hi lovelies!  how is your week going?  mine is going wonderfully, but i sure have been missing you!  i can’t wait to share with you all we’ve done.  but for now, i want to introduce to you someone very special!  caroline finnegan will be your new weekly organic gardening contributor!  i got the pleasure to speak with her on the phone last week, and she’s amazing in every way.  not only does she have a passion for organics and gardening, but she’s a wonderful writer and just exudes the warm and fuzzies. i hope you’ll take a minute to get to know her, and feel free to ask her any questions in the comment sections!

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Hello!  I am so happy to be here as your weekly organic gardening columnist. I love ‘Going Home to Roost’ and Bonnie is such a joyous inspiration – her lovely spirit and ideas have been bright spots in my day for a while now.  I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge and ideas with all of you and cannot wait to grow a community of gardeners!

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I am a first generation gardener who comes from a long line of black thumbed, worm fearing, dandelion spraying folk.   I might be exaggerating….but not by much.  I taught myself to garden at a young age and have been at it ever since.  For me getting my hands into the soil has always been a deeply calming and soothing experience.  Many years ago I went through a pretty rough time both physically and emotionally.  To say that I was ungrounded would be to minimize where I was.  It was not until I began digging up the garden in my parent’s new home, creating new garden beds and becoming lost in the land that I found enough relief to begin to heal.  I eventually walked back to a healthier body and stronger spirit.  I have since had the pleasure of using that garden to introduce my 5 year old niece to the wonders of soil and seed.  The daffodils pictured were planted by her when she was one year old.  She weeds and eats the herbs and picks the flowers and plays on the lawn that we maintain organically.

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My love of gardening evolved into my deciding to become a landscape designer and start my own business, Ladybug Landscaping.  From the beginning Ladybug Landscaping has employed an exclusively organic approach to landscaping.  My business partner Ellie and I are both deeply committed to the concept of “Do No Harm” and our business practices reflect this.  We are not your usual “Spray and get paid” landscaping company.  In fact, we prefer to work directly with our clients, coaching and guiding them to become strong stewards of their land.  It is this love of sharing knowledge and of learning from others that inspired me to write to Bonnie when she was asking for a gardening contributor.

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Besides gardening I love to go thrifting, to sew, paint and decorate.  I also set myself weekly chores –  it’s really the only way I can focus and get things done.  This past winter was pretty busy for me, leading to a cluttered and unorganized house. So getting my space back together is one of the top chores.  The other is to take care of the dozens of houseplants I have – re-pot, rearrange, and refresh them in preparation for their transition to their summer home on the porch.   I’ll show you after pictures next week!

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So next week we shall begin our journey together – I am planning on taking you all through the season, offering weekly gardening ideas, advice and projects.  I will also be answering questions and considering your ideas for columns.  I garden in Connecticut, which is Zone 5/6, but have gardened in many other zones and am comfortable creating content for different climates and styles.   I am in the process of starting a blog for Ladybug Landscaping – I hope you will also visit me there and let me know what your organic gardening needs may be.

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Start your stretching and shake winter from your bones…to the soil we go!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.


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6 comments

comments

  • Jen Suereth | April 8, 2010

    welcome Caroline! I am really looking forward to your columns. I live is sunny St. Petersburg FL (zone 9 – 10) and I am interested in vegetable gardending in the hot summers. Thanks…

  • Jenn Bronson | April 8, 2010

    YAY!!! This column is going to be so awesome and fun! I love gardening as well and look forward to your information and your Ladybug blog! My husband is a landscaper down here in Tallahassee, FL and is always promoting and practicing the organic way. Welcome!

  • welcome! looking forward to your posts!!

    I’ll put you right to work, here’s a question for you :)

    last summer my clematis suddenly died…it was big and lovely and then one morning I woke up and it was dead…that fast…now this spring it hasn’t started popping up like usual…you think it’s gone? what could have happened?! by the way I live in MN…zone 4 (??)

  • Hello! Thank you for the welcome Jen, Jenn and Jes!

    Jen – I will certainly incorporate lots of advice for growing vegetables in the heat, while still saving water. My parents lived in Miami for some time so I know the brutal FL heat/humidity combo well.

    Jenn – give your husband a big thank you from me. I always love to hear landscapers promoting the organic way of gardening!

    Jes – oh dear. I’m so sorry your clematis just up and died on you. There are many reasons it could have failed, and without more information I am hesitant to say if it will come back or not. Do you have a problem with voles in your yard? Did it wither or yellow or even blacken in parts before it died? How old was the plant? Did you prune it before it died? Clematis are wonderful and can be very long lived plants, but they can also be finicky about root disturbance or improperly timed pruning. More questions – do you know what variety of clematis you had? Did you plant it yourself? If so, how long ago? I look forward to your answers and to working together to perhaps solve your clematis mystery.

  • Caroline – thank you for chatting with me about this!!

    The weather was really hot – that morning it was wilty…so I watered it…thinking it just drank a lot from the heat (and it was in full bloom with lots of buds)…after a day or two it never perked up and started turning black…I waited a couple weeks and then just cut the whole thing down…just like I normally would at the end of the season…leaving about an inch or two sticking out of the ground.

    We had it for 3 years…don’t know the variety…big and purple…so lovely!

  • Hi Jes. I would guess that your clematis was a victim of clematis wilt. Sadly this is usually an irreversible disease, but according to some, your plant may come back. I’ve personally never seen that happen, but there is always hope! If you decide to buy another clematis plant it in a different location and be really vigilant in disinfecting your tools and garden equipment. But clematis are gorgeous plants – so try and try again is what I would say!

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