Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Poem for Gardeners

T'was the weekend before Christmas, and all through the yard,
Not a gift was being given, not even a card.
The tools were all hung, in the garage with care,
With hopes that St. Nicholas soon would repair.
The shovel with blade all rusty and cracked,
The pitchfork still shiny, but handle it lacked.
When out on my lawn, (it's brown and abused)
I could see poor old Santa, looking confused.

No list had been left for Santa to see,
No gardening gifts were under the tree.
But wait there's still time, it's not Christmas yet,
And gardening gifts are the quickest to get.
You can forget the silk tie, the fluffy new sweater,
Give something to make the garden grow better.
If she wants a gift shiny, then don't be a fool,
It's not a dumb diamond, but a sparkling new tool.
If fragrance is listed you can forget French perfume,
t's a pile of manure that'll make gardeners swoon.

Give night crawlers, not nightgowns, a hose that sprays water.
(Anything for the kitchen is not worth the bother.)
Give a great gift that can dig in the dirt,
It's better than any designer-brand shirt.
Now look quick at Santa, this guy's not so dumb,
Under his glove, he hides a green thumb.
His knees are so dirty, his back how it aches,

His boots stomp on slugs, (he gives them no breaks).
The guy works only winter, you can surely see why,
For the rest of the year it's as easy as pie.
He has elves plant through spring, pull weeds in the summer,
In fall they all harvest, but winter's a bummer
And so Christmas gives Santa a part-time employment,
'Till spring when the blooms are his real enjoyment.
So ask the big guy for garden gifts this year,
Seeds, plants and tools, Santa holds them all dear.
You see, malls may be crowded, vendors hawking their wares,
But visit a nursery, stress-free shopping is there.
Now Santa's flown off, to the nursery he goes,
And his voice fills the night with loud Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!

Many thanks to old rose guru (that's old roses not old guru) Leon Ginenthal of Ithaca for the Chrismas Poem! He's our "go to" guy in the rose world.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

I lost last week.......don't know where it went.......maybe I was in the throws of Holiday decorating? You should see the Mohonk Mountain House, the trees are fresh and nicely decorated. We always try to be tasteful and slightly understated (with just a hint of glitter) :-)

Between the trees, roping, garland, poinsettias and kissing balls we sneak out and finish up the winter preparation. Fences go up to protect from wildlife and cross country skiers, a very light mulch of beech or oak leaves to shelter all those late transplants and under our breath we pray for snow cover. Not only is it good for business, it's nature's blanket which insulates plants from winter cold.

Indoors, we have one eye on Christmas and the other on SPRING. You should too. Go over all those plans and orders and make last minute changes. We seem to have plenty of last minute changes (in January). And then the Thompson and Morgan catalog comes and .................time to order more seeds!

I think next week I'll bore you with my ode to the punished Poinsettias.........


Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Interest

I actually took a Sunday drive this week and was reminded of what a calm, peaceful time of year it is. This is really our season of winter interest. No snow yet, bare naked trees, grass heads blowin' in the breeze. We gardeners live for this! I read an interesting article in the New York Times from November 4th on the ins and outs of putting your garden to bed. You should read it! 

Boy, we are not done yet.............I'd like to throw some more mulch down on those plants I just transplanted last week. When is Thanksgiving? THURSDAY?  Well it will have to wait. It is a reminder to pot up Paperwhite Narcissus for Christmas bloom. I like shallow glazed bowls and natural pebbles. "Easy as Pie" (like that's easy).

Let me see if I can find some shots of winter interest...................

There, Fern on Moss    Laurel Ledge Road
Fern on Moss
Holly in the Holly     Mohonk red border

Holly in the Holly

               Winter Koi Spa      Mohonk Lake porch
Winter Koi Spa

OK ......GTG .......TTYL.............LYMI


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You can't hide from the calendar

This week's title comes from a good piece of advice I got from a very wise person (I forgot who). Anywho, this is that time of year! I just wish I had 3 more weeks of this Indian Summer before Thanksgiving and Christmas, and all that jazz. But, alas we are down to the wire. I hope you got all your bulbs in (outdoors). You can't just throw them in the fridge and plant them in spring. We (who are hiding from the calendar) are still potting tulips in the "g" house for forcing inside. After potting they winter in the basement (which is wet) and we bring them up into the warmth after an extensive rooting period (12=16 weeks).

I am guilty of trying to fend off the holidays by getting as much done outside as possible. It seems there is no spring any more, at least no time for big garden projects. So I've been busy getting a new Delphinium border together this fall. You'll get to behold the rewards in June.

Geeze, I better get back out there while the temperatures remain above freezing............I'm leaving with one picture from the archives.... caption Where's Waldo?


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Google This.......

Oh we are connected at the hip to our computers these days, aren't we?  So as I listen to Simply Red "Fairground" on Youtube, I want to share some websites with y'all...........

Who has time to read gardening magazines? Not me when a friend hands me one, I feel guilty and peruse at my own risk.  Voila, a great article about a well respected friend in the latest Garden Design.  Amy Goldman is a Dutchess County resident when she is not traveling the planet on her crusade to reintroduce heirloom vegetables to the human populus.  Her "back 40" is a living museum and you will never meet a more elegant or eloquent person.
Find her in cyberspace at

Bulb planting season is winding down. Sometimes it feels like a necessary evil, and then you realize it is the easiest way to get a huge bang for your buck with relatively little effort.  Bulbs are clean, light and easy on the pocketbook.  So what was I groaning about?  ............Still time for tulips and lilies, and (trust me on this one) the bulb connection is Scheepers in Bantam, Conn.

So while you're driving on the internet highway, Google this.............Planting Fields Arboretum, Chanticleer, Chicago Botanical Garden, House of Flowers, and Piping Rock Orchids.................there that will keep you busy  :-)


Monday, November 1, 2010

This is it

Yes, I guess the growing season is over: 4 days with lows in the 20s and highs in the 40s is a reality check to get all those garden chores done.  So, we are doing just that!  The last of the bulbs get planted (lilies in the cutting garden), moving delphiniums to the Long Arbor (taking a risk, but I will mulch around the crowns), and cleaning out all the excess debris in the beds. That should keep us busy until Thanksgiving (which is only weeks away).

Malus 'Donald Wyman'
Malus 'Donald Wyman'
Korean Mums

There is still some color...........Malus 'Donald Wyman' looks more like a cherry than an apple and those Korean mums are still going strong! 


Friday, October 22, 2010

Field Trip

Roses at Swarthmore College (complete with raindrops)

.....just a wonderful conference last week at Swarthmore. Perfectly run and the highlight was the final speaker Piet Oudolf. A genius in the landscape design field.  Checkout his website

Roses at Swarthmore College
Roses at Swarthmore College

Roses at Swarthmore College

....another field trip, this time Brooklyn Botanic Garden. We were hosted by long-time friend, Betty Scholtz. I was particularly impressed with the Bonsai (pronounced bone sigh). You should see it.

Bonsai forest of Trident Maple BBG
Cloud pruned conifers at the Japanese Garden BBG

Look at the "hips"on this Rosa 'Windrush'
We are at it again, planting spring bulbs for candyland, Chocolate and Peppermint Tulips, Penny Candy Hyacinths, and more! Stay tuned!

Scenes from Mohonk Show Garden bulb planting shenanigans

Scenes from Mohonk Show Garden bulb planting shenanigans
Scenes from Mohonk Show Garden bulb planting shenanigans


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Columbus Day has gone and went

Being outside is time well spent...................Oh no, not more poetry!
Yes, more poetry...

Feast yours eyes on the Lion Mint
The orange heads are odd
This fall it has another stint
Intriguing and and quite mod

The shaggy and everpopular Leonotis leonurus

Our mums start as others wain
The first of them unfold
They're as Asian as the crane
And lovely, truth be told

The very first of the Korean Mums
The chilly nights are just a warning
It is time to move inside
On each and every frosty morning 
Another plant must abide

Andrew and Tom have at the Lantana standards

There you have to Swarthmore for the perennial conference.  I'll report next week.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Le Jardin Bleu

Finally after 2 years of planning, the Blue Border has arrived! You probably remember the blog on sheet mulching from weeks back, well the process has come to completion. Thursday, we (the remaining grounds and garden folks) put to task on transplanting 15 beds from the show garden and planted along the west side of the upper cutting garden. Terrific teamwork made it a smooth operation.

Iris fans looking for their seats
Ben and Tom uprooting 'Nepeta'

Trevor wrestling with 'Buddlieas'

These photos show various stages along the way featuring the weapons used in such a project. Shovels, spades, forks, and knives were implemented. (What no spoons?). 

Mud gloves and hori knives
Giving advice to the photographer

Getting leverage on every hole

Many thanks to Kim Fusaro, Trevor Harvey, Ben Helt, Tom Kievitand, and our official photographer Tom Wright. Here is a list of the plants:

     Buddliea 'Adonis'
     Panicum 'Dewey  Blue'
     Nepeta siberica
     Iris 'Princess Caroline'
     Linum perenne
     Echinops ritro
     Nepeta 'Joanna Reed'
     Nepeta 'Walker's Low'
     Veronica 'Darwin's Blue'
     Veronica ' Royal Candles'
     Aquilegia 'Barlow Blue'
     Lupine 'The Governor'
     Caryopteris 'Blue Myth'
     Delphinium 'Royal Delphinium Society Hand Pollinated Blues'

I hope I didn't forget anything.
Next bulbs, like Muscari and Camassia.   
I know it looks wilted, but that's just  a little transplant shock. 

The Big Picture

p.s. Not too shabby some begonias on my front stoop

Begonias at MY place

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Not Over Yet

Not much to report...

Too busy with those September garden chores (I know its October). I hope you are out there -

  • transplanting perennials
  • putting organic fertilizer down
  • sharpening your trowel for all that bulb planting
  • placing orders for plenty of paper whites for indoor forcing
  • drying off the Amaryllis 
  • keeping the beds clean
  • and dodging the raindrops. 

See! No wonder I have no time!

Lotus Pool at Chanticleer 

White Caladiums at Longwood
Potted Plant Extravaganza
at Cornell Plantations

      All these pictures are inspiration to keep's never too late to prepare for next spring.


Friday, September 24, 2010

The Seedy Side of Gardening

I was just lookin' around at the fall garden and was reminded that it's not just about flowers, what about fruit?

'Carmencita Pink' Castor Bean

These Ricinus (castor beans) have really intriguing seed stalks containing spiny globes that look like medieval weapons. Of course with beguiling shades of pink and red.

'Carmencita Red' Castor Bean

 'Japanese Beauty Berry' Callicarpa

In sharp contrast are the glossy 'Barney' purple clusters of Callicarpa or Japanese Beauty Berry. They remind me of a bawdy shade of lipstick.

Sweet Bay Magnolia

Then from some other planet are these "creatures" in the Magnolia virginiana. These seeds are borne in an aggregate of follicles (go ahead, Google that, I dare ya). Other Worldly to say the least.  

Northern Sea Oats


Much more common are the Northern Sea Oats and Chasmanthium. You can almost here them rustling in the breeze.

Clematis 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'

Finally, Cousin Itt joins us from the Clematis Genus. These swirling, furry   dervishes stop traffic in the Show Garden.

Thanks for stopping by.....


Friday, September 17, 2010

My... Things Have Grown

Power Plaza

I just turned around and WHAM the Power Plaza planting is going "Bananas."

Castor Beans and "Grand Daddies"

I jumped into one shot so you could get a proportion. I'm 6' 4".............the castor beans in front are loaded with seeds and the "grand daddies" in back must be over 15'. Remember these are annuals.

Red Abyssinian "Bananas"

The Red Abyssinian "Bananas" are as monstrous as ever! There must be a gardener hiding in there somewhere?


Yes, things have grown. The koi in the fountain are fattening up for winter (aren't they cute?). 

Scoparia 'Mellangolly Blue'

Over in the blue corner, a pleasant surprise, Scoparia 'Mellangolly Blue' has rebloomed with the return of cooler weather and some rain. Scoparia is a nice powder blue colored ''shrublet" not often found but grown as an annual.

Eucalyptus 'Silver Dollar'

Andrew, more blue please. OK.  Eucalyptus 'Silver Dollar'. These seedlings really shine in the early fall sunlight.

'Heavenly Blue' Morning Glories

 And more? Perfectly blue morning glories aptly named 'Heavenly Blue.'

P.S. The quiet midweek days are an ideal time to visit on our Garden Pass. 
Talk to you next week.


Friday, September 10, 2010

September Slips In

Oh yes, the drought is back.

Some bright spots…

How about these fall blooming Colchicums popping out of the Lysimachia? Easy as pie, you just have to buy the bulbs early! Fall "crocus" produce lots of leaves in the spring, die off for the summer, and the flowers emerge (naked) in September.


Sweet Autumn Clematis

What's that climbing in the birches? Clematis? YUP, again a fall blooming species, ternifolia (used to be paniculata among others). They sprawl up the arbor and off into the branches. It looks like a white birch in bloom. GOTCHA 

Argentina Sky

....and just one more mention of the fantastic Salvia species and varieties. Bluer than blue and hummingbird magnets! Just a few to note, uliginosa (Bog Sage), guaranitica 'Argentina Sky', and 'Indigo Spires'

Indigo Spires

............pray for rain............CU next your bulbs ordered? Don't forget paperwhites,


Friday, September 3, 2010


A warm (and I mean warm) week was enjoyed by all as current staff and alums made various presentations. Opening day found garden and greenhouse staff a like sharing valuable info on some projects. Here Tom Kievit discusses the ins and outs of sheet mulching.

Kim Fusaro, Head Gardner

Head Gardener Kim Fusaro regales visitors with herbal know-how and Cindy Muro, Greenhouse Manager previews a repotting demonstration.
Cindy Muro, Greenhouse manager


Four superintendents gather together at the formal tea party. Lots of Horticultural hoo-ha here! Pictured here: Tom Wright (current Superintendent of Parks & Grounds), John Van Etten, Diana Weiner Story, and Chet Davis.



Elizabeth Scholtz, attending Garden Holiday (and hosting) for 44 years is recognized with a summer house in her honor. Lots of great stories and memories!


Cindy Lou has been at it again with a taste test of 18 different teas from garden acquisitions. Tasty and inspiring to all!