Get Your Hands Dirty!

Greenhouses at the Lyman Estate

In 1793, a Boston merchant named Theodore Lyman began developing his country estate in Waltham, Massachusettes. He hired an English gardener by the name of William Bell to lay out the property in the English picturesque style. Fascinated with agriculture and horticulture, Lyman’s property included large specimen trees, open fields, a pond system, a kitchen garden, and a greenhouse complex which is still in use today. It is among the oldest greenhouses in the country.

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The greenhouses were used to grow a variety of hard-to-obtain fruits such as pineapples, figs, lemons, limes, and bananas. During the 1870s one of the greenhouses was transformed into a grapery. Three-and-a-half-foot-high ground beds were constructed of brick to hold soil for the root systems. Visit the Lyman greenhouses in June to taste the Black Hamburg grapes, still growing today. Cuttings were obtained from the royal greenhouses at Hampton Court, the former palace of King Henry VIII in England!

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Wafts of fragrant herbs flourish here in the greenhouses. Sample the different varieties of the scented geranium.

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If you visit from January to March, you will be dazzled by the luscious camellia blooms which burst forth in a profusion of color: reds, whites, pinks, and variegated. Originally built to grow peach trees, the camellia house at the Lyman Estate has one of the few collections still in existence today. Camellias were first introduced to America in the late eighteenth century by a French botanist, Andre Michaux. He brought them to Middleton Place, an estate in South Carolina. Boston soon became a center for camellia culture.

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Exotic houseplants, orchids, pottery, and gifts are available for purchase. Take home a piece of living history and some excellent photos!

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The Winter Garden

You may think gardens are sound asleep this season, but here are some examples of how the winter garden can be layered with intrigue and vitality throughout the colder months… We choose evergreens but we also consider the bark and branching structure of trees and shrubs. The seed heads of many perennials are as beautiful as their past flowers. Colors are heightened by a glaze of ice. Ornamental grasses bleached blond and dusted with snow are lovely. The winter garden is quiet and contemplative…a peaceful space.

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‪Autumn Flowering Cherry‬ / Prunis subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’

… Spotted in Central Square by our Lead Designer, Maryellen on this warm December day!! This cherry tree is famous for its ability to produce lovely pink buds and white flowers off and on during a warm autumn season and then fully flower in the spring. In addition to the sporadic fall bloom, the foliage turns bronze, yellow, gold or deep-red tinged to contribute to the beauty of the winter season. Also, the tree has an attractive bark which adds winter interest. Who doesn’t LOVE CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN DECEMBER?! Keep your eyes peeled for the good cherry blossoms of Cambridge!

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Summertime Blooms

Now that summer is in full bloom, we would like to share some of our favorite flowers for you to be looking out for from your local farmer’s market to your neighbor’s garden and everywhere in between! They can be large and bright like dahlias and digitalis, or elegant and graceful like the oakleaf hydrangea and perovskia.

Digitalis, is commonly known as foxglove and is a biennial. The scientific name means “finger-like” and refers to the ease with which a flower of Digitalis can be fitted over a human fingertip. The flowers, produced on a tall spike, are tubular, and vary in color with species, from purple to pink, white, and yellow. At JBL, we often use this ornamental plant in our designs for its vivid flowers. The flowers can also possess various marks and leopard-like spottings.

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The dahlia is national flower of Mexico. The tubers were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs and were both gathered in the wild and cultivated. They used the long, hollow stems as water pipes

 

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The oakleaf hydrangea is one of our favorite garden shrubs. Look for it in bloom around town now. The foliage has a beautiful oak leaf-shape and an elegant, white conical-shaped flower head.IMG_7415   IMG_7412

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The Promise of Spring!

Believe it or not, SPRING IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER and here at Jean Brooks Landscapes we sure are looking forward to the warm weather for a number of reasons…

Now is the perfect time to start planning for your spring garden. The ground has thawed so it’s time for spring clean-ups and pruning. Don’t forget we are also always here for your masonry and construction needs, installing irrigation systems and outdoor lighting. BRING ON THE SUN!

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Dahlias! (step-by-step instructions on dealing with the tubers)

Now that we’ve had our first few frosts here in the Northeast and November is fast approaching, it’s time to bring your dahlia tubers in for the winter months. If you haven’t already, you will need to cut the plant back so that only 6 inches of a stem stub remains. Using a pitchfork, pierce the soil about a foot from the stem stub and begin to loosen the soil by gently rocking back and forth with the pitchfork. Once unearthed, the tubers can be stored in paper bags (mark the variety on the bag) in a cool dry place.

May is a good time to plant the tubers back into your garden beds. Select a spot in your garden with well-balanced and composted soil that receives full sun throughout the day. I use tomato cages around the dahlias to support the plant as it grows. Some varieties can reach up to 8 feet in height! Tag each cage with the name of that particular flower. Do not water as there is plenty of moisture in the soil at this time of year. Over watering will cause the tubers to rot in the ground.

The first leaves of the plant should poke through in a week or two. When the first set of leaves is about eight inches to a foot high, I pinch out the center bud to encourage the plant to form multiple stems. This will produce a greater quantity of flowers per plant. As the plant grows, delicately train the stems to grow within the tomato cages.

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Now that we are all dahlia experts here, I thought I’d provide a brief history and some fun facts…

The dahlia is national flower of Mexico. Dahlias were first spotted in Mexico in the 16th century. The flower was used by the Aztecs to treat epilepsy and the hollow stems were used as water pipes. In later years, the Director of the Botanical Garden at Mexico City, sent “plant parts” to the Royal Gardens of Madrid. From there, the plant made its way to Belgium, Italy and England where other species were developed.

The dahlia is is not scented but like most plants that do not attract pollinating insects through scent, they display brightly colored petals in a vast range of hues. One of the greatest joys of gardening is harvesting and arranging the fruits of your labor. Dahlias make excellent cut flowers and look radiant alone in bud vases or alongside zinnias, celosia and snapdragons. Happy gardening!

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It Still Lives!

Yes, it’s a typical day in January. Hard rain & snow. Gray & a whole lotta slush. But at the Boston Flower Exchange today, it was all color and delicacy.

Here are a few of our favorite flowers at the market this week!

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Deck the Halls in Harvard Square!

Today we brought some holiday color and cheer to the corner of Winthrop and JFK in Harvard Square. We love this job because it’s located at a prime location which gives us the opportunity to create some beauty and share some whimsy with the community. We are so happy to lend our designs and support to the Harvard Square Business Association, Upstairs on the Square and The Red House!

For more holiday decorating services, please visit our page.

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MIT Children’s Garden

Here at JBL, we feel so fortunate to have one of the premier architectural treasures only a few short blocks away from our office at 875 Main Street. We are all beyond excited to be involved in updating the Children’s Garden at MIT’s Stata Center. We’ve added additional plantings, renovated the water feature, installed new sod, built a veggie garden and refurbished the Zen Garden originally designed by Elena Saporta. As you can see from the photos below, our crew has been very busy perfecting the craft of creating Children’s Gardens. We think we’ve got it down but take a look for yourselves…

See more of our Children’s Gardens at http://jeanbrookslandscapes.com/garden-type/childrens-gardens/

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Autumn Window Display, 875 MAIN ST

Here at Jean Brooks Landscapes, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of Boston culture and design.

TIPI’s in the garden = the new place to hangout! Here’s our version in our “woodland children’s garden” window display at 875 MAIN STREET. We’ve had 2 tipi commissions from clients since this went on display in late August. coincidence? I think NOT!

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