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Entries in sustainable gardens (3)


This Landscaper Does Beautiful Work with Native Plants and Wild Flowers

http://www.pwsteinbeiser.comNo matter how plentiful the ideas that garden designers discover in their personal well of creativity, occasionally, there is a need to refresh and invigorate the mind. Searching online for inspiration is one of many ways that I add to my body of knowledge, because one cannot predict where, or when, the next innovative gardening concept will be born.

http://www.pwsteinbeiser.comThis quest keeps me researching online during the winter, when I cannot garden. On any morning, when I open up my computer, I have no clue where my hunting expedition will lead. Recently, I tripped over the Paul W.Steinbaiser Landscaping website and it stopped me in my tracks. The impressive images, I found there, reminded me that beautiful, eye-catching, flowerbeds can be created using mainly native plants and wildflowers.

In the gardening community, these two genres of perennials have taken center stage, of late, for several reasons. They are reliable, low-maintenance, hardy, easy to propagate, native to some locations, and many supply textural winter interest. While there is no consensus on the role that native plants should - or should not - play in landscaping, gardeners who are concerned about sustainability always find ways to include them in their plans.

http://www.pwsteinbeiser.comConsequently, plants in this category appear as basic themes in many gardens, all over the world. Steinbaiser, too, uses ordinary, easily accessible, perennials to create extraordinarily eye-catching compositions. Yet, rarely have I seen them designed and photographed so effectively.

http://www.pwsteinbeiser.comI return regularly to this website for several other reasons. First, there is much to learn about designing with native and wildflowers from the imaginative work of this commercial landscaper. Secondly, gardeners who have been wondering how they might adapt Piet Oufdolf’s and Michael King’s native and wildflower meadows, to their modest sized properties, will find some inspiration here, even though the examples are limited to a handfull of images. Thirdly, it offers evidence that Rudbeckia, a perennial that I have been avoiding, deserves reconsideration.  

The landscape design and construction firm of Paul W. Steinbaiser, in Frenchtown, New Jersey, USA, also operates a native plant nursery. The organization focuses on the long-lived relationships between the landscape and its users. Local stone, soil, and native plant communities are sourced to create sustainable and eye-catching wildflower meadows and native plant gardens.


50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants: Book Review for











50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants                      Tracy Disabato-Aust, Timber Press

Easy care plants that require little or no maintenance are favorites of mine.

Like many other people, time is a rare commodity for me and I must manage it wisely, even in my own garden. Every now and then I focus on a perennial that I have been growing for many years. I marvel how easy it is to care for and how well it blooms, even when neglected. Perennial gardeners wish that all of their plants would behave like that. Nature, however, only cooperates with us to a limited extent. It requires research to learn about such plants and it is reassuring to discover that some garden writers are doing that work for us.

With the publication of this book, Tracy Disabato-Aust has given us a gift. For the novice gardener, the author supplies a list of plants that will help create an eye-catching low-maintenance garden. The seasoned gardener, on the other hand, may discover several plants previously ignored but still worthy of consideration. The reader should bear in mind that the plant list comes with the usual restrictions based on the amount of sunlight and humidity available in ones garden as well as recommended hardiness zones.

According to the author, and we gardeners are all in agreement, a plant must exhibit the following five characteristics to be considered high impact:-

  • Multi seasonal interest
  • Colorful foliage
  • Long lasting bloom
  • Outstanding texture
  • Architectural form

In addition, there are 12 traits that the author looks for in evaluating low-maintenance plants. Each of the 50 mentioned in this book demonstrate at least 10 out of the 12 traits:

  • Long lived
  • Tolerance for heat and humidity
  • Cold hardy
  • Deer resistant
  • Insect and disease resistant
  • Minimal or no deadheading
  • Thrives without heavy fertilization
  • Requires no staking
  • Infrequent or no division required for four years or more
  • Infrequent or no pruning required to maintain neat appearance or best  flowering
  • Non-invasive
  • Drought tolerant

This is a very welcome publication because the topic contributes to the dialogue on sustainable gardening. There is a movement in the landscape community to try and develop gardens that require very little resources such as water or fertilizer and that require almost no maintenance to keep them alive. The list of plants in this publication addresses these issues admirably.

Another welcome trait of this book is the opportunity offered to the reader to discover important plants that might have been overlooked. This reviewer was delighted to learn about a cultivar of a perennial that is hardly known in the gardening community. It is called Thalictrum Erin. I have always been a Thalictrum fan and I grow a lot of it in my garden. But I have never seen anything quite like this one. It is the tallest of all Thalictrum, growing up to 96 inches in height without staking and yet never exceeding 36 inches in width. My “eureka” moment occurred as soon as I found this information in the book. Now, I need to find this plant for my garden.

In order to understand how Ms, Disabato-Aust compiled the list of 50 plants; it is helpful to study her style of landscaping. Hers are exquisitely designed gardens that are not just flower beds but are, instead, foliage and textural compositions that include shrubs, trees and perennials. All of the plants used in the author's work are chosen for the synergistic effect they have on the viewer when used in combination with other plants. The reader should feel confident that, by including a selection from the list of 50 plants, it is possible to create an attractive garden.

Tracy Disabato-Aust has earned international acclaim as one of America’s most entertaining and knowledgeable garden writers and professional speakers. This book is just one of her many accomplishments.



Why Plant A Sustainable Garden

THis is a view of a sustainable garden at the Agricultural Farm Historic Park in Derwood, Md. Click on the image to learn more.When I banished fungicides and pesticides from my garden, over 10 years ago, I unwittingly put myself on a path to developing a sustainable garden. Of course, back then I didn’t know what a sustainable garden meant. Today, I understand that a sustainable garden is one that needs fewer resources to keep it alive forever. Such a garden reduces the amount of fertilizers and ‘cides essential for healthy growth and increases the outright conservation of resources such as water and manpower.

In some parts of the world, water is too precious to waste on ornamental gardens and lawns. In certain locations, manpower is becoming costly and hard to find. Time for garden maintenance is not always available to those with multiple obligations outside the home. For some, paying a gardening service is costly. For the seasoned gardener, the advance of old age reduces the amount of expendable physical energy available for gardening.

A wide variety of plants are available to create a sustainable garden. These include certain ornamental shrubs, drought resistant perennials, ornamental grasses and even some drought tolerant Allium bulbs. In addition, one should consider plants that are not invasive, that are long lived and that are free of insects and disease. With these plants it is possible to create sustainable landscapes where nature alone is the caregiver. These gardens require less water, less pesticides, less fertilizer and less manpower. Sustainable gardens, by virtue of their stability, will also improve our planet by enriching the quality of animal and beneficial-insect habitats. 

Click here to read another journal entry on this subject.