Category Archives: shrubs

FIELD NOTES – Living Fences Speak Volumes


What’s that old saying in the Robert Frost poem? “Good Fences make good neighbors”. Well, I don’t believe it. Quite often, putting up an instant barrier with a structural fence sends a different message to your neighbors or passers by. “Going Green” for privacy is the alternative to soften the message.

Fence “structures” do have their place. You know – picket, lattice, board, stacked,  post & rail, stockade and (God forbid) chain link. Having installed many of these for my clients, I’m not saying they aren’t useful. They certainly do the job to contain running kids, keep the dog in the yard and  unwanted critters out, add a safety barrier around a pool, and (best of all) create an instant screen to block a bad view. In other words, often necessary in the neighborhood landscape.

But, before the first post hole goes in the ground, consider this… a Living Fence. If you want to create an pleasurable outdoor living space, a garden room for tranquility or a transition space that you’ll  enjoy passing through each day, the Living Fence should be your choice over a structural fence.  An impressive article by Cynthia Kling,  “LIVING FENCES – Pushing the boundaries of the hedge and its role in the modern-day garden”  (Garden Design, March 2013), really got me excited about the many alternatives and reminded me of the many I’ve introduced into my client’s landscapes.

These property line screens are used, instead of fences, to create “Green Walls” between neighboring yards in residential neighborhoods.




KING - Pond Screen, Green Giant Arbovitae








Below – An effective privacy planting used to screen the required pool fencing in a residential neighborhood.

SPERO-HALL - Pool Screen from neighbor yard

SPERO-HALL - Pool Screen from drive-street

This weekend, my friend and I visited the Lincoln, Franconia, Sugar Hill areas of New Hampshire and were lucky enough to stumble upon the Annual Lupine Festival. What a treat to catch the last 2 days of this 20 year event.  Knowing we were welcome to wander and explore the many fields of wild Lupines along the roadways and farmlands (private property, I’m sure) brought me full circle in thinking about fences. DON’T FENCE ME IN is my new mantra. Take a look…

Lupine Festival, Sugar Hill, NH 1 2013

The Frost Place, Sugar Hill, NH View 1 2013

Lupine Festival, Sugar Hill, NH 2 2013

Lupine Festival, Sugar Hill, NH 3 2013

Lupine Festival, Sugar Hill, NH 4 2013

Getting back to Robert Frost. On the back roads of Sugar Hill, NH,  we also  visited The Frost Place, one of Frost’s homes. For a short period of time, he lived with his family and wrote here. The house was nestled in a serene setting of trees overlooking the White Mountains. 

The Frost Place, Sugar Hill, NH Sign 2013

The Frost Place, Sugar Hill, NH House 1 2013

The Frost Place, Sugar Hill, NH House 2 2013

The Frost Place, Sugar Hill, NH View 2 2013

Seeing the view and wandering the paths through fields behind the house (without a fence in sight), it’s hard to believe he said such a thing, “Good fences make good neighbor’s”. I think not!

Explore the possibilities-

Increase Your Homes Privacy with plants

Hedge Shrubs

Hedge Plants





FIELD NOTES: Focus Your Landscape View

This gallery contains 32 photos.

When designing a landscape, be it large or small, it’s critical to step back, see the whole picture and relate your space to the surroundings. Like a photographer – take the long shot view, then, zoom in on the details. … Continue reading


My size 10's hitting the deck

Is this a cruel joke? I was planning to open a client’s garden today, only to wake up and find 3 inches of snow had fallen overnight.  That Mother Nature, always throwing me a curve ball (no, I’m not talking about today’s opening game for the Red Sox). My husband, Dan, calls me a walking weather reporter once the outside work begins for the new season. Well, this year it’s going to be different – I’ll take it all in stride.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold's Promise'

When you look around the yard and see flowering shrubs, interesting stems and bark, plus bulbs poking through the ground on April 1st, who could really complain about the weather.  The Arnold Promise Witchhazel off our deck is really putting on a show against the evergreen behind it.  What a fabulous plant – it’s already been blooming for a month and its great attributes just keep on going through the fall.

Stewartia tree bark


All year long, I’m amazed looking out my kitchen window at the everchanging, peeling bark of my favorite ornamental tree, Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese Stewartia). Tucked into its given space, a walkway bed between the property line hedge and a trellis privacy screen, I can’t help but marvel at it every time I pass by. Come June, it will be prolific with “sunny side up” egg colored flowers, not to mention the fall leaf color – deep, maroon red.

Red Twig Dogwood is another showy shrub this time of year. The red stems really stand out set against the snow. It’s even more impressive used in mass plantings (the same for Yellow Twig Dogwood). For boggy wet conditions, I usually opt in for the native – Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’.

Cornus alba 'Elegantisima' (Red Twig Dogwood)

As plants continue to replace lawn in my yard (more to come on that), the five Red Twig Dogwood shrubs are doing double duty – looking great and soaking up water in a sloped swale.  Guess all this snow has to melt sometime.  Tomorrow I hope.