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Entries in evergreen (9)

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

Friday
Jan162015

Southern Pine Beetle – Is This the Next Evergreen Epidemic? 

In 1985, Hurricane Gloria blew through Long Island and after all of the devastation and destruction, it left behind a longer lasting legacy on one of our favorite evergreens. Up until then Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) was a Long Island favorite for screening. A little pest known as woolly adelgid has been ravaging our population of hemlocks ever since.

Now a new pest with an unknown potential for damage and devastation to our pines and spruces in addition to our already stressed hemlocks has been discovered on Long Island. The Southern Pine Beetle. This destructive little bug has worked its way north. Three separate manifestations have been noted in Suffolk County, a first for New York State. Our pine barrens and even the evergreens on our property may be at grave risk.

Southern Pine Beetle tracks on the cambium layer after bark has fallen off.Here on Long Island, the preferred host for this destructive pest is pitch pine, however all types of pine, spruce and even our currently ravaged hemlocks may be susceptible. If you have any of these evergreens on your property, be vigilant. Have your property inspected by an arborist or horticulturalist that is aware of the telltale signs that this beetle may be present. Scattershot pattern holes or popcorn shaped clumps of resin on the exterior bark of the evergreens, or an S-shaped web of tunnels under loosened bark (see picture) are a few signs to be aware of in affected trees. Affected pine trees usually show discolored needles. By the time the needles are turning color or large chunks of bark start to fall off, it may be too late to save those trees. You may be able to salvage other trees on your property with quick action.

Our certified arborists, professional landscape designers and certified nursery professionals will conduct a complimentary inspection of your evergreens to help ensure the integrity of the landscape. If you have any questions, just call our office at (631) 271-6460 or email us and we'll be happy to help you.

 

Written by Sal Masullo

Friday
Oct172014

Winter Garden Preparation 


An application of anti-transpirant being made.

"Old Man Winter" is right around the corner and its time to prepare your planting beds for the harsh environment that is about to come.  As soon as we have a good hard frost it will be time to put your garden to bed for the winter.

How do we do that?  The first step in preparing your garden is cleanup and removal.  Cut back dry perennial stems down to the ground and remove any debris like leaves and branches.  Also, remove any summer annuals that are soon to be past their peak and fading fast.

Next, you want to put down a good natural insulating layer in the beds.  Shredded bark mulch is perfect for this.  This mulch layer will protect plants and soil over the winter months. Another good resource for your planting beds is to use the leaves that fall from your trees.  Grind the leaves up and distribute around the garden beds.

If you planted bulbs in your garden, it might be good idea to protect them too.  Using sod staples, pin down evergreen boughs over the bulb planting area to protect the soil from shifting and heaving due to frigid winter weather. The boughs also provide greenery in a mostly barren bed during the winter months and keep the squirrels at bay.

Once the leaves have fallen from the trees, it is a great time to prune your deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.  During this dormant time, it is easy to identify the natural form of the tree or shrub and prune accordingly. Pruning during the winter season helps the tree or shrub conserve its energy for the roots where it is well needed for survival.

Winter mulch is applied around the root system of a tree or shrub to help keep the ground from heaving in the frigid weather and also to provide nutrients in the spring.Many people think since there is snow on the ground that their plants are getting water. This is not true. With the ground frozen and lack of percolation and absorption, your plants struggle to survive during the winter. To protect your evergreen trees and shrubs from transpiration (losing moisture through the leaves), use an anti-desiccant (anti-transpirant) spray on the evergreen foliage.  This helps retain much needed water in the plant during the cold dry winter.

Finally, as the snow starts to fall, keep an eye out on evergreen trees and shrubs, the weight of the snow can snap the branches off.  After a large snow fall, knock the snow off the branches starting with the lower ones first.  If you start with the upper branches first, you add more weight to the lower ones and this may cause them to break off.

There are many other methods to protecting your valuable landscape plantings during the winter months. Let Goldberg and Rodler's team of professionals devise a plan that works best for your property to keep your landscape healthy. Call us now and plan ahead.

Written by Rich Lambert

Friday
Oct172014

Winter Décor

Evergreen boughs and sculptural branches tied with a velvety maroon bow.It doesn't matter how you celebrate the winter holidays, it's hard to ignore the festive feel all around us during November and December. Going back to Pagan times, it was a tradition to bring evergreen boughs inside to make a tribute to nature's bounty. We spend so much time running around trying to get our shopping done that we spend little time appreciating the beauty all around us, both inside and outside of our homes. Then, after the excitement of the holidays, when January comes we’re left with a very drab, gray feeling. Let me help you fix that with some tips on winter decorating.

Decorative pots can brighten up a dreary, frozen January. Many people think planters should be filled with flowers and lush plants, but negative space can be powerful as well. Use bare branches from plants like Contorted Filbert or Corkscrew Willow to create a unique centerpiece for a decorative pot at your front entrance. For the center “thriller,” the colors from a Red Twig Dogwood or Yellow Twig Dogwood can pop out from a gray landscape in the middle of winter and you don’t need to worry about watering them when they’ve lost their leaves.

Andromeda start producing their flowers in fall/winter for the following spring and the closed buds make a showy display with a red ribbon and evergreen wreath.

 

 

 

Evergreens in pots are a classic winter accent. Holly, False Holly, Spruce, Pine and Fir make great centerpieces or accents in planters. Two simple conifers with twinkling white lights on either side of a front door presents a warm welcome. Evergreen boughs can also act as your “filler” in the thriller, filler and spiller equation. For a spiller, use a velvet or shiny ribbon around the rim of the planter. No place to tie it? Put a piece of wire around the ribbon, attach it to a stake and stick the stake in the pot. Or, if you’re limited on space in the pot, use a whole wreath as your filler set on the rim and plant inside the center.

Twinkling lights, evergreen boughs, berries, ribbons, wreaths and candles adorn residences. Holiday lighting or decorations can give your home a warm, unique look during the cold winter months. As a professional landscape designer, I look to spruce up the exterior AND interior of my clients’ home anywhere I can. Talk to me about your home and what you’d like to see in the winter, inside and out. 

Twinkling lights greet guests as they enter.

Written by Ashley Palko

Thursday
Jul032014

Natural Privacy Screens

Green Giant Arborvitae with a mix of Annabelle Hydrangea and daylily in front.There is a certain serenity and security to enjoying your garden without the feeling that your being watched.  Privacy is very important to most of us and creating a beautiful natural privacy screen for your property and outdoor living room with plants is great way to introduce color, texture and fragrance into the landscape, and it can be a much more attractive solution than a fence.

Tall evergreen trees like Nellie Stevens Holly, Blue Spruce and Great Western Arborvitae are an effective way to give you privacy screening.  These provide dense evergreen foliage all year round and are low maintenance plants. Some evergreens can be sheared to form a dense privacy wall with the effective height being maintained taller than building codes allow for fencing.

A dense holly hedge in front of blue Spruce creates a double layer of privacy.In addition to trees many shrubs come in upright form.  Privet, Yew and Japanese Holly have dense branching patterns and they create a natural visual barrier. Shearing these regularly will lend a more formal look to your landscape.  These shrubs also provide an excellent background for flowering shrubs and perennials planted in front. This creates a multi-tiered privacy planting with 4 season interest.

To provide additional seasonal interest to any evergreen privacy planting, mix in a variety of flowering plants like fragrant Viburnum, Lilac and Butterfly Bush.  The next layer of interest comes from long blooming perennials like Nepeta, Rudbeckia and Echinacea. These plants will attract birds and butterflies and add colorful splashes providing spring, summer and fall interest to your yard.

If your yard requires plants that will tolerate more shade than sun and also provide the privacy you desire, plant varieties like Skip Laurel, American Holly and Rhododendron along the property line and supplement that planting with perennials like Hosta, Astilbe and Fern.

Another screening option is to use lattice panels with vines planted either in the ground or in decorative containers placed around the edges of your patio creating a private outdoor room. Vines such as Clematis, Wisteria, Trumpet Vine and climbing Hydrangea will give you a lush vertical carpet of foliage and flowers.

As you can see, there are many ways besides fencing that can screen out your neighbors and help create a quiet intimate space within your garden.  Do it the natural way by using plants! Let Goldberg and Rodler's team of professionals design and install a natural privacy screen to privatize your personal garden oasis.

Written by Rich Lambert