About Fran Sorin

Fran’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, now considered a classic, was groundbreaking when published as no one had written about gardening in the context of creativity, spirituality, and transformation.

In addition to being a recognized garden expert and deep ecologist, Fran is a broadcaster, journalist, Ordained Interfaith Minister, and Soul Tender.

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Author Archive | Fran Sorin

How To Create Privacy In The Garden

How to create privacy in the garden?

There are several options if you have a large area.

But take a narrow garden, add in a small urban space, and you’ve got yourself a challenge.

So is the case with my rooftop garden in Tel Aviv. It has no privacy on 3 sides. The front of the rooftop is abutting the street and looking straight across to another building, all with terraces.

How to deal with it?

First, I had raised containers built the length of the front which is about 20 feet. The width is only 2 and a half feet. Because of this, it’s difficult to plant more than some grasses, or small bushes and trees.

I needed erect ornamental grasses for the back of the border. I was lucky enough to find Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’. Known as switch grass, it’s an erect, silver green grass, known for its showy flowers. They can grow up to 7 feet tall with feather like panicles up to 2 feet tall. The flowers are pinkish red and eventually turn to a silvery gray. In autumn, the plant turns to a golden yellow. When the sun filters through, it takes on an orange hue which is breathtaking.

An introduction from the oh- so- talented Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm, this native grass is a perennial that just keeps on giving. It’s drought tolerant, deer resistant, does well in sun, can handle clay soil, and is non-invasive.

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’

For the middle of the border, I chose Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ – Dwarf Fountain Grass. It’s  clump forming, has green foliage, grows up to 40 inches tall when it flowers – July through September – and can handle full sun to light shade.

Although it’s overshadowed by ‘Northwind’, I thought it had some excellent characteristics and would offer a transition to the front of the border plants.

The front of the border – this is where I had a chance to play. My rule of thumb,  especially in a small garden, is to be bold, use several of one variety, and always -repetition, repetition.

I chose to use 4 plants based on their shapes, flower and leaf colors, and textures.

The 3 silver leaved plants, Pelargonium sidoides ‘Burgundy’, a gazanzia variety with pink flowers, and a lavander variety, give the front a cohesive look. Add in Carex ‘Prairie Fire’ with its outstanding brazen color and the sharp edges of the container are immediately softened – draped with a subtle tapestry of shapes and colors.

I have never created a garden where I’ve been totally pleased with the results. But with this one I am. Maybe I’ve become more accepting as I’ve gotten older, maybe it’s because I’m working with such a tight space, or maybe I just love this slice of a garden on a rooftop in the city.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. How have you created privacy in your garden? If so, how?

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Chanticleer – A Tour With Dan Benarcik – Part 2

In the first video, Dan took us on a tour of the Entryway and Tea Cup Garden.

In this video, before leaving the Tea Cup Garden, Dan shows us one more silver element, rosemary willow – Salix elaeagnous – a small tree or shrub.

Dan cut it back hard this year to re-introduce light, heat, and air circulation into the garden. He likes it because it’s green on the top side with a silver effect on the underneath – which in the wind and breeze creates an interesting two tone effect.

In the video below, Dan is in the Lower Courtyard where he has created an environment that is lush and formal. He shares his thought process in designing this magical piece of art.

Dan also offers up some pearls of wisdom for both the garden and life.

To view the Courtyard and Tea Cup Garden Tour, click here.

To learn more about Chanticleer Garden, click here.

 

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Chanticleer – A Tour With Dan Benarcik

“Garden making is fundamentally not an intellectual enterprise. Most people come to gardens to experience some form of beauty.” Chris Woods

Chanticleer, a 47 acre garden in the suburbs of Philadelphia, was the personal estate of Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. and was passed down to his son, Adolph Jr. and daughter, Emily.

As Adrian Higgins writes in Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, “Adolph Rosengarten. Jr., loved trees, and the cultural legacy of Chanticleer that he and his sister, and their parents before them, left for us was dependent on trees in what was once open farmland. Without them today, Chanticleer would lose its air of permanence and be seen for what it is: essentially a remarkable but young garden begun in 1990.”

When Rosengarten decided to transform it into a public garden, he hired Chris Woods in 1983, a young English gardener who became the first executive director of Chanticleer in 1990.

Chris “formulated a clear vision of how the garden should develop, assembled a team of highly talented horticulturists, and gave them the freedom to be creative and take risks.”

Taken from Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden – Written by Adrian Higgins. Photos by Rob Cardillo.

The garden is a feast for the eyes -  each of the 13 is filled with intense and innovative plantings – so much so that I find it almost too much to digest in one visit.

When I visited this past June, I was lucky enough to find Dan Benarcik, an incredibly gifted horticulturist, in The Tea Cup Garden. He kindly agreed to take us on a tour of the Courtyard and Tea Cup Gardens – 2 of the 3 gardens where he creates/designs/plants/maintains.

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Micro-Gardening: How It Transforms Philadelphia Into An Urban Jewel

Green roofs and walls, urban agriculture, planting trees, and large swathes of native plantings are what most gardeners discuss when the topic of gardening in urban areas arises.

What often goes unnoticed is small space gardening – window boxes, containers, and entryways.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a celebration of color with a variety of plants that intermingle or shades of green that create a calm and stately presence.

These tiny areas of plants – what I call micro-gardening – bring beauty, community, and peace to a city like Philadelphia.

Micro-gardening transforms Philadelphia into an urban jewel. A tapestry of texture and color.

micro-gardening

Window box gardening near Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

Micro-gardening transforms Philadelphia

Window box gardening in Philadelphia

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Why Cultivating Patience In The Garden Is Transformative

Cultivating patience in the garden is the ultimate lesson.

We learn that we have no choice but to wait for plants to grow in their own sweet time – no matter what we do.

Patience In The Garden Isn’t Easy

In today’s world, it’s not easy to be patient. We don’t like to wait.

We’ve created a world of quick mastery in which we can learn languages in a few days and grasp intricate practices like hypnosis  in a weekend workshop.

The internet has fed into the belief that we can become experts in a chosen field overnight.

cultivating patience in garden

Tropical Bird in Ecuador’s Rainforest

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