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  • JoyceB
  • July 27, 2007 05:57:25 AM
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A Little About Us

GreenStrides is about making strides toward greener living in the home and office. Our blog highlights the latest green building news, information, and techniques.

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Free Trees for Philly!!

Need some shade from the hot summer sun?  The best solution is usually as simple as planting a tree in your yard, and now you can get one for FREE!  This fall, TreePhilly, in partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Wells Fargo, will give away 1500 trees to Philadelphia residents! They’ll provide the tree, […] The post Free Trees for Philly!! appeared first on...

Need some shade from the hot summer sun?  The best solution is usually as simple as planting a tree in your yard, and now you can get one for FREE!  This fall, TreePhilly, in partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Wells Fargo, will give away 1500 trees to Philadelphia residents!

They’ll provide the tree, some mulch and also instructions regarding planting and taking care of your new tree.  The deadline to register is September 30, 2014.  For more information, click here.

If you prefer to add a free street tree instead, or to get free street trees for your entire block, they have a great program for that too!  Read more about this generous program here.

Trees are amazing living things and provide numerous benefits, as they:

  • Reduce energy costs in both summer and winter (When the right tree is planted in the right location.  Read more about that here).
  • Intercept rain water, which reduces flooding and stormwater runoff (Read more about that here)
  • Clean the air we breathe
  • Provide shade in summer (Read more about that here)
  • Break cold, winter winds
  • Provide critical habitat for songbirds, butterflies and other wildlife
  • Beautify a neighborhood
  • Increase house values

For even more benefits of trees, read my previous post here.

photo courtesy of Pinterest via Sebastian Rachele & Kurt Gruber

 

The post Free Trees for Philly!! appeared first on greenstrides.


Hidden Toxins in Plants from Big-Box Retailers

A report recently released by the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth warns that, “More than half of ostensibly bee-friendly plants sampled at 18 Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart garden centers in the U.S. and Canada contained high levels of neonicotinoids (a pesticide), which are considered highly toxic to bees, butterflies and other […] The post Hidden Toxins in Plants from Big-Box Retailers appeared first on...

A report recently released by the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth warns that, “More than half of ostensibly bee-friendly plants sampled at 18 Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart garden centers in the U.S. and Canada contained high levels of neonicotinoids (a pesticide), which are considered highly toxic to bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators.”

Read the entire article here, and take a moment to sign a quick petition here to help save our essential pollinators.  Learn more from my previous post titled, “A World Without Flowers?” and see why declining populations of pollinators puts much of our own food supply in jeopardy.

So, what can you do (besides signing petitions)?  Ask your local garden center if their plants have been treated with these dangerous pesticides and shop at native plant nurseries whenever possible.

photo above courtesy of Bachman’s Floral Gift and Garden, a Minnesota-based retailer committed to eliminating neonicotinoid pesticides in the plants they sell.

The post Hidden Toxins in Plants from Big-Box Retailers appeared first on greenstrides.


6 Architectural Elements that Add Character and Structure to the Garden

Creating a sense of place, or identity, in any landscape design includes utilizing elements that fit in with the context of the site, which may be historical, cultural, environmental or geographical.  In addition, architectural features that help create or enhance the special character of a place can be functional, whimsical and/or simply beautiful. To keep […] The post 6 Architectural Elements that Add Character and Structure to the Garden appeared first on...

Creating a sense of place, or identity, in any landscape design includes utilizing elements that fit in with the context of the site, which may be historical, cultural, environmental or geographical.  In addition, architectural features that help create or enhance the special character of a place can be functional, whimsical and/or simply beautiful.

To keep it green, it’s best to incorporate local, reclaimed or recycled materials.

WallsFieldstone is an appropriate choice for this interesting stepped wall in Pennsylvania and enhances the naturalistic character of the site.  If it had been a wall built in New Mexico, for example, an smooth adobe wall would be more fitting.  Walls may or may not be functional, but tend to lend a pleasing sense of enclosure to a space, as well.

 

Arbors:  Creating a gateway into a space can be achieved with the use of an arbor, whether it be constructed of lumber, metal or living plants, the latter two pictured here.  Native climbing plants and vines can be used to soften the lines of, and provide shade beneath, a more traditional wood arbor.

 

 

Fences:  Whether you need to add privacy or just architectural interest, a fence can define a space to create separate garden rooms.  This fence adheres to the traditional, formal feel of the property.

Read my previous post here for eco-friendly fence options made from composite materials.

 

Sculpture:  What garden would be complete without a focal point, such as a sculpture at the end of a pathway or in a special part of the garden?  Adding a piece of art can create a certain ambiance too, such as whimsy or formality, to the garden.  Read my previous post here to get inspiration by visiting a sculpture park near you.

 

 

Buildings:  The side of a building can help define an outdoor space.  The sides of this historic barn aid in defining three separate garden rooms.  The old barn provides a cohesive backdrop to each garden room, yet enables each space to have its own unique character.

 

 

Plants:  Some plants are more architectural than others and can be used to create a living wall or naturalistic focal point, as well as define the edges of a garden.  This allée of espaliered native trees draws the eye toward a sculptural element at the end of the path.

 

 

The post 6 Architectural Elements that Add Character and Structure to the Garden appeared first on greenstrides.


Nesting Materials For The Birds

While taking a little time to stop and smell the roses this spring, you may notice the intricate handiwork of birds building their nests. It’s amazing what these instinctive architects can create with found materials.  While an ideal environment provides them with the right building materials, we can also lend a helping hand by providing […] The post Nesting Materials For The Birds appeared first on...

While taking a little time to stop and smell the roses this spring, you may notice the intricate handiwork of birds building their nests. It’s amazing what these instinctive architects can create with found materials.  While an ideal environment provides them with the right building materials, we can also lend a helping hand by providing them with additional, and sometimes surprising, materials.  The National Wildlife Federation put together an informative list of things we can add to supplement what birds find in nature.

You can also learn how to get your backyard certified as an official wildlife habitat by providing a few things, including food, water and cover for these crafty creatures.

To see some remarkable birds and other animals building their incredible homes, check out this PBS episode of The Animal House.

The post Nesting Materials For The Birds appeared first on greenstrides.


Topiary Gardens Take a Giant Leap

They’re whimsical and imaginative, artful and sculptural…topiary gardens take many shapes and sizes.  The precisely sheared shrubs and trees seem to come to life.  Recently though, topiary gardening has morphed into something even more magical:  Mosaiculture.  These public works of horticultural art, often several stories high, encompass wire frames that act as colossal planters filled […] The post Topiary Gardens Take a Giant Leap appeared first on...

They’re whimsical and imaginative, artful and sculptural…topiary gardens take many shapes and sizes.  The precisely sheared shrubs and trees seem to come to life.  Recently though, topiary gardening has morphed into something even more magical:  Mosaiculture.  These public works of horticultural art, often several stories high, encompass wire frames that act as colossal planters filled with potting mix, thousands of colorful plants, and sometimes even irrigation systems…these are the divas of the plant world.

Some of my favorites include:


The Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, GA:  Their Imaginary Worlds exhibit is “a menagerie of magical creatures that casts an enchanting spell over the Garden with 28 monumental living sculptures of fantasy and delight”.  This first Mosaiculture exhibit in the United States will be on view until Halloween.

Sculptor Jeff Koons‘ 40-foot tall “Puppy” is composed of stainless steel, tons of soil, geotextile fabric, an internal irrigation system, and tens of thousands live flowering plants.  This pup is a world traveler too, with the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain now serving as its permanent home.  See more of the artist’s work here.

Some of the tough plants used in Mosaiculture include perennials:  Carex, sedum, creeping thyme, oregano, dichondra, santolina, echeveria, iresine and alternanthera.  Colorful annuals include:  zinnia, impatiens, bidens, daisies and scaevola.  Learn more about Mosaiculture from the Montreal, Canada nonprofit organization that conjured up this amazing concept.

A mix of living topiary art and contemporary design:

Urban Garden Room by Margie Ruddick, Dorothy Ruddick and WRT:  Four larger-than-life, award-winning horticultural sculptures create a serene ambiance in the 60-foot high atrium at the LEED platinum Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park, NYC.  Carefully constructed forms covered with ferns, mosses and vines provide a vital connection to nature in this urban environment. (photo by Cait Oppermann)

Back to Mosaiculture’s roots…traditional topiary:
Green Animals Topiary Garden, Portsmouth, Rhode Island:  The Preservation Society of Newport County now cares for the former Brayton estate.  What self-sufficient farm would be complete without its very own topiary garden?  The whimsical garden features 80 living sculptures created over much of the 20th century.

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, Bishopville, South Carolina:  Now in its 4th decade, this garden is comprised of 400+ shrubs skillfully sculpted by a self-taught man named Pearl.  Using many compost pile castaways from local nurseries, Pearl’s garden is “one man’s firm belief in the results of positive thinking, hard work, and perseverance, and his dedication to spreading a message of love, peace and goodwill.”

Some of the shrubs and trees used in traditional topiary gardens include:  yews, boxwood, privet, holly and juniper.

 

 

 

 

The post Topiary Gardens Take a Giant Leap appeared first on greenstrides.


Best Blooming Native Trees

Trees have so many benefits, from providing shade to intercepting rain water, but some have additional appeal–they put on a lovely flowering show for us each spring.  Native trees have especially great value in our landscapes, as they provide food and habitat for song birds, butterflies and other wildlife.  Native plants are also well adapted […] The post Best Blooming Native Trees appeared first on...

Trees have so many benefits, from providing shade to intercepting rain water, but some have additional appeal–they put on a lovely flowering show for us each spring.  Native trees have especially great value in our landscapes, as they provide food and habitat for song birds, butterflies and other wildlife.  Native plants are also well adapted to your particular region and thrive with little water and care.  Read more about the importance of using native plants in my previous post here.

Some of my favorite flowering native trees include:

Aesculus pavia, Red Buckeye:  This almost tropical looking shrub-like 10-20′ x 10-20′ tree is a hummingbird magnet when its red, tubular flowers are in bloom in mid-spring.  It prefers fertile, moist soils in full sun to part shade, but tolerates clay soil.  It appreciates shady conditions protected from the late afternoon sun.
Amelanchier, Serviceberry:  There are many species of the graceful Amelanchier and they are typically beautiful in both spring and fall, with white flowers in early spring and later red, orange and yellow leaves in fall.  This small tree, and sometimes shrub-like tree, depending on the species, prefers moist soils in sun to part shade conditions.  It can a range of soils.  It offers edible berries in early summer.
Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud (pictured above):  This 15-30′ x 20-35′ tree puts on a vibrant display of rose-purple flowers in mid-spring.  It prefers average, well-drained soils and is adaptable to either sun or shade.  It is typically deer resistant and attractive to butterflies and bees.
Chionanthus virginicus, Fringetree:  This unique 15-30′ x 15-30′ tree produces airy, fringe-like flowers in late spring and nice yellow fall color.  It is easily grown in rich, moist, and even clay, soils in sun (with protection from late afternoon sun) to part shade.  It adapts to urban conditions, but doesn’t like to dry out.  It is a larval food source for the Rustic sphinx butterfly.  Learn more from my “Must-haves for the Best Butterfly Garden” post.
Cornus alternifolia, Pagoda Dogwood:  This 15-25′ tall x 20-30′ wide, layered looking tree offers white fragrant flowers in late spring which give way to bluish bitter fruits on reddish stems providing food for wildlife in fall and winter.  It also offers nice burgundy fall color.  It prefers cool, moist soils in part shade conditions.  It tolerates poor and clay soils and has little problems with disease or deer.  It also provides a larval food source for the Spring Azure butterfly.
Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood:  This 15-30′ x 15-30′ tree provides showy pink or white flowers (technically not flowers, but bracts) in early-to-mid spring, then offers bright red, inedible fruit loved by birds.  Its leaves turn a beautiful scarlet red in the fall.  It prefers full sun to part shade conditions and tolerates most soils, but is more susceptible to disease than the Pagoda Dogwood.  It will grow under black walnut trees and is also deer resistant.  This dogwood is a larval food source for the Spring Azure butterfly, as well.
Cotinus Obovatus, American Smoketree:  This unique 15-30′ x 15-30′ tree has a smokey appearance in late spring when the pinkish, fine-textured petioles attached to the spent flowers develop.  Its beauty continues into the fall with yellow, red, orange and reddish purple leaves.  It prefers poor, rocky soils, but is adaptable to other types of soil.  It is drought tolerant and disease resistant too.
Crataegus, Hawthorn:  The many species of Hawthorns grow to 25-35′ with a wide-spreading crown.  They offer clusters of pretty white flowers that later bear red fruit that persists into winter.  Hawthorns typically like dry to moist, well-drained soils in sun.  True to their name, they do have thorns.
Halesia carolina, Carolina Silverbell:  This lovely tree grows to about 30-40′ x 20-35′, and it’s delicate, drooping white flowers are showy in early/mid-spring.  Nut-like fruits appear in the fall, along with yellow leaves that drop early.  Silverbells prefer moist, organically-rich soils in part shade.
Magnolia:  The native species include M. acuminata (Cucumbertree), M. fraseri (Fraser Magnolia), M. grandiflora (Southern Magnolia-evergreen), M. macrophylla (Bigleaf Magnolia – 2 1/2′ long leaves!), M. tripetala (Umbrella Magnolia) and M. virginiana (Sweetbay or Swamp Magnolia-evergreen in southern regions, pictured here).  They range in size from about 25′ to 80′ tall and offer large, creamy whitish flowers.  Most Magnolias prefer moist, well-drained soils and do well in sun and shade.
Oxydendron arboreum, Sourwood:  This narrow 20-25′ tall tree produces delicate, slightly fragrant white flowers in early summer and deep red leaves in fall.  They prefer moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun.  Sourwoods have a special value to bees and their honey from this tree is sought-after.  They tolerate deer, but not urban pollution or drought.
Prunus americana, American Plum:  This thicket-forming 15-20′ x 15-20′ tree offers odorous white flowers in early spring which give way to edible fruit (great for jams & jellies) in early summer.  It’s easy to grow and adaptable to a wide range of conditions in sunny locations.  Just pull out any unwanted suckers to prevent it from spreading too much.
Prunus pensylvanica, Pin Cherry, Wild Red Cherry:  This 25-40′ x 20-35′ tree offers four seasons of interest with clusters of small, white flowers in mid-spring, bright red edible fruit (great for jellies) in summer, intense fall color in shades of red, orange and yellow, and shiny bark.  It does well in average to dry, rocky/sandy soils in full sun.  It attracts birds & butterflies, but may be damaged deer and beavers.

Just a note on where to purchase these trees…Reputable nurseries and online resources are your best bet, not the big box retailers.  Also, check out your local native plant society in spring and fall.

Sources: Native Plants of the Northeast by Donald J. Leopold, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Missouri Botanic Garden, and forestryimages.org

The post Best Blooming Native Trees appeared first on greenstrides.


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