Category Archives: Sustainable

Sustainability in the garden

Many years ago I planted a ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ dappled willow in my landscape. Last year I remember cutting into it and feeling a bit guilty. I do not like removing healthy trees or shrubs unless it is absolutely necessary. Therefore, I kept reminding myself that I had spent way too much time trimming, pruning, bagging, and tying up unwanted branches!

My small suburban yard does not allow me to grow trees or shrubs that require constant pruning. But more importantly, it was the sustainability factor that finally pushed me and the small overgrown tree over the edge. The amount of waste this willow produced in one season was exhausting and goes against everything I believe and stand for–sustainable landscaping and gardening practices.


When I drove into the local waste and recycle management facility to dispose of the wilted willow piled in my trailer, I knew my decision was for the best. Tons and tons of waste is poured into this facility on a daily basis; it is beyond comprehension. I visit the site often to dispose of yard waste for Two Women and a Hoe® and appreciate everything the facility offers, contributes, and is committed to.

Fortunately, our individual practices can play a major role in a vital process, too! One rather simple element of sustainability is creating as little waste as possible. As gardeners, there are opportunities to achieve this goal during the planning process by selecting the right plant for the right place. Educate yourself on the growth habits of new shrubs and trees before deciding to plant them! Shrubs that require constant pruning create a lot of unnecessary waste. I can attest to that! The next time you go plant shopping, pay close attention to plant specifics so that constant pruning does not become a constant practice.

Remember, a carefully thought out garden design and making informed plant selections will reduce the amount of waste your landscape and gardens generate through maintenance. In the end, sustainable practices in the landscape and garden will save you time and money, and serve our planet well!

Two Women and a Hoe® is passionate about sustainability and believes that together we can make a difference! When we know better, we do better.

Two Women and a Hoe


Small Worlds: Toledo Museum of Art

Yesterday I visited the Toledo Museum of Art with my Soil Sister, Kylee Hartwig Baumle,  a/k/a Our Little Acre.  Needless to say, we had a perfectly lovely day! Let the holiday gatherings begin!

One exhibit, among many, caught my eye!  Gregory Euclide, an American contemporary artist and teacher, took recycling to the next level!  Here’s a brief summary and picture of his unique art cleverly displayed:

“A two story installation, (Take it with you – Toledo) was built on the Canaday Gallery Bridge at the Toledo Museum of Art. The installation was designed to be the entryway to the Small Worlds exhibit.

Discarded shipping crates, packing foam, paper cut outs of trees from paintings in the collection, 7 dioramas built into the crates, organic matter from the museum grounds, gravel from the Maumee River bank, gravel from the parking lots of Toledo and water from the Maumee River.”

And now, Artist Gregory Euclide’s desciption of his art:

Although he declares he was “simply showing” where land is today, there was nothing “simple” about this display or the message behind it.  Admittedly, he left me with much to think about and consider.

May all your gardens grow,




Incrediball Hydrangea Bloom

We’re Still Standing!

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.

~Franklin D Roosevelt

As we all know, life sometimes has a way of bringing us down. Some say those situations make us stronger; others say they make us weak. It is my belief what matters most is that in the end, we’re still standing!

Perhaps that was my huge attraction to the Incrediball™ hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Abetwo’ ppaf). Any offspring of ‘Annabelle’ that doesn’t flop is on the top on my list! This exhilarating hardy hydrangea bestows colossal 12-inch blooms that open lime green, turn snowy white, and then gradually fade to different shades of pale green. Bravo Proven Winners®!

Big attraction: Unlike its parent, ‘Annabelle’, sturdy thick stems thwart flopping in blustery weather! This Midwest gardener can attest to it because I planted three Incrediball™ hydrangeas last year. Admittedly, I am hooked – line and sinker! I would never hesitate and would happily recommend this hydrangea to any of my clients.

The Incrediball™ is very adaptable and thrives best in rich, well-drained, moist soil. Plant this beauty in groupings/masses, create a stunning hedge, or add to a garden or perennial border – the options are endless!

Bonus: butterflies cannot resist them either!

Double bonus:
The blooms make lovely fresh or dried flower arrangements. For a stunning display, I will adorn my holiday tree and trimmings with spent Incrediball™ blooms this season. (That’s another article!)

Maybe you will consider planting an Incrediball™ (or two, or three). The next time you feel down, gaze up at your Incrediball™ hydrangeas. If they can weather any storm, then so can we!  Happy planting!


Botanical name: Hydrangea arborescens ‘Abetwo’

Common name: Incrediball™ Hydrangea

Hardiness: USDA Zone 4 to 9

Bloom Time: Summer

Height: 4’ – 5’

Spread: 4’

May all your gardens grow!

The Cutting Edge on Pruning

Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.

~John Trapp

Learning how to prune woody ornamentals may be difficult at first. For many gardeners, it can be daunting trying to decide what to cut and what to leave! Pruning is necessary and should not be avoided or intimidating. In fact, it is beneficial for the overall health of a plant. Remember: practice makes perfect and, in no time, pruning will become second nature!

I have discovered through the years that most pruning principles are common sense. I am excited to share my six favorite pruning tips! It’s time to break out your pruning tools and leave your fears behind!Let’s get started:

    1. Consider the shape and design you wish to create before you start pruning. It’s important to have a clear vision and plan in mind! Your decision on the shape and design will dictate the amount of pruning necessary.
    2. Always remove dead, broken, diseased or insect-infested branches.
    3. Branches that criss-cross, grow toward the interior, or ruin the shape and appearance of a plant should be removed.
    4. To avoid excessive and unattractive clumping of branches at the top, thin out rather than cut back.
    5. Always prune suckers and water shoots.
    6. Cut off any old stubs. is good for our plants and good for us, too!

After all, we all need a bit of trimming, reshaping, controlling, and snipping from time to time! Happy pruning!

May all your gardens grow!

Dwarf Fothergilla

Fothergilla gardenii – A Landscape Favorite

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.



Fothergilla gardenii

We love adding this wonderfully textured native dwarf shrub to new and existing landscapes.  Delicate white, honey-scented, bottle-brush blossoms add fabulous spring interest to the garden.  The unforgettable green textured leaves change in autumn to outstanding shades of yellow, orange, and red!  Use in groupings, masses, or foundation plantings.  Plant in full or partial sun.

Height:   3-4′
Spread:  3-4′
Zone:     5-8

 May all your gardens grow!

Balance, Ease & Beauty

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Initial meetings with clients always begin with a request for a maintenance-free landscape and the response is always consistent – a maintenance-free landscape is virtually impossible! However, what is not impossible is a sustainable landscape that works with the environment and requires minimal and manageable maintenance.

Once explained, clients are excited and anxious for us to dig in…literally! After all, who doesn’t long for beautiful gardens that attract wildlife and require very little maintenance?

As you may know, there are many variations to the definition of sustainable landscaping. However, I define sustainable landscaping with three words: balance, ease, and beauty! Balance embraces local climate, site selection and resources; ease includes minimal inputs such as water, organic pesticides and fertilizers; and beauty, of course, is what excites all gardeners!

Sustainable landscaping begins with an excellent design that is functional, cost efficient, visually attractive, environmentally friendly, and easy to maintain. Believe it or not, sustainable landscaping is very simple to achieve!

Following are three key components to a viable sustainable landscape:

  • Promotes positive practices and minimizes negative impacts
  • Facilitates self-sufficiency
  • Conserves natural resources

How can you implement these ideas into your landscaping this year?

  • Water harvesting by attaching a rain barrel to a downspout
  • Utilizing a compost bin
  • Thickly planted garden beds with trees, shrubs, and ground covers
  • Beds planted along the edge of the road to slow and filter runoff
  • Terracing to slow runoff and encourage infiltration
  • Plant trees to create microclimates which reduce water usage
  • Learning good soil management which encourages rainwater infiltration
  • Mulching around tree trunks

Sustainability is an ongoing relationship between you, your garden and its surrounding eco-system. It’s not too late to begin making small changes toward a more sustainable garden now, with a goal of a more water-wise, environmentally-friendly garden in just a few months. You’ll be helping the earth and you’ll be rewarded with a lot less work creating and maintaining beautiful garden beds!

May all your gardens grow!

My Monet Weigela

Hot Ornamental Picks this Season!

If the day and night be such that you greet them with joy,
and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs,
is more elastic, more immortal – that is your success.
All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.
~Henry David Thoreau

Here’s a few of our hot picks for landscapes and gardens this season.

Check back often as we photograph how we used them to create color, texture and interest!
Little Lime™ Hydrangea
Arctic Sun ™ Dogwood
Black Beauty™ Elderberry
Brandywine™ Viburnum
Coppertina™ Ninebark
Fine Line® Buckthorn
Black Lace™ Elderberry
Incrediball™ Hydrangea
Midnight Wine™ Weigela
Invincibelle®Spirit Hydrangea
Summer Wine® Ninebark
My Monet™ Weigela
Little Henry® Sweetspire
Arctic Fire™ Dogwood
Bloomerang™ Lilac
May all your gardens grow!

*Photos by Proven Winners®