A Gardeners Gift Guide

Book Recommendation, Eddie Bauer Multiclava, Holiday, Tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The past few years I have created a gift guide based on items I would recommend to someone passionate about gardens and gardening. I pull from the list of items I have purchased over the year that either provided me with inspiration or helped me be a better gardener. Below is a list of some great items I found this year, with some more practical  gifts and others more luxurious.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

 

(1) Luciano Giubbilei: The Art of Making Gardens ($43.86) I have been a long admire of Luciano’s work and have the first book written about his work next to my computer at work (The Gardens of Luciano Giubbilei) for quick inspiration. This second book is written by Luciano himself and reflects his evolution as a designer while working on an experimental boarder at Great Dexter. You still see is modern clean sensibility with more exploration with color in textural compositions. Outside of learning about his creative process, it is a great garden porn book with beautiful images.

(2) Broad Fork ($84.80) – This summer I spent hours working on getting organic matter into our soil at our house. For a lot of the work I used a tiller, but ordered this broad fork to use in smaller areas where I needed deeper cultivation. The tool has since migrated to the crews to use, but will need to get it back for more fall planting. This is a workout to use, but outside of a large tiller is the best tool for aerating compact soil in your garden beds.

(3) Eddie Bauer Multiclava ($20) – I have a few of these that I wear whenever I am working outside to protect my neck from the sun. It works better than sun screen which typically gets sweated off or major areas missed. The fabric is designed to wick moisture and does not you a hot neck. It also helps in the winter to help shield you from the wind.  I have the bandana pattern and camouflage patterns, but there are lots of options to choose from and lots of different ways you can wear.

(4) Leonard GardenGlide ($34.99) – I received one as a sample from A.M. Leonard to try out and passed it along to the maintenance crew to use. In less than week, they came back requesting we order more for all the crews. It is a simple design, but the glide allows you to move with ease bags of mulch/soil, your weeding tub, or even plants around your garden. Much easier to move than a wheel barrel and uses little room for storage when not in use.

(5) Rouge Hoe ($38.95).  I like to buy tools once! I expect them to last and take the beating I am going to put them through.  That is why I love the Rouge brand.  Built to last a life time with a thick tempered steel head and sturdy hickory handle.  Handcrafted in the US the Prohoe is an essential tool for the serious gardener who believes is using the right tool for the job.

(6) Norwegian Wood ($16.96). I found this book up in Minneapolis over the summer and purchased to use with all the fire wood we have thanks to the plight of our ash trees from emerald ash borer. It will take your wood stacks to an art form and ensure you have excellent firewood for evening fire pits. I am using it to perfect my wood walls and chopping methods, a much better use of all the dead ash trees than the wood chipper.

(7) The Botanist Gin ($40ish) – Gin and tonic is my drink of choice, and Botanist Gin is my gin of choice. I found it at our local liqueur store and purchased it purely based on name and stunning bottle design. Distilled in Scotland on the Isle of Islay using local botanicals, it is a pure and clean gin. I mix with Fever Tree Tonic, but am open to any suggestions of other tonics to try (have also used Q Tonic). You cannot go wrong with this for any gin lover, let alone a plant geek gin lover.

(8) Paul Bangay: The Garden at Stonefields ($88.65). As I write this, Amazon only has one more copy remaining, so first come first served. This book was released back in 2013, but we were not able to easily get your hands on a copy in the USA. I just got a copy this week and have not had a chance to read yet, but the photos alone are amazing. The book provides the evolution of the gardens at Paul’s personal residence, from conception, during installation and on going care and maturity. This provides you the framework for how the great garden was created, an often secretive side gardens.

 

 

 

 

7 Essential Ornamental Grasses

Perennials | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Walking through the garden each season, or even week, a different plant will take center stage. Previously ignored as a team player in the rhythm of the landscape, the wallflower suddenly dominates the beauty of the garden. Late summer / Fall is when ornamental grasses get their champion moment in the garden against the autumnal colors. As other perennials are beginning to lose their luster and drop leaves, ornamental grasses are still standing tall with some parading proud plumes in fall winds. However there are ornamental grasses other than maiden hair grass (Miscanthus) and fountain grass (Pennisetum) . Here is a list of seven great ornamental grasses to try in your garden that give a lot in return.

 

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’- Blonde Ambition blue grama grass

ZONES: 3-10   HEIGHT: .75 – 2.50ft    SPREAD: .75-1.50ft    FULL SUN

DESCRIPTION:

An American native Blonde Ambition blue grama grass changes the perception of  what an ornamental grass should look like with its horizontal insect-like seed head that appear mid to late summer.  Once the seed heads appear you can see where it gets it name with the blond coloration.  A terrific choice for a hot dry / xeric garden because it is quite drought tolerant after established.  Make sure this one has good drainage!

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Hakonechloa macra – Japanese forest grass

ZONES: 5-9   HEIGHT: 1.5-2.5ft   SPREAD: 2-3+ft   SHADE/PART SHADE

DESCRIPTION:

I love this grass!  Commonly known as “the grass” for shade- which is true, but it can be way more than that.  Once it is established this grass has a beautiful almost weeding habit which gracefully smothers the ground, good luck weeds!  There are many chartreuse cultivars on the market, all of which I use- like ‘Aureola’, ‘All Gold’ and ‘Albo Striata’.  However, I am really addicted to the straight species green variety- just regular old Hakonechola macra.  Tuff to find on the market, that is why I grow my own, but well worth it when you do.  Macra can be planted in shade, part shade, and full sun!  This grass likes consistently moist, but well drained soil.   As the pictures below illustrate it can get quite girthy which I think is why I love it so much- a beautiful, low and wide grass.

Hakonechloa macra, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Hakonechloa macra, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Hakonechloa macra, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Sporobolus heterolepis- prairie dropseed

ZONES: 3-9   HEIGHT: 2-3ft    SPREAD: 2-3ft    FULL SUN

DESCRIPTION:

The quintessential North American native grass. The blades are floppy and finely texture which makes is a great grass to blend into a mixed border or planted in mass.  To see a great example of a prairie dropseed meadow be sure to visit the majestic Chanticleer Gardens.  This handsome grass send up beautifully scent airy plumes mid summer that persist into the winter.  Come fall the green foliage turns an attractive golden color for an added bonus.

Sporobolus heterolepis, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Sporobolus heterolepis, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Sporobolus heterolepis, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

 

Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Schottland’- Scottish tufted hair grass 

ZONES: 4-6   HEIGHT: 2-3ft    SPREAD: 1-2ft    SHADE

DESCRIPTION:

This cool season grass gets going in the early spring with foliage emerging much earlier than other grasses.  The wispy seed heads dance gracefully above the low fine foliage.  This grass might win the grass I have shot most video of because of the way it sways in a light breeze.  The golden plumes stay on the grass until December or first major snow which quickly flatten.  Still worth it!  Schottland- preforms excellently in my garden (shown) in part shade.  Actually, needs a little bit of shade to really bloom well.

Deschampsia cespitosa 'Schottland’, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Deschampsia cespitosa 'Schottland’, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood  Deschampsia cespitosa 'Schottland’, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Deschampsia cespitosa 'Schottland’, 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’- Northwind switch grass

ZONES: 5-9   HEIGHT: 4-6ft    SPREAD: 2-2.5ft    FULL SUN/PART SHADE

DESCRIPTION:

Attractive wide blades of steel-blue is what draws me to this grass.  An extremely sturdy selection that I often use in designs for its textural qualities.  In September the plumes emerge to create a handsome grey haze with-in the top of the blades.  Introduced by renowned plantsman Roy Diblik this grass deserves an area in a sunny spot in your garden.

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind', 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind', 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’- feather reed grass

ZONES: 5-9   HEIGHT: 3-5ft    SPREAD: 1-2.5ft    FULL SUN

DESCRIPTION:

An architectural grass with it’s stick straight plumes, feather reed grass creates a strong vertical accent in the landscape.  Straw color plumes decorate the summer months.  Used in mass or as specimen dance in a border this grass creates drama wherever you plant it.  Best suited in full sun.  Very drought tolerant once established.

Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

 

Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Jazz’- Jazz little bluestem 

ZONES: 3-9   HEIGHT: 2-2.5ft    SPREAD: 1-1.5ft    FULL SUN

DESCRIPTION:

Looking for blue in your garden.  Jazz little bluestem, a North American native, offers a shorter non-flopping selection introduced by Brent Horvath form Intrinsic Perennials.  I often plant in pockets of 5-7 to create a bit of drama in a border.  Fall the blue turns a purple / mauve tone!

Schizachyrium scoparium 'Jazz', 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Schizachyrium scoparium 'Jazz', 7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Here is a graphic listing for the seven grasses listed with their main details for quick reference pinning.  Email or comment with any questions.

7 Essential Ornamental Grasses, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Olbrich Botanical Gardens – Madison Wisconsin

G A R D E N S, Garden Tours, Gravel, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in August, we made a family road trip out of attending the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) conference in Minneapolis, MN. On the drive up to the conference we made a stopover in Chicago at the Lurie Garden (See post HERE), and on the way home we stopped at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI and the Chicago Botanical Garden (I am lucky that the kids still enjoy visiting gardens as a vacation).

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, gravel garden - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Olbrich was a planned stop on the way home, however after hearing Jeff Epping, the Director of Horticulture at Olbrich, speak at the PPA conference, we left Minneapolis early to ensure we got ample time in the gardens. Our time was a little more compressed than planned with a Midwest storm approaching, but hands down one of the best botanical gardens I have visited.  The 16 acres features amazing rooms that transition you from different spaces almost disorientating your direction and allowing you be in awe of each different experience.

Jeff’s talk at the PPA conference was about the gravel gardens they have installed at Olbrich. The method involves planting hardy plants in a base of 3-5 inches of gravel to fend of weeds and provide a low-water lifelong solution. The plants will grow into soil below the gravel for water and nutrients, and the inches of gravel will prohibit weeds from growing. Overtime the plants will grow to cover the gravel for a dense planting. The requirements of the planting method require attentive watering while the roots mature to the soil level and vigilant removal of plant debris at cutback and while establishing. My first few photos here are of one of the four gravel gardens at Olbrich.

I have known of Olbrich for a few years and it was always on my list of place to visit and I am so happy my travels to me there.  Olbrich is a garden destination that needs to be high on your list.  For a plant nerd, design nerd, or just looking for a stroll in a beautful garden- it will not disappoint.  I hope you enojoy my photo journal!

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, gravel garden- Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens, gravel garden - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens, Prairie Dropseed  - Sporobolus heterolepis - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens, Prairie Dropseed  - Sporobolus heterolepis - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens , Prairie Dropseed  - Sporobolus heterolepis - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens, Prairie Dropseed  - Sporobolus heterolepis - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Thai Pavilion and Garden - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens , Thai Pavilion and Garden - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens,Thai Pavilion and Garden  - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Thai Pavilion and Garden  - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Thai Pavilion and Garden - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood   Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodOlbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood  Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood