November 29, 2010

Ferns, Overlooked and Underutilized!

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 4:56 am

fiddlehead fernFerns have been with us for over 300 million years!  There are amazing fossil impressions of fern or fernlike foliage, especially from the Coal Age, also referred to as the Age of Ferns, that  were a dominant part of the vegetation at that time.  Today, there are over twelve thousand species of ferns in the world, the vast majority inhabiting wet tropical forests.

oestrich fern It is not complicated to develop a fern garden, but there are three main requirements that must be met:  1. Shade, 2. loose, rich soil and 3.  moisture.  Most ferns grow well in a soil with good drainage, rich in organic matter and slightly on the acid side.  Few ferns prefer some lime in the soil or grow on limestone rocks.

fern walkIn landscape design there are many ways ferns can be used in the garden, either in small groupings or larger plantings.  While some ferns are lacy and soft, others are leathery and glossy.  Some ferns remain evergreen in winter, frost sparkling on their fronds; other go dormant.  But nearly all have unusual forms that make them intriguing statements in the garden.

Their elegant grace alone is enough to make ferns gardenworthy.  But there are other good reasons to plant ferns in your garden; they need remarkably little attention once established, thrive in low light and are distasteful to deer and rabbits.

japanese painted fernA few favorites:  Hart”s Tongue Fern, Japenese Painted Fern, Tassel Fern, Ostrich Fern, American Maidenhair Fern,  and Sensitive Fern…just a few of the twelve thousand!   Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers will be happy to recommend some of these beautiful plants to create your own Eden!

November 19, 2010

Native Plants and Winter Birds

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 12:11 pm

American Beauty BushOur gardens need native plants to support a diverse and balanced food web essential to all sustainable ecosystems. Native plants have always had symbiotic relationships with birds by providing food and shelter.  In  addition to using fall grasses for a beautiful winter landscape, grasses are invaluable for winter birds.   In New Jersey,  many birds do not migrate  during the winter months including:

black capped chicadeeBlack-capped Chickadees  eat half seeds, berries and other plant matter along with half animal food such as insects and spiders.  Cardinals eat mainly seeds and fruit, supplemented  with insects.  Common fruits and seeds include dogwood, wild grape, buckwheat, mulberry, blackberry, sumac, tulip tree, and corn.  House Finches eat almost exclusively plant materials including seeds, buds and fruits.  Wild foods include seeds of wild mustard, knotweed, thistle and many other grasses. 

Tufted TitmouseTufted Titmice eat mainly insects during the summer but in the winter rely on seeds, nuts and berries including acorns and beech nuts.  White-throated Sparrows  eat seeds of grasses and weeds including ragweed and buckwheat as well as fruits of sumac, grape, cranberry, mountain ash, rose, blueberry, blackberry and dogwood.  Mourning Doves- 99 percent of their diet includes cultivated grains  as well as grasses, weeds, herbs, berries and occasionally, snails.  And the list can go on and on.

 Live Oak Landscape Maintenance staff are concerned about our ecosystem and would be happy to give you knowledgeable advice on  the list of recommended plants, shrubs and trees that provide important food and shelter for these wonderful birds…..birds that can cheer you during some pretty dismal winter months.

November 11, 2010

Fall Grasses Provide Winter Interest

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 10:42 am

grassRavennaOrnamental grasses surpass all other garden plants in their luminous qualities.  The flowers and foliage are highly translucent and are often most dramatic when back-lit or side-lit by the sun.  The low angle of sunlight in late autumn and winter accentuates this radiant effect, bringing a welcome vibrancy to the landscape at times when typical flowering plant are at their lowest point.

miscanthusRich autumn foliage tones of grasses parallel those of eastern deciduous forests.  The green summer leaves of Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’ become a kaleidoscope of deep salmon, orange and red.

snow on grass leavesSnow cover reveals the grasses  to be the most colorful aspect of a winter landscape that is otherwise a study in browns, grays and black.

Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers know the mriad possibilities in plant selection for  what would make the perfect plant for your fall and winter garden.

November 7, 2010

Planting Bulbs for Spring Flowers

Filed under: Landscape Design,Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 8:17 am

red, yellow,blue bulb borderIt is still not too late to create a beautiful spring garden .  Hardy spring-blooming bulbs require a chilling period and should be planted in early fall.This gives them time to develop a good root system before the ground freezes. 

 Bulbs in massed plantings make a spectacular formal design.  Try, for example a spring bed of clusters of pink, red, and yellow tulips, surrounded by an edging of vivid blue grape hyacinths.  You might want to experiment with a single color theme.  For an all-white spring garden, plant Crocus vernus “Snowstorm’, Narcissus ‘Thalia” and ‘Mount Hood’, Hyacinthus orientalis ‘L’innocence’, Anemone blanda ‘White Splendor’, leucojum aestivum, and Tulipa ‘Ivory Floridale’, and ‘White Dream’.

For informal design, you might consider creating dramatic pairings of bulbs with trees and shrubs.  Blue flowered bulbs such as scilla, muscari and chionodoxa can create a beautiful effect when bunched in a ring around the base of a white bark birch or small flowering cherry.  They also combine well with spring blooming shrubs such as witch hazel and forsythia.

Live Oak Landscape Maintenance is now planting these spectacular bulbs.

formal mass bulb plantingssnowdropsdaffodil,muscari border

November 3, 2010

Uplighting Fall Foliage in Your Garden

Filed under: Outdoor Lighting — admin @ 12:49 pm

landscape-lighting-150x133A position that allows the shrubs and trees to be uplit at some point in the day and evening will add to the visual effect, illuminating their smouldering colors at this time of year.  April Showers Irrigation and Lighting Company can make this very dramatic effect which  will add yet another dimension to your landscape.

November 2, 2010

Autumn Borders for New Jersey Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 1:53 pm

fall water and skyOn a large scale, the landscape allows the colors to be seen from a distance against the expanse of sky and water.  In a small garden setting however, the brilliant colors will usually have greater impact when seen against evergreens such as varigated holly or yew trees. Parchment colored plumes of pampas grass adds movement and help break up the areas of concentrated color.  Callicarpa leaves turn amethyst, Japanese Maples turns scarlet, Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire” (dogwood tree) turns bright orange/yellow.  Choose a place that is sheltered and protected from strong winds.   Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers can make your Autumn garden glorious!

callicarpacornus midwinter firejapanese maple leaf