3 Key Factors to Achieving a Low-Maintenance Landscape

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

Haha! Now that I’ve roped you in with the hot term LOW MAINTENANCE, let’s get on the same page. Low maintenance in no way equals NO maintenance. For those who are less enthusiastic about working in their own gardens but still care about its appearance and up keep, outside of hiring someone else, there are steps you can take to ensure a more positive experience. If you build/develop your soil (1) , plant the right plant (2) and water to establish any newly planted plants (3) – you’ll find yourself enjoying the growth of your now healthy landscape. Healthy landscape = Low Maintenance.

 soil layers

1. Soil Development: Amend your soil – compost, posey power, topsoil, leaf mold, straw, pine needles, comtil….lasagna layering, mulching, sheet mulching, and tilling…what to choose and how to do it? Anything – as long as you are attempting to improve your soil, any and every bit helps. The soil around your home was stripped of its natural nutrient filled and humus rich layer (A horizon pictured above) when your home was built and replaced with surrounding sub-soil. In central Ohio we already have heavy alkaline clay soils, but the sub-soil tends to be even denser and often times compacted. Nowhere near ideal for root growth and thriving conditions. Therefore, choose to feed your soil and you’ll be rewarded with stronger, healthier plants. It’s worth your investment and time, every time.





2. The right plant. There is a common saying in the landscape industry, “right plant in the right spot.” Meaning there are lots of different types of growing conditions and certain types of plants are better suited in some situations than others beyond simply sun or shade. For example, you may have a low spot in your yard that remains soggy longer than other areas and there are certain trees, shrubs even perennials that tolerate “wet feet.” Noting all the details in your landscape can become overwhelming quickly and I would advise taking notes or making a working plan of your yard (aka site evaluation). Doing sections at a time will not only help you become more familiar with your space and how you’d like to use it, but will also clarify where certain types of plants are needed. Does this still sound daunting? Seek a design from a professional (the importance of landscape design) and any reputable designer will not only tackle solutions for site conditions, choosing the right plant for the right spot, they’ll make sure the overall landscape will function the way you need and look attractive.

landscape design--kate

3. Watering. You’ll need to water in your newly planted plants so that they establish a good root system. It typically takes one to two years for newly planted plants to become establish and no longer in need of supplemental water. Learning how to water will also save you time, future headaches and be easier on your pocket book. If you water your plants well for the first year and only during drought periods the following season, you’ll notice fuller growing plants!

Happy Gardening!

Posted in Gardening, Landscape, Low maintenance | Comments Off on 3 Key Factors to Achieving a Low-Maintenance Landscape

Deer Control?

kate wilsonWritten by Kate Wilson

The most popular room in our house is the screen porch, despite its small and somewhat awkward size. Even on cold winter days, if the sun is out, we’re out on the porch. It happens to be south facing and the acrylic panels trap the sun’s heat wonderfully. Often times it is warmer than our heated house. This room also has the wonderful benefit of having floor to ceiling views on three of the four walls. As my young children scramble around the porch I often daydream of piddling around in the yard. Thinking to myself of what garden chores need to be done, what bed lines need improving and if I’m feeling particularly wistful….what new fun plant additions!

screened porch

While in mid landscape design dream land, five deer jumped a 3’ chain-link fence (something I also vision creatively disguising) into the yard. And by jump, I mean gracefully stepped over. 3’ was not a problem for these young’ns. As we watched these deer search for something edible in our winter garden I immediately became tense. Having seen loads of evidence of their presence here before, this was the first time we had witnessed them helping themselves to whatever our yard had to offer. Needless to say, hungry deer don’t mess around. It seems like they actually enjoy experimenting and trying new foods…something I can’t get my own son to do! Gobbling up hostas is one thing, but thorny raspberries – even new growth on my climbing rose- it’s too much.

In school, we actually had a whole segment designated to animal control in the landscape. There are a slew of books available in the library based solely on this issue. With the academic understanding that deer control has been a problem for a long time, but now the added personal experience and deep annoyance, it’s time for serious decisions and action. What I’ve gleaned so far is that deer are rather smart. You basically have to constantly be changing up your game – one step ahead. A single strategy may work, but only for a matter of time until they figure out your trick.

Let’s run through some of the more common deer-proofing ideas. First, you can hang CD’s to scare them off, then after a while switch over to fox urine (available at the garden store) then maybe spice things up by using a cayenne spray, then coyote urine (curious, but still not totally ready to know how “they” collect urine from a predatory animal). But then what? I’m all for planting deer resistant plants, but my entire yard? That is a little unreasonable. I’m also game for surrounding delicious plants with herbs or other plants deer seem to be grossed out by – but again – it’s unreasonable to do it around every single potential plant victim. Not to mention the design nightmare having practically every plant encircled by an herb or what have you. What if you have shade? The only sure fire way the experts have come up with is a 7’ tall fence. Some may argue 8’. But that’s right….a giant fence. I’m hoping there may be more than one solution…

Okay, getting to the point. As my children and I watched, one of the more curious deer sniff the ice on our small pond and then venture out onto it and began to slip and slide across the frozen ice only to desperately scamper off – don’t worry, it wasn’t hurt, but totally hilarious. It all came together. What if the fence was a green fence…more theory than boards?gaia's garden Gaia’s Garden: A guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway, was recent winter reading recommended by local gardening professional, Debra Knapke’s blog Heartland Gardening. Hemenway mention in a sidebar using Maximillian sunflower, Helianthus maximilianii, to deter deer. It’s a perennial sunflower that grows to about 5’ tall. It grows just dense enough that the deer don’t want to walk through it, let alone nibble at it. Toby Hemenway describes how he designed a Maximillian sunflower swath slightly downhill from their perennial cut garden and that was successful in keeping deer out of that area. And even though it’s a perennial, supposedly the stalks of the sunflower are thick enough to cut down to 4’ and stay up over winter, deterring for four seasons!

maximillian sunflowerAs an added benefit, Maximillian sunflowers attract bees and other (small) beneficial wild life to the garden. The flowers are 4” across and a bright happy yellow. It should to be noted that this is design idea more suited for the less formal gardens, somewhat naturalized areas, or a good border between a naturalized and more intentional areas.

Our backyard is surrounded by a chain-link fence. The back stretch is 5’ tall while the sides are only 3’ in height. I’m going to plant Maximillian perennial sunflower this spring from seed along the 3’ tall chain- link sides. There are two appealing outcomes rolling around in my head. The first being that these magical sunflowers really do deter the deer from entering my yard if planted strategically. Secondly, perhaps we’ll see deer jump the 5’ stretch of fence!

I’ll let you know how this project pans out, both functionally and aesthetically. Happy gardening!

Posted in Gardening, Landscape, perennials, permaculture, pest control | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Deer Control?

Four Great Gifts for the Gardener in Your Life


We always have someone that is hard to buy for. Hopefully your hard to buy for person likes to garden?! If not, perhaps we can pique their interest…

My person happens to be my dad. He has been the receiver of many lame gifts (let’s just say he has an extensive tie collection), but he now has become the giver of lame gifts! I think it’s his way of coping with the years and years of having to politely receive tie after tie, sweat pants after sweat pants and so on. He’s made a game out it – humorous (for the giver at least) yet thoughtful. Spoiler Alert: Uncle Den will be receiving a half full stamped Subway card. Yes, you’re right, they don’t do those anymore- he’s been sitting on this subway card waiting for it to mature properly for years now.

If you don’t have that kind of patience or same notion for gift giving, no worries: here are some better ideas for your hard to gift person…

  1. A good garden book (or ebook). If you’re person doesn’t happen to be a gardener yet, I highly recommend Micheal Pollan’s Second Nature.

second nature It’s about his first trials when he decides to really get into gardening. This may not sound interesting at first glance, but Pollen is a very talented writer. Trust me on this one-he has even made reading about eating vegetables sound interesting (In Defense of Food). Now that’s talent!





There is always the more instructional garden book route as well – which is pretty much limitless. Here are a couple of my favorites:

dirrs trees  edible landscaping  ohio perennials

  1. The best tool a gardener could ever own. What about a shovel you say….Think I’m over selling? Think again. It’s simple handle tool,like any worthwhile tool, it’s capable of many different tasks. Every time I’m out in the yard I use this tool. What could this amazing tool be? It’s called: The Soil Sword.

soil sword

Well actually it’s called a soil knife (I need to talk to their marketing). I wonder too if we can figure out how to play the clip in Crocodile Dundee where a guy tries to jump him with a knife and Paul Hogan says, “That’s not a knife….This is a knife.” And busts out his crazy looking more-like-a-sword-than-knife knife. Yeah, it’s kinda like that- empowering.

soil sword handle

Anyway, why bright orange? It’s A.M. Leonard brand, located right here in Portsmouth, Ohio. And it will last. So it looks impressive…but what does it do? It is great for weeding, bulb planting and plantings annuals. It’s also great for splitting perennials (cuts them like butter). And it is the only tool I know of that cuts through burlap and twine without getting jammed up. I used it to dead head perennials and grasses. It can also cut through roots or help loosen roots when planting anything that had become pot bound. I’ve also used it to cut through plastic pots to retrieve grossly pot bound plants. It’s an extremely useful tool and I highly recommend it.

shovelHowever, if you’re trying to buy for a child, stick to that shovel idea. There are small versions available which are great for those with little hands. Just go with one that has a wooden handle and a metal shovel head. This way there will be no tears when they go to use it!




  1. Good boots. For the avid gardener, well, they’ve been known to wrap their shoes in duct tape when desperate. When you’re on your feet a lot, shoes breakdown at surprising speed. Investing in a pair good pair of boots is definitely worth it – but we hardly do it for ourselves.

duct tape shoes     bogs

I’m currently trying out insulated Bogs® boots. Slightly more fashionable than duct tape – function before form in this case. My feet have stayed toasty warm and most importantly, dry this holiday season. And I bought Bogs® because they were actually recommended to be by a co-worker that has their pair for going on three years now! If a pair of boots lasts one season in the nursery industry that is considered good.

There are other style offerings by Bogs® that attempt to be more flattering and are still of good quality.

DSC_0422 DSC_0409

  1. Still not sure what to get? I know it is a busy time for so many, but why not pay a visit to one of our gift shops? You’ll find everything from fancy, functional to unique and especially quirky. Art (both garden and wall), bird feeders, bat houses, distinctive ornaments, educational toys and books just to name a few. Not to mention…interior plants, seasonal bulbs, decorative pots and supplies. And of course, when in doubt a gift card to Oakland Nursery will be sure to please! This way you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong size or what have you – let those hard-to-buy-for pick out something for themselves!

Wishing you Happy Holidays and Happy Gardening!

Posted in Gardening | Comments Off on Four Great Gifts for the Gardener in Your Life

Trendy Tillandsia: Air Plants!

by Kate Wilson

kate wilsonairplantTillandsia, more commonly known as air plants, are a great low maintenance addition to your interiors! Their natural habitat is up in the treetops among the orchids and ferns, cousins with Spanish moss. Hanging out in tropical trees, they are provided with good air circulation and bright, filtered light – essential ingredients to recreate in order to thrive at home.

Watering. Plants in the Bromeliad family, Tillandsia and Spanish moss included, absorb nutrients through water that has been cupped by the plant. Drench twice a week or soak (even overnight) once a week. Because these plants obtain their nutrients through water, it is important to use water that is chlorine free and not to use water that goes through a softener. Rain water is actually the best – setting the plant outside during a summer rain would be a real treat! Well water or spring water are good alternatives to a rain shower. It’s also important to shake off any excess water or drain out any standing water to avoid rot.

Display. Because these plants don’t need soil around their roots it’s easy to come up with creative ways to display them. They prosper in coral, lava rock (finally, a good use for lava rock!) or potted in a container using moss, twigs or bark in lieu of soil medium. Air plants can also be wired, stapled, or even glued… liquid nails or a silicone-based adhesive is recommended. Here are some inspiring ideas:



Blinged out:


Woodman’s Cottage:


And my all-time favorite, the hermit crab! Too cute!


Air plants can also work well in terrariums. I highly recommend giving one a try for yourself or as a gift for a friend. Remember: very low maintenance! Happy Gardening!


Posted in Airplant, Gardening, Low maintenance, Tropical | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Trendy Tillandsia: Air Plants!

The 411 on Four Organic Products

kate wilson by Kate Wilson,
Oakland Nursery Hortculturalist    image2

You’ve decided to grow organic! Great, whatever the reasoning behind you’re decision I’d like to support you and your organic gardening efforts. My favorite bonus to growing organic is barefoot gardening!

Having a healthy garden from the soil up is the most important step to warding off pests and diseases. And if you’re just starting out organically you need to build up your soil profile (we’re offering a free lecture on this in September) to obtain happy healthy plants. The most sustainable ways to change your soil into a goldmine of loose, nutrient rich organic matter of awesomeness takes time. And in the meantime, there are some organic pest and disease management products that can help bridge the gap.

If you need a little help in the garden we want you to make sure your efforts aren’t wasted in buying something you don’t need. Here are need to know terms to keep yourself straight – the 411.


Insecticidal Soap: A long chain of fatty acids that break down insect’s protective coating while not harming plants. Safe for edible and non-edible plants. Direct contact is needed to be effective. Do not use when beneficial insects, such as honey bees, butterflies, lady bugs, etc. are present. And only effective on insects, will not be helpful if you have a disease issue.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis): A naturally occurring soil bacterium disease that is fatal to the larva stage of certain insects. Applied to the leaves of plants in the evening, worms and other insects will ingest it, get sick, and die. Note: It is harmful to moths and butterflies, so don’t use it if you’re trying to protect monarch or other “good” butterflies!

Diatomaceous earth: The fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton, DE works when sprinkled on and around your plants. When an insect or worm comes in contact with it, DE scrapes and cuts them open, killing the pest. Works well for slugs too! Note: must be kept dry to work!

image3  IMG_20150805_170923294

Horticultural oils: These oils have been around for decades and are harmless to people, animals and it evaporates quickly. The oil either suffocates insects or acts as a poison. Please be mindful when you spray because it can effect coloring on sensitive plants (such as, Blue Spruce or Blue Rug Juniper). Also, it should be used in moderate temperatures.

image1 (1)

Neem Oil: Botanical insecticide, repellent and fungicide. BAM. Seriously, it’s extremely useful. Very low toxicity to humans, birds, bees and many other beneficial insects. I’m currently trying it out on the leaves of my raspberry bramble, because Japanese beetles of been out in full force. I usually just pick them off into some soapy water- but I’m going on vacation. I’m not going to allow those little jerks to take over while I’m gone, nor do I expect any of my lovely neighbors to swing by and knock off any for me. I’ll report my findings and let you know if Neem Oil deters Japanese beetles in addition to all its other pros.

Keep cool and Happy Gardening!

Posted in Gardening, pest control | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on The 411 on Four Organic Products

Top Five Summer-Blooming Native Perennials

kate wilsonby Kate Wilson

What an unusual summer we’re having, with our rainy June and now a rainy July! Although it hasn’t been the best for my basement, my summer flowers (and weeds) are crazy lush and starting to bloom all over the place.

As you may be aware at this point, I’m a big fan of lists – Back in the good old days, I worked once at a music store, when CDs were still a thing and worshipped the movie High Fidelity. Although I have since fallen out of love with John Cusack, I’m still a big fan of music and lists.

Without further ado, I am pleased to give you the….

Ultimate Top 5 Summer-Blooming Native Perennials

599px-Butterfly_Weed_Whole_Flowering_Plant_1676pxAscelias tuberosa, Butterfly weed. One of the more popular native perennials in recent years, this star owes its fame in large part due to its membership in the milkweed family. It’s one of the few plants where Monarch butterflies lay their eggs and larvae eat the leaves of the plant. Butterfly weed, despite “weed” in the name, only grows to 1’-2’ tall and wide with bright orange clusters of flowers in summer. Looks its best when planted in groupings. It can tolerate wet feet, making it a great accent in a rain garden. Full sun.



Geranium, Hardy Geranium or Cranesbill. NOTE: not to be confused with Grandma’s favorite (red) annual. This perennial has a mounding-to-spreading habit (1’ high and 2’-3’ wide) that becomes covered in violet-blue or pink blooms in early summer and re-blooms into late summer and even into fall! It can take full to part shade. The two most revered varieties are Geranium x ‘Rozanne’, a 2008 perennial of the year award winner, and Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’, a 2015 perennial of the year award. Needless to say, it’s a winner that should be enjoyed in your garden.

Liatris punctata habit Liatris spicata, Purple gayfeather. Small purple (sometimes pink-ish-purple or white depending on the variety) flowers grouped in clusters along a spike. What makes this plant particularly interesting is that it blooms from the top downward. I am unaware of any other plant with this blooming habit. A great alternative to the popular, but invasive, loosestrife. Part sun to full sun.

IMG_20150712_100817Echinacea purpera, Purple coneflower. Reaches 26”-36” tall and can tolerate full sun to part sun. It blooms from mid-summer into fall. Seed heads attract birds in early winter if you choose not to dead head them in the fall. There are MANY varieties.



Coreopsis_grandiflora_003Coreopsis verrticillate, Threadleaf Tickseed. Most varieties
growing 12”-26” tall, this perennial has a fine texture due to its narrow (thread) leaf. It profusely flowers bright yellow blooms in mid-summer. Some highly regarded varieties are ‘Golden showers’ and ‘Moonbeam.’ Part sun to full sun.

Don’t worry, I have more plant lists up my sleeve! Happy Gardening!

Depending on your definition of native, some of these varieties and their pure “native-ness” could be called into question. This topic, although I find interesting, is not something I wish to explore at this moment. If you, however, are interested in exploring, than I encourage you to look into the following sites:

Ohio Native Plant Network: dawesarb.org/discover/conservation-efforts/ohio-native-plant-network/


OSU extension services at: ohioline.osu.edu/b865/index.html

Posted in Gardening, Landscape, perennials | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Top Five Summer-Blooming Native Perennials

Water Your Plants!

kate wilson by Kate Wilson, Horticulturalist

oakland flwrs

We always mean well, especially while out shopping at the nursery. We see all the beautiful flowers and we tell ourselves, “I’ll be different this time, I’ll commit….to keeping you alive and watering you all of the time.” And then we splurge, coming home with a car loaded down with plants. It’s practically a miracle that we get them all in the ground or potted up…we’re feeling really good. Everything is in its place, looking awesome, and – Hey! – maybe you even remembered to water everything in when you first planted. Great!

Now that it’s mid-June. The days are heating up and while we’ve had A LOT of rain this week, we all know it’s not going to last and it won’t be long until things aren’t looking quite as wondrous as you had hoped.  Here is what needs to happen to achieve and maintain the original awesomeness you (or your landscape designer) first conceived: water your plants!

But you are, right? You’ve stood over your plants with a hose set on shower or mist every freaking day and things just aren’t what you had wanted. If this is you, then let me tell you how to water your plants PROPERLY.


Step 1: Less is more. Set your hose on a trickle…slow and steady wins this race. Place hose at the base of plant….You should barely hear the hose at the spigot whining. If you’re watering your veggies or annuals, leave hose at the base of each plant until water starts to run off – about 30 seconds. Do three or so and circle back. Be sure to hit each plant twice, three times if you have the patience.

For larger plants, perennials, potted shrubs and small potted trees, leave at the base of the plant again until water begins to run off. This should take close to a minute maybe more. Again, repeat once or twice depending on your patience level. For larger balled and burlapped (B&B) 2”-3”trees and shrubs, leave hose at the base for a good thirty minutes at that slow trickle. Forty-five minutes if it’s a water lover, such as a river birch.

Step 2: There isn’t a step two…Seriously, just one step. There are of course keys to success. Like actually taking the time to water all of these plants. Still overwhelmed? It’s okay. We really do want you to be successful and achieve all of your horticultural dreams. Here are some helpful suggestions:

Mark your calendar. Make a special watering day each week and then stick to it. While watering, set a timer. Either on your smart phone or a kitchen timer. Set the timer for each plant so that you remember to water most of your plants and not just one. Stick to the watering schedule from now until mid-September. During summer your newly planted landscape needs to be deeply watered once a week, regardless of any rain. For real. Just once a week for about 3 months. You can do this! And if you do, you’ll never see the one year plant guarantee as a backup plan again. You won’t need it. Also, attached to every receipt that leaves our stores is bright green sheet of paper, it is a very detailed watering guide…read it!

By watering on this slow trickle you are saturating the root ball and the surrounding soil. Therefore, training roots to grow down and out and be more drought tolerant once established. It normally takes a full season (one year from planting) for a perennial, shrub or small tree to get its roots established. For larger trees, two or three years may be needed. Once the root system is established there is no need for a committed watering schedule. You’ve given enough TLC to let it fend for itself. Unless of course we have some weird drought, then please throw some water its way.

bright hose head

Resist the temptation to stand over the plant with a watering wand to water newly planted plants. Most of the water will simply run off and you’ll be wasting your time. Now, investing in a colorful watering wand is perfectly sound, especially if it reminds you to water. They’re great for saturating pots and hanging baskets, but they’re not your ticket for efficiently saturating soil around trees and shrubs. You could get away with using it to water annuals or perennials in groupings.

Another thought. If you have newly planted trees or shrubs in a hedge or screen, close together, it may be worth considering a soaker hose. One that sweats. Sweating soaker hoses release water slowly, letting water soak into the ground rather than running off. It can also save you time on watering day.

soaker hose

Commit to your watering schedule and you’ll be amazed at how your plants will thank you. Happy Gardening!

Posted in Gardening | Comments Off on Water Your Plants!

Spring Snow

kate wilsonby Kate Wilson

I like living in Ohio and having four seasons. There is of course good and bad – the random weather changes for example.  Keeping us on our toes and remind us that we, as humans, cannot control everything. Besides, it’s something (other than sports) that bring us together as Ohioans; bemoaning the local weather is always common ground.

The continual change of the seasons reminds me of the consistent change – whether natural or manipulated by us – in the garden.  This spring has been somewhat turbulent thus far. A week straight of 86˚ highs to be followed by two nights of frost warnings.

Today my son and I experienced one of these odd weather, seemingly random, changes and I thought it would make perfect blog banter.

cottonwood snow

It “snowed” and rained at the same time this early afternoon. Yup, according to the eye of a 5 year old.  Don’t worry I’m not going into a long story about how I adore my son. Just know that I do.

But check this out…..We had a lovely spring shower and the sun managed to shine through the rain (okay, so far normalish Ohio spring happenings) ALL the while this soft white “snow” drifted on the light breeze. It was enough to collect along the side of my front walk.

cottonwood and allium

What is this “snow?” It’s a pile of Cottonwood seeds! (Populus deltoides) The female trees produce these light, fluffy seeds in the late Spring-early Summer, seeds that can produce trees that can grow up to 100 feet tall and live up to 100 years old. Happy Spring Happenings!

cottonwood trees




Posted in Landscape, trees | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Spring Snow

Five Native Spring-Flowering Trees

kate wilsonby Kate Wilson

Not sure what all the native plant hype is about? That’s okay. I’ll let you in on it: besides the whole ecological, good steward of the landscape angle it also makes good practical sense. Native plants are adapted to our climate and soil. I know- what a revelation, right? But think about it: native plants already love our crappy clay soil, they tolerate our manic temperature swings and get by with whatever water our local skies provide. Often times, natives are also hardy in the sense that they don’t have many pest or disease issues (except for pests and diseases that are not native, but we’ll save that for another time. I hate you, emerald ash borer!).

Enough introduction, let’s get down to business. Here are five great native tree options…


From: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carolina-Silverbell_(2944991659).png

Carolina Silverbell, Halesia tetraptera: This native has delicate white bell-shaped blooms that usually appear in mid spring. This small tree (30’-40 tall and 15’-30’ wide) likes full sun or part shade. Although it thrives in well-drained organic, rich, and slightly acidic soil, it can tolerate a range of soils. It would be best to amend your existing clay with some compost at the time of planting and fertilize with a soil acidifier (Espoma organic holly tone would work if you already have it on hand). Oh, and it is essentially pest and disease free!


From: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/467178161315928337/

Serviceberry, Amelandchier x grandiflora or Amelanchier laevis: This superb small tree (25’tall and 25’ wide) has a feathery white bloom in early spring. It tolerates full sun, but thrives in part sun and can tolerate part shade. Naturally a multi-stemmed tree, trained single trunk options can be found in larger B&B (balled & burlapped) sizes. So what’s the superb part? Besides being a native, blooming in shady conditions, and having delicious edible fruits (they’re our native blueberry alternative), Serviceberries have great form and foliage texture and a smattering of oranges and red fall color. This is a three season small tree with appetizing function to boot! Superb I say! (Look for ‘Autumn Brilliance’ and ‘Princess Diana’ varieties.)


From: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Redbud

Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis: This little lady (25’ tall and 25’wide) can also be found as a single or multi-stemmed tree. It, hands down, has one of the longest bloom times, especially for a tree! The blooms have a small lady’s slipper shape with a light purple color that completely blankets the canopy and sometimes even pops up on the trunk. Gorgeous. Finding a natural stand of these while in bloom is an amazing experience. After the blooms fade broad heart-shaped leaves emerge. There are so many great cultivars of this tree, most requiring part sun, I’m going to make a separate post about them. The only downside to this native is that it does not have a long life span, typically 25 years or so. I advise a Sunday drive throughout the Clintonville neighborhood – about two weeks after this is posted- if you need any more convincing.

fringe tree

From: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chionanthus_retusus_-_Chinese_Fringetree_-_9.jpg

Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus: Another small (15’ tall and 15’ wide) native that blooms in late spring. Narrow white petals drip from the branches and give off a sweet fragrance. Can tolerate full sun to part sun and I’ve even seen (and smelled) it in part shade. Nice broad leaf texture with yellow fall color. Very underused tree. A good specimen can be found behind the main downtown library in the (Seurat) Topiary Garden NW corner.


cornus florida

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cornus_florida_-7_Max_Frear_2008.JPG

Dogwood, Cornus flordia: Another small tree, but this beauty needs some shade. Ideally, plant in a place that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. There are many MANY cultivars of this tree, most with varying shades of white (50 shades of…dogwood?). “They” even have some out with some pretty interesting pink coloration. I’m partial to the Cherokee varieties, but you really can’t go wrong with any. This tree may drop its leaves early in the late summer/early fall if we have a dry hot summer – which is most of the time- but they usually won’t go without first splashing your yard with a little red color.

Want large native spring blooming trees? Look into Tulip poplar, Yellow wood and of course, the Buckeye!

Happy Planting!


Posted in Design, Gardening, Landscape, trees | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Five Native Spring-Flowering Trees

Early Spring Gardening: Direct Sowing

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

photo 2

Maybe spring is coming? I’ve always loathed the month of March in Ohio for tricking me into thinking spring is on its way. Then it will snow. And back and forth, unable to decide whether spring has sprung or if winter is going to stick around a while longer.

Regardless – as gardeners, we can take matters into our own hands. Despite the unpredictable weather, we can get outside, disturb some soil, and plant some seeds. It is not immediately rewarding, but think of it as an investment. Plant now while you’re itching for spring and by the time it finally rolls around –BAM! Your garden has already started. Cool season gardening, my friends. (And now that we’ve made it to April, we have no where to go but up!)

So what in the world can handle 20 degree air temperatures at night and upwards of 55 during the day, not to mention the cold soil temps? Little tenacious veggies! And even a flower or two. Here’s the short list:

Veggies:                                                                 Annuals:
Lettuces (butter, romaine, etc.)                           Pansies
Kale                                                                          Ranunculus
Spinach                                                                    Sweet Alyssum
Cabbage                                                                   Candelas

Each seed’s needs can be a little different, so follow the specific instructions on each seed packet. If you do decide to venture out into the garden and direct sow some cool season crops, don’t forget to bring along some compost to amend your soil with. Your veggies and flowers will reward you for your efforts.

Speaking of seeding outside, how’s the old lawn?

Posted in Gardening | Comments Off on Early Spring Gardening: Direct Sowing