High Line Update: A Completed Work of Art  by  Susan Harris

I first visited the High Line – New York’s famous elevated park along an abandoned railroad track – in 2013 when it was new and incomplete but already stunning, especially in August, as you can see in these photos. Since then it’s become increasingly popular, spurred revitalization in a part of the city that needed it, and opened its final Phase 3 in 2014. Feeling the pull of that new section, I made a day-trip to New York this week just to see it (for an amazing $36 round trip via BoltBus right from my neighborhood!). I saw that on a chilly Tuesday afternoon it was buzzing with people because locals and visitors alike just love it. For me, as great as the design and the plants truly are, the main event is the city itself. From the High Line you see parts of the city you’d otherwise never see as a visitor, including the gritty former Meatpacking District and the many, many new buildings cropping up along it. Talk about a borrowed landscape! Cities across the U.S. and beyond are ho..
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Garden Year 2018: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly  by  Scott Beuerlein

Well, what with the recent screeching turn in the weather, it’s beginning to feel like the 2018 gardening season is wrapping up. Moreover, I just spent a few days organizing my photos from the year, which reminded me of all I saw, did, and didn’t do. Therefore, seems to me it’s as good a time as any to review Garden Year 2018. Things that Made Me Whoop Removal of perfectly attractive, incredibly healthy evergreen barberries. There are only so many times your hands can be pierced by 2-3” barbs the likes of hypodermic needles before something drastic has to happen. Whirlwinding through Plant Delights Nursery, Duke Gardens, NC Arboretum, JC Raulston, and the Biltmore in the face of a hurricane. Great horticulture, and good food and drink too. Tours of Chicago gardens before that. Of nurseries and gardens in Delaware since. Good year for seeing cool things. Further infatuation with pollinators, and more and more even other insects. Monarda. Never really paid much attention to them bef..
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Another reason to use botanical names  by  Elizabeth Licata

Narcissus tazetta ‘Erlicheer’ Today a dire message arrived in my email. It was from a bulb company. “This year, there is a continued shortage of Paperwhite Ziva,” it said. Yikes! No narcissus tazetta ‘Ziva’?!! Actually, that’s fine with me. I have not bought this variety for 15 years or more, though I grow tazettas every year. I hate even using the term “paperwhite” because my friends immediately assume I am talking about Ziva, which is ubiquitous in every big box and high-volume mail-order house. And at least two thirds of those friends say, “Eeeww! I can’t have those in the house! They smell like … cat pee/dirty socks/etc.!” Then I have to explain that I don’t grow the paperwhites they’re thinking of. I grow tazettas like ‘Erlicheer,’ ‘Grand Primo,’ and ‘Grand Soleil d’Or,’ which have mild scents. This is why is sucks to have one name used for a whole range of cultivars. What’s wrong with “tazetta?” It’s a cool word. Of course, scent is in the nose of the beholder, and I do know ma..
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The Campus Gardens of a Real Plant Geek, with Friends  by  Susan Harris

Horticulturist Sam Bahr, like so many people who work at the University of Maryland, is someone I first met as a neighbor in nearby Historic Greenbelt. He got his coveted job at the UMD Arboretum and Botanic Garden back in 2008 thanks in part to his good education – a B.S. in agriculture from Kansas State University, majoring in ornamental horticulture with an emphasis on landscape design and operations. I asked Sam to show me some of his work there and he generously gave me a guided tour, with follow-up details about my favorite plants blooming there in early October. It was especially fun for me to hear about the plant-lovers around the U.S. and locally who’ve donated plants to Sam for use at the university. More proof to me that serious plant geeks like Sam are a generous bunch with their cherished seeds and cuttings, even with people they’ve only met online. My mini-tour started in Tawes Plaza, where he designs, chooses plants and supervises maintenance of the extensive gardens ..
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Trouble in paradise  by  Elizabeth Licata

Waiting for these Have you ever lived in a place that’s often the punchline of a joke? I have, for most of my life. It never bothered me or my friends much, though we sometimes would chat about unlikely scenarios that would transform Buffalo into a glamorous place to live. Like turning it into the Venice of the North by getting rid of our seldom-used metro line down Main Street, making it into a canal. That was just silly. But it turns out that the waterways we already have, combined with climate change, could, down the line, make Buffalo one of the most desirable places to live in the US, without us having to do anything. According to Harvard scientists, areas near fresh water—but away from regions prone to heatwaves, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods—will be attractive bastions of livability if the worst happens, as every study (even those done by a science-denying White House) says it will. The “worst” is defined as an (approx) 7 degree rise in global temperatures by 2100—by the wa..
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Kentucky Hemp and The Great American Weed Rush  by  Allen Bush

I have a history of occasional, informal, peer-reviewed, THC trials of psychoactive marijuana. The trial was simple: I smoked marijuana with friends. I try to imagine I was judged, during these trials, as witty and funny—then again, perhaps merely as stupid. Details are fuzzy. It’s been a long time. Marijuana has been loved and reviled since the Chinese first recorded use in a 2600 BC pharmacopoeia. They didn’t know the difference between any of the 113 or so cannabanoids, including tetrahydrocannbinol(THC) or cannibidinol (CBD), but someone must have suspected something was going on. I am new to cannibidinol(CBD), the non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp. You may be wondering: what’s the difference between marijuana and hemp? They are both derived from the same Cannabis sativa species, but they’ve taken different paths for different purposes. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture licenses growers under a Hemp Pilot Program. A miniscule .3% of THC is the Kentucky legal limi..
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The Grand Gardens of Baltimore  by  Susan Harris

Baltimore may be best known nationally for its murder rate and The Wire on HBO, but in horticulture circles it’s known for plants and gardens. So I happily signed up for a regional Garden Writers Association event featuring some top drawer gardens in and just outside of Baltimore. Here are my favorite shots from the day. Above, author Kathy Hudson (left) with Penney and A.C. Hubbard, owners of the garden at the center of the gorgeous book On Walnut Hill (foreword by our own Allen Bush). The garden was designed by the renowned plantsman largely responsible for Baltimore’s critical role in horticulture – the late Kurt Bluemel. Caryopteris This little courtyard sits just outside Penney Hubbard’s office, from which she enjoys the soothing sounds of the waterfall. I love how a potted Japanese maple fills this corner of the court, and probably looks interesting all winter. Next, the garden of landscape architect Carol Macht. We eagerly explored the long views from inside the home, espe..
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How about a wall of flowers?  by  Elizabeth Licata

Louise Jones, Wildflowers for Buffalo Recently, several Facebook friends have issued pleas for “palate cleansing” posts, preferably containing puppies and other cute animals or anything innocently funny or endearing. The idea is to get a break from the barrage of horrifying/despicable/sinister images and information that have been flashing through our social media feeds for the last twenty months or so. São Paulo mural by Mona Caron At the same time, I have noticed an increase in botanically themed murals. There are several artists who are creating spectacular examples of these, including Mona Caron, who is perhaps best known for gigantic murals of commonly occurring wildflowers in her Weeds series. These include a mural of Chamerion angustifolium on the side of building in Portland, and a mural loosely based on Achyranthes aspera in São Paulo (shown above). The first mural in the series, The Botanical Mural, in San Francisco, is 292 x 4–17 feet in size. By hugely magnifying and beau..
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Native Plants in Containers  by  Thomas Christopher

I visited a fascinating native plants garden this past week, the Mount Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. A botanical garden devoted to the native plants of Delaware’s Piedmont plateau, Mt. Cuba is preserving 1,000 acres of this special habitat. It also provides object lessons about how you can use native plants in your own landscape, whether formal or informal. I was especially interested in the container plantings, which had, to my eye, a special kind of beauty. They also provided examples of ways a novice might get started with natives. They would fit into any kind of garden, even the sort of formal landscape into which a gardener might be reluctant, at least initially, to invite native plants with their less refined, more naturalistic look. Leucithoe (top) with heucheras I took the opportunity to meet with the Mt. Cuba gardener who is responsible for designing, planting and maintaining the containers, Donna Wiley. She offered several useful tips for a gardener who is beginning t..
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Back on Campus, Figuring out Park(ing) Day  by  Susan Harris

Walking across the University of Maryland campus last week*, I happened upon the school’s National Park(ing) Day exhibit. So once again I asked myself what the hell IS National Park(ing) day? and finally got an answer. At least here, it’s a day for the Landscape Architecture Department to promote the profession, which no doubt could use some public exposure. But naturally there’s more to it. This blog post on The Dirt, the blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects, describes it like this: On Friday, September 21, landscape architects and designers around the world participated in the 14th annual PARK(ing) Day to demonstrate the power of public space. PARK(ing) Day helps the public see the difference a designed space, even one as small as a metered parking spot, can make in their community. To see how creative the project can be, peruse the 424 entries by ASLA members following this hagboard. There was no budget for this exhibit, so the department borrowed some newly bou..
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