Saturday, June 28, 2008

Evening Primrose


Oenothera speciosa

This plant is a showy but a fairly aggressive spreader in my garden. There are people that say it could take over the world. I continually tell it not to go past the brick edge. (I don’t talk to my plants very often. Ah, maybe I do.) I pull, dig, and hoe the plants that get on the wrong side of the tracks - I mean bricks.

The blooms started in the beginning of June. They still look good today. The pretty pink profusion of blooms has found a way into my heart.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY - 250 acres of trees, gardens and every manner of plant and shrub. I can’t shake the image - green oasis in a concrete jungle - trite but true.

My view of the gardens:

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory – A Victorian-style greenhouse filled with plants from 11 distinct habitats. The rain forests’ gentle mist only rarely reached our skin. The flora is well marked and signs explain each environment. It was hard not to bump into people while looking open-mouthed at the overwhelming amount of plants. Moss covered rock walls and never-seen-before cacti stand out in my memory. It is a great place to linger as you try to take in the all the extraordinary plants. The outdoor water lily pond is full of koi and other fish. Tour guides are available. Our guide was a personable volunteer but not a knowledgeable plantsman.

Everett Children's Adventure Garden – This large area includes winding paths, mazes, clever topiaries, and delightful surprises. We followed a short winding path and found a wooden and glass display of seeds. Questions printed on the display were answered by opening wooden doors. I wonder what secrets are on the paths we didn’t follow. The colorful caterpillar topiaries surprised us in several areas.

Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden – An excellent flower and vegetable garden planted by children and adults grows in well-tended rows. In a children’s area, bright, colorful hand-painted signs with each child’s name demonstrated pride of ownership in the healthy tomatoes, lettuce, beans and corn.

Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden – Over 3000 roses arranged by color created a spectacular show. Hybrid teas, floribunda, antique roses, and shrub roses crafted into a profusion of color in a formal setting. Lots of oohs and ahs from me. It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer number of roses.

In the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden, there were many examples of plants that go well together. Plants for sun with complimentary colors. Shade plants with different textures and heights. It’s a good thing there wasn’t a plant sale nearby. My Visa would have been as tired as my feet.

The formal herb garden was not in the best shape when we visited but we got the idea. I missed the rock garden, but I heard it was spectacular with lots of small plants and evergreens.

250 acres requires a lot of walking and energy. A tram runs every 20 minutes but is sometimes full and not always on time.

It was an exhausting but fun day – hot in the sun, cool in the shade. I could have spent days there. I would love to sneak into the plant-science labs and greenhouses for a closer look.

(Photo credit. My camera died before I ever got to take a picture. Many thanks to my friend and fellow visitor, Gretchen, for the pictures here.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008


"Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you." ~ Richard B Sheridan 1751-1816

The first blush of roses is ending. It signals of the end of spring and always makes me nostalgic.

I’m on my way to New York Botanical Gardens today with the Lehigh/Northampton County Master Gardeners. I’ll be sure to post my impressions on Wednesday. Please share your impressions of Gardens you have visited.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gardening – Four Feet at a Time

This year I can’t seem to catch up in my garden. Everything needs to be done at once – weeding, mulching, planting, dead-heading, watering, trimming, composting, edging, clean-up, and did I say weeding.

I am frequently in a panic so I run all over the garden trying to catch up. Or it becomes so overwhelming that I do nothing – stuck not knowing where to start.

A good friend gave me some advice. Don’t think of what needs to be done in the entire garden. Each day you work in the garden, work on 4 feet at a time. Great advice I thought.

In the last two weeks, I worked through 100 feet.
Only 260 feet to go. But I won’t think about that.


Rhododendron clarification. On the large flowered rhododendron, new shoots will grow on the sides of the spent bloom. If you decide to deadhead your rhody, be careful not to break off the new shoots. The picture (above) shows the collar with a new light green shoot growing out of the flower base (below my thumbnail).

Ciscoe Morris, King County Master Gardener:
”The best time to prune your rhododendron is within a couple of weeks after flowering is finished. Soon afterward new growth will emerge, and by early summer, next year's flower buds will form at the end of newly grown branches.”

“If you wait too long, pruning can interfere with the budding process and reduce the number of blossoms you'll get to enjoy next spring.”

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rose Rootstock

Some roses are very well behaved. (picture above)

Most of my roses are grafted on to a hardy rootstock. This method of propagation assures that the rose will be hardy in the winter freeze-thaw cycles in Pennsylvania. Also, that the roses I buy will be true to type. (Picture left shows two different types of rose on the 'Don Juan' climber.)

From C. Colston Burrell, M.S. , “Many hybrid tea and floribunda roses are grafted on the extra-vigorous and disease-resistant roots of other species such as multiflora or rugosa roses.”

Two of my roses have sent up shoots from below the graft. The climber ‘Don Juan’ is a tangled mess. I’ve trimmed it a bit but it is full of roses on canes that are coming from below the graft. I saw this happening the last few years. I did nothing. This year I see only one cane of the original rose.

According to Kevin C, who is, “By day, … a mild-mannered landscape consultant and horticulturist...” “Keep cutting those 'suckers' down. They can eventually kill the graft if you don't.”

It may be too late for my ‘Don Juan’.

If you’re going to do it, do it right away – as soon as you see the rootstock sprout. Or you will most likely end up with a tangled mess like mine – or worse.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Neglected Garden


The last two weeks have been very hectic. I haven’t had much time in the garden. And, the weather has been oppressively hot and humid – heat index in the 100’s. I thought I’d share a few plants living in my garden. They seem to thrive without any help from me.

Astilbe – nurtured for years and now on its own

Snapdragons – re-seeded from plants I bought several years ago.


Mock Orange – came with the house but barely alive. Sweet smell and memories.

Red Hot Poker – a gift from a friend I’ve lost contact with.

Asparagus – gift from a neighbor delivered by birds or wind.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bethlehem Garden Club Flower Show

A total of 222 design exhibits, horticulture exhibits, vignettes, table arrangements, educational exhibits and more comprise a hall full of garden material.

The Bethlehem Garden Club Flower Show “Garden Party” - Friday and Saturday, June 6 and 7 - is going on at Advent Moravian Church, 3730 Jacksonville Road in Bethlehem.

“Stunning”, “spectacular”, “fantastic”, “amazing”, “beautiful” were words I heard to describe the exhibits on the first day of the show. Four panels of judges selected the best of the best.

This is the first local flower show I have ever attended. What a pleasant surprise.

Great exhibits
Perennials and annuals for sale
Raffles on everything from garden center gift cards to canvas prints
Even cookies and lemonade

- A lot of fun with no admission fee.

The show continues today 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you’re interested in sale or raffle items, get there early. Everything is selling like hotcakes at great prices!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Deadheading Rhododendron

After the amazing bloom of a large rhododendron, the spent flowers look messy.

According to the American Rhododendron Society (ARS) :

“It is desirable, with the large flowered rhododendrons, to remove the withered flower clusters after the blooming season. This is fairly easily done as the central axis of the cluster, usually called a truss, will break free from the plant with a quick snap of the thumb pushing on the side.”

It’s a simple, although tedious, job. I just snap the spent flower at the brown-ringed collar with my thumb and forefinger. Sometimes deadheading is impossible on a large shrub (without a ladder and arms like a gorilla).

I don’t stress about deadheading and I do as much as I have time to do.

ARS says, “Dead-heading is usually done to make the bush look more attractive, to reduce the prevalence of fungus and to prevent a heavy set of seed. If it is not possible to remove the old flowers, it is usually not too detrimental, but flowering the next year may be reduced.”

So, every time I pass the rhodys I stop and break off as many spent flowers as I can.