Tag Archives: Garden rooms

The Good and the Ugly: Beneficial Bugs

The growing season is coming to an end and we are busy closing our gardens and making preparations for next year. So much to do! Cutting back perennials, cleaning up a seemingly endless supply of leaves, planting bulbs for that early spring splash of color. Even with so many things to think of as we near the end of another growing season, many families are focused on one thing: it’s Halloween time!!

Over the years the costumes have improved, the decoration displays get bigger and scarier, and undoubtedly, our misunderstood garden helpers get put on display to gross out and frighten. Insects and spiders have become a standard in Halloween gags, pranks, displays and décor that seem to awaken all of our irrational fears about our 6 or 8 legged friends.

To try and balance out all of the negative attention, here are three of the beneficial ‘bugs’ we can find right in our own backyards:

10-30-14 Ground beetleGround Beetles – While some types of beetles can be serious home garden pests, others are the best pest-fighters around. These medium to large, blue-black beetles typically hide under stones or boards during the day. By night they prey on cabbage root maggots, cutworms, snail and slug eggs, and other pests; some climb trees to capture armyworms or tent caterpillars.

10-30-14 Jumping spiderJumping Spiders – The Jumping Spider lives in woods, fields or gardens. It is often seen on tree trunks, fallen limbs, leaves, or other ground litter. The Jumping Spider gets its name because of its amazing leaping ability. Male Jumping Spiders are between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch long while females are slightly larger. These spiders do not build webs to catch prey but hunt their prey on foot. They use silk to make a small shelter under a leaf or bark. These spiders eat all sorts of insects as well as other spiders. Their inquisitive behavior and rapid stop and go movements can provide quite a show!

10-30-14 Ladybug larvaeLady Beetle – The adult Lady Beetle, or Lady Bug, is easy for us to picture in our heads with its shiny red exoskeleton speckled with black or white dots. This family of small to medium beetles includes more than 3,000 species that feed on small, soft pests such as aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. Both adults and larvae (pictured) eat pests. Most larvae have tapering bodies with several short, branching spines on each segment.

Look for these friendly insects in your garden as you finish up your end-of-the season tasks. And if your fall maintenance is ‘bugging’ you, call us to help!



A Room with a View

9-4-14 room blog pixIt’s not just a phrase limited to travel destinations or books anymore. And why should it be? We all have indoor windows that seize our attention – like over the kitchen sink or across the dining table. With thoughtful design and intentional plant selection, your view from these indoor windows to the outside can be pleasing and relaxing year round. Maybe without a beach though…

When planning a landscape, it is easy to get overly focused on that front foundation planting or other areas where the public/guests can also see it. What will be planted on either side of the front door, for instance.   But most of us see this view only once or twice per day compared to the inside views that might engage us for an hour or more every day. We call these more compelling views the “primary” view: what you will be looking at most frequently. It might surprise you to figure out where it is at your home. It may also surprise you to see that there isn’t much to look at as of yet since it doesn’t demand public attention.

A primary view could also be a seasonal view from a patio or a deck. In this case, it is still a primary view, holding your attention for a longer length of time, but not a year round focal point. Many people are creating outdoor rooms with furniture and other accoutrements that are snow-filled in winter.   In this situation, your plant selection gracing these views should match the season(s) when you are outside. Maybe a lovely January composition is not going to be appreciated from your lounge chair on the deck.

Once you identify your primary views, put some time and effort into making them special. We are always here to help you create your “Room with a View”.


Blog 5-28-14 small photoGardeners are inquisitive.  Let’s face it:  you walk down the street and see a sliver of a garden.  You want to go and see it.  You drive by a house and see a sliver of a garden.  You want to see it.  You are talking to your neighbor and see some interesting garden refuse in their “plant waste” barrel, and you want to see where it came from.  Can whatever it is be divided?

We are inquisitive, but with a purpose if we are honest.  Behind the smiles and oohs & ahhs, we want to know what you have, does it look better at your house and do we need to run out and buy one too?  Hopefully the last one so we can brag about it.

I may exaggerate here, but as a bonafide garden aficionado, I want to see gardens, and I MAY have some mildly competitive tendencies.  I want to get inspired, see plants in different arrangements and see how people use their space.  I want to see things that surprise and delight me.  And I want to compare.  Thankfully, I can be happy for others when I see their plant “x” outperforming my plant “x”.  Otherwise gardening would be a depressive activity.

So I muse on about this because The Garden Conservancy has arranged for 9 private gardens in the West Roxbury area to be on view on Sunday June 8th.   Often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a private creation, each garden is chosen for its merits; visitors decide which gardens they want to visit and in what order.  There is a $5 admission at each garden or $30 ticket at the host site, the Wakefield Estate in Milton.

Two Christie Dustman & Company, Inc. gardens will be featured on the tour:  the “Dustman-Ryan Garden”, and another I designed and maintain- the “Resplendent Spring Garden” in West Roxbury.

For the addresses of the nine open gardens in the West Roxbury area on June 8th, please find the list below.  We hope you will come by to see all of these special gardens.

Greater Boston Open Day

For more information as to how to visit these and many more beautiful gardens, please go to:


Sweet Sixteen and Blogging

Photo from the Hamden Court Flower Show, London, photo C. Dustman

Photo from the Hamden Court Flower Show, London, photo C. Dustman

It is SWEET SIXTEEN at Christie Dustman & Company this year. And like most 16 year olds, we are starting to Facebook, Blog and Tweet. Our new adventure into social media is our way to connect with you in an immediate and relevant way. Seasonal advice, interesting musings on plants, and photos of our work from the crew in the field. Hopefully we won’t bore you about what we are having at Starbucks!

Blogging and Facebook appeal to me since I have little conversations in my head a lot and I like the written word. Ideas, critiques and amazement thought bubbles (good and bad) pop in my mind all day so why not pass some of that along to you? Let’s share it together.

We are also on Pinterest and Houzz to showcase and trade awesome photos. Landscapes and gardens are so visually focused that sharing some of our favorite photos and seeing what else is out there is very appealing. Have you checked out either of these sites? It reminds me that the human mind is endless in imagination and creativity.

Christie Dustman


SOUTHERN SPAIN – come visit with me

Welcome to Southern Spain – and the famous Alhambra.  I visited in March this year while on a biking tour.  The Alhambra is a city on a hill within Granada and is surrounded by a wall.  It houses one of the best preserved Moorish palaces in Spain and its gardens are renowned.  The mix of rectangles and arches lends a design complexity that is dynamic yet soothing. And the use of water in many forms adds vitality and coolness in an area that reaches 110 F in the summer.

As a lover of mixing angles and curves in my designs, I fell in love with all the arches and columns, especially the way they frame views and pique excitement as your view changes dramatically going from one garden room to another.  It reminded me of the Japanese use of gates to frame garden views.  But here, the emphasis is more on paved surfaces, tiles, water features and not verdant greenery.  Check out my next post about the use of flower pots!