In a nod to National Public Gardens Day on Friday, how about some scenes from my visit last week to Ladew Gardens in Monkton, Maryland. I hope they illustrate that there's lots more here than just their famous topiary - 15 individual gardens. My favorite may just be the Yellow Garden you see below.
Like all good public gardens, Ladew offers lots for tourists and area residents alike: outdoor concerts, seminars, plant sales, storytelling, a summer nature camp - you get the idea. And all in this gorgeous place.
Lawn Care at Ladew
I got a chance to pick the hort brain of Ladew's head gardener Tyler Diehl - he studied at Cal Poly, interned at Longwood Gardens, and no doubt knows his stuff. So how does he keep that lawn so lush? You know, without overdoing it and risking polluting the whole watershed. And there's lots of good news to report here. Tyler's only feeding that lawn twice a year - down from six times a year - and only with chicken and turkey-based fertilizer. They no longer do regular sprayings with pre-emergent OR post-emergent weedkillers and now rely on spot-spraying only. They keep the lawn good and aerated, and do regular soil tests, and reseed as needed.
We're all learning that these minimal-care lawn-care practices save money, too, and they've found that to be true. So one possible good result of the recession is the switch to cheaper, more natural lawn care, after which it's unlikely that anyone will go back to the overfertilizing and pesticide use so common in the bad old days of gardening.
More Organic Gardening Practices
This is also nice to hear - that their arsenal against disease and bad bugs consists of dormant horticultural oil, and that's all. Helping to make that possible is their ditching their disease-prone hybrid tea roses in favor of old roses and some of the great new do-ers of the rose world, like Knockouts.
And naturally, the gardeners at Ladew compost everything - nothing green leaves the site.