Eric Liskey

King of Color

Written on November 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm , by

As you see here, there’s a reason why sugar maples have the reputation of being one of the very best trees for fall color. Autumn foliage varies year to year, but maples in general, and sugar maples in particular, are among the most consistent—and spectacular. Green Mountain is probably the most planted variety, because it grows faster than the typical sugar maple (which is a little on the slow side), but still has the prized fall show. This is worth having in your yard!

A sugar maple doing what it does best.

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BHG Guest Blogger

Oh My Deer!

Written on October 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm , by

The following is a guest blog post from Scott Jamieson, Vice President with Bartlett Tree Experts.

Deer, they are so cute—who doesn’t want to see a deer? One in the landscape can be a fantastic sight, at first. In many places in the country deer have overpopulated their natural habitat and have moved into the urban and suburban landscape. Many communities that have never seen a deer are being overrun by the doe-eyed creatures.

An adult deer eats about six pounds of plant material each day which adds up to about a ton of plant material each year for every adult deer. When they are feeding in the forest that is not a problem but it is when they find the delectable food of our landscapes it becomes a serious issue.  Landscapes that have been nurtured for years can be stripped clean in one winter if hungry deer find their way to the previously undiscovered gourmet dining spot. Our landscapes can contain plants that deer absolutely love and once they find a spot to dine, they will be back for more.

Keeping deer out of your landscape is also a health concern. Besides denuding the landscape, deer harbor ticks that can carry Lyme disease, babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A single deer tick can introduce 450,000 tick larvae a year into its territory.

Deer are most effectively managed by keeping them out of the landscape physically. This typically involves putting a fence around the entire property or certainly the areas you want to protect. A deer fence must be tall enough to keep leaping deer out—at least 7 feet tall. You can also install products such as the Shrub Coat on smaller plantings that will keep deer from feasting on the plants while also protecting the plants from cold temperatures.

Many property owners spray deer repellents on valuable plants.  No repellent is foolproof but several have proved to be quite effective in reducing deer damage if used regularly and with the correct timing.

Click here for a list of deer-resistant plants from Bartlett Tree Experts you should consider for your landscape. Know, however, that under extreme populations deer will eat just about anything and you may find that a plant deer have never touched becomes their filet mignon the next year.


Scott Jamieson is Vice President with Bartlett Tree Experts. He leads Bartlett’s national recruiting and corporate partnerships efforts and also heads the Bartlett Inventory Solutions team in providing innovative and technologically advanced tree management plans to clients across the country. Prior to joining Bartlett in 2008, Scott was President and CEO of a national tree care firm.




James A. Baggett

The Richmond Schoolyard Project

Written on October 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm , by

While nosing around Richmond, British Columbia, looking for stories recently, I had the chance to spend a delightful morning with chef Ian Lai of the Richmond Schoolyard Society at the Terra Nova Rural Park Community Garden. The Richmond Schoolyard Project was founded in 2006 by Ian, a school instructor as well as a chef. He was frustrated by his students’ lack of knowledge about how the food cycle works, so he started this not-for-profit community-based project that connects elementary and high school students with the earth, the community around them, and agriculture at large. Working with adult volunteers from the neighborhood, students learn to grow, harvest, cook, and eat nutritiously. Letting nothing go to waste, chef Ian creates everything from dandelion wine (delicious!) to his own ground wheat bread onsite. Chef prepared us a lovely breakfast in the garden using ingredients from the garden. Look for a story on this impressive organization in a future issue of Country Gardens!

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BHG Guest Blogger

Chasing the Winter Blues with Lively Greens!

Written on October 16, 2013 at 5:00 am , by

The following is a guest blog post from Katie McCoy Dubow.

The winter blues affects us all differently, but surrounding yourself with fresh, colorful plants all winter is sure to be the cure for what ails you.

With color, texture, drama and a touch of whimsy, indoor plants instantly liven up any room with their individual personalities and will help you beat the winter blues this year. Whether it’s a terrarium full of succulents or the bold colors of an amaryllis, there is an indoor garden that will fit your style, mood and taste.

Besides what they give back in aesthetics, one of the greatest things indoor plants do is provide much needed humidity in the winter months and freshen the air year round.

Here are four, easy indoor garden styles to brighten up your home this winter:

Craft a mini garden with maximum impact.
Terrariums are a popular garden style because they require little maintenance to flourish, yet have an endlessly elegant look.  The key to success is choosing the right plants. A great variety to start with is Golden Club Moss because it thrives in a low light, high moisture environment. Other great starter plants include water-retaining, light-loving succulents and cacti. They’re virtually indestructible and come in many colors, shapes and varieties.

Learn how to make your own terrarium.

Create inner peace.
Creating this indoor garden will help calm and relax your mind. Every aspect of a Zen garden — its nature, construction and upkeep — is designed for contemplation and reflection. Rocks and sand make up the basic elements, but beyond that it’s up to you. NativeCast’s dish containers work perfectly as a base for your Zen garden because of their size and shape.  Have fun with it and think of it as an ever changing work of art.

Photo credit: NativeCast

Even more Japanese garden inspiration.

Make your room come alive.
Greenery is growing in surprising places. Just look up and around. Now you can get your nature fix inside with your very own living walls or vertical gardens. If you have the time and resources, or want a visually dramatic look for a room, living walls are the ticket.

Garden expert at Costa Farms, Justin Hancock, says that living green walls are a great way to maximize the benefits of houseplants by purifying the air and beautifying spaces. Try hanging one in the kitchen planted with herbs for fresh kitchen flavors all year long.

With more and more companies selling these kits and supplies, it’s easy to re-create these gardens over a weekend.

Make your own living wall.

Pop a color that will last all winter.
Growing bulbs indoors in the winter lets you enjoy the colors and fragrance of spring even though it’s still months away.  But now’s the time to get started.

First, choose your bulbs. Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus from Longfield Gardens are perfect for indoor gardening because they don’t require any chill time. I like to plant bulbs every week in the winter, so I can have blooming flowers all winter long.  Paperwhites will bloom in four to six weeks, amaryllis in six to eight.

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens

Here are my top 12 favorite ways to decorate with amaryllis.

Katie McCoy Dubow is creative officer at Garden Media, a PR firm specializing in the horticulture industry.











Eric Liskey

Apple of my eye

Written on October 10, 2013 at 9:26 am , by

I love the idea of edible landscapes. Not just veggie gardens, but entire gardens with edibles sprinkled throughout. Not every edible is suited for this — some are simply not very pretty. But here’s one that I can’t find fault with. This is a Blushing Delight Urban Apple from Garden Debut. It’s a dwarf columnar tree that stays under 10 feet but still produces full size, yummy apples. I’ve been enjoying them lately, as they’ve just started to fully ripen. And the tree stays so tidy, you can put it almost anywhere, and you’ll never have that “What was I thinking?!” moment that happens when you realize you planted a too-big plant in a too-small space.

Blushing Delight apple from Garden Debut

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Katie Ketelsen

3 Knock-Your-Spring-Socks-Off Bulb Combinations

Written on October 7, 2013 at 10:29 am , by

If you’re looking for first-of-the-spring blooms, you have to plant bulbs. And you have to get them in the ground this fall! I understand how overwhelming it might be to decide which bulbs to pair together — there are so many options! I get it. Hopefully, I can help by sharing three of my favorite bulb combinations.


When I see white and purple together in the garden, it seems so fresh, so crisp, and so refreshing, especially after a long winter. It’s probably my ultimate bulb-combo recommendation. There are several different varieties of daffodils and tulips, see which ones suit might your fancy in our plant encyclopedia: Daffodils,  Tulips.

Looking for more ways to pair white and purple? Get design ideas here.


I’ve always thought the idea of planting bulbs in your lawn for a blanket of spring blooms was clever. Someday I’ll implement this technique with fragrant grape hyacinth and crocus. It really isn’t that hard. See how here.  Also, find out which grape hyacinths are our favorites and learn more about growing crocus.

Do you have bulbs planted in your lawn? I’d love to hear what varieties — and any tips you’ve learned.

Bold Partners

Sometimes you have the desire to make a statement, turn heads in the neighborhood, and that requires a bold combo. Crown imperial and parrot tulips top my list for a crowd-pleaser. Not only are they unique bloomers, their color really pops in the garden. Learn more about crown imperial and hybrid tulips from our plant encyclopedia.


Do you have a favorite bulb combination? Share with us!