Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata

Even though I know autumn olive is invasive, I bought one 2 years ago for twenty dollars.   I have a collection of different rare and unusual fruit plants and autumn olive makes almost the best juice of all the many kinds I have been making for the last several years.  I believe it was 'Cardinal' which sounded like the biggest fruit, best taste, or most prolific--however I believe that it was the same cultivar that we used to sell at the nursery and that the conservation department used to give out to people.  I spent a couple hours today helping my boss, Elmer pulling them out where they are escaping into the woods- growing from seeds spread by birds.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Today, while I was tipping lilac containers and covering the pots to protect them for the winter, Elmer Brown was pulling out invasive shrubs with the tractor.  Elmer is 84 and started and owns the nursery where we work.  Autumn olive, Tatarian honeysuckle, buckthorn are all over the place and are the result of birds eating the berries of bushes people have planted as ornamentals and we have sold over the years.  It make you think twice about planting such invasive plants.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I'm still on apples and I don't know yet whether mine all were done in by the big freeze we had last week.  aseveral apples I tried had been ruined but my Northern Spy and Wolf River can take more freezing than some other varieties.  I am going to check tonight or tommorow morning.  By the way, over the weekend, I read in the Fedco catalogue the Wolf River is excellent for baked apples and Kelly Marshia at the nursery baked some and they were evidently wonderful,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pinus parviflora

Japanese White Pine is one of the most beautiful evergreens possible.  I noticed ours again today as I was covering potted shrubs for the winter near our specimen which has been doing fine in a frost pocket in Thetford Center, VT for about 40 years.  It gets about 20 to 30 feet rather than 60 to 100 feet which many evergreens get to, and it has a picturesque (wildswept) look - we call that "Japanesey". I noticed today that two sprays, each two feet long had 20 and 30 cones each: that makes it very "coney".  Several severe winters when it probably got 30 to 40 below zero, the needles turned brown in the spring but it came back

Winter Trees

We just had our first real snow this November and the trees are absolutely beautiful.  I don't know whether the deciduous trees out-lined in white which greatly accentuates their form are prettier or the conifers bent under snow.  It's wonderous how their architecture is such that even though they have leaves which can catch and be weighted down by snow, the leaves are needles and the branches flexible enough to bend down and let the snow load off.  Needles hold less snow than broad leaves and in the case the white pine, the needles themselves bend to shed the snow.

Monday, November 21, 2011


It's already mid-late November and the apples are still good : at least the late varieties.  My Wolf River tree is unbelievable this year- it's my favorite for making pies- I plan to make two tonight. I just use a regular recipe but work the dough very little, also I add more shortning than called for.  My other favorite late apple is Northern Spy- I've harvested pails and pails of them already and there are alot more.  We still haven't had a severe enough frost to ruin them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Flower arranging in November

I know it's getting late for flowers around here but there still are berries. I offered to do some large church arrangements for a memorial service this weekend and I'm only a little worried that I won't find enough pretty stuff.  Last week I used mostly winterberry fruit which is excellent this year.  I augmented that with some Rosa multiflora hips, some Japanese barberries and leaves of Forsythia and burning bush.  My wife thought it was very successful- I hope she wasn't just being nice!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dirca palustris

Leatherwood or Dirca palustris is one of our favorite native plants and we finally have alot of them at the nursery.  It blooms quite early and casn take moist soil and shade. Native Americans called it wicopy and used it for rope as it is very strong.  They don't transplant well, root well from cuttings or grow easily from seed so they are hard to come by


More and more of the plants that nurseries have used for so long are being found to be invasive.  We may not selling burning bush any longer- as pretty as it is and as much as I might personally use the foliage in floral arrangements.  We have long since stopped carrying autumn olive and Tatarian honeysuckle although I have found in the last couple of years that autumn olive juice is almost the tastiest  I have made and I even purchased a cultivar which is supposed to have especially good fruit.  Lots Spiraea bumalda and S. japonica come up from seed and this year for the first time, I noticed Hydrangea paniculata seeding in ( in a rich, moist site similar to its native habitat).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

apples galore

Apples are the best they have ever been this year.  Last year, I had 3 or maybe 4 apples due to a severe freeze when the trees were in flower.  Therefore the trees were not at all tired this year and I have bushels and bushels.  I have been making cider on the weekends and hope to again in a couple days.  I found that if I mix different tart varieties and especially wild ones of no variety, I get the best cider.  Now, I don't care as much for commercial cider.  Northern Spy is the only apple I've been using that I know what it is.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Gardens

November can be a bad month for gardening people.  Everything's over and the holidays don't come for a while.  I planted a special garden about 10 years ago to have some color for my wife's birthday which is tomorrow.  It's basically a group of different cultivars of winterberry, Ilex verticilata, our native deciduous holly-  They are outstanding this year.  This far north they turn brown- it is a reddish brown- around Christmas time, but now they are the most beautiful plant at our place.  I also have burning bush(soon to be banned) and Virginia creeper, as well as some European spindle tree, Euonymus europaeus and a paper birch which happened to grow up there.

Friday, November 4, 2011

digging maples

I noticed again, today, something I've often seen.  When trees grow on ledge the roots go out instead of down, making them easier to dig and move.  However, any tree over 6 or 8 inches in diameter can hardly be considered easy to dig and move.  Sugar maples dig quite well in the fall- the ground is moist and there are no leaves to suck water out of the tree-  alos there are lots of them every where.  I would think more people would dig them up from the woods rather than buying them from a nursery.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

home is where the heart is

We just made it back from the upper-midwest, home of very deep, very black topsoil.  It just isn't as beautiful as Vermont.  I think it's mostly because of all the people- not that I think people are ugly.  There are an awful lot of shopping centers.  And as far as the wonderful deep soil with no stones--I transplanted one bush only in the last week and it was in a rock pile and I didn't have my spade. We saw several sandhill cranes which are one of my favorite birds

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Down with Rhamnus

I've decided that buckthorn is the worst invasive, alien shrub in the USA.  1500 miles from home where buckthorn has taken over large areas, it has taken over large areas.  In parks, along roads and lakes in Minneapolis it's glossy black berries are everywhere ready to be eaten and spread by birds. I think I saw it all over in Illinois also. I hate it.