Journal

Last summer, when I was playing with my kids at Weezie’s Garden for Children at Elm Bank in Wellesley, I made the acquaintance of Frank Hamm, who was doing maintenance work on some of the many structures that he had built in the garden. My kids have spent hours climbing in his two story “tree house”, as well as in the woven twig “birds’ nests”. I was always amazed by the creativity and craftsmanship of these structures, and so I was pleased to meet him in person. I took his card, and when it was time to build a fence for a future kitchen garden in my backyard, I gave him a call.

As I mentioned in my last post, a vegetable and herb garden planted in containers can be just as dynamic as a garden planted in the ground. The baskets in these images were found at my town’s reusable area. The brown baskets are florist baskets that were already lined with plastic. I poked several holes in the plastic to allow for drainage. The green basket came without a liner, so I lined it with a scrap of permeable weed barrier before filling it with my special potting soil/compost/fertilizer mix. The weed barrier prevents the soil from washing out through the spaces in the basket, but allows water to drain freely.

Looking back over the images of the herbs and vegetables that I grew in containers around my patio last summer, I was struck by how an edible garden in a container does not have to be a static creation that you just plant at the beginning of the season and forget about. It has a life cycle comparable to that of a garden in the ground. A great example is the miniature herb and vegetable garden that I planted in this large ceramic pot in May. It contains lemongrass, variegated nasturtium, curly parsley, red cabbage, yellow Swiss chard, red Swiss chard, golden pineapple sage, and yard-long beans (on the tripod of bamboo stakes). While the yard-long beans are getting a slow start in the back, all the other components are growing strongly.

One of the nicest things about being a garden designer and horticulturist is that I can do research for my work every time I step outside the door. I tend to mentally redesign every property that I see, and assess the health of all the plants on it. So when I get to take a trip to a truly inspiring landscape like the coast of Maine, it is a real treat, and provides ample material for me to analyze (and enjoy!).

On a balmy September day in 2002, I was standing in a field in Central Virginia, watching brilliant orange Monarch butterflies float by like leaves that refused to fall. They stopped just long enough to sip some nectar from wild field asters—fuel for their long migration south.

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