Wednesday, March 31, 2010


(Photo from Muhlenberg College Graver Arboretum Conifer Display Garden in Bushkill Township.)

Korean Fir Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’

I was introduced to this good-looking evergreen a few years ago.

It is a conical shaped slow grower. The blue tinted tree adds 2 to 3 inches a year and can grow to 15 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

It’s most spectacular feature - the needles on the new growth curve upright exposing a silvery sheen. The tree shimmers in sunlight.

It was love at first sight. Maybe someday I’ll find a spot for this fir in my garden.

More information from Washington State University.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Monocacy Creek

As I walked along the Monocacy Creek this week I was reminded how lucky we are to have a beautiful creek run through the center of town.

Johnston Park a “nature preserve is located in a former 18th-century industrial region and is a popular spot for taking a break from the city and enjoying restored natural vistas.”

The dam is soon to be removed to reduce the chance of flooding.

Local mallard residents.

Along Lehigh Avenue with new Moravian College dormitories in the background.

Trout fishing begins April 3.
More information about the Monocacy as well as maps and guides can be found at the Monocacy Creek Watershed Association website.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Green Builder’s Expo

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is a Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. A 112 page publication explains the point system and what it takes for an existing building to become LEED certified.

In a large gymnasium at Northampton Community College last weekend, Lehigh Valley Green Builders displayed a wide variety of ideas and technology. It was an excellent place to develop a plan for green living. Here are just a few of the many exhibits.

This cute little house illustrated how much energy our houses waste and suggested an energy audit.

Ever since we paved over paradise, surface run-off has caused flash floods and pollution to streams. Pervious concrete filters water naturally and returns it to the ground water. I wasn’t able to make cost comparison to traditional paving because of variability in sites, climate and size of the job. In fact, it was difficult to make cost comparisons at most of the vendors.

The kids expo included butterfly gardening, worm bin composting, make your own rain gauge, papermaking and creative art activities (top photo).

In 12 meeting rooms off the main gym, various groups presented talks on Green Building, Green Living and Renewable Energy. The show site lists all the talks, workshops and demonstrations.

This was the first time I’ve visited the Lehigh Valley Green Builder’s Expo. I didn’t allow enough time to take it all in. Creating Backyard Habitats, Plan Before Growing Vegetables, Rain Gardens, Practical Composting, Using Native Plants in the Landscape are a few of the presentations I missed.

Next year I will check presentations more carefully before I go and make a better plan. The show is definitely worth spending most of the day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cayenne Pepper

Spring is sprung
the grass is riz
I wonder where
the flowers iz

When we were kids we’d sing that rhyme and thought we were very clever. As a grownup, I know the rabbits are the clever ones.

The top picture from March 15 shows a bunch of crocus. Every year the rabbits mow them down. This year is no different. They ate about half the growing tips by March 15. I rarely get any blooms in this spot.
The rabbits love the tulips too.

I carry cayenne pepper in my tool bucket when I garden. I buy the largest container I can find – usually at BJ’s or Sam’s Club.

I sprinkled some cayenne pepper on the leaves and a little on the ground around the plants when as I worked on garden cleanup. Sometimes too much causes leaf burn. It doesn't look good but it doesn't seem to damage the plant.

We are also using Deer Off by Havaheart® this year. Deer Off contains “Putrescent Whole Egg Solids, Capsaicin & Related Capsaicinoids, Garlic Oil”. Oh boy, more smelly hot stuff. We will need to reapply the Cayenne pepper and/or Deer Off after every rain.

So far we have controlled the damage. And this year - crocus blooms!

(I’ve had a lot of inquiries about the Allentown Flower Show. Unfortunately, this show was discontinued two years ago. The Lehigh Valley Green Building Expo continues at Northampton Community College through the weekend.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – March 2010

A few sightings of actual plant life in cold, damp Pennsylvania this morning.

Pussy Willow with frozen rain drops on their fuzzy little heads.

Purple crocus shivering tightly closed.

A row of heather (Erica x darleyensis 'Silberschmelze') fearless against the cold.

My favorite weatherman promised warm weather and sunshine by the end of the week. The daffodils buds are near bursting in anticipation.

Visit other (warmer?) gardens follow the links on our host Carol’s blog at May Dreams Gardens. Thank you Carol!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Philadelphia Flower Show

Despite my camera/photographer problems at the Philadelphia International Flower Show, I have a few more photos to share.

Educational Exhibits

Temple University “METROmorphosis – Transforming the Urban World” Best in Show winner in the Academic Educational category - “. . . well crafted examples of a variety of sustainable approaches to garden design within an urban setting.” A metro-meadow, rain garden, courtyard walls that serve as an aqueduct to a rain barrel, a beehive, an edible wall garden (left), worm farms and more high-lighted a display full of sustainable ideas.

Camden City Garden Club and Camden Children’s Garden presented a “Soup and Salad Garden”, a fresh approach with a touch of whimsy. The display “. . . addressed food security and sustainability—a relevant, pressing matter in low-income urban communities.”

“Horticulture Therapy Around the World” by Mid-Atlantic Horticultural Therapy Network made me think of Kathy at ”Weeds and Wildflowers” blog.

A quote from the American Horticultural Therapy Association website:
“Rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans in the 1940’s and 1950’s greatly expanded the practice of Horticultural Therapy.”

Some techniques included in the display:
· Constructing wide, gently graded wheelchair accessible entrances and paths.
· Using raised beds and containers (Inverted Stairs Vertical Garden pictured at right.)
· Adapting tools to turn a disability into an ability
· Creating sensory-stimulation environments with plants selected for fragrance texture and color
· Using accessible greenhouses that bring the garden indoors for year-round enjoyment

W.B. Saul High School of Agriculture “Thru Her Gates” created an outstanding 20 foot replica of the Statue of Liberty. The statue was surrounded by well-marked plants from the continents around the world including Mondo Grasses from Japan and Hens & Chicks from Africa and lavender from the Mediterranean. You can see a better picture on March 4 entry of the Flower Show Blog.

Design Exhibit

One of my favorites “Polar Fantasy” from Shafer Designs created a stark, white on white, icy display. Watch the Video from March 3 entry on the Flower Show Blog and feel the chill.

Horticulture Exhibits

Stunning horticulture displays included Mrs. “Dodo” Hamilton’s Clivia miniata.

and this unusual fern.

I can’t wait ‘till next year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Philadelphia Flower Show

Passport to the World

This year the Philadelphia International Flower Show celebrated participation by countries around the world since 1829. Over the years, these countries introduced new plants to U.S. gardens.

An excerpt from a quote published in "The American Farmer" in 1829:

“Paeonias from China, Lillium longiflora (Easter Lily) from London Horticultural Society, Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise) from the Cape of Good Hope, Euphorbia presented by Mr. Poinsett, United States Minister to Mexico . . .”

The show was a feast for the eyes after a snowy winter. My camera (or the photographer) was not in the best form. I apologize. To see some excellent pictures and videos visit the Flower Show Blog.

A balloon 28 feet above the floor covered with 80,000 dried flowers, created by Barb King of Valley Forge Flowers, soared above the entrance to the displays.

From India, a wedding Scene by Jamie Rothstein Floral Design created an award winning, eye-popping, jewel-colored display.

Singapore, by Waldor Orchids a People’s Choice Award winner, included an orchid tree and loads of blooming phalaenopsis.

The New Zealand colonial-inspired bog garden, interpreted by Stoney Bank Nurseries, Inc., used local flora that mimic form and textures of New Zealand’s plants. The blue-eyed hot water lizard (Moko), compliments of Greg Levitt of Boyertown PA, surprised us popping out of the bog.

A Brazilian Rain Forest with live tropical birds, a South African village with full-sized native figures and an urban Netherlands flower market with hundreds of tulips rounded out the international displays.

Stories behind the exhibits are excellently portrayed in the Flower Show Blog, Page through the blog for a real feel for this over-the-top flower show.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Search for Crocus

Only 7 days until daylight saving time – 13 days to spring.

Snow is two feet high where we shoveled it on piles but soil is beginning to appear in sunny spots. So where are the crocuses?
Some tiny little crocus leaves can be spotted if you look hard enough.

The daffodils are poking through the soil.

Snow drops are opening everywhere.

And then - one crocus bloom!

Only 7 days until daylight saving time – 13 days to spring.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


The rabbits will soon be munching in the garden.

I participated in a PA Forestry Web Seminar “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. led by Gary S San Julian, Wildlife Specialist and Linda Wiles Extension Educator, Penn state University. An overview of garden pests included bears, geese, voles, raccoons, skunks, squirrels and many more.

Here are a few things I learned about rabbits.

Rabbits cut foliage with their sharp incisors making knife-like slanted cuts. Deer browse and tear. You can tell the difference between rabbit damage and deer damage by looking at the cuts on young plants and shrubs.

Rabbits only live about 12 to 15 months. But, they reproduce like, well, rabbits. (I guess I knew that part.) Each year a rabbit may have six litters with about 5 or 6 young each.

Rabbits usually don’t eat cucumbers, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and some types of peppers.

Fencing is still the best method to keep rabbits out of the garden. I’ll be using cayenne pepper again this year. I am determined to be vigilant.

A rabbit’s tail is called a scut. (Just kidding. I learned that in a crossword puzzle.)

(Wildlife Damage Control publication “Cottontail Rabbits”.)