Monthly Archives: July 2014


One of the 'bibles' of landscaping.

One of the ‘bibles’ of landscaping.

Over the past 10 years outdoor trends have shifted from preening sprawling lawns to now providing habitats for wildlife, reducing turf, and using native plants in the gardens.  Christie Dustman & Company has been growing gardens for 16 years and has witnessed many trends, fads, and changes in common practices based on research. If we didn’t stay current, the cutting edge would leave us buried in the dirt!

Part of staying up to date and expanding our knowledge base is participation in continued education, gaining professional certifications, attending industry trade shows, and networking with other professionals. By taking a quick look at our ABOUT page, you can see what each of us brings to our team.  We are a diverse group of educated professionals.  But it is our relationships with our green industry colleagues that keeps us fresh and forward thinking.

Five of our team recently went to the 2014 Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association Summer Conference held on the turf fields of Savage Farms in Deerfield, MA.   Typically these events have vendor booths set up so that you can connect with plant suppliers/growers/product manufacturers and then hear a series of lectures from various professionals in the industry. This July though was a special event because the keynote speaker, Michael A. Dirr, a Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, is a LEGEND in the horticultural world.  Imagine hearing the guru of your profession.  Dr. Dirr has tremendous energy for teaching, writing, and growing plants. Normally just basking in a guru’s shadow can be satisfying – but one of our team, Jim Lynn, actually knows Dr. Dirr.  They had a wonderful handshake and hello, connecting again about plants and what’s on the cutting edge.

There is pride amongst our team knowing that as we connect and learn from these green industry power players, you, our clients benefit.  We look forward to continued education and networking so that you no longer have to imagine loving your garden, because you do love your garden!



Plant-Tag both sidesDo you wish your yard looked like some of your neighbors?  Do you feel like they got the GARDEN HANDBOOK and you were absent that day?  Well, take it from a long time gardener:  getting the right plant for the right place isn’t so easy.  There are so many factors to consider and impulsivity often rules.

So where can you get meaningful plant information?  Google, etc. but more recently I have been looking at the PLANT TAGS on the plants at the nursery.  They actually contain important pieces of information about the plant; and just like a dating website, you want to match the plant’s attributes with your site’s attributes.  Check out these 3 most important data collection points:

HARDINESS ZONE   To start:  Do you know what plant hardiness zone you are in?  Hardiness refers to a plant’s ability to withstand a predicted cold temperature and survive.  The entire USA is divided into Zones based on the lowest temperature typical to that area.  Here in Boston we generally fall into zone 6 which means temperatures can go to -5 or -10 degrees F.  Plants hardy to Zone 6 can reliably survive these temperatures.  To find your zone check out this page on the USDA website:

When you look at the PLANT TAG find the zone recommendation, which is usually a range, like 5 to 7.  If your zone is included in this range, great.  If not, your plant may succumb in winter since it can’t typically withstand such cold temperatures.  As you might imagine, there are gardeners that push the Zone limits and are happily rewarded with a live plant or sad with a dead plant.

SUN/SHADE EXPOSURE  Sun/Shade exposure or Light requirements is also a very important factor to assess in your garden. Study your yard at different times of the day and identify the areas getting the most sun or shade. PLANT TAGS will specify:

  • Shade  (no direct sunlight)
  • Shade to Part Sun or Sun to Part Shade (3 to 6 hours of sunlight)
  • Full Sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight)

Keep in mind that optimal conditions will produce the best results.  For example, a plant that is labeled Sun to Part Shade may survive in a lot of shade but it may not flower as robustly as if it were in a sunnier spot.  Or it may disappear one winter and never return.

ULTIMATE SIZE  A common mistake people make is not fully appreciating the ultimate mature size of plants.  This is more likely to happen when you are buying that cute little plant that is small because it is young.   By checking the plant tag for Spacing recommendations as well as Size, you will have a better sense if that beautiful Ginkgo biloba (which can reach a height of 50 to 75 feet high) will fit in your small side yard.

Great gardens take planning – page 1 of the GARDEN HANDBOOK!  We are always here to help too.