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Tuesday
May052015

The Truth about Ecological Restoration

Currently, climate change and its validity is a hot debate in this country, but many people are seeing the effects first hand and have no doubt.  The world’s top scientists agree that tides are rising, land is eroding faster, rivers run with heavy metals, and oceans have become our wastebasket.  Climate change is an unstoppable natural process, but we can create a more resilient nation through the Restoration, Reclamation, and Rehabilitation of the landscape. 

This seaside property was restored to withstand the ever changing climate.When you read our blogs here on Outdoor Spaces, we talk about anything and everything landscape.  You might be thinking about all your trees, shrubs and flowers on your property, but the truth is that the term landscape holds a deeper meaning.  Landscapes are far more than the scenery in your backyard, or your neighbor’s gorgeous Crape Myrtle, because landscapes are 3 dimensional compositions of earth, water and atmosphere.  The landscape is our home to share with nature and it is our duty to ensure its healthy longevity.

Globalization in the past decade has been a bitter sweet part of our lives.  We live in a post-industrial society and in the midst of a technological revolution.  Communications are being optimized and almost everyone is carrying a small computer in their front pocket.  Now, more than ever, we can see the evolution of technology manifest within our lifetime.   As a result of this globalization and urbanization, mankind has put an unprecedented amount of stress on the environment.  For example, many rivers have become engineered channels of concrete, and sometimes piped underground, which has reduced their ability to provide ecosystem services.  Ecosystem services are the environmental benefits associated with a functional ecosystem.  This channelization of rivers has increased the number of people living in flood zones.  When a storm surge happens, the capacity of the engineered concrete channel is exceeded, resulting in destruction of the local community.  A solution is to restore the stream to a more naturalistic meandering form, with tidal buffers and constructed wetlands.  This doesn’t mean we abandon engineering.  In fact, environmental engineers can calculate what it takes to build a restored river ecosystem just like an engineered concrete channel.

This residential woodland path creates a space for humans and wildlife to thrive and live in harmony.After Hurricane Sandy, Long Islanders were faced with restoration projects both large and small.  Houses, beaches, canals, streams and properties needed to be repaired and updated to withstand a greater force of nature.  Ecological restoration provides added benefits in addition to an improved aesthetic.  Projects of any scale can restore habitat for flora/fauna, and this directly influences your life.  Some people may think they are isolated from nature in their urban and suburban world, but the truth is quite the opposite.  Humans are just as important for a functional ecological web of life as plants and animals.  When we truly become stewards of the land, we can create a healthy and thriving landscape for all.  Goldberg and Rodler has design experts who are passionate and dedicated to the sustainable environment.  Give us a call if you would like to create a sustainable landscape, and a Goldberg and Rodler designer can help bring your vision into reality. 

Written by, Nick Onesto 

Thursday
Apr232015

Choosing Annual Flower Colors

A riot of color lasting all summer long in these planters.FINALLY, spring is here and so begins the annual pursuit to embellish our gardens with color… lots and lots of color!  Before your first trip to the nursery this year, as there will surely be many, consider choosing a color scheme. It may be your favorite 2 colors or 5 or 6, but let’s first consider how the colors play off of each other and try to avoid those harsh color combinations we’ve all experienced in the past.  It can also be fun to choose just one color.  White gardens are lovely and if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the evening, the effect is breathtaking! Be aware, however, working with any one color is an exercise in restraint, a word rarely found in a gardener’s vocabulary, but the effect is dramatic if you have the courage to try it. 

The first colors you may want to consider are blues and purples. They are great unifiers and intermingle well with just about any other colors you choose.  When left on their own they tend to disappear into the landscape, but add a white flower and you’ve got a winning combination!!  Sun loving blue, purple or white annuals for beds can include varieties of Petunias, Angelonia, Salvia, Heliotrope and Scaevola, just to name a few. For shade, you may want to consider Torenia, Ageratum or New Guinea Impatiens. 

Purple, yellow and pink compliment each other beautifully in this summer planter.Now it’s time to add other colors to your palette. Complementary colors, such as purple and orange make up one of the best combinations.  They work well in the foreground of an evergreen border or where a lot of blue and white hydrangeas reside, but if you have pink or red roses blooming nearby, you may want to avoid orange and consider adding shades of pink or red instead.  Orange along with its many shades of peach, apricot and coral, can include varieties of lantana, creeping and upright zinnias, marigolds and salmon geraniums for the sun.  For the shade, consider upright fuchsia varieties, New Guinea impatiens or Nonstop begonias. There are countless choices for red and pink. My favorites would include the pink variety of Angelonia, Petunias, Salvia ‘Lady in Red’ and Madagascar Vinca for the sun.  Dragon wing Begonias, Nonstop Begonia, New Guinea impatiens and Fuchsia would all do well in the shade.  Yellow and purple are another terrific complementary color combination.  Yellow annuals can include marigolds, mimulus, lantana and melampodium.  For shade try Nonstop begonias and yellow shades of coleus.   Adding a splash of taller annuals in garden beds around low shrubs or short blooming perennials, adds another texture and continuous color to the space.  Pink, purple or white shades of Cleome or Salvia varieties such as ‘Indigo Spires’ or ‘Black and Blue’ are great choices, as are Nicotiana, tall Zinnias such as ‘State Fair’ and Cosmos as tall flowering annuals in a sunny bed.  Working with shades of one color is another winning combination.

There are infinite choices of flower combinations.   A few possible suggestions for sunny borders include:

  •        Purple ANGELONIA and yellow, orange or multi colored LANTANA
  •        Tall yellow MARIGOLDS and blue SCAEVOLA
  •        SALVIA ‘BLUE VICTORIA’ and NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS or MADAGASCAR VINCA
  •        Purple PETUNIA and SALVIA ‘LADY IN RED’
  •        MELAMPODIUM and purple HELIOTROPE
  •        White ANGELONIA or SALVIA ‘WHITE VICTORIA’ and Purple PETUNIA or SCAEVOLA

For shade borders:

  •        Tall AGERATUM and NONSTOP BEGONIA  
  •        Blue TORENIA and COLEUS
  •        Pink or Red DRAGON WING BEGONIA and White NONSTOP BEGONIA
  •        Lavender NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS and Upright FUCHSIA
  •        White NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS and Blue TORENIA or Blue AGERATUM

Enhance a functional area with color to make those daily trips to the mailbox a delight.Choosing annuals for pots can also be a lot of fun.  Whether you’re looking for a dramatic statement at the front door, or on a pool terrace, or you want to create the appearance of a small garden by grouping pots together, there are a few things you may want to consider. When planting a grouping, feel free to set odd or even groups of pots together. They don’t have to match or be the same size, in fact, it is usually more effective when they are different sizes.  The universal design mantra is to plant a thriller, fillers and spillers.   If working with groupings, thrillers would be planted in the larger pot.  Although the choices are many, hibiscus, mandevilla, jasmine, solanum or any other topiary annuals, grasses, dracaena or elephant ears would all be effective.  Fuchsia topiaries or tall ferns, such as Australian tree fern or Kimberly Queen fern are thriller options for the shady container.  Fillers, with limitless varieties to choose from, include most of the previously mentioned annuals as well as the many varieties of million bells and lantana, bacopa and verbena. Spillers can include creeping zinnias, chartreuse and purple potato vines and English ivy. 

Enjoy mixing and matching these or any other plant combinations until you find one that talks to you.  Remember one thing, no matter what color or colors you choose the experience should be fun, for that is what gardening is all about!  

If you would like advice or guidance designing and planting your annual garden, please call (631) 271-6460 x28 or email me to schedule a consultation.

 

Written by Maria Morrison-Ferrero 

Friday
Apr172015

BEACH RESTORATION: Where did all of the sand go?

Here on Long Island, our precious coastline is a big part of our pride and recreation, weather it’s the scenic beauty of the North Shore bluffs or the pristine sand coast of the South Shore beaches and bays. We've got it all. However, our shores are constantly under attack with Nor’easters, hurricanes, tidal surges or even bad wind storms. During these storms, immense power rips away at the bluffs, sand dunes and beaches, compromising our land and homes.

Beach restoration has been a hot topic for many of our communities close to the water. I will address two properties, one on the North Fork and one on a South Shore Bay. Both had been battered with hurricane Sandy, with pre and post Nor’easters.

NORTH SHORE BLUFF:

This property sits high on a bluff which has previously suffered from numerous storms and erosion. Past attempts were made to stabilize the bluff without success. For this property the DEC approved a boulder embankment to stabilize the bottom of the bluff but the slope was still eroding from the top down. We were brought in to stabilize the slope with a network of jute netting and native vegetation, consisting of American Beach Grass, Rugosa Rose, Beach Plum and Bayberry to reflect the existing plants on the adjoining embankment. Within one year the roots took hold, the natural indigenous habitat was restored and the slope is on its way to a full recovery. This has held up well in the past two Nor’easters with no erosion or slippage of the slope.

North Shore Bluff before and after restoration.

 

 

SOUTH SHORE BAY:

On this property we have a different scenario with the lower elevation and less slope to the shoreline. This south shore property was hit hard with tidal surges from past storms. A previous homeowner had cleared and planted a lawn along the shoreline which did not hold up well in the aftermath of these storms. To restore this eroded area we added a sand and soil mix with jute matting and some boulders to strengthen the area. The DEC does not permit a retaining wall of any sort so we had to slope the area gently and re vegetate. We added American Beach Grass, Bayberry and White Potentilla which fare well with this deer inundated area. The existing vegetation on either side of the eroded area was kept in a natural vegetated state with native grasses and shrubs which absorbed the tidal surges from Hurricane Sandy. Very little erosion was present in the adjacent area that was left natural while the cleared area with lawn was carved away by the storms. This made for a good case study on the effects of removing native vegetation and over development of a shoreline. Two years later the shoreline is stable and the plantings have spread their root system throughout the sandy mix to strengthen the shoreline and blend seamlessly with the adjoining natural habitat.

South Bay Beach before and after restoration.

 

With a professional plan to restore Mother Nature we can revive and care for our waterfronts so we can retain the soil, sand, and vegetation. This protects our parks, beaches, property values and the overall beauty of this magnificent island we call home.

If you want advice or guidance on restoring your waterfront property please contact Goldberg and Rodler and we will connect you with one of our designers to schedule a consultation.

 

Written by Rick Schneider

 

Friday
Apr172015

Landscape Design Principles and Elements of Composition: Texture

Feathery plumes of Dwarf Fountain Grass alongside Bluestone Stepping Stones and crushed Long Island gravel.This is the second in a series of articles on Landscape Design Principles and Elements of Composition (click here for the first entry on Color). Today we want to talk about texture in the landscape. There are many ways to achieve different textures with plants, but utilizing natural materials in a garden such as bark and foliage can work well in combination with other elements like gravel, stone, and wood that contribute to a garden’s sensory experience.

Groundcovers, especially between stepping stones, can lend to a variety of ground plane textures. Imagine the feel of soft, cool grass or gatherings of moss under bare feet on a spring morning. Soft, fuzzy perennial Lamb’s Ear in the garden is wonderful to rub between your fingers, as are the leaves of a sage plant. Showy grasses like Hakonechloa or Dwarf Fountain Grass blades are anything but sharp. Get up close and touch the ethereally light, delicate plumes on an ornamental grass when it flowers in the late summer. A mass in the distance is a beautiful visual but there’s nothing like sitting amongst them. Enjoy the grasses from the weathered wood of a favorite garden bench, or planted with a piece of bleached driftwood as a sculptural element to contrast the wispy blades.

Textural contrast of ferns and a Weeping White Pine.We can’t talk about foliage textures without mentioning ferns. There are so many varieties hardy in our area, all of them a textural delight to use in the garden. The fronds of a fern are what we notice first, but get up close and see the curled up fiddleheads (before the frond opens). Even the underside of the fern has something to offer with the clusters of sporangia, usually a contrasting red or brown, especially showy on the evergreen Christmas Fern.

Spiky variegated Agave nestled softly among Scaevola, Lantana and Alyssum.On the opposite side of soft vegetation are the bristly, sharp plants like Agave and Prickly Pear Cactus. Agave is mainly used as an annual or indoor plant here but Yucca is another spiky plant that you can use in the garden and there are many varieties hardy to Long Island.  Prickly Pear Cactus is considered hardy but may take a hit in harsh winters. It is best to plant them in a protected, well-drained area if you want them outside. The needles of many conifers also fall into the sharp category such as Blue Spruce. Not only is the color striking but the coarse surface makes these evergreens stand out from softer White Pine and the many textures of arborvitae.

The coppery, exfoliating trunk of a Paperbark Maple at Planting Fields Arboretum.Exfoliating bark on a Crape Myrtle, Paperbark Maple or River Birch adds almost an architectural texture during all seasons. Though they may look very rough to some, they can all seem quite wispy at times. A Japanese Dogwood, Hinoki Cypress or Alaskan Cedar on the other hand, offers a very firm exfoliating bark - not ones you’d want to touch. They are definitely a stronger visual presence in the garden. Then you have the smooth gray bark of a stately Beech tree that resembles a column holding up a canopy.

A garden needs rough and rigid objects to balance the smooth and soft offerings. The obvious rigidity in a landscape is the paved surfaces, but we will go beyond that. Stone walls are classic in a garden as are brick and stone paving. These materials also last a long time in the garden, weathering over the years. Weathering can add to the character of the stone and brick and lend a softer feeling to the aged hardscape. Cast stone and terra cotta planters are another way to bring solid forms into the landscape. Whether a rounded shape or squared off trough, planters provide a solid visual anchor for specialty plantings like summer annuals or winter displays.

Visually and physically speaking, textures in the garden are one of the greatest ways we experience outdoor space. Another major influence is lighting and its counterpart shadows. With the right lighting scheme, not only can a property be used day or night, it can also enhance the beauty of both man and Mother Nature’s architecture. Stay tuned for our next piece on light and shadow in the garden!

 

Written by Ashley Palko Haugsjaa

Monday
Apr062015

Pollination: The Importance of Sex in the Garden

Heliconius Melpomene Madiera AKA Piano Key Butterfly feeding on Pentas at Butterfly World in Florida.Birds, bees and butterflies are more than beautiful, living garden accessories. They are essential fauna for our flora. Plants need to be pollinated. Some can be pollinated by the wind, like corn and wheat, but these flying wonders do much of the heavy lifting for other plants and are vital for them to produce berries, seeds and fruit. Seed development and fruit production are important for a plant’s continued survival. More than three quarters of all plants rely on pollination for survival. One third of the food we eat is reliant upon pollination to be produced. Chocolate, fruits, vegetables, coffee, even livestock that are raised on grains and vegetables are all dependant on the pollinators. 

Our beautiful gardens do so much more than visually stimulate us. They support an ecosystem. Flies, beetles, bats and moths are also common pollinators, but in a typical residential landscape, we prefer to open our gardens to the elegant birds, bees and butterflies. There are several things to consider when making an inviting environment for our pollinators. 

A common bumblebee hanging out on a centaurea. Scent, color and shape are some of the biggest factors in attracting pollinators to a garden. Clumping plants together in a mass makes it easier for a pollinator to find them. Red, orange, yellow and other bright colors serve as a beacon to attract them. In our gardens we prefer the pleasant scents of lilac, privet, roses, iris, catmint and herbs and so do bees. While bees cannot see red (butterflies and birds can) they are attracted to other bright colors and having several masses of different flowers is the best option to attract them. When you mass flowers, it not only creates a beautiful palette of plants to enjoy it is also beneficial for both the pollinator and your plants. They can easily locate these plants so they can return and don’t have to go far to find additional nourishment. The more colors you have, the more diverse a spectrum of pollinators you can attract.

A typical hummingbird feeder. Note the red plastic flowers to catch their eyes!Birds are attracted by sight to flowers as they don’t have a sense of smell to guide them to nectar. Birds also eat the creepy crawly critters we don’t want in our flowers while pollinating at the same time! Berries are an important food source for birds especially when the weather is cold and there are no insects to munch on. Any plant that can offer shelter for nest building and a hideaway from predators is a bonus for our winged friends. Winterberry, holly, black-eyed Susan, coneflower, millet, liatris, sunflowers, dogwood and juniper all offer berries and seeds for birds. You can also add a bird feeder to supplement their diet during lean, cold months.

A fuzzy yellow moth and an elegant orange Monarch butterfly on a purple butterfly bush.Hummingbirds are a popular bird we try to attract to our gardens and there are several ways to do so. Besides offering them attractive, trumpet shaped flowers you can also put out a feeder (which may also work for butterflies). Make sure to have a LOT of red to attract these hovering beauties and to follow the directions on filling the feeder with the best mixture to attract these interesting creatures. Hummingbirds have been observed sipping nectar from summer flowers like lantana, fuchsia, petunia and begonia. They may also visit coral bells, geranium, bee balm, honeysuckle (make sure it is a non-invasive cultivar), trumpet vine, butterfly bush, weigela, and crabapple. In the Northeast, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird can be spotted during summer months only as they migrate south for winter. If you can’t catch a glimpse of a hummingbird, many of these plants also attract butterflies.

Like hummingbirds, butterflies are also attracted to the color red. However, unlike hummingbirds that can hover while they sip, butterflies need a landing space, a wide petal or leaf to perch upon while they feed. Butterfly weed, yarrow, coneflower, black-eyed Susan, butterfly bush, and herbs like thyme and chives have either leaves or sturdy clusters of flowers to perch upon.

A small fountain or birdbath will provide water as well as style.No matter which plants we decide upon together, it is important to have a succession of blooms throughout the season to make sure you have a constant array of pollinating visitors. There is convincing evidence that pesticides and herbicides have contributed to the honeybee’s population decline. Make sure to reduce toxins in the garden. One of the ways to do this is to avoid open flowers if you have to spray anything to reduce likelihood of contaminating their food source. Choose liquid over powder as powder can stick to a pollinator’s body much like pollen does.  One last requirement for our fluttering friends: have water in the garden! Pollinators need water and having a small dish, birdbath or fountain adds a sculptural element and a necessary source of water for them in the garden.

Are you interested in attracting pollinators to your garden? We would love to answer your questions about flora and fauna. Call (631) 271-6460 or email us and talk to a professional landscape designer today!

 

Written by Ashley Palko Haugsjaa

Photos by Ashey Palko Haugsjaa