Maria von Brincken

About Maria von Brincken

Award-winning landscape designer, garden journalist and lecturer, certified practising designer with the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), former contributing editor to Landshapes magazine. Sudbury, Massachusetts. Read Maria's full blog at A Garden Maker's Notes

The new ikebana – Yuji Ueno style

Not my mother’s ikebana! That was my first response as I beheld the beautiful cover of japanese ikebana for every season by Rie Imai and Yui Ueno with photography by Noboru Murata. You see I lived in Tokyo as a toddler. A US Army Officer’s wife, my mother took classes in Japanese Flower Arranging. When we returned to San Francisco I grew up with her ikebana arrangements of camellias or calla lilies with foliage that grew in our gardens.

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Revisit Chadwick’s organic garden

Last year (2013) Paul A. Lee published There is A Garden in the Mind: a Memoir of Alan Chadwick and the Organic Movement in California. Paul inspired me to join that movement and I apprenticed with Alan Chadwick in the Student Garden at UCSC (University of California, Santa Cruz) way back when. For more about Chadwick, visit the website Alan Chadwick, A Gardener of Souls. The following is my account of the early organic garden movement in California, which I originally wrote in 2009. Continue reading

Winter Festival in my garden

Every year I find magic right in my garden after a snowfall. Saturday’s snow was just the right consistency for creating ‘snow flowers’ that last awhile. A little wet so it lingers and when you shovel, you have to pause. What are ‘snow flowers’ you ask? I learned about this concept in a novel I read years ago. The title and author long forgotten, but the idea that in ancient Japan villagers held an annual ‘Snow Flower Festival’ nestled in my memory like a precious jewel. Continue reading

Arranging foliage in pots for winter color

Here in New England, our gardens and entries can get pretty bleary as December slides into the Winter Solstice. We know that the March Equinox is a long psychological distance until we might see some color in the landscape. In my garden it’s the early blooming Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) often in February. Continue reading

From parking lot to park paradise

Let me tell you the story of a plot of land in Carlisle, Massachusetts. Mostly a parking lot, there was some open grass, miscellaneous woodland, a fence to prevent you from driving in, and a trash barrel. It wasn’t a place you were likely to hang out. Nothing to draw you in – it was basically a parking lot. The process of transforming it to a park was the vision of a woman named Sabrina Perry as a memorial project inspired by her late husband. She gathered a coalition of people dedicated to creating a beautiful public park in 2006. Continue reading

Loving fall foliage combinations

I’m loving our New England Autumn. The leaves have been turning one by one– here and there– for weeks.Now it’s clumps of yellow, orange, and scarlet, and green gearing up to an amazing crescendo sometime soon. Here’s a few photos taken from my back garden. The garden’s fall foliage design shows off. Enjoy. Continue reading

September time of year

It’s mid September in New England – almost the Fall Equinox – the gardens are very dry and we’ve had several nights in the 40′s. We missed the frosts of the southern coast. Ornamental grasses, shrub roses, hydrangeas, summer annuals, and sedum are the stars of the late summer landscape.
Highlights in my garden include the ‘Sweet Autumn’ clematis (Clematis paniculata), emerging asters, red berries on winterberry holly, and the gradual foliage color change to burgundy in the viburnum, laceleaf Japanese maple, and others. Continue reading

Mellow August garden

It’s August and the mid-season daylily party is over. Sitting in my shady retreat on the chaise on the patio I built under the deck, I’m enjoying the mellow August garden. A few of the late blooming hemerocallis varieties still contribute to the color, but the riot has ended. Stems have been clipped and composted, and a quieter but still lovely August garden delights. Continue reading

July daylily party

Daylilies, botanically known as hemerocallis, fill my July gardens with color and joy. The back gardens have a good twenty different varieties that bloom mid-summer. All the joyful colors make a happy garden. And, it’s not only the daylilies in bloom, but the hostas as well. Plus, you’ll notice the blue balloon flowers adding to the cresendo. Together it’s a party! Continue reading

Gardens – antidotes to the news

The garden is always there. You break your arm – struggle to keep up with work.  But the garden is always there. The headlines here still speak of the Boston Marathon bombings, a broken Congress, terrible – hurricanes in the Midwest, floods, and general mayhem. Those thoughts whirling in my head – I realized I needed to take time to be “in” my garden rather than just enjoy its views from inside. Continue reading

Flowers solace a heavy heart

All week I’ve been heartsick. The April 15th Boston Marathon Bombings and the subsequent Lock-down of Metropolitan Boston yesterday have been a distraction to say the least. Last Monday felt like a truly spring day –night temps were above freezing and days without the need for a heavy coat, hat and scarf. Trees and shrubs budding, spring bulbs flowering in the warmer southern exposures, winter’s siege seemed to finally lifting. It was a great day for the marathon—not too hot or cold. Continue reading