2010 Winter Newsletter


Hello everyone! It's the end of February as I am writing this, and a few days ago I noticed that my Witchhazel tree was in full bloom. I walked to another area of the garden and saw my Snowdrop bulbs popping up and starting to open. The first signs of spring were here. I do love the starkness and quiet of winter, but my longing for flowers starts soon after I see these harbingers of spring.

How about all the rain we had this year?! It may have ruined a lot of plans, but your plants loved it. Lots of rain means lots of growth. It is especially helpful to the roots of new plants in getting established more quickly. I also don't have to give anybody dirty looks for not watering:)

Herbs mixed with summer blooms

Good Home Cooking

Recently I decided to start cooking more. Since Scott has always done most of the cooking, he got a funny look (may have been horror) on his face when I told him this. I have always loved using Herbs in my landscape designs, and I really wanted to apply that to the kitchen. Food cooked using fresh ingredients from your own garden tastes very savory. Since there are many different colors and textures to Herbs, they can easily be mixed into an existing landscape, or added to pots along with summer annuals. I have done pots with herbs and purple leaved hot peppers that produce super spicy purple peppers until frost (great for salsa). Our sense of smell can trigger some of the strongest emotions and memories, so planting herbs in between stepping stones and along walkways releases wonderful aromas that can trigger many fond images. The smell of herbs can bring back memories of a mother or grandmother cooking a special meal in the kitchen, or of being a kid and running through the neighbors garden.

As far as my cooking adventures go, I haven't sickened anybody yet. I've tried cooking something new every week, and Scott has loved every meal (the kids not so much).

Full outdoor kitchen

Outdoor Kitchens

With so may people not going away this summer and staying close to home, we had a lot of projects that centered around the back yard. Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and built in grills have become very popular in the past couple of years. We have seen a big increase in customers wanting to add these extensions to their home. These projects really bring the comforts from the inside of the house to the outside. When I'm sitting around an outdoor fire it gives me a sense of me peace, even if only for a little while.

In the past few years, I have noticed some changes in my field. More people are becoming aware of the damage that is being done to our surroundings. Many people have a lawn service that treats grass, trees, and shrubs. Are you aware of the types of chemicals and fertilizers they are using? Many of these treatments are harmful to all things living. For example: the beneficial insects and wild birds that consume the very insects that your lawn company is spraying for; children and pets that are playing in the yard; the reptiles and fish that are exposed to the chemicals after the rain has washed them off the property and into creeks and streams. These chemicals then turn up in our drinking water. We are connected to everything around us, and the choices that we make regarding our landscaping needs are important.

Echinacea, a native wildflower

Local Plants for Local Yards

Using native plants can practically eliminate the need for chemicals, since these plants have evolved to withstand the harsh elements of this area. Native wildflowers attract a huge amount of predatory insects that eat up the undesirable ones. Since a lawn requires so much work to look good, there is a real push right now for finding grasses that will require less watering and feeding. There are many new natural lawn companies that use an environmentally sensitive and respectful approach to pest management. Sometimes there is a real problem that needs to be treated (I will use roundup on weeds that can never be eliminated any other way), but it should be infrequent.

That organic compost that I use on the beds also does a great job in keeping the plants healthy so they can fend off disease and bug infestations. As the compost breaks down it releases nutrients to the roots, and is also host to millions of beneficial organisms.

Herbs along walk and in between stepping stones

Check Your Sprinklers

With the season starting soon, many of you who have sprinkler systems will be getting them checked and turned on. Rodents can cause of lot damage to pipes, so make sure your company checks thoroughly for leaks. Since most of your water from spray irrigation is lost through evaporation, set your timers for very early morning before the sun comes up.

I wish someone would invent a sprinkler system that senses where a deer is eating and then blast it with a sharp stream of water!

Oh, the deer. The best thing to do is plant things they don't eat, but that list seems to be getting smaller every season. Maybe I should cook a venison stew with some fresh herbs! (sorry to the vegetarians).

Old deck replaced with outdoor entertainment area

A Job Well Done

The landscape is ever changing, and if there are areas you would like to add or change, we would love to get together with you. Our #1 goal is for you to walk out your door, look at your property and get a smile on your face. We consider ourselves to be different from most landscape companies. Our dedication to long term planning is crucial to a job done well. Our knowledge of plant material and hardscaping, combined with our personal relationship with all of our customers keeps our business flourishing. We want to thank you for supporting small businesses such as ours.

As I am finishing this newsletter there is 2 ft of snow on the ground with more on the way. My Witchhazel tree looks fabulous in the snow, but I won't be seeing my Snowdrop bulbs anytime soon. Spring will come, I promise!

Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

- Kirsten and Scott

Kirsten MacLaughlin Gardens
590 Rock Raymond Rd. Downingtown, PA 19335
(610) 476-5892
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