Meghan O'Connell2020/01/19

Supporting your Garden Ecosystem

It sure has been a strange winter here. We had a ton of snowfall early in December-- ??? inches over the course of just 3 days. Then last weekend it was nearly 70 degrees around Boston.

As a gardener, I am keenly aware of the interconnectedness of the weather, plants, bugs, animals and our human selves. I worry about the erratic weather patterns that we have been seeing more of lately, and the greater impacts of climate change.

This is why we make natural and self-sustaining garden care our priority. It is so important to make sure all the components of your eco-system are working together so that your garden not only stays beautiful, but actually enhances the earth in which it grows.

Winter in New England naturally causes me to turn inward... to spend more time  reflecting. I'm going into my fourth year of business in 2020 and I am excited to learn more about sustainable gardening so that I can continue to put best practices into use for our clients! I am honing my vision for my business and for the team I will be putting together this year!

Stay tuned...

Besides wintertime reflecting, I also had fun being creative with these winter arrangements. I used branches that I had pruned from clients' plants at the end of fall: Red twig Dogwoods, and Boxwoods, as well as some Spruce branches from my Christmas tree to create these lovely holiday decorations. The branches still look quite nice almost 2 months later!


Meghan O'Connell2019/02/02

Working with What you Got

Although installing a garden with brand new plants is a joyful part of my work, I have to admit that I love repurposing plants even more. "Repurposing"-- better known in the gardening world as transplanting -- is simply digging up an existing plant in the garden and putting it in a different part of the garden. Easy peasy, right?

Not so fast... if you're moving little perennials (depending on the species), then transplanting isn't all that difficult. But if you're moving some shrubs (or trees) that have lived in the same spot for years, then get ready to break a sweat, and maybe ask your best friend for a hand. (You might want to bribe them with the promise of good food and drinks after).

Below is a series of photos in which two beautiful Amosonia hubrichtii "Blue Stars" had taken over a small garden, as well as three shrubby Caryopteris. You will see in the first couple photos these lovely soft Amsonias dominate the center of an urban front yard garden. I divided them into three smaller forms, moving two of them to flank the front steps, and the third to the backyard. I then moved a low growing Boxwood to the center, where it had previously been completely hidden behind the Amsonias. The following year, I moved two of the Caryopteris to either side of the Boxwood in order to fill in the gaps and allow these shrubs more room to grow.

Digging up all these shrubs was not an easy task, especially in the heat of a New England summer! As a general rule, it's best to transplant in spring and fall, when the weather is cooler and the rainfall is plenty. Thankfully, the client watered diligently and all the transplants thrived. Check out the transformation below!

And because I just love photos of flowers in full bloom so much... I'm including a few of those from this garden below, as well.

Meghan O'Connell2018/05/26

Major Milestone for Green Urb Gardens

This past Thursday, we tackled our biggest project, yet: installing 239 new plants in a client's garden! I ordered the plants from Cavicchio's green house and they sent a truck over with tall crates that had to be brought down with a "piggy back": a mini lift machine that the driver brought with him. We got to work unloading all the plants and then eventually staging them in the beds according to the design, which was beautifully created by Brian Burke of Post-Wild Landscapes.

It was the biggest project I've managed so far and it was definitely a challenge for me. The first struggle was trying to figure out if we had even received all the plants that I ordered... and we found out that, in fact, many of the plants were missing! So as my crew worked to lay out all the plants in their proper garden beds, I was on the phone with the greenhouse trying to figure out what had happened. Turns out they didn't carry three of the plants I had originally asked for and two of the plants were just not ready to sell, yet. So we planted what we had and decided to just get more plants later. 

My second challenge as manager was having a balance of giving direction to my crew and also trusting their capabilities. At the end of the day, everything got done so for a first big project, it was a major accomplishment! I am very happy and proud of the work we did that day. 

It's hard to believe that I'm only in my second year of business. I feel like I've been a business-owner and gardener forever! Surely a good sign that I am on the right path.

Enjoy the series of photos I took from start to finish of the planting project.

Meghan O'Connell2018/04/18

April Showers... but at least it's SPRING!

"Winter always turns to spring." This simple, yet encouraging phrase, attributed to the Nichiren Buddhist, Daisaku Ikeda, repeated in my head over and over this past month. I began to wonder if winter really always DID turn to spring. And is it possible for spring to turn back into winter? In New England, this seems to be the case, much to my dismay. (Climate change, ahem). Just two months ago, in February, I was outside in beautiful, sunny 60-something degree weather. Fast forward to the second week of April, and it seems all of America is really really REALLY done with winter. 

I'm not about the doom and gloom, though. I aim to focus on the positive, so let's switch gears here!

Yesterday was my first real day of gardening work this season! It was my first "spring clean-up," and my God was it a clean-up! I was hired by a client who was referred to me by another client (that happens to me a lot... a good sign) to get her yard looking perfect, as she is putting her house on the market to sell in two weeks. My co-worker and I sped around her garden beds, cutting back all the perennials and pulling all the weeds. The mulch guy, Anthony, dropped off 4 yards of lovely dark pine mulch for us to lay in the gardens. Thanks, Cambridge Bark and Loam! They are my go-to for bulk deliveries of compost and mulch. As a finishing touch, I popped some sweet little pansies into containers that hung on the backyard lattice fence. 

It was a full day's work and we felt very accomplished. Check out some amazing before and after photos below! Click to enlarge for the full view!

Meghan O'Connell2018/03/12

A Winter Blooming Shrub!

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to explore the beautiful forests and beaches of Costa Rica with my friend, Briana. It was a much needed escape from the cold, dreary days of New England winter. 

But vacations can't last forever and so I returned to Boston 10 days later, with a bit of a tan, only to be hit with a big, fat snowstorm the next day. Oh, I don't feel sorry for myself. I'm from the midwest... I know how to handle the winter. I remember the blizzard of 2012 in Boston quite fondly, watching the hilarious and brave souls cross-country skiing down the usually busy streets in Arlington. I enjoy the respite from the hard labor that I do in the gardens all year. I especially enjoy seeing the branches of trees all exposed in the middle of winter, after having shed all their leaves. 

And winter is the best time to enjoy one of my favorite trees! The Witch Hazel actually blooms during this time! I was lucky enough to see one in full bloom last week in a client's garden. This is probably the only tree I know of that can bloom in the middle of winter that won't get me riled up about climate change. 

Thank you, Witch Hazel, for your cheery and delicate yellow petals on a snowy winter day!

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