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  •    Centuries ago there was tulipomania. More recently and on a larger stage, there was the dot-com bubble, followed by the housing bubble. We know what happened to them.
        Gardeners now seem caught up in a hydrangea frenzy. There are mopheads, lacecaps, and Annabelle types, not to mention oakleaf and Japanese panicle hydrangeas. For the truly smitten, there are Japanese mountain hydrangeas (serrata), villosas, and other more tender species and varieties.

  •    In today’s popular culture the only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity at all.
    That has been the fate of deutzias, June-flowering shrubs related to mock orange. Both members of the Saxifragaceae family seem to be hopelessly out of fashion, and undeservedly so.

  •    To what can we attribute the enduring popularity of hostas? They can be likened to the Helen of Troy or Cleopatra of the floral world, seducing non-gardening homeowners and casual and obsessed gardeners alike.
        All this passion for a plant that can be destroyed by deer, voles, and slugs. In my own garden the voles sometimes get them even when they are sunk into the ground in plastic pots.

  •    How can you shed a little light on densely shaded corners of the garden? Or, better yet, how can you transform a black hole into a destination?
        Inadvertently this is what happened last week at the Mimi Meehan Native Plant Garden behind Clinton Academy, after I stumbled upon both a shrub and perennial with ice-blue foliage.

  •    Planting containers can be a daunting task, but it needn’t be. The more you play with the plants, their colors and textures, the easier and more fun it becomes.
        Last week I had one of those epic, serendipitous moments: At Amy’s Flowers in Water Mill, I took multiple images with a digital camera until I saw the plant combination I preferred and would like to live with this summer. There is nothing like a photo image to focus the eye.

  •     Look at photographs and paintings of early 20th-century gardens on the East End and what do you see: roses, first and foremost. Climbing roses, frothy with blooms overflowing pergolas, arbors, walls, and fences. At the very pinnacle of high fashion were beds filled with the new, repeat flowering China and tea roses, surrounded by low clipped hedges of boxwood.
        Surprise of surprises, ornamental grasses crop up, used in a variety of ways.

  •     Wisteria in flower evokes the most romantic garden fantasies. Monet planted it famously above a Japanese bridge in his water garden at Giverny, and of course painted it.
        You have to read the fine print to discover that while the vines he planted are still thriving, they literally tore down their supports. The reality is wisteria is high maintenance, very high maintenance, and 99.5 percent of us don’t have the know-how or resources to keep it under control and flowering, say, as in a Monet painting.

  • Not quite three years ago I wrote enthusiastically about a revolution in roses that would propel America’s national flower into its most popular and widely grown flower.
  • Show-stopping trees can be the stars of your garden, from a pink-flowering Japanese apricot to the flamboyant crape myrtle.