Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest.
The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating, and restorative benefits to be achieved.
Just be with trees. No hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything. Don’t effort.
I subscribe whole-heartedly to this concept.
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity for a forest bath (walk) in the woods of Ohio while visiting my daughter. I can definitively tell you, I feel better!
Years ago, a very wonderful friend of mine was espousing the virtues of hostas. Conjuring up an image in my mind of the cemetery variety, I replied that they were nothing but slug bait.
Thankfully my friend did not slug me! As a former president of the New England Hosta Society, she must have looked at me as a challenge and over the years kept pointing out unusual varieties. Her persistence paid off, and now I’m hooked. Having already mentioned that my favorite color is green, hostas already have one thing going for them. And the more I use them the more I love them.
There are really only three problems when growing hostas:
Bambi. Thumper. Slugs.
If the deer and rabbits in your area treat your hosta like a salad bar, be vigilant.
You need to interrupt their dinner and train them to look elsewhere. As soon as the hostas start to emerge in spring, spray with a repellent. There are many on the market and your local garden center can suggest one. There are also numerous homemade remedies on the internet – everything from Irish Spring soap to red pepper spray. I have had tremendous success with Deer Defeat. I purchase it online and apply according to package directions…more often in the spring as plants are actively growing. It’s all natural, does not have to be re-applied after rain and only smells really bad for a few hours.
If slugs are more your problem taking action NOW will prevent the chewed leaves that show up in July.
As soon as the hostas start pushing up through the earth, sprinkle a little bit of slug bait around. (Iron phosphate is my preferred method as it does not rely on chemicals that can be hazardous to people and pets.) Not too much – no need to go crazy.
Since slugs can have many litters (is that what you call them?) it’s important to get them under control before they start producing.
You can choose to set beer traps – basically a small tin filled with beer will attract the slugs and they fall in and drown. To me, that just seems like a waste of good beer!
I also read that using leftover coffee, sprinkled around the plants, will deter the slimy creatures. Apparently the caffeine tastes bitter and the slugs don’t like it. I have not ever had a real problem with these shell-less terrestrial gastropods in my garden and now I wonder if it is because I sprinkle my used coffee grounds in the garden to improve the soil. Of course you can limit slug damage by growing your hostas in containers. Many of you know I am a huge fan of using unusual foliage plants in containers and hostas are one of my favorites.
So let me just apologize to Mary right now. I was wrong and you were right. Hostas are beautiful. And you have recommended some great ones. ‘Winter Snow’, ‘Fat Cat’, ‘Grand Marquis’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’. These are no cemetery varieties. For more information, and some great pictures, visit the Hosta Library.
The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, and features stunning displays by the world’s premier floral and landscape designers.
Started in 1829 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Show introduces the newest plant varieties, garden and design concepts, and organic and sustainable practices. In addition to the major garden displays, the Flower Show hosts world-renowned competitions in horticulture and artistic floral arranging, gardening presentations and demonstrations, special events, a mammoth indoor Marketplace, and the Bloom Philly Festival in the weeks leading up to the Show.
The Philadelphia Flower Show has been honored as the best event in the world by the International Festivals & Events Association, competing with events such as the Kentucky Derby Festival, Tournament of Roses Parade, Indianapolis 500 Festival, and other international celebrations.
Enjoy some of my own photos from my incredible experience at this year’s event, which carried a Holland theme, celebrating the flowers and culture of The Netherlands.
Want to know more? I’d love to tell you all about it.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt.
True words. Especially nowadays with all the opportunities social media provides to make you feel inadequate.
Anyone besides me compare your life, marriage, kids to all those trumpeting their successes on Facebook?
Another interesting quote from Steven Furtick, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Wouldn’t life be so much better if we stopped comparing and just focused on doing our best? Give each day, each opportunity, 100% without worrying about what everyone else is doing? I find that when I do that I end the day feeling profoundly grateful for what I have.
The same can be said of our gardens. Instead of lamenting a small city lot, be grateful and incorporate dwarf plants that will be beautiful in your space. Instead of complaining that your green thumb is being thwarted in your small apartment, use containers on your balcony to grow everything from perennials to veggies. If you are overwhelmed by a large garden, create “pollinator habitats” and leave some areas alone.
Your garden should bring you joy.
If it’s not, spring is the perfect time for an adjustment.
I have seen many gorgeous gardens fall off the radar at night. Beautiful and breathtaking by day once the sun sets they become black holes. Which is why, when I design gardens, I always recommend landscape lighting – it allows your garden to be a source of enjoyment even after the sun has gone down.
Imagine sitting in your living room looking out at a beautiful specimen tree which is uplit so the branches seem to shimmer. Now imagine looking out that same window and seeing only darkness. Picture a romantic dinner on the patio with soft mood lighting versus having to turn on the outdoor floodlights.Read More»
I have a distinct memory last summer of enjoying a meal with a friend in her newly constructed screen house. I kept thinking it was raining due to the incessant pitter patter on the metal roof. When I later realized that it was gypsy moth poop, I had two thoughts. First, gross! And second, thank goodness for a roof! Gypsy moths seemed to be everywhere.
If you thought last year’s invasion of gypsy moths was of biblical proportions hold on to your hat. According to experts, this year could be just as bad, if not worse.Read More»
There is one very important thing you should do before starting any garden design project.
Stare out the windows. I mean it.
Really stare, or at least look very closely.
Too many designers start outside the home with no thought given to how the garden will look from inside. For many of us in colder climates a good deal of time is spent enjoying the gardens from inside so designing from the inside out just makes sense.Read More»
It’s Valentine’s Day and love stories abound.
The one between me and my garden is one of my favorites.
And like love, it has its seasons.
The spring garden is ripe with promise.
Yet, like new love, it is fragile. A time of emptiness surrenders as an opportunity for hope springs up, like the snowdrop bravely pushing itself through the snow. Or the crocus straining towards the sun. Still, the spring garden can be full of worry and concern.
Will that late cold snap kill ripening flower buds? Will the deer munch the tulips? Will the snow load prove too much for the small snowdrops? Anything too weighty, at this point in the development, could prove disastrous. So much promise, yet so much risk.Read More»
One of my favorite lecture topics:
Beauty and the Bees – A different way of looking at garden design
Time was when we wanted to design gardens that were beautiful.
Planting trees, shrubs and perennials together to create a space that was aesthetically pleasing was the goal.
Now we know better.
Gardening just for our own pleasure is not only selfish, it’s dangerous.
Colony Collapse Disorder and the plight of pollinators have made us aware that we do not garden alone.
We need to be designing landscapes and gardens with a mindful eye to the environment around us.
Join garden designer and beekeeper Deborah Trickett, owner of The Captured Garden, as she shows you how with a few tweaks we can create spaces that are not only beautiful but beneficial to bees and other pollinators.
“Bee the Change – Plant for Pollinators” – Plant Something, MA
Protecting the Life That Sustains Us – Xerces Society
Bee School – Worcester County Beekeepers Association
Bee School – Norfolk County Beekeepers
Ten Interesting Facts About Bees – Massachusetts Master Gardeners
No doubt bittersweet is beautiful in fall arrangements. Just search Pinterest and you’ll see it featured in many fall container gardens.
While I understand bittersweet’s appeal I NEVER advocate it.
Oriental bittersweet (celastrus orbiculatus) is invasive.
Our feathered friends feast on the orange/yellow berries and then do their business in the woods. Bittersweet is a thug. Once it starts growing it takes over, monopolizing light and water, and choking out native plants. Bittersweet will either climb over plants and smother them or twine tightly up the plants and constrict them. If you like the look, consider using artificial. You’ll not only help save native plants you’ll save money by having a garland you can use for many years to come.