Get Your Hands Dirty!

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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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/

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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A note from Jean…

Spring Bulbs:  2011 Picks

One of the most optimistic tasks for gardeners each year is planting spring bulbs.   As gardeners we are use to working hard and being able to stand back at the end of the day and see the results of our labors.  When planting bulbs, the best results are when it looks like we where never there!   This being said, the labor of tucking bulbs into the cool fall soil is worth every effort.  If you choose your bulbs wisely, you can have blooms from February to June.

This year, I would like to share with you some of my favorite and time tested performers. In order of bloom times, I recommend the following:

 

February:

Snow Drops:   Galanthus nivalis, with its bell-shaped flowers is the earliest of all bulbs.  And, yes, they will come up through the snow!

 

March/April:

Crocus:   Blue Pearl is pale blue with a yellow throat

 

April:           

Iris reticulata:   Harmony is a small bluebird-blue with bright yellow blotches.

Scilla siberica:    Spring Beauty has sky blue flowers on strong stems and is great for naturalizing.

Fritillaria:   Small flowered Meleagris, with its checkered pattern bell is also known as Snake’s Head.

 

April/May:           

Muscari or Grape Hyacinths.:  M. armeniacum is bright cobalt-blue and flowers for weeks.  Great planted under daffodils and early tulips. I love this bulb!

 

April/May:           

Narcissus: I pass on the strong chromium yellow daffodils but I do plant lots of creamy white Mt. Hood bulbs.  This is a classic trumpet narcissus that is tall and strong and blooms for a good two weeks.

Small-cup Narcissus are early blooming and naturalize beautifully.  I love Tete-a-Tete which is buttercup-yellow and the all-white Toto.  These are early enough to benefit from an under-planting of brilliant blue scilla siberica.

 

April/May:           

Tulips:  This is the toughest category to make recommendations because there are so many amazing choices.  I do not plant tulips as perennials but rather treat them as annuals because you cannot be sure they will come back year after year.  So this year, I am recommending a color combination I love which is Apricot Beauty,  Queen of the Night (deep purple to black) and White Triumphator tulips.

 

Good luck and if you need any help from us, I hope you won’t hesitate to call.

 

–Jean

 

 

 

 

Spring Bulbs

With New England’s autumn fast approaching, it’s bulb planting time! Bulbs for spring are planted in autumn so that through a cold winter’s nap, they store enough energy for a display of blooming color.

Here at Jean Brooks Landscapes, we design spring bulb gardens that bloom from early spring to early summer and include both annually blooming tulips and perennial blooming daffodils, crocus and grape hyacinth- among others.

Let us know if you would like our help with your spring bulb design. info@jeanbrookslandscapes.com

And stay tuned for Jean’s very own picks and favorite bulb combos coming to a blog near you!

Viola Love & All Its Uses…

It started early for me. Lying amongst the violets in summer’s unkempt grass, plucking their purple flowers from their stems and eating the sugary petals, one by one.

While it’s a sweet memory, the Viola species has a far greater function. At Jean Brooks Landscapes we use them for their precious gemstone colors and delicacy in borders or seasonal containers. Sprawling in tricolor across stone paths or stonewalls, they add an old-world romance to any garden. Violets are a great ground cover and can even be used in a grass mix to add color and charm. Continue reading “Viola Love & All Its Uses…” »