Tag Archives | Fran Sorin

Why Flowers Matter ~ 9 Tips On Appreciating Them

Do you remember the first time a flower grabbed your heart?

Did you touch its petals, breathe in its intoxicating scent, perhaps look at it from a distance, and then walk forward to observe it from a closer range?

Why Flowers Matter

Peonies In Fran Sorin Garden

Did you ever ponder over why flowers matter?

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Connecting With Nature

Connecting with nature is something that most gardeners do naturally – at least while working in our gardens.

But how many of us take the time – on a daily basis- to have an interlude with nature in the world outside of our backyards?

I know that I can be as guilty as the next person of rushing through my day. Not stopping to notice the tree on the street ~ with its peeling bark or exposed root system tightly curling around the bottom of its trunk.

connecting with nature

Pacific Ocean – Carmel, California

What if you paused once a day to marvel at nature?

To breathe it into your soul?

To stand quietly and say ‘thank you’?

Do you think it would make a difference in how you feel?

You betcha. Continue Reading →

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City In A Garden

I’ve always thought of Chicago as a great American city where urban greening, ecological landscaping, and beauty for beauty’s own sake matters.

The Lurie Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago’s immense park system and green roof program are enough to make any nature lover’s heart sing with joy.

Chicago - City In Garden

Lurie Garden In Millenium Park

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7 Benefits of Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ – Why I Changed My Scathing Review

Several years ago I wrote an article titled ‘ Why I Won’t Plant Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia‘ again : A Love Affair Gone Awry.

It was about how I fell in love with a Golden locust some 2o plus years ago when I first saw it in London.

How I knew I was going to find a place in my garden for it at the right time and was able to do so after a major renovation.

How I was swept away by my vision of what the end result would be.

How I knew that the benefits of Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia‘ would be numerous. Within a year after buying these 2-3′ tall leafless sticks from Gosslers Farms Nursery, the first 3 Robinias had become stars of the garden.

What started out as 3 Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ on the top level of my garden, within a few years grew to 6, and then 9 .

Robinia entryway Chanticleer

Robinia pseudoacacia ‘frisia’ – entryway at Chanticleer

The shortcut version of the story is that after 5 years of marveling at their early spring green ovate leaves, followed by fragrant white pea like flowers, the chartreuse/yellow foliage in summer, then a vibrant yellow into the fall before dropping their leaves, the Golden locusts had become problematic.

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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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