If you’re like most East End homeowners, a carpet of classic green lawn is probably part of your landscape. But there are undoubtedly places on your property where the grass just does not thrive, because there’s too much shade, or the soil is too dry,...

Autumn is upon us, and here on the East End we get to enjoy some of the finest weather of the year, with cloudless blue skies above a landscape suffused in mellow golden light. Other days are gray, dramatically blustery and cloudswept....

Have you ever dreamed of a landscape that’s less work to maintain, that doesn’t need lots of watering, or fertilizing or primping? Native plants can be the answer. As the East End becomes more populated and developed, and we face continued problems with nitrogen...

slide2

By Anne Halpin

Colorful flowers in a summer garden are pure delight and for many of us, an essential part of the joy of the season. Consider the rich blue hydrangeas and the multitudes of roses in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow and white that are blooming across the East End now. Adding fragrance to the garden palette deepens and enriches our appreciation of flowers. Of our five senses, smell delivers the richest and most enduring experience. The memory of a scent associated with a certain event, place or person in our lives can remain with us always. Including some fragrant blossoms in your garden or landscape brings special pleasure to summer living. Luckily, many flowers that are deliciously scented as well as colorful thrive in East End gardens. Some grow on shrubs, some are perennials that die back in winter but return to the garden year after year, and others are annuals that are with us for a single growing season and are planted anew each spring.

slide3 By Anne Alpin

Perennial flowers are favorites of so many gardeners and landscape designers for good reason. Unlike annuals like impatiens and geraniums, perennials come back year after year to bring their lovely colors to the garden. Better yet, many of them grow from single plants into clumps, and reward you with ever more bloom. The downside of perennials is that most of them bloom for just two or three weeks, and then are green mounds of leaves the rest of the growing season. To have color in the garden all season, the classic solution is to plant flowers that bloom at different times and carefully plan a succession of color from spring to fall. As some plants finish blooming, others are beginning. That takes a lot of planning, and extensive knowledge of plants and when they bloom. But there’s an easier way to have a colorful flower garden all summer without the bother of planting anew every spring.  Some perennials bloom for many weeks and including them in your landscape will give you long term color. If you cut off the old spent flowers, the plants will bloom longer, even all summer (find some tips at the end of this article). Here are some long bloomers for long-lasting color.

slide12 By Anne Halpin Surrounding your home with a beautiful landscape not only integrates your home into its setting and enhances the view from your windows; studies have shown repeatedly that good landscaping also enhances property values. But keeping the landscape looking good throughout the season and year after year requires work. Savvy homeowners can take advantage of some strategies for reducing the amount of maintenance while still having a beautiful landscape. Whether you do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you, here are some ways to lighten the landscaping load. Try groundcovers. In areas that don’t get foot traffic, plant groundcovers instead of lawn. Groundcovers don’t need mowing, need less fertilizing and watering, and suffer fewer diseases than a lawn, and some of them offer the bonus of flowers. A few good groundcovers for sunny locations (and all of which are considered deer resistant) include ajuga, or bugleweed, bearberry, ceratostigma (which bears electric-blue flowers in late summer), lysimachia and creeping thyme. In a shady location your choices include wild ginger, pachysandra (a classic, very tough and adaptable), vinca (also called periwinkle, it bears violet flowers in early spring, but can spread where you don’t necessarily want it to in amenable conditions), bunchberry (which bears bright red berries), sweet woodruff (small white flowers in spring and a gentle aromatic scent) and lamiastrum (some varieties have silvery leaves).

slide3 By Anne Halpin We live in a fast-paced world and sometimes we just need to slow down. You can’t always take a vacation, but you can take a break, right where you live. Moments of peace and serenity can be as close as your back door. Here are some ways to create your own peaceful haven in your own backyard. First, create a quiet, private spot somewhere in your landscape. Install an arbor and plant wisteria or grapevines or trumpetvine to cover it. Set a couple of lounge chairs underneath. Place a bench in a quiet corner and plant hydrangeas on either side and butterfly bushes behind it. Make a tropical mini-paradise with large pots of palms, banana plants, canna lilies and elephant ears to screen a small patio or a gazebo.