Recommended Gifts

Holiday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recommended Gifts, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

It’s time of the year for holiday gift guides. Not typically a fan of “gardener gift suggestions”, since they often created by folks that don’t garden and think all gardeners use are hoses, shovels, gloves and hand cream.  Here are my recommended items for either yourself or a gardener on your list based entirely on items I use or have.


Recommended Gifts, Thinking Outside the Boxwood



The Gardens of Arne Maynard. I judge garden books first by the photographs. It is impossible to get the same perspective from an image that you get from standing in a real garden. So the photos in garden books have to be incredible strong, with great color saturation, image size and paper quality to bridge that gap, and this book delivers all that.  With images both at the micro and macro levels of a garden, you are able to appreciate, study and learn from Arne Maynard’s design style.  Written by Maynard himself with the details a plantsman and designer wants learn, as if you were walking through the gardens with him listening to the stories, learnings, and inspiration for each space.


Swiss Army Floral Knife.  This knife is great for its thin profile (easy in the pocket), sharp, flat blade, bright colors (I have yellow) and price (if I lose it, not a big deal). Use it to cut back blooms, take cuttings, and open nursery boxes.


Wild Tomato Vine, Pure Soy Candle. My mom got me hooked on this candle after she purchased one during a trip to Detroit Garden Works. The fragrance of tomato vines creates such a sensory experience for me that when the grey of March becomes numbing, this candle reminds me that life is coming. Forget the smell of flowers, gardeners want that fresh vine ripened tomato smell.


Klein Tools Canvas Leather-Bottom Bucket Bag.  Designed for electrical workers, these bags are sturdy and just the right size for carrying my essential gardening tools around the yard and from job site to job site. I can carry pruners and soil knife when not in use, ear protection, cleaning supplies for pruners, etc. I also love the rough and tumbled look the leather and canvas as gained over the years.


The Wave Hill Chair by Dan Benarcik. My trip to Philadelphia this past fall was so inspiring, with over 200 photos on my camera taken in three short days. While there I was able to put together the connection of the iconic garden chair with the craftsman Dan Benarcik. Over the years Dan has been crafting and refining the famous Wave Hill chair and offers the chairs for sale in finished, kit and PDF plans. My winter project is attempting to craft the chair using some spare lumber we have at the shop from the PDF. If you feel less handy use the kit or even order a completed chair.    


Have a great holiday, and if you have any great tools or gifts you recommend please pass along. I am always looking for something to keep in my Klein bag.

Garden Design Magazine

C O N T A I N E R S, Formal Garden, Garden Design Magazine, Garden Structure, gardening, Gardens, Landscape Design, My Work, Plants | Tagged , , , , ,

On Tuesday evening a box of fresh off the press copies of the relaunched Garden Design Magazine arrived at my house.  I know I cannot provide a truly objective point of view since I contributed an article (page #62 ) and pretty much stop every ten minutes to confirm it is really there. But the magazine is must subscribe and great coffee table book.

GARDEN DESIGN MAGAZINE IS BACK! Thinking Outside the Boxwood


When the magazine shut back in 2013, it was sad but not initially mourned. Its last issues were too west coast, uber high end, and less grounded in horticulture. Then I started reading shelter magazines for their garden features and just got annoyed. Great photos, but plant IDs were limited to boxwood, roses, lavender and hydrangeas and never helped readers gain any plant knowledge. Worse yet, articles always skipped over the often amazing landscape designers and architects that created the spaces. Garden Design needed to come back!


The team at the magazine really listened to all the chatter about the magazine, interviewed readers, and realigned to create a garden magazine that can be enjoyed by people across zones, coasts, yard size and level of horticulture knowledge.  The magazine includes no ads or sponsored content and the paper is think with some heft to the magazine.  Congratulations to the team at the magazine and thank you for allowing me to be a part of it. I pinch myself you included me with the cool kids (ahem, Dan Hinkley) in helping to bring it back.


Ok, now go subscribe!







Design 101 – Arboretum & Botanical Garden Plant Sales

Advice, Central Ohio, container, G A R D E N S, Garden Tours | Tagged , , , , ,

Ok, so this is an insider secret for gardeners, but should be known by everyone – Local Arboretum/Botanical Garden plant sales. These are hands down best resource for finding unique, native and difficult to source plants, more importantly, the proceeds support your local arboretum/botanical garden. Over the past two weeks my area has been host to numerous plant sales that allowed me to pick up plants for home and clients that I have been having difficult sourcing this spring.

Design 101 - Arboretum & Botanical Garden Plant Sales- Thinking Outside the Boxwood

The plants you will find are a mix of cuttings from the arboretum or botanical gardens personal inventory or nursery stock from area growers whom bring their most unique based on the discerning clientele. Some sales provide a PDF list of their inventory (names and quantity) prior to the sale for you to research and plan your shopping list. Don’t worry if you don’t know your plants, the sales are well organized by annuals, perennials, edibles, trees etc with knowledgeable sales associates to help you. Above you can see I scored Silphium perfoliatum, Silphium terebinthinaceum, Colocasia ‘Elena’, and Colocasia ‘Black Magic’


The bad news is that most of these sales in the Northeast and south regions have already past, but you can use the database from The American Horticultural Society to find your local arboretum and botanical gardens to find the dates for sales to mark calendars for next year.

Garden Directory from The American Horticultural Society

Design 101 - Arboretum & Botanical Garden Plant Sales- Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Another great sale (sorry, was last week so plan next year) includes growers bringing their newest introductions and unique plants is Trade Secrets in Sharon, CT. The plant and antiquities sale supports the Women’s Support Services (WSS), a non-profit helping those experiencing abuse in northeast Connecticut. The first day includes the plant sale and Sunday includes garden tours (which include Trade Secret founder, Bunny Williams’ garden). For those in the area a must do on your May Calendar.

Design 101 - Arboretum & Botanical Garden Plant Sales- Trade Secrets,  Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Photo from Flower magazine, 2013 Trade Secret Garden Tours, by Mick Hales


I hope I have not offended any plant lovers with sharing the secret, but it really is the best source for plants and benefits good causes it is hard not to share. I also spent this weekend in Springfield, OH at the Antique Extravaganza while everyone at the east coast was at Brimfield. I missed a (broken) Kramer Brother’s container to match my other three, but was also able to pick up some plants. For some reason every weekend in May is crammed with great stuff.