Thursday, December 22, 2011

Now We Don Our Gay Apparel

The Mohonk Gardening/Greenhouse/Florist Team cannot be stopped.
Just like the "Energizer Bunny," we keep going and going...
Head Gardener Kim Fusaro high atop the Nature Tree

Last minute natural tinsel and garland are added to the Nature Tree.
Those starbursts are stems of Allium schubertii from the garden.

The Nature Tree in all its holiday splendor

Ta Da! Here's the finished product (just add squirrels).

Paperwhite Narcissus, up close and personal

Here's a glamour shot of winter paperwhites. I bet you can smell that pungent fragrance.

I tried my hand at a Christmas tablescape - high maintenance, but it stops traffic.

Holiday tablescape

Carol, once again, has blended old-world charm,
 fancy greens and the nostalgic aroma of orange and clove.

Eleganet mantle by Carol Cramer - faux pine and orange pomanders

No frankincense or myrrh here, but this glass spice trough literally fills
the air with the scent of star anise. Yum!

Glass trough with spices and pinecone rosettes


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Holly!

We still grow 'em the "old school" way! Single stem Poinsettias are allowed to produce one large head atop the stem. This is how you get the real Christmas star look.

'Freedom Red' Poinsettias don the Parlor

Got nothing to do with the bottom 10 feet of your Christmas tree? Why not make a 48 inch wreath and add noble and silver fir. 4 lbs. of canella berries and 20 yards of tartan plaid and you are GTG (good to go).

Handmade 48" Fir Wreath  in our Main Dining Room

Dress up your Amaryllis pots with scratch cones, canella, and birch bark. It helps to have these handy moss cache pots.

Amaryllis decked in natural holiday splendor

Moss, moss, and more moss sets off these paperwhite pans. Keep them cool and sunny.

Paperwhites ensconced in moss

Our Spa fitness level tree is a Grand Fir (only 4-foot high) donned with birds you might spot at your own feeder.

Bluebirds flock on the grand fir in the fitness level of the Spa wing

And, we are not done! MTC (more to come).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deck the Halls with This and That

Just in case you won't be visiting the Mohonk Mountain House this holiday season, I'll try to show you some highlights.

The Parlor hosts a magnificent Fraser Fir that is 13 feet in height. Donned in red ornaments and lights, it is filled with angels of all shapes and sizes. This is by far the grandest Parlor tree yet.

Fraser Fir in the Parlor (13 feet high and wide)
We make our wreaths here on the property (actually, Greenhouse Manager Cindy Muro does) and they are subtle and elegant. How about this mix of white pine, Scots pine, and euphorbia? It complements the blue-green of the wall splendidly.

Lovely handmade wreath near the West entrance

Over in the Main Dining Room, a 24-foot balsam is going up. Scaffolding and ladders help even the tallest of our crew to get the lights and stuffed animals up.

24' balsam pre-lighting in the Main Dining Room

The Main Dining Room lights up and ornaments hang in full swing

Down at the Greenhouse complex, Head Gardener Kim Fusaro starts work on the Nature Tree. All natural ornaments here!
Nature Tree at the Mohonk Greenhouse 

And how about this beautiful bunch of dried Leonotis from the garden?
Dried Leonotis 


'Til next week - Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year as the landscape is quiet and we have a moment to vest and reflect on the season past.

Last week I headed back down to Longwood for the Chrysanthemum display and luckily hit it on one of the last days of Indian Summer.

Before I talk about mums, I wanted to compare some hardy woodies that are prevalent at Longwood with related plants growing on the Mountain.

First…deciduous conifers

We have two specimens of Dawn Redwood: Metasequioa glytostroboides. This tree was thought extinct until the 1940s, when it was discovered in China. Ours were planted in the early 60s.

They have intriguing fall color, sort of a rosy-bronze.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides Dawn Redwood
Longwood has a dramatic allee of another deciduous conifer: Bald Cypress: Taxodium distichum. Breathtaking against the azure sky in November.

Longwood Allee Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress

"Knees" Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress

“’Tis the season to be Holly”
Three Holly’s to talk about here at Mohonk.

Ilex verticillata or Winterberry, a native of eastern swamps just sings as the leaves fall and winter approaches.

Ilex verticillata Winterberry Holly
Down at Longwood, their main conservatory hosted a newer cultivar ‘Wintergold.’ We added it to our “must have” list.
Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold'
I stumbled upon another Holly, Ilex cornuta ‘Burford’ with scarlet berries contrasting to the waxy evergreen foliage. A real winner.
Ilex cornuta Burford Holly 
We both grow oakleaf hydrangea. It’s our personal favorite, particularly in late autumn when the shrub sports burgundy leaves and interesting dried flower panicles.
Hydrangea quercifolia Oakleaf Hydrangea
As for the Longwood Chrysanthemum display—as dramatic as ever.

I’ve included a sampling of tender mums grown in the classic Japanese style. You really should go (next fall) to study in detail how these plants are grown and displayed. Some plants spend 18 months in cultivation. I wish I had the time…

Happy Turkey Day!

Single Stem Chrysanthemum Mound

Single Stem Chrysanthemum Shield

Standard Formal Incurve Chrysanthemum 'Hagoromo'

Longwood East Conservatory Entrance Chrysanthemum arch

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Indian Summer

Well, it's a full moon and the temperatures are in the 60s. Yes, it’s "Indian Summer."   I've always wondered where that name came from.  I thought it was connected to the last days of the season after frost had brought everything to a screeching halt. Wikipedia has shed some new light to that theory. Check that out next time you are "Googling". 

Just the other day I was saying that this time of year is a big tease. The weather is warm, the plants are going dormant and are easily moved, and the maintenance pressure is off. Too bad we don't have 3 weeks of this. Alas, the tides could turn at any minute. 

So, at least for now, we can let our guard down and enjoy the last fading moments of the season.  Here is a sample of what I call the "Last of the Mohicans.

First, the great grandpa of trees, the 114-year-old weeping beech at Mohonk Mountain House stands formidably against the autumn sky. It's autumnal splendor is breathtaking!
114-year-old weeping beech at Mohonk Mountain House
Next, the "Last Rose of Summer," 'Dublin Bay,'  a blood-red climber at the valet entrance, who will not give up.

'Dublin Bay' rose


Ornamental cabbage 'Color Up White'

 As always, the ornamental Brassicas color up nicely in the cold and defy the upcomig snow squalls.

Iris 'Immortality'a reliable re-bloomer so popular in gardening today.
Yes, it blooms in May and AGAIN in November!
Iris 'Immortality'

Who doesn't love Japanese Beautyberry?   
This Callicarpa japonica is screaming for attention in the setting sun.

Callicarpa japonica

We'll talk again during decorating season, but for now............
Get out and enjoy what's left of Indian Summer!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ever met a plant with a Facebook page?

I want you to meet Oscar. Yes, that's his name in the horticulture world.

Does he have friends? Yes, Facebook friends, that is.

In reality Oscar is a member of the butterfly weed family and is endemic in Africa. Gomphocarpus physocarpus is the botanical classification stemming from the Greek words for club and bladder, which are typified in the look of the seed pods. An annual here at Mohonk Mountain House, raised from seed in our greenhouse. Patience is in order as the seeds are slow to germinate and the plant takes 120 days to mature.

Friend him on FB.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Some September Scenes

Alas, we have been quite occupied cleaning up after our three storms.  Irene, Katia, and Lee left us with plenty to do. After the clouds finally drifted away and the rain gauges stopped overflowing, I headed out to document some of the remarkable plants that seemed unscathed by it all.  Over all we look quite chipper. See if you agree.

A second flush from Delphinium  'Pennant White'   always welcome.

The best of the new Phlox  hybrids,  'Flame White' (in my opinion).

Only 2 years old, a Hungarian species of daisy,  Leucanthemella serotina.

Pink ball Dahlias -- still putting on quite a show in the Lollipop Forest
of our Candy Land themed garden.

I always forget we have them and then POW, 
the autumn crocus, Colchicum autumale.

A new planting of Anemone japonica
This one is a cup-shaped hybrid, 'Rosenschale'.

New England Aster:
Aster 'Wonder of Staffa' and Artemisia 'Silver Queen' spill over a stone edge.

Clematis ternifolia covers a short rustic arbor and grows into the nearby birches.

I shouldn't forget our sentry, Moe - an immature red-tailed hawk who
moved in to work on our vole population. Job well done!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Cacophony of Containers

In high summer, gardens in pots give you a huge color hit and can dress up small areas where you can't squeeze in a garden bed. 

Here are some nice ones I've seen in my travels:


Sensational succulents at Longwood.
Agaves, Santolina, and Sedum are all plants that can take the heat
and don't require constant irrigation. 

A collection of slate blue plants and pots at Longwood.

Blue combined with lilac and yellow in pots DTM (dyed to match) make an 'over the top' display. Somewhat imposing in stature, this group is certainly well thought out.  Agave, Salvia, Verbena, and Scaevola are the headliners here.

Shade can be colorful with begonias at Longwood.

 Begonias of all shapes and sizes complement
the large Breynia (Hawaiin Snowbush).

Tree hydrangea and friends at Longwood.

Hydrangea P.G. (tree hydrangea) is the standout in this group.
No fear in using hardy shrubs here! 

Another creative combo for shade at Longwood.

These are all moisture loving plants in appropriate
glazed pots with Petasites taking center stage.

Spectacular cane begonia at Longwood.

OMG! This magnificent cane begonia dripping with pink flowers stops traffic.

Get their attention at 45 mph in Port Jervis, NY.

Speaking of traffic... Canna, Petunia, Coleus, Salvia, and Begonia in hot colors cause rubbbernecking downtown.

Get their attention at 45 mph in Port Jervis, NY.

A closer look.

West Hurley Garage "Barrel-mania."

Canna, Coleus, Pennisetum, and Supertunias razzle dazzle at the pump.

Giant veggie pots at the Mohonk Greenhouse.

Squash, tomato, and edible greens are perfect for XXL pots.

Another giant veggie pot.

Give your squash a support to climb on so the fruit will not be hidden.

Not-so-simple basket at the Mohonk Greenhouse.

Fancy-leaved Geranium, Petunia Sangria,
and Plectranthus grow in a hanging burlap lined basket.

Basil and lemons

Simple... Basil (African Blue)

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Until next time...