Archive | August 2012

Pruning as an art form–The basics of pruning


johntheplantman Gardening

The Simple Basics of Pruning — pruning as an art form.

Growing a plant is one thing.  Shaping plants well is an art form and adds another dimension.  Here is an article that tells you what happens when you prune.  This information applies to just about any kind of shrub or tree.  I am asked lots of questions about pruning.  This article will be the first of a series on pruning practices and techniques.

This jade plant has been worked on for several years.  Time for more pruning
This jade plant has been worked on for several years. Time for more pruning

I am using a jade plant for pictures because the buds show up well.  The jade tree is also really good for an indoor bonsai.

To start with, look at the tip of a stem and notice the small growth bud.  This is called an “apical bud”.

The apical bud
The apical bud

At the side of the stem, just where the leaf comes out, you…

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Choosing the right fertilizer


johntheplantman Gardening

How do I choose the correct fertilizer?

 “What do I feed my plants?”  “What is the best fertilizer?”  — I think that in my experience as a plant man, these are the most frequently asked questions, and everyone seems to want a concise, three word answer.  Here’s the concise answer:  “It all depends.”  Read on to learn how to choose the best fertilizer for your particular needs.

 I will approach the topic with a series of pictures of fertilizer labels and an explanation. The most widely used (and usually cheapest) product used is the basic 10-10-10 fertilizer pictured above.  All fertilizer bags will have a complete analysis of ingredients.  This one shows us that we are getting 10% nitrogen (N), 10 % phosphorous(P), and 10% potassium(K).  This means that 30% of what is in the bag is actual fertilizer; the rest is filler.  N, P, and K are the symbols…

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Using pansies in window boxes for winter color


johntheplantman Gardening

Using pansies in window boxes for winter color

 Dot Fletcher loves her window planters. I call them window boxes, but they are actually made of a wire frame with coconut fiber liners. We change these planters twice a year—in the spring we plant lots of begonias, bacopa, and similar plants for summer color. In October, when the begonia plantings still look nice, we change the planters over to pansies. I love pansies because of their hardiness and their ability to give us beautiful flowers throughout the cold days of winter.

We started the project with a trip to a couple of local nurseries where we picked out just the right colors of pansies. I laid the trays of plants out on the driveway next to a tarp which would help to keep the site clean.

Repeated work with these planters has shown me that we need to change the…

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Green For Green: Staging a Garden for Sale


Erbology

Attention all real estate agents, homeowners and investors looking to sell a property with outdoor space… check out this video as we transform a rooftop garden in preparation to list the property for sale.

Outdoor spaces often get the short end of the stick  when it comes to staging and it’s a missed opportunity to maximize the appeal of the property. Jeffrey talks about staging this rooftop garden on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and gives pointers on design items to consider to successfully show off a garden or patio.

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Staged to Sell: Upper West Side Penthouse Garden


Erbology

Staging your outdoor space can be one of the best ways to set your property apart when listing it for sale. In my experience, exterior spaces often get the short end of the stick when it comes to staging, and it’s a missed opportunity. Especially in cities and urban environments, buyers want the exterior of their home to look and feel just as fabulous as the interior.

We recently staged a penthouse terrace where we maximized the appeal and visual interest of the space. Of course, if you already have existing elements, it is best to incorporate them into the final design whenever possible. We added to existing furniture and brought in coordinating pieces, planters and accessories to warm up the space.

We focused on plantings that had the most impact and color for this time of the season. Many deciduous plants are still pushing leaves and we used a combination of evergreens and deciduous shrubs to get the best results. The…

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Gardens are For Renters Too: Views that Top the Top of the Rock


Erbology

The Top of the Rock has phenomenal views of Midtown Manhattan, the Hudson River and Central Park. However, these twin terraces situated on Central Park South have views which top even those. Situated in the middle of Central Park, you can see all the way from 59th Street to the far end of the park at 110th Street. It takes a lot to make the heart of a New Yorker skip a beat, but this perspective does the trick.

The off-white parapet wall really stuck out against the green backdrop provided by the park. Our intent for using tall planters was to hide most of the parapet wall. Using tall planters also makes the terrace feel larger because it stretches the  lines of the space vertically. Crepe Myrtles, deciduous shrubs and ornamental grasses were carefully selected based on light and wind conditions.

The terraces were accessorized with rugs, pillows, low voltage lighting and lanterns to make them feel complete and lived in. Since…

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Curbside Catastrophe: Paramount Plaza


Erbology

This plaza serves as an entry to the stately 48 story building at 1633 Broadway. Located in the heart of the theater district, Paramount Plaza gets tons of foot traffic which is all the more reason for my disappointment when I saw their fall planting.

One large Chrysanthemum was plunked in the middle of each planter. The plantings don’t have any imagination or whimsy and because of the intermixed colors it looks like an afterthought.  There are so many better options for fall annuals and foliage displays that Chrysanthemums are obsolete from a design perspective.

This planting was a missed opportunity to wow visitors and draw attention to Paramount Plaza’s real estate. The planters are screaming for something with height to match the scale of the surrounding street trees. What if they used Pennisetum rubrum for its tall deep red leaves, or even ‘Purple Majesty’ Ornamental Millet. That would set the stage for…

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Curbside Catastrophe: Successful Fall Planters


Erbology

The best way to bring fall color and interest into your garden is through your planting containers. New York City landscapes are all about the container garden. Containers come in hundreds of different materials, colors, finishes ,and textures. Selecting the right plants for the right container to match the right setting can be overwhelming (check back for an upcoming article on rules of thumb for planter selection). This past week, I observed two different planters. One is located in Midtown Manhattan, and the second is located in Manhattan’s Financial District.

       

  

 The Midtown planter lacks fall interest. Observe the Begonias, Sweet Potato Vine, and Boxwood thrown together without attention to the season. The color scheme is better for Valentine’s day, and though I am a believer of color blocking, the red and pink flowers are a cheap shot at creating a colorful planter. The plant combination of the…

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