Book Announcement! My First Published Book!

After two years of working on my book I am excited to announce that it is finally published! A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer is a comprehensive guide to gardening in plant hardiness zones 3-9.  My goal for the book is to share information on a number of gardening topics based on my experiences as a landscape designer over the years.BOOK PHOTO

A Little Bit About the Book:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening is a comprehensive guide of valuable information on plants hardy in a range of zones from 3-9, and gardening techniques backed up by my own personal experiences as a professional landscape designer, along with answers to frequently asked questions. Learn about landscape design principles, butterfly gardening, deer resistant plants, long blooming perennials, globe and weeping evergreens, flowering trees and shrubs, native plantings, shade gardening and more. Whether you are a novice or experienced gardener, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening will help you to create your own dream garden. Come along on my journey into the world of gardening!

A Little Bit About the Author:

Lee Miller is a professional landscape/garden designer involved in the horticultural industry since 1996. Having started a gardening blog in 2010, she is the author of over 150 articles on general gardening, landscape design principles, gardening tips, planting, pruning, garden maintenance, feature plants and more. Her published book, “A Guide to Northeastern Gardening”, is an accumulation of information touching on a wide variety of gardening topics, all backed up by her own personal experiences.

Previews and further information are available on the following links:

Updated for 2016: Now in Amazon Softcover!

Amazon Kindle

Also here is a link to the full story behind the author and the book. I hope to share my gardening experiences with you!

As Always…Happy Gardening!

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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Snowy March Garden Thoughts: The Garden Endures another Harsh Winter

4Spring weather is certainly delayed for a second year in a row here on Long Island and only time will tell how the gardens have endured the long and record cold winter.  Memories come back from last season as I awaited spring to come in full force once the temperatures warmed to find later that the unusually cold and snowy winter had done some short-term damage to the garden.  Of course there was concern and anticipation at the time as to whether or not the plants would survive at all. It did take some patience and tender loving care to undo the damage, but the plants did revive and were pretty much back to normal by mid-summer. Unfortunately I had met several new clients last year that had given up hope and taken their plants for dead when they could have possibly recovered, so I am passing on some information that may be of some value.

march snow 8
Hydrangea March Stalks and Buds

After the snow thaws and new spring sprouts appear on your hydrangea you may notice that the leaves are only coming from the bottom of the plant.  If this is the case, do not immediately cut the stalks back.  Give them some time to see if new growth will appear.  If the buds on your hydrangea are dried and brown rather than green in late April/ May it means that the flower buds are dead and will produce no blooms for the season.  If by mid-spring the stalks remain brown and dry with so sign of growth, then it is time to cut them all the way down to where new leaves appear.  Your hydrangea will then form new stalks and recover. This is what had occurred on many of my hydrangea last year, both the types that bloom on new wood as well as old. I certainly missed the beautiful blooms they produce, but felt fortunate to have new green growth, and was pleased that the plants were spared.

crape myrtle march
Crape Myrtle March

Crape Myrtle was another plant that suffered the brutal temperatures but did recover nicely with some care.  My arborist and work companion urged me to give the trees time and patience until the first of July to see how much damage was actually done and to see if the branches would slowly recover with new growth.  Some of the branches were definitely dead so I removed them and awaited nature to take its course.  The method to tell if a branch is dead or viable is to flex it or gently scrape the outside.  Generally, if a branch is flexible and appears green inside it is alive.  If the branch is dried, does not flex and appears brown under the bark then likely it is dead. I had my co-worker/arborist deep root feed the suffering plants to give their root systems a boost and by the end of June/beginning of July, my prized Crape Myrtle had recovered and were producing new stalks.   Throughout the months of July through September they formed their buds and bloomed beautifully…which certainly was a relief.

Winter Garden So while waiting for spring to arrive in just a couple short weeks, I am hoping the garden endured and will be showing all its glory in the not too distant future.  One thing for sure…it has been a bit of a learning experience after last winters record snowfall and this years’ record cold.  I am hoping that passing this information along will spare readers from some unwanted stress once back into the garden.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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Colouring Your Garden – Part 4: Saturated Solutions

high-saturation-plants

 

Combining proper hues to achieve maximum impact in the garden is a very important element in landscape design. I am sharing this outstanding and very informative post from Sue Gaviller at Not Another Gardening Blog.

Not Another Gardening Blog

A week or so ago, while out for a walk with my sister in her inner-city neighbourhood, I heard the familiar sound of Robin chirps. It took me a minute to realize that the sound was out of place on this mid-February afternoon. Indeed my sister doubted me initially, but then she heard it too. “Holy $#!+.” she said.  According to local bird experts a few robins do spend the winter here, but neither of us had ever seen one this early in the year.

Several blocks later I happened to look up and espied what appeared to be pussy willows. At first I thought it might be water droplets on the branches reflecting the late day sun – but then I reached up and felt the fat fuzzy protuberances. Yep, those are pussy willows. While there are many species of willow that produce the downy catkins, a few as early as February,  Salix discolor, the true North…

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Winter Color and Structure in the Landscape

winter garden
The pendulous nature of the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar along with its blue-green needles add unique character to this winter garden. In the backdrop the bark of Coral Bark Maple (Acer Sango Kaku) glows red with the cooler temperatures and to the right a Skyland’s Oriental Spruce proudly displays its golden hue.

With winter weather upon us here in the northeast, the garden is currently buried under a blanket of snow and is likely to remain that way for some time.  At this time of year the elements of color, form and texture, along with structure play an even more important role in design, and are more pronounced in the winter landscape. Form can exist as horizontal, vertical, pendulous (weeping) rounded, vase-shaped and pyramidal. Texture refers to the nature of the foliage and can be described in a number of ways including fine, course, dull, shiny, wide or narrow, to name a few. Structure refers to the shape or form of a plant with relation to its environment. As seen in the above photograph and description, all three of the plants mentioned add color, form, texture and structure to the landscape.

Blizzard Juno  Jan 27
Spreading Yew and Weeping Norway Spruce

Evergreens are key in providing structure, such as the snow covered spreading yew and cascading Weeping Norway Spruce shown above.  They display a deeper green foliage which contrasts nicely against the the fallen snow.   A vertical backdrop of Western Arborvitae adds to the screening. The combinations of varying form and foliage add all season interest to the backdrop of this poolscape.

snow on spruce
Picea pungens ‘Globusa’ (Globe Blue Spruce)

 This member of the Picea family is Montogomery Spruce ‘Globusa’, a rounded compact form of Colorado Blue Spruce which grows only to a height and diameter of approximately three feet.  Its deep blue color remains throughout all the seasons and is even more noticeable in winter.  The characteristic of evergreens that I find to be so appealing is the wide selection of varying colors and forms.

nandina domestica
Nandina domestica

Berry producing plants such as this Nandina domestica provide an interesting framework and winter color and also serve as a food source for birds.  There are many berry producing shrubs for the landscape including Winterberry, Holly, Elderberry and Viburnum.  Combining both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs in the landscape supplies a range of form, and many deciduous plantings display interesting branch structure and bark, such as the Coral Bark Maple above and Crape Myrtle below.

Crape Myrtle Bark
Crape Myrtle Bark

These are just a few examples of how the winter landscape can be made to be more inviting.  While waiting for spring, the winter season is a good time for assessing and planning the landscape.  If the garden is to look aesthetically pleasing throughout the year, especially during the cold winter months, it is important to include the design elements of color, form, texture and overall structure in your planning.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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PEST ALERT: Southern Pine Beetle Strikes Long Island

Southern Pine beetle  invasive insect
Southern Pine Beetle-The invasive insect is threatening pine trees on Long Island’s south shore. Photo Credit: New York State DEC

Southern Pine Beetle has been spotted in Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley, the Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale, the Henry’s Hollow Pine Barrens State Forest in Hampton Bays and recently (December 2014) in Belmont Lake in North Babylon, Heckscher in East Islip, Brookhaven in Wading River, and the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River.  

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Central Pine Barrens Commission, originally confirmed the presence of the beetle in three locations along the southern shore of Long Island and recently in four more locations (since December 2014).

The southern pine beetle is a bark beetle that infests pine trees. It is native to the southern United States and has expanded its range northward and westward possibly due to milder winter temperatures.  There has not been enough sustained cold to kill off the insect before reproducing and doing damage; hence, the population is increasing.  The Southern Pine Beetle is the most invasive pest known to the south and has done extensive damage to the pine population there. To identify the beetle, it is only 2-4 mm in length which is about the size of a grain of rice, and is reddish-brown to black in color.

The beetle does its damage by entering through the crevices in the bark and tunneling down until it reaches the cambium growing layer directly below. There the female creates S-shaped tunnels through the living tissue and lays her eggs. After the eggs hatch, the larvae will feed from these tunnels sucking the tree of nutrients.  The new adults eventually bore through the outer bark leaving round holes that often appear as a shotgun pattern and the cycle repeats itself.  Most trees die quickly, often within 2-4 months, due to disruption of flow of nutrients and girdling from tunnel construction.  Here on Long Island the host tree for the beetle is the pitch pine which is prevalent in the Pine Barrens.

DEC urges the public to report any recently dead pine they encounter in the Long Island area, especially if there are several trees grouped together. Sightings should be reported to the Forest Health Diagnostic Lab through the toll-free information line, 1-866-640-0652 or by email, foresthealth@dec.ny.gov. If possible, accompany any reports via email with photos of the trees including close ups of any damage. An added item in the photo for scale, such as a penny, would help with identification.

Sources:

Southern Pine Beetle Confirmed for First Time in New York State

Southern Pine Beetle

Long Island Confronts Destructive Southern Pine Beetles

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.blog post divider 6 (2)

Sweet Flag-Not So Sweet…or Is It?

PicMonkey Collage
Clockwise:  Golden Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’), Variegated Liriope (Summer), Carex ‘Evergold’ Sedge, Liriope (Winter)

As winter settles in here in my Zone 7, Long Island garden I look out upon the landscape and access how certain plants have performed over the years as far as hardiness and maintenance are concerned. In winter when structure is extremely important the Sweet Flag tends to stand out. Golden Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’) may not be a plant I regularly use in my designs but it does have its merit in the landscape and looks perfect when in the correct spot!  Sweet Flag is hardy in USDA zones 5-11, prefers to be grown in partial to full sun and requires a constantly moist soil.  It clumps to approximately ten inches tall and slowly spreads by underground rhizomes.

In a pond setting or very shady and moist area such as under a tree, Sweet Flag shines.  It’s variegated golden yellow and green upright blades add interest to the landscape all year round. Attributes are that it is evergreen and the only maintenance required is an occasional thinning.  It is also very hardy,  disease resistant and “deer resistant”

Alternatives to Sweet Flag are Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’,Variegated Japanese Sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Aurea-variegata’) and Liriope.  Evergold and Variegated Japanese Sedge each grow to about the same height of 10 inches to a foot and stay in more of a clumping form and Liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata) grows to approximately 6-12 inches in height, also stays in rounded clumps and bears small purple blooms in fall followed by black berries.  Liriope prefers dry shade but will adapt to just about anywhere. All three are considered “deer resistant” and I frequently use each in my designs.

Next time you are looking for an evergreen, shade tolerant, moisture loving perennial consider Sweet Flag.  This seemingly underused plant could serve nicely in your landscape when given the correct location!

As Always…Happy Gardening and all the Best for the New Year!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Season’s Greetings 2014!

holiday
Season’s Greetings 2014!

Sending out warm and joyous greetings to you during this holiday season.  May the spirit of the season bring you joy and good memories of time spent with family and loved ones.  May you experience happiness, good health and prosperity throughout the upcoming year and always.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas and All the best!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Landscape Design & Maintenance, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved2b719-blogseasonldivider

Late November: Anti-desiccant on Broadleaf Evergreens

broadleaf evergreens

Time is running out to apply anti-desiccant to your broad-leaf evergreens such as Cherry Laurel, Skip Laurel, Holly, Boxwood, Rhododendron, Azalea and Japanese Aucuba. Anti-desiccant coats the leaves with a protective covering and prevents against winter desiccation/moisture loss and possible damage from drying winds and cold, which broad-leaved evergreens are prone to.  Ideally, temperatures should be in the 50’s to apply with no freezing temperatures in the forecast for the next several hours. The best time to apply is now in late November, right around Thanksgiving.  Don’t worry…there is still time.  Just make sure the temperatures remain above freezing when applying!

For timely landscape maintenance tips for zone 7 also visit my Facebook page. Also here is more information on the use of anti-desiccant.

As Always…Happy Gardening and Wishing you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Landscape Design & Maintenance, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved

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