Monday, January 26, 2009

New Directions v.2

Ok, so in the interests of working with nature, not against it, (and as gardeners it is the goal, I think) I wanted to look at a few ideas that City People's Design and Landscape are going to be bringing to our clients as a way of stepping up our campaign toward better gardening practices.

Of course everyone wants a beautiful lawn and garden, with peace of mind to go along. The problem with conventional landscaping has been that its techniques focused on the superficial results alone. This style of gardening relies on pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers without actually considering the harmful effects along the way, not to mention these old practices can cost you more in the long term.

Such chemicals harm children, pets, streams, fish, & the overall environment. You broadcast those bags weed 'n feed onto the lawn to get the hyper-green, weed-free lawn and never really notice the negative effects. Quiet little particles are carried into your home on your shoes and they get trapped into your floors. Our culture is just beginning to realize what illnesses or problems these chemicals are causing.

It is now understood that Pesticides + Chemical Fertilizers lead to infertile soils, stressed plants, diseases and insect attacks. Simply put, putting aside their intent, these chemicals are Poisonous.

All this is to say that this method has, in the long run, proven to work against the original intent of the garden costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars to fix.

Don’t Panic, Its Organic! We do not want to harm our customers, our employees,
or our environment. Our gardeners work with a wide array of eco-friendly solutions for any
gardening need.

Soil is the foundation of the garden. Healthy Soil = Healthy Roots = Healthy Plants. We offer amendments to rebuild and repair damaged soils. We advise cultivating soils where needed especially with new plantings. We also advise planting the right plants in the right places for best results. In the end, helping to balance what goes into the garden will lead to better overall soils and more healthy gardens. City People's offers organic fertilizers for a variety of different uses from shrubs and perennials to bulbs and trees. Work with nature and we'll can help our garden, our communities as well as our planet.

~(one of our gardeners, Diane Styers contributed to this post)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To wait or not to wait...

So your Hebe "Amy" or similar variety looks like a standing corpse, brown and wilted. People think of Halloween when they drive by and the crows are watching the plants with cautious curiosity. Is it time to remove the sickly plant and try again or should you let it ? Should the same cool variety go in it's place or should you think about something new all together? We are advising gardeners to wait, if you can.

Many plants we use here in the Pacific Northwest are drought tolerant for our relatively dry summers and are hardy to temperatures in the 20's or low 30's. A lot of these varieties are natives to climates like from New Zealand and Australia. So when unusual shifts in weather cause intense freezes lasting longer than a few days and then the snow falls and then the ice... issues arise.

Microclimates will be the final deciding factor. If they are in a wet situation and unprotected, they will more likely be set for the compost bin. There is also the possibility that the rootball is stillviable and that it may resprout from the base. If you have the patience to wait a year or two your plant may or may not survive well. But the reason we are suggesting that you wait before you cut, is that the plant may regenerate from lower on the stems. As the weather warms, you start to see new growth appear. This is a possibility, but as I look around at a few of these sickly shrubs, I am more and more convinced that they most are going to perish, but it's still advisable to wait a few more weeks.

In the end you could try to replant the same and hope we don't have more of this uncharacteristic, yearly deep freeze or it might be time to consider something new for the space. Other hebe varieties can be more tolerant of the cold such as Hebe "Mrs. Winder". City People's Designer, Anne Janisse also suggests that the grey varieties seem to hold up in the cold as well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Green Gardening. It's All supposed to be "Green"

Ok, so gardening is supposed to be "green", right? Gardeners are the stewards of the earth and should be working more with nature than against it. Pruning, soil care, composting and proper planting are all part of the healthy garden.

What has happened to the landscape and gardening industry over the past century is that in many cases we (gardeners and customers and designers) have come to think of the landscape as exterior furniture to be manipulated by machinery and chemicals to achieve an idealized goal of the perfect garden. That nandina grouping in that foundation bed is not a couch or neglected counterspace but a growing plant. The trees around your yard, even if they are listed as "dwarf" will get bigger. We've come to think of a lawn that is techno-green as a healthy lawn. We think of a static garden as a "good" garden and forget about the dynamics of a garden.

Maintenance of the gardens in this area needs to be done year round but some of the tactics that have been used are outdated and often work against us in the garden. Removing all that leaf debris and applying compost seems like a good idea but can cause poor local soils not to mention excess labor and debris/ material charges.

Coming up in this space, I will be discussing some of these ideas and more and describe more details about what can be done to bring the garden into more "green friendly" practices. Go Green!