Get Your Hands Dirty!

Franklinia at The Arnold Arboretum

….Planted as a CUTTING in 1908! Franklinia or The Franklin Tree. You can find this sprawling tree in bloom right NOW on the Chinese Path/Explorer’s Garden at the top of Bussey Hill at the Arnold Arboretum. This shot reminds me of a Dutch still life with the ants!

The first reported encounter with this tree on the continent was in the British colony, Georgia. John and William Bartram first observed the tree growing along the Altamaha River in 1765:

“We never saw it grow in any other place, nor have I ever since seen it growing wild, in all my travels, from Pennsylvania to Point Coupe, on the banks of the Mississippi, which must be allowed a very singular and unaccountable circumstance; at this place there are two or 3 acres of ground where it grows plentifully” (W. Bartram, 1791).

While it’s difficult to transplant, once established Franklinia can survive a century or more like the one pictured here. The tree is now extinct in the wild for a number of reasons but mainly due to overcollection by plant collectors and a fungal disease introduced with the cultivation of cotton plants. Because Franklinia does not tolerate compacted clay soil (which, unfortunately are the conditions in Cambridge) or any disturbance to its roots, the tree is a bad candidate for urban environments. True, it’s not planted much in Cambridge or Boston yet, it looks so familiar…At Jean Brooks Landscapes, we love planting  Stewartia which is in the same family as Franklina and has a VERY similar look. Both have the colorful exfoliating bark. Both have the same red leaf in autumn and the same fried-egg- looking flower. Stewartia has a smaller, more delicate flower than the Franklinia which has a heartier, rubbery, magnolia-like petal.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend visiting the Arboretum in the new few days. Foliage color is at its peak AND the Franklinia atop Bussey Hill, the miraculous survivor from a 1908 cutting is still in bloom!

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Decades or Months?

This garden is young. Like, one year young. It was installed and planted in Cambridge last summer. But check out how mature these plantings are! Yes, we are very proud of this baby- AND it’s ALL organic! Tended with love, experience and what we JBL’ers like to call “Magic Mix”…

Before & After

Introducing…. The JBL “Before & After” series!  Here is one of our favorite examples.

This parterre garden belongs to a 200-year old coach house turned single family home on the Old Post Road in Connecticut. In order to match the patina of the original structure, we gathered brick from three sources and had them tumbled in sand to round-off the edges. The brick bones of the garden are articulated by rows of baby boxwood and act as a border for a mix of old-fashioned flowering perennials including – alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), nepeta (Catnip), artemisia, delphinium, Siberian iris and phlox. Espaliered apple trees adorn the garden walls.

To see more images from this project, click here:

http://jeanbrookslandscapes.com/gardens/connecticut-country-estate/

As we enter into New England’s warmer months, here at Jean Brooks Landscapes we are busy on site building and installing our carefully conceived designs. Through a thoughtful and inspired design and budgeting process, we can help you create the garden of your dreams. We hope you will call us.

Spring Containers

This spring our containers look extra special. Here’s a peek…

 

For more examples, click here: http://jeanbrookslandscapes.com/gardens/seasonal-containers-holiday-decorating/

Magnolia!

You may have noticed the magnolias this spring come and go like lightening. Their bloom-time is always short but this year was especially fleeting because of the warm spell and then cold snap. The Star  (stellata) and Saucer (soulangeana) magnolias were especially affected by this unusual weather. But luckily, the later blooming Cucumbertree (acuminata) is going strong this April. Check out the blooms on this pale YELLOW Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ we spotted in the Boston Common yesterday. Enjoy your weekend with a walk through Boston’s most glorious garden!

 

 

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Magnolias in March?

Did you hear that March is the new August? Well friends, dust off those those watering cans and don’t forget to turn your irrigation systems on!

 

Right now at Jean Brooks Landscapes, our irrigation team is busy doing the rounds turning the water on to make sure plantings are not damaged by the unseasonably warm weather. There was no snow accumulation this winter to provide moisture in the ground so the soil is VERY dry. Because of this, plants are in danger of drying out, wilting and ultimately dying. Spring roots won’t become established if there’s no moisture for them to grow into. Furthermore, plants never had their winter “dormant” period in which they gather and build energy for spring blossoms. Now that everything is starting to bloom, these plants REALLY need water. As our Irrigation Manager, Brad, mentioned, “it doesn’t need to be the summer to have drought-like conditions. You need to maintain a proper amount of moisture in the soil in order to maintain a healthy landscape.”

 

Heed his advice, folks. Water, water, water. This spring, looks like summers here to stay!

 

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Good morning, crocusus!

Some little friends popped up to say hello this morning!It’s so lovely that even in a (semi-) urban area like Central Square, we’re still pretty immersed in nature.

Cultivation and harvesting of crocus was first documented in the Mediterranean, notably on the island of Crete. Frescos showing them are extant at the Knossos site on Crete as well as from a comparably aged site on Santorini. This particular soft purple variety with tangerine stamen is called “Bonte.”

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First Phase of Seasonal Containers 2012!

This morning marked the beginning of our Seasonal Container designs 2012. At the market today, Spring pansies are not available quite yet. So today we went with Pussy Willow,  little Tete-a-Tete daffodils, grape muscari and hyacynth. These babies were potted up in the nursery in November and held in a cold house. With the exception of Paperwhites and Amaryllis, all Spring flowering bulbs require at least 6 weeks of a cold phase to store enough energy to bloom. Then you can plant them in the ground or your favorite outdoor container. Pussy Willow branches last all season long and sometimes they even root if you leave them in long enough! “How fun!” says the Lead Designer at JBL

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Spring on the Banks of the River Charles

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold one of the first signs of Spring: The daffodil!

For those of us taking cues from nature (not gauging our seasons by the calender), March is full of promise. Early buds blooming, birdsong and butterflies. With daylight savings only ten days away, the promise of extra sunlight is already upon us.

Look for the pussy willow, tiny little pops of lavender and yellow crocus.

A favorite of mine (a la my grandma), “When willows bloom, Spring looms!”

So be patient, fellow New Englanders. Spring is upon us.

 

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