Showing posts from October, 2008

Detention Basin Planting Day

Yesterday, 13 volunteers planted 325 trees and shrubs, as well as native grasses, in 6 stormwater detention basins as part of a township-wide wetland habitat restoration program. As chair of the Andover Township Environmental Commission, this is a project very close to my heart (see ). Directed by US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Brian Marsh, the project is a joint effort, with the federal Partners in Wildlife program providing the plants and technical assistance and the township providing the labor. Later on, the Township will plant wildflowers and perennials, and install nest boxes and interpretive signs. The Problem The purpose of the various types of stormwater basins (detention, retention, and infiltration) is to slow down runoff in areas where development has altered the natural drainage of the land. They are a common sight in residential, industrial, and commercial developments through

Outhouse Tool Shed

This month’s Design Workshop at calls for sharing our outbuildings and sheds. One of Nan’s suggestions is “a tool shed that masquerades as an outhouse.” Well, instead of a tool shed that masquerades as an outhouse, we have an outhouse that masquerades as a tool shed. As with many older homes in our area, ours came with an outhouse. In New Jersey, it is illegal to build an outhouse, but it is not illegal to have one. So, we did what most people do, just kept repairing it. At our place, we never have just your ordinary anything. When the original flat roof could no longer be patched, Dan decided to make a garden feature out of “the little house.” He learned a lot when he put the first replacement on; no need to dwell on that. Suffice it to say that this is the second attempt, made with very thin shakes that were applied to plywood that had been bent to the desired shape. He turned the building around 180-degrees, so that the ba

The Color of Hydrangeas

I couldn’t wait to find out what special hybrid these wonderfully muted-color hydrangeas were so I could scoop some up for my own garden. The joke was on me, of course. This is simply the color regular hydrangeas turn in the fall in Portland. It’s hard to believe that these are the same garish electric blue and shocking pink mopheads that scream out from lawns and foundation plantings across the country during the summer, but I did observe both phases on the same plant. Hydrangea hybridizers take note: Get to work on season-long low-key colors and I’ll bet you sell a million of them. Those of us who garden in the country appreciate plants that don’t stand out so starkly from their surroundings, but rather add a subtle grace note, while looking as if they actually belong where we plant them. Modern hydrangeas are refreshingly easy to grow, take only two or three years to reach a substantial size, bloom generously, hold their flowers all season long, and can add interest with u

Garden Writers Conference

We’re just back from the Garden Writers Association 60 th Annual Symposium in Portland, Oregon and in the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some product, plant, gardening, and travel information from our trip. Those of us who have been involved in putting together any big event really appreciate the efforts of the volunteer committees who manage to pull together a four day whirlwind of seminars and garden tours, complete with meals and side trips, that have us up by 6:00am but not even close to a bed before 10:00pm. For 600+ of our closest friends! (That’s me in turquoise). There’s always an after-tour on the fifth day. By that time, one needs a vacation from the vacation. Which is what we’ve learned to do. Dan and I tack on a few days, veg out, play tourist, then go home and dig some holes to plant our acquired treasures. Vendors at the trade exhibit don’t just give away refrigerator magnets and keyrings; these folks know a captive, plant-hungry audience when they see one and give