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!