Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jim Brand

In memory of Jim Brand, Chairman Musikfest Flower Committee.

Leader, jokester, inspiration, and friend.

We will miss you Einstein.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Right Plant/Right Place

(Spring - crocus at the top of the bank.)
Kay Johns spoke at the Bethlehem Garden Club meeting this week. Kay and her husband Herb own Point Phillips Perennials in Danielsville, Pa.

Kay’s talk “Perennials: Right Plant/Right Place” included:

Sun Loving Drought Tolerant Plants
Sun and Moisture Loving Plants
Shade Loving Drought Tolerant Plants
Shade and Moisture Loving Plants
Sun and Moisture Loving Drought Tolerant Plants
Shade and Moisture loving Drought Tolerant Plants

Her informative and fascinating talk started by stressing the need to know the soil moisture during the winter as well as the summer. In some areas of the garden, snow cover keeps the soil wet in winter. If the plant can’t take the winter moisture it may rot.

Ms. Johns provided a list of specific plants for each condition. It was another reminder to do the research to save time, money and the environment.

Experience has taught me to follow the “after established” caveat when planting drought tolerant perennials. A new plant may need to be watered into October or November depending on weather. Planting in July requires more frequent deep watering than the same plant planted in September. New perennials, trees or shrubs may need to be watered for one or even two or three years. Once established, drought tolerant perennials may not bloom generously during a dry, hot summer but they should survive.
(The side bar is back!!)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Coffee in the Garden

I love to walk through the garden on a warm spring morning with a cup of coffee. I take stock of perennials and re-seeding annuals breaking though the soil. I notice weeds and re-seeders in the wrong place. I check bunny damage and make a mental note to use cayenne pepper. I also plan my next area of garden work. Mostly, I just enjoy the garden.

But, the best thing about morning coffee is the coffee grounds available to spread on the garden or into the compost bin.

I spread the grounds around the acid-loving plants such as rhododendron and hydrangea. I don’t bother to dig it in. I save that job for when I’m spreading mulch or working in that area of the garden. The thin layer of grounds won’t lower the pH much but they say the worms love it. It may also send slugs somewhere else.

For more about coffee grounds and the garden see Doug Green’s

(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” - has moved to the bottom of this blog. Please scroll down to see link to previous posts.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Indoor Blooms

The garden outside is still messy since I haven’t had time to get out so far this week. A few hyacinths have broken through the ground.

Inside, the orange and the pink Christmas cacti are re-blooming. The poinsettia is coming into bloom and the amaryllis’ pop of color is quite spectacular.

(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” - has moved to the bottom of this blog. Please scroll down to see previous posts.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Garden Clean Up

I took a lap around the yard yesterday. It’s a bit of a mess. A lot of it looks like this.

I don’t have anything that needs pruning immediately so I can work on clean up one section at a time. (Here is a handy pruning schedule from University of Virginia Extension ) Ornamental grasses will have to be cut soon before any more pieces blow around the neighborhood.
I need to get the leaves out of the azaleas, clean up the tulips and crocuses, and trim some left over perennials from last year. Hostas have dead spikes and leaves of mush on the ground. Fortunately, I have paths to work from so I don't have to tromp on the garden.

Bunnies (or something) are munching on the tulips. They have all been sprayed with Liquid Fence. The deer, groundhogs, rabbits and skunks dine on new spring growth and critters in the soil. The birds pick dusty miller for their nests. I won’t cut last year’s dusty growth until June when the new growth is well established. I also use a lot of cayenne pepper in the spring to try to convince the critters to eat something less ornamental. My husband insists they are out there making salsa in the middle of the night.

The hellebores appeared like magic it seems. The purple flowers are ready to open. A two-inch patch of mysterious green appeared next to the rhododendron. I think (hope) it is Irish Moss (Sagina sublata) although I have no record of planting it there. If anyone recognizes it, please let me know.

The gardening season has begun in earnest. I have a very busy schedule next week but I’m trying not to panic and run helter-skelter through the clean up. It’s a grand time of year as each day presents surprises in the garden.
(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” - has moved to the bottom of this blog. Please scroll down to see previous posts.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Philadelphia Flower Show

“Jazz It Up”
March 2 to 9, 2008

Some of it was glitz and glitter, some of it was informational and inspiring, all of it was loaded with fun and a spirit of New Orleans. (Pictures: Above French Quarter “Jazz It Up” main theme. Carnation saxophone - Fairmount Parks Commission “A Splash of Jazz.”)

Walter B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences in partnership with Philadelphia International Airport presented “Under the Tarmac”. The informational, well-documented exhibit included habitats, animal facts and environmental issues of the wetlands ecosystem surrounding the airport.

“Children Jazz It Up” by Camden City Garden Club highlighted primary colors in the musical instruments, gazebo and exercise equipment. A vegetable garden promoted a healthy diet. Information was available for the Camden Children’s Garden According to the brochure, “The Garden provides horticultural experiences for creative and imaginative play.” It sounds like a fun place to visit.

Winner of the People’s Choice Award (and more) Waldor Orchids of Linwood NJ produced realistic view called “Down On The Bayou”. Waldor’s brochure says it best.

“As the morning mist rises over the Louisiana bayou, a young lad fishes for catfish from the porch of an old fishing shanty. Spanish moss dangles from the branches of the Bald Cypress trees which are laden with colorful orchids and tillandsias. Beware of the alligator lurking nearby in the swamp. It’s just another day in bayou country.”


The setting made me catch my breath. It was a storybook interpretation of the bayou. Orchids on trees were icing on the cake.

Almost without fail, all exhibits noted plant genus and species. It was good to see many environmentally conscious displays from the Philadelphia Water Department’s “Jazz Up Your Roof” to Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades “Springtime in the Wetlands”.

“The Second Line” brass band snaking its way among the lush exhibits made it truly a N’awlins experience.


(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” - has moved to the bottom of this blog. Please scroll down to see previous posts.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Allentown Flower Show

2013 -
 ValleyFlower, Garden, and Pool Show  -
Ag Hall, Allentown Fair Grounds, PA

Valley Flower and Garden Show
Ag Hall, Allenttown
New Dates: March 2, 3 and 4 -- Mark your calendars!!!

Adventures in Agriculture
Palmer Park Mall, Easton

Friday, February 10, 4pm – 9 pm

Saturday, February 11, 10am – 9 pm

Sunday, February 12, 11 am – 4 pm

Philacelphia International Flower Show
March 4-11, 2012 = Islands of Aloha


Adventures in Agriculture Feb 11-13, 2011

Philadelphia Flower Show “Springtime in Paris” March 6-13, 2011

Valley Flower, Garden and Patio Show - Ag Hall, Allentown Fairgrounds, March 11-13, 2011

Lehigh Valley Green Builders Expo March 19-20, 2011


“Tapestry of Green”Lehigh Valley Flower and Garden Show 2008
Agri-plex Allentown Fairgrounds March 7, 8 & 9

This is the weekend for Lehigh Valley Flower and Garden Show. With rain predicted for Friday night and Saturday, it’s a good way to be dry outdoors, sort of.

As promised, there are a few more plant sellers at this year’s show. Penn State Master Gardeners will be selling all the shrubs in the display. You can stop by the booth and reserve a plant but you must be there at 4:45 to pick up your plant at 5 pm on Sunday or it will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Landscaper’s sale & Lehigh Valley Florists Association auction also take place at the end of the show on Sunday.

The kids will love the train display by Lehigh Valley Large Scalers. And across the way, they will be able to landscape a model farmhouse with miniature shrubs at the Master Gardener exhibit.

Lehigh Career and Technical Institute constructed a sophisticated informational garden. Kutztown High School’s display is quite professional and includes a cold frame and gazebo.

There are booths of crafts, garden “art”, garden structures, demonstrations as well as professional landscapes.

Let’s get out of the rain and pretend it’s spring.

(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” has moved to the bottom of this blog.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Spring Fever

All it took was one warm day. Temperatures above 60 on Monday made me antsy to get out and work on garden cleanup. I trimmed the pussy willow and cut back the hellebores and sweet autumn clematis.

I don’t want to walk on the garden while it is soft and wet but I can reach a lot of from paths and stepping stones.

I need to cut back Autumn Joy Sedum, Purple Coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan and other perennials where I left the seed heads for the birds over the winter. Ornamental grasses need to be cut. I don’t see any new growth from the hellebores which is unusual. Hopefully they’re late and not dead. There are leaves to be cleaned out. I’m sure I’ll find much more when I get outside on the next balmy day. Believe it or not I can see some weeds popping up. They will go ASAP.

The Japonica is almost in bloom.

Snow drops are everywhere.

Heather blooms cheerfully at the top of the bank.

I can see the tops of daffodils, crocus and miniature iris.

Ah yes, spring is almost here.

(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” has moved to the bottom of this blog.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008


(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” has moved to the bottom of this blog. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get it back to the top. I haven’t been able to get an answer from Blog Spot. If anyone out there has the answer, please let me know.)

Eco-gardening, sustainable landscape, xeriscape, organic gardening, native plants, bio-diversity – words that elicit strong opinions but are not easy to define. There is controversy at every turn. Experts don’t agree on what organic means. How much organic fertilizer is too much?

Brian Higgins review of Jeff Gillman’s recent book Truth about Organic Gardening

‘”…if you are simply replacing synthetic products with organic ones, you are missing the point. The aim is to reduce the need for fertilizers and, especially, pesticides. How do you do that?
You build the soil with correct amounts of compost and mulch, choose plants that do well and place them in their optimum locations. These are the true parts of organic gardening," says Gillman, a professor of horticultural science at the University of Minnesota.’

Here’s a British article on Eco-gardening: The comments are especially enlightening and outline some of the problems and differences of opinion with sustainable landscaping. The controversies, large and small, are not exclusive to England.

As we all try to be eco-friendly, it’s not easy to follow the many differing viewpoints. And some experts are very opinionated.

Doug Green’s Gardening Blog February 24 “Gardening as a Religion” illustrates just how opinionated some gardeners can be

‘“…I see this extreme attitude in individuals in a huge variety of gardening groups. From the native “plant nazi’s” (yes, that’s how they’re referred to in the trade) who reject any plant that isn’t “native”. (whatever that is)…’

Native plants are good, right? IPM Choosing Healthy Landscapes has tips for choosing plants well adapted to your site.

“Sometimes, exotic plants are more resistant to pests than are their native relatives. For example, Cornus kousa, an exotic dogwood that was introduced from the Far East, is less susceptible to infestation by the dogwood borer than is Cornus florida, the flowering dogwood, one of our native species.”

I chose the Cornis florida for my garden because I think it’s prettier. Even if it may be shorter lived, the squirrels continue to plant replacements. That’s sustainable enough for me.

Marianne Ophardt Master Gardener, Central Washington Editor, Extension Area Educator, Washington State University recommends trying some unusual weeping trees. ‘. . . the discriminating gardener that “takes the road less traveled” should consider some less familiar, more unusual weeping specimens.’ Well, who wouldn’t want to be known as a “discriminating gardener”?

Rhododendron is an acid soil loving plant. Does it have a place in our limestone soil gardens? . Do we need to add Holly Tone or Mir-Acid? Is that sustainable? New construction changes the natural soil. Most experts seem to agree that soil testing is a good idea. (See September 29, 2007 post)

Bee Colony collapse, white nose syndrome in bats, fish abnormalities, frog and toad deaths, air pollution, water pollution, carbon footprint – we all want to do the right thing. The problem - what is the right thing to do?

Here’s my starter list:
- Don’t spray indiscriminately
- Don’t fertilize indiscriminately
- Read and follow all label directions

Most important
- Make compost
- Use mulch
- Do the research
- Be patient