How Does Your Garden Show?

How Does Your Garden Show?

flower magazine Editor Comes to Baltimore

2 Written by: | Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 12:48pm

flower magazine march-april 2014

Last week Margot Shaw, founding editor of flower magazine, was the 25th anniversary lecturer during Art Blooms at the Walters Art Museum. She spoke about a year in the life of flower, not a plant, but her magazine. A fellow Hollins graduate, I felt lucky to be included in a dinner with her. Read More →

How Does Your Garden Show?

Spring, at Last!

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014 12:00pm


snowdrops closeup

Hello, spring! Yes, it’s hard to believe, but it is spring at last.  Never mind the snows. Never mind the cool temps. The blooms that opened the first week of spring are all the proof I need that spring is here.

Forget mounds of snow at the edge of parking lots, salt encrusted patches of streets, frost and snow-bitten brown leaves on evergreens: ivy, sweet box, holly, boxwood and Nandina.  Plants are blooming. Repeat: plants ARE blooming.

They started in the form of tiny white snowdrops pushing up from the snow then bloomed after the melt, small ones by our front steps and giant ones up the street.


Day by day the color increases. Naturalized crocuses across the lawn of an open lot seem magical, like a spring version of the poppy fields in Oz.


crocus field

Cool temperatures hold most of the flowers closed, so they stand like battalions of miniature soldiers beating back winter.

field of crocus

Down the street a neighbor planted a witch hazel when she moved in 20 years ago.

witch hazel branch

Now the size of an ornamental tree, its neon yellow blooms pulsate “Spring!”

witch hazel tree

Deep purple and yellow crocuses at other neighbors’ remind us that Easter is just weeks away.

purple and yellow crocus

Their small witch hazel bush is a focal point of the early back garden. Maroon hellebores buds under woody branches of hydrangeas promise the mop heads too will eventually appear.

pink hellebores

Likewise, daffodil foliage and buds pushing through brown leaves show that yellow trumpets will soon follow.


Most surprising to me, in this winter-scorched landscape, is deep blue.  It jumped out first on vinca vines down a bank.


The next day royal blue chionodoxa blooms appeared nearby.


Equally amazing was an impression of a deer hoof in the surrounding earth, only a block from Cold Spring Lane.

As exciting as every spring is, spring 2014 already feels like a daily miracle.

Featured, How Does Your Garden Show?, Real Estate, Home & Garden

The Elements of Period Gardens

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 1:15pm

p172.2_Old-fashionedGardenSundial_Tracy Di Sabato-Aust, DiSabato-Aust Design

From “American Home Landscapes”. Photo by Tracy DiSabato-Aust.

This is a big week at Cylburn Arboretum. Located off of Northern Parkway, this green oasis is increasingly enjoyed by both city and county residents. In recent years, the Cylburn Arboretum Association  has connected nature with art through exhibitions in the Vollmer Center, programs for adults and children and an artist-in-residence program.

Cylburn’s first artist-in-residence, Patricia Bennett opens her exhibit of paintings done during her past year there. Well-known as an event painter, Bennett has also produced an impressive series of Impressionistic paintings of the gardens.  An opening reception takes place Friday, November 1 at 5:30 p.m. The show continues through the weekend, then November 5-7.

A new effort begins Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m. with the Arboretum’s first book talk and signing. In cooperation with the Ivy Bookshop  and Timber Press, author Laura Burchfield will speak and show excerpts from her newly released book American Home Landscapes, A Design Guide to Creating Period Garden Styles


I’ve been working to replant the gardens around the 1922 Roland Park house where I grew up and live. Not until I saw the Timber Press book did I realize what a period garden we still have.  Essential elements of American, Colonial Revival gardens from 1900-1930 include:  symmetry, balance and a central axis, geometric beds, a picket fence, old-fashioned flowers.


In Roland Park, fences were originally permitted only in limited form, never in the front yard, because of the Olmsted design principal of low hedges instead of fences. At our house, however, the second owner was granted an exception to the architectural restrictions, because he thought Cold Spring Lane was too busy. If only he could see it now. Boxwoods were used for the front border, but along the sides and back, he installed brick pillars with sections of square, white spindles in between.

American Landscape pic 2

No flower garden was in front or along the sides, just more boxwoods and a long lilac border on the east side and privet hedge on the west. Read More →

How Does Your Garden Show?

At Marders in The Hamptons

0 Written by: | Monday, Aug 05, 2013 3:24pm


I am an unlikely Hamptons-goer. I am behind the times, not a trendsetter. I eschew crowds and expensive cars. I do not travel in the fast lane, yet every summer, I find myself in the Hamptons.

More than a decade ago my college roommate, a scientist, rehabbed a house in East Hampton to be near good kayaking on Three Mile Harbor. Another close college friend has a house in Bridgehampton, where she rides in The Hampton Classic.  This year a third college friend from England was going out, so how could I resist?

While I prefer off-season visits, the peak of summer brings a profusion of plants. The light (reflected off surrounding bodies of water), sandy soil, the absence of humidity and the regular rainfall create ideal growing conditions.

Nurseries do a booming business. A must for me each summer is Bridgehampton at Marders,  a spectacular nursery and garden center, where even mature beech trees are in burlap balls ready to plant.

This year’s discoveries were annual purple laurentia  and a big-leafed plant that looked like lambs’ ears on steroids.


Of the same family, perennial silver sage made a showy appearance in containers and beneath a tree, next to purple petunias.


Kalanchoe ‘Flap Jack’ was a star in troughs and pots.


I’d like to find a few in Baltimore for my unused trough. I also want a spot in my garden for fluffy, native Joe Pye weed. Read More →

How Does Your Garden Show?, Real Estate, Home & Garden

How Does Your Garden Show: Hydrangeas

0 Written by: | Thursday, Jul 11, 2013 12:00pm


A cool spring and abundant rain have brought a bumper crop of hydrangeas this summer. Hydrangea blooms are many and huge, and the bushes themselves have grown substantially over the last few months.
On July Fourth we walked into our friends’ Roland Park garden, and it was hard to believe that one year ago a derecho had devastated the trees, knocked out power for days, and covered this garden with massive fallen limbs. This year, with tree removal, pruning, and light and plentiful rain, the same space is bejeweled with hydrangeas.
Read More →

How Does Your Garden Show?, Real Estate, Home & Garden

The Glorious Rhododendrons of Baltimore’s 2013 Spring

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 12:39pm

DSC04703It was a banner spring in area gardens and perhaps the most spectacular in recent memory for rhododendrons.  From my own garden in Roland Park to fine gardens in Baltimore and Harford counties, rhododendrons produced huge, almost florescent blossoms and many on each bush.


Our ‘Catawba Album’ rhododendrons went in three springs ago. Three seems to be the magic number of years for plants to become established. This third cool, long spring, complete with a shot of warm weather, produced the best season of growth and blooms we have had.



This is the same hybrid that is a favorite of Jean and Sidney Silber, horticulturalists extraordinaire. Their 50-year old shrubs produce magical pink-to-white blooms that look like lanterns glowing down their long driveway. Read More →

How Does Your Garden Show?

The Watercolors of Joan Elisabeth Reid

2 Written by: | Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:30am

Magnolia Path

Magnolia Path

Armchair travellers can delight in gardens and plants from around the world in the watercolors of Joan Elisabeth Reid. A Memorial Day weekend exhibition in the Vollmer Center at Cylburn came to Reid as the winner of the Chief of Horticulture’s award last November at the Celebration of Art show at Cylburn.

Spring Blossoms

Reid by day is the Chief Registrar at the Walters Art Museum. In off-hours sketching, painting and travelling are her passion. Read More →

How Does Your Garden Show?

How Does Your Garden Show: Ladew in Late April

2 Written by: | Thursday, May 02, 2013 12:10pm


One of the many things I love about going to Ladew Topiary Gardens is that the blooming season out in Monkton is at least 10 days behind our garden here in Roland Park.

Chasing spring is something I love to do. And this year, with so many cool days, spring on the East Coast has been gloriously long.

Last week I had a meeting at Ladew. I cannot go there for any reason without running through some of the gardens. As is true everywhere in Baltimore this spring, the tulips seemed particularly large and radiant. It’s a good year for tulips.




While the daffodils in our garden were long gone, they still grew among the tulips and throughout the gardens at Ladew.


Even on a gallop through the gardens, the plantings and the meticulous maintenance always inspire. A unique shade of maroon pansies caught my eye around the small fountain in the Berry garden. Read More →

Guilford, How Does Your Garden Show?

Happy Birthday, Guilford

2 Written by: | Friday, Apr 26, 2013 12:19pm

Happy Birthday, Guilford


I am not a big fan of crowds, but I will go on the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage, which kicks off the centennial celebration of Guilford, on Sunday, April 28. With houses never before open to the public on tour, I am sure the turnout will be a record-breaker. A good thing too, as a portion of the proceeds will benefit Guilford’s famous Sherwood Gardens.


The gardens should be radiant. Ninety-degree days earlier in the month pushed the bulbs along. Now cool temperatures the past two weeks have kept most blooms fresh, with later varieties just opening. The weather gods seem to have known that having the gardens near their peak in late April would be a perfect kick-off to a centennial celebration.


Read More →

Culture, How Does Your Garden Show?, Real Estate, Home & Garden

How Does Your Garden Show: Orchids

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013 2:02pm


Two days before a heat wave hit the east coast and gave Baltimore the highest temperature in the country at 96 degrees, I was in New York. In a turtleneck, fleece and quilted jacket I visited the New York Botanical Garden as part of my sister’s birthday weekend. On a chilly tram ride we toured some of the garden’s 250 acres and enjoyed an overview of the varied terrain and many gardens within the garden founded in 1891.

Only scilla, daffodils, pansies and early cherry trees bloomed outdoors.


Read More →

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