnival left town and Zinny came back. Go figure.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why I love shade gardening

"When we talk about shade, we all have our own ideas about what is shade.
I came across an article written in 1997 about shade gardening by Tony Avent

"There are as many theories to explain our love of shade garden as there are people to espouse the theories. Perhaps it is our longing for enclosure that is satisfied with the canopy of a tree, or perhaps it is simply the search for a cooler spot on a hot summer day. Ironically, visitors from countries like England always migrate to the sunnier beds...perhaps tired of their overcast perpetually misty climate. I am always amazed how few shady gardens there are in England.

When we talk about shade, we all have our own ideas about what is shade. I like to begin by explaining that all shade is not created equal. It's sort of like going to the store and asking for white paint. A clerk will quickly respond, "Do you want flat white, glossy white, antique white, eggshell white, clear white, or what?" You see, all shade is not necessarily the same.

I like to define shade by using several categories: morning shade, afternoon shade, light shade, and dense shade.

Other than the age old issue of soil preparation and enough irrigation to account for the tree roots, the recipe for successful shade gardening lies in the correct plant selection."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In The Garden

Yesterday the first grades in my school presented their Frog and Toad plays based on Arnold Lobel's stories "Frog and Toad." My favorite is In the Garden where Frog plants some seeds in the ground and then worries endlessly about when they will grow. He yells at them, sings them a song and reads them a story all in an attempt to make them grow. Little does he know that seeds grow in their time not his. I love this story because I once felt that way about gardening. Afraid my plants wouldn't grow, fearful I'd forget where I planted them, etc., etc.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reasons for keeping a garden guide

You know those little plastic plant name tags that you find in the plants? I keep them. Last fall I purchased more than a dozen perenniels, and I dutifully kept the tags, but forgot to log in where I planted things like japanese anenemones and dwarf indigo. I have the tags but I can't remember where I planted the plants! Very frustrating. So, I'm making a mental note to use my garden journal with specific details for where I've planted. Those little plantic tags are there for a reason.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


It's not a backyard anymore. It's a collection of gardens.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How the back yard became a garden

Twenty years ago we moved into our lovely colonial style house in a quiet neighborhoodin the suburbs of Brookline. The backyard was beautiful and large enough for my children to play outdoors. We celebrated all of my young daughter's birthdays in June. We sectioned off a square to grow vegetables, but soon learned that the yard became more and more shady as spring moved to summer. Today in 2010 we have created outdoor spaces that have evolved into a charming sanctuary filled with hostas, cinnamon ferns, a tiny pond, climbing hydrangeas and a dwarf Japanese maple.

Getting Ready

Getting the back yard gardens ready for company has been a month-long adventure. Yesterday's rain brought down more branches and leaves and made the whole area quite soggy.