On the Dissing of “Ornamental Plants”  by  Susan Harris

Anyone else bothered by the term “ornamental” to distinguish certain plants from those that are considered useful, usually edibles? For example,Wikipedia uses this petunia to illustrate the term and offers this definition: Ornamental plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design projects, as houseplants, for cut flowers, and specimen display. The Wiki authors (and I’ve noticed, users of the term generally) make it clear that the plants are for aesthetics only: Commonly, ornamental [garden] plants are grown for the display of aesthetic features. In all cases, their purpose is for the enjoyment of gardeners, visitors, and the public institutions. If we hadn’t already gotten the point: (bold in the original) Ornamental plants are plants which are grown for display purposes, rather than functional ones. While some plants are both ornamental and functional, people usually use the term “ornamental plants” to refer to plants which have no value..
Read More

New Jersey Tree Foundation Greens Communities on TD Tree Days

Corporate Partnerships Urban and Community Forestry/Green Infrastructure New Jersey Tree Foundation Greens Communities on TD Tree Days By Mary Sweeney | September 21, 2018 Guest post by Beth Kwart, Development Director, NJ Tree Foundation The TD Tree Days program gives us opportunities to make a large impact in community parks, residential streets, and open spaces. We have planted anywhere from 30 to 130 trees at one time through our TD Tree Days events. -Lisa Simms, Executive Director for the New Jersey Tree Foundation. Each year, the Arbor Day Foundation and TD Bank awards 10 community grants to municipalities with Tree City USA designation as part of the TD Green Streets program. The grants are used to plant trees in barren and underserved communities. The New Jersey Tree Foundation—an organization dedicated to improving the environment and quality of life for New Jersey residents by planting trees—has partnered with TD Green Streets grant recipients in New Jersey..
Read More

9 Trees that Can Survive Flooding

Featured Tree Planting 9 Trees that Can Survive Flooding By Sheereen Othman | September 19, 2018 It’s that time of year, where storms, hurricanes, and flooding become more common. Storms deliver torrential rain that can lead to massive flooding, damaging homes, businesses, and sometimes our community trees. But some tree species are more tolerant than others at withstanding the impact of a storm and its aftereffects like puddles, soil deposition, and rushing streams. Here are 11 tree species that can thrive in wet soil and flood conditions and can weather a storm. 1. River Birch Betula nigra As its name suggests, the river birch naturally grows along river banks. But as a landscape tree, it can be planted almost anywhere in the U.S. The species is valued for its relatively rapid growth, tolerance of wetness and some drought, unique curling bark, spreading limbs and relative resistance to birch borer. The river birch has not yet reached the popularity of many maples and..
Read More

Thoughts on water, living with water, and storms  by  Elizabeth Licata

This is some stage of Arthur, off Topsail Island, NC, July 2014 We’re drawn to water and connected through water, especially gardeners. Most of the gardeners I know—not just in WNY but all over the US—spend half their growing seasons hoping for water in the form of rain. They have rain gauges and weather stations and use apps and websites to monitor annual rainfall in their areas. They have become amateur rain scientists. Gardeners try to save rain with rain barrels and to stop it from running out into storm gutters—as much as they can—through creating rain gardens and other plantings that capture water. We revel in water as humans, seeking out opportunities to swim, splash, and float. I’m often scheming about how I could get a small, good-looking pool installed, and I haven’t given up. I love beaches even more. For years, we have spent at least one summer week on the beautiful coast of North Carolina, a place very familiar to me from childhood summers spent there when my father was i..
Read More

The Iconoclastic Gardener – Breaking May’s Stranglehold  by  Scott Beuerlein

Way back in 1914, an awful calamity happened that would ruin gardening in America forever. With the seemingly benevolent stroke of his pen, Woodrow Wilson foisted the Tyranny of Mother’s Day upon us all. Soon after came the backhanded slap from the long arm of the law of unintended consequences. To be clear, I’m actually fairly okay with honoring moms. I’ve got one, and my wife even became one too. Willingly. What I don’t like, however, is that this holiday has established the second Sunday in May as the one and only epicenter of the entire Horticultural Universe. As if graven on stone tablets, it was apparently ordained that every homeowner in America must cram a year’s worth of yard work, and do all their garden shopping, within two or three days of that holiest of holy days. As you can imagine, because people inherently buy from garden centers things that are in flower, this has ensured that every last homeowner’s yard explodes into bloom right on Mother’s Day and sheepishly goes ..
Read More

Are Your Trees Stressed?

Tree Care Are Your Trees Stressed? By Arbor Day Foundation | September 17, 2018 Guest post by John Lang of Friendly Tree. Believe it or not, trees get stressed, too. While trees in forests typically live for a hundred years or more, trees in cities and towns usually only survive for a few decades. This is because various stressors in the urban landscape take their toll on tree health. Let’s explore some of these factors and how they can be managed. What Causes Tree Stress? It’s a common misconception that insects and disease are the main causes for tree death. The human environment actually causes the majority of stress that trees experience – and in fact, even infestation can in many cases be traced back to human activity. Improper planting is one of the major reasons trees decline in urban environments. Additional contributors to tree stress include watering too much, watering too little, soil compaction, exposure to road salt and pollution, and construction near roo..
Read More

“Invasive” Ground Covers and the Case for Allowing Periwinkle  by  Susan Harris

I have a beef with the inclusion of Periwinkle (Vinca minor) on my coop’s list of banned plants – banned because they’re considered invasive (despite NOT being listed on the Maryland Invasive Plant list). I’ve grown it in two suburbs of DC and in neither location (or the gardens of my neighbors) has it grown vigorously. If anything, my complaint, echoed by other area gardeners, is that it’s not vigorous enough. So let’s find out where it’s invasive and under what conditions, shall we? The Invasive Plant Atlas says it’s “invading natural areas throughout the Eastern U.S. It inhabits open to shady sites including forests and often escapes from old homesites.” The State of Indiana says: “Once established, Vinca minor forms a dense carpet to the exclusion of other plants. This creates a problem where it is competing with native flora.” Moving west, a California source says it “tends to become invasive in hot Mediterranean climates.” Indeed I finally found a spot where Periwinkle IS c..
Read More

This is why I don’t grow my own vegetables  by  Elizabeth Licata

Daniel Oles, Oles Family Farm (photo: Stephen Gabris) Normally, we try not to repeat recent topics, but I, too, have been thinking about small family farms, which Allen posted about yesterday. Like Allen, I am a frequent patron of farmers markets. I am also a CSA (community-supported agriculture) customer. I’ve chosen one of the best sustainable farms in the area, Oles Family Farm, which dropped off corn, tomatoes, peppers, kale, Napa cabbage, potatoes, onions, and yellow beans today. I expect an avalanche of beets and kohlrabi very soon, when the fall crops begin to arrive. Daniel and Jane Oles participated, along with three other area farms, in a recent roundtable discussion published in the magazine I edit (the discussion is not online yet). While the Oles are largely known for their vegetables, the other farmers specialize in dairy, fruit, and meat production. The outlook is not good, but nobody’s giving up—yet. Here are some of their statements: On labor: “In terms of labor, we’..
Read More

How Do We Raise More Farmers?  by  Allen Bush

I may have come across the future of American farming. Mind you, what I found was small-scale farming, but if farming and rural communities are to survive, it may come down to farm internships and incubators to nurture young farmers. When Rose and I were visiting family last month in Bellingham, WA, we went to the Saturday Farmer’s Market. In the midst of vendor stands full of veggie samosas, meat pies, cut flowers and produce, I found Cloud Mountain Farm. Business was booming. We bought plums, fat figs and little ‘Centennial’ crab apples. I asked a few questions, but there wasn’t much time. Annah Young and Aram Dagavarian were managing the farm stand. Annah is Cloud Mountain Farm’s Education Coordinator, and Aram is a farm intern. Bellingham Farmers Market A crowd was waiting behind us. We didn’t linger long. I was intrigued. I wanted to visit the farm and find out more. The next day Rose and I drove to Cloud Mountain Farm Center (CMFC) in Everson, WA. American farming and rural c..
Read More

Nonprofit Partnerships Lead to Meaningful Projects with Employees

Corporate Partnerships Nonprofit Partnerships Lead to Meaningful Projects with Employees By Matt Spitsen | September 10, 2018 With summer’s end drawing near and fall planting season approaching, it’s a great time to reflect on what allows us to fulfill our mission of inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. Partnerships. Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. — Helen Keller Seldom can we accomplish our mission without help from individuals, communities, and our partners. This has never been truer as we grow and increase our reach. Our corporate partners come to us looking for a way to engage their employees with their sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals. They are looking for a way to engage their workforce — but not just in one community, across their global or national footprint. TruGreen Helps to Distribute Free Trees to Communities in Need Thanks to our network of planting partners around the world, we’re able..
Read More