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In my last blog, I covered slope stabilizing native plants used by Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But there are other ways to tame a slope. Some gardeners in Pittsburgh have tapped in to a 2,000 year old idea: terracing. Of course, the most attractive way to deal with a slope happens to be the most expensive.

terraced garden with stone retaining wall in Pittsburgh, PA

The Davidson’s terraced garden in Pittsburgh, PA


Written on Thursday, September 11, 2014 in Landscaping & Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania surprised me. The city has a whooping 42 percent tree canopy! In comparison, Washington DC has 36% and Portland, Oregon in the wet Pacific Northwest has mere 30% tree cover. Even Canadian cities known for their leafy nature have less tree cover– Toronto 33%, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal all at 20% tree cover. But enough about trees!

Another visual surprise is Pittsburgh’s topography. Hilly. Steep slopes. It’s a great place to see how gardeners tame their slopes. Since there’s too much information to cover in one blog, I’ve divided it this entertaining topic into three blogs.

planted slope at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA

Written on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 in Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva

At the end of every month, #groundchat highlights the latest in the soil world. This month, August 2014, we explore news articles on soil organisms. Join us on Twitter at 2 pm EST.

ground chat poster August soil news

Written on Thursday, August 28, 2014 in #groundchat News

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Recently I was invited to give a presentation on peonies and soil at the Oshawa Peony Festival. On the surface peonies soil requirements appear straightforward. What more could I add? That was before I did a little digging…


Written on Thursday, June 19, 2014 in Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva

I believe in supporting botanical gardens. Botanical gardens not only showcase and conserve different plants, but they also play a key role in educating people on the wonders of plants and gardening.

Paul Zammit, Director of Horticulture

Written on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Soil health is a hot topic nowadays, but what does it mean? According to soil scientist, Dr. Dena Marshall, “Soil health is emphasizing the overall diversity of soil biology, which then enhances the resiliency of the soil.”

Dena Marshall

Written on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Early spring has many of us rushing out to buy topsoil (landscape soil/garden soil) either to fill/add to flower beds, build up vegetable patches, or to use on our lawns. But do we really know what we are getting?


Written on Thursday, May 15, 2014 in Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva

It seems fitting to chat about the importance of soil on Earth Day. Over 75 years ago, Henry A. Wallace, United States Secretary of Agriculture, said,

“People in cities may forget the soil for as long as hundred years, but Mother Nature’s memory is long and she will not let them forget indefinitely.”

Soil is essential to life — people and other living beings – as well as Earth itself. I have listed the many ways that soil affects our lives and our planet.

sandy loam Dundas Ontario

Written on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 in Plants & Soils, Soils & Growing Media

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Nothing is more sought after than the hard to attain. Case in point: Gardeners with alkaline soils wanting to grow blue hydrangeas.

blue hydrangea

Written on Thursday, April 17, 2014 in Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Flower shows are usually full of inspiration. Canada Blooms 2014 was no exception. For soil-oriented gardeners like me, containers caught my eye: log planters, vertical wall planters and picture frame planters.


Written on Monday, March 31, 2014 in Book & Product Reviews

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Written by Cristina da Silva