Garden Loss and Gains After Hurricane Sandy

By Mar Jennings

Garden reflections post Hurricane Sandy

Despite my love of casual luxury and making a career in the home and garden department, I want to acknowledge that even I can’t keep things groomed and manicured all the time! The wrath of Hurricane Sandy is over, but the incredible damage up and down the East Coast remains, and clean up continues. Incredibly, Rosebrook Gardens in my area of Connecticut suffered minimal loss and damage, so I count my blessings that the high force winds and flooding didn’t leave more of a mark on my neighborhood and home.

Along with the lawns strewn with branches and so on, I did have one large-scale casualty - my hand-picked and planted Bradford pear tree split in a few places while trying to resist the wind. Crrrack and down it went. My once prestigious lawn and property now looks more like the infamous Grey Gardens mansion, the once East Hampton residence occupied by the reclusive Beales women (aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis), who allowed weeds, trees, vines and grass to subsume the mansion, nearly blocking it from view.

Of course the secret hidden inside Gray Gardens was that the house itself had magnificent bones all along. The debris and wild growth outside hid the beauty of the house’s potential. Happily, the house was beautifully renovated by new owners who adored the property and promised to reclaim it rather than tear it down.

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If something that looked as much like a rubbish pile as Grey Gardens can come back from the ashes, then I have faith that all of the Eastern Seaboard can as well.

Sixteen years ago, Rosebrook Gardens became my home, and its house and gardens have been the focus of my creativity ever since. Truth be told, neither wind nor rain will keep me from creating and sharing my love and passion for my home and garden from you. So stay tuned as I use this opportunity to rethink and redesign the garden. It’s true that winter is the perfect time to nest inside and compose an action plan for the spring, but let’s not forget there is still work to be done in the meantime.

I’ve come up with six monthly tips to keep myself focused and on track for my garden’s big reveal next spring and I thought they might inspire you to do the same! Note that even if a few of the monthly tips don’t specifically apply to your garden, following the ones that do should ensure that your garden remains healthy and vibrant.

And since these tips come straight from my own gardening calendar, I call it my AL-“MAR”-NAC:


  1. Schedule fall clean-up 

  2. Turn bird bath over to remove water
  3. Cover wall fountain to prepare for winter 

  4. Bring garden furniture inside
  5. Install burlap protection on boxwoods
  6. Turn outside water off


  1. Begin forcing indoor bulbs
  2. Trim evergreen branches as needed
  3. Fill window boxes and front door trellis with evergreen clippings for winter interest (learn more at
  4. Check burlap protection and secure anything loose
  5. Make holiday wreath with resources from the garden
  6. Pick up branches and debris

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  1. Assess existing garden design for any new modifications

  2. Review catalogs and garden magazines for inspirational ideas
  3. Order roses and trees for early spring delivery to replace those dead or damaged

  4. Rake any leaves into garden beds

  5. Visit a botanical garden to study landscape design and get inspired
  6. Remove door wreath and holiday decorations

I believe that love for our homes and gardens can provide us with strength able to transform our losses into opportunities to gain knowledge. If you are rebuilding or repairing this fall, I hope you find inspiration to create anew. Knowledge is power and although I might have lost my Bradford pear tree, I’ve gained validation in knowing just how much I love my home. And there you have it.

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Mar’s inventive and original blueprint for design infuses Mother Nature’s colors and textures throughout the home and garden. Mar creates resourceful designs for a casual luxury lifestyle. As featured in HGTV, QVC, the Today Show, NY Times and many other national media outlets. For more information visit

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