Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter is Here

We had a new snowfall of three or four inches yesterday and last night so now everything is white and looks Christmas-like.  We dug about a dozen 1 to 2 inch caliper trees with a tree spade which was the first time I had actually been involved with that process.  I learned how to tie them into the baskets correctly.  We just finished potting up about 15 types of native spring ephemerals: 4 different kinds of Trillium, Cimicifuga, Mertensia, Pachysandra, Polygonatum, Arisaema, 2 Claytonias, Hepatica, some Carex, Iris, etc.

From now till when we start tapping the maples or working on the line, cows and calves may be my main focus.  The chain and paddle system has been malfunctioning every morning for the past three days.

After a year and a quarter, I now have hot water in my house.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Johnny-jump-ups still blooming

At this time of year between late fall and real winter with beautiful snow, my all-purple Johnny jump-ups are in full bloom. They are seeding here and there which is what they do. I believe these are the descendents of ones I got from Nina Klinck- I keep rouging out the ones with yellow in them which my more politically correct family dislike.  They seem to consider it something Hitler would have done.

I started back working at the farm where I live for the winter.  I like some early morning excersize(sp?) and I like cows- I draw a few every day after I scrape and shovel manure and bed the cattle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter Interest

My morale was greatly elevated by an invitation to talk to the Lyme Gardeners last night about plants for winter beauty.  

Winter fruit:
   My favorite has been Ilex verticilata which has many many new cultivars such as 'Berry Heavy' and 'Berry Nice'.Unfortunately, this year birds got all the fruit in November.

Viburnum trilobum fruit stay red all winter.

Japanese barberry hold up well but are too invasive for my taste. Korean Barberry have pretty fruit, good fall color and don't seem to come up everywhere as weeds.

Sumac is attractive all winter.

The viburnums have a nice winter aspect even though they are brown.

Red-twig dogwoods are a good plant to brighten up the winter.  I've had the best results with varieties of our native Cornus sericea (formerly C. stolonifera): forrma baileyi and 'Cardinal'.  The European species (C.sanguinea) has many newer cultivars such as 'Midwinter Fire', 'Winter Flame' and 'Arctic Sun'- these are a little shorter growing and I have found them a little tempermental around here  but fine farther south. Kevin thinks there are fine here and Michelle agrees with me.  There is also the oriental spesies Cornus alba.

Red twig willows are quite stunning: Salix alba 'Flame'.  Also dwarf arctic and dapples willows have attractive purple osiers in the winter

Grasses are good in the winter. My favorite are Molinia 'Skyracer', Calamogrostis brachytricha and various Miscanthus.

Silphiums are pretty in the winter: their leathery curled leaves.  I like S. terebinthinacium and S. laciniate for this reason.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Horticulture at Smith College

My daughter, Kady, decided to take a course in Horticulture at college this semester and is learning quite alot.   As soon as she decided to take such a course or when she told me about it, instead of being negative which is always possible for me(I could have focused on how much I am paying for something I could have taught her for free),  it made me so happy that one of my children was interested in my passion and career.  She got a part time job at the nursery where I work, she worked for me, and she was open to my pedantic side.  The day after Thanksgiving, we walked around looking at woody plants: she knew oaks, maples, cherries, white pines, Rosa multiflora, bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, poison ivy. m Ishowed her various other species and explained somewhat how to identify them in the winter which is not as easy as when they have leaves.

On the way back from North Stonington, CT where my wife's sister and her husband live and run Wytchwood Farm (turkeys), I stopped at the Conservatory at Smith in Northampton, Mass.  They still have their annual Chysanthemum show so I looked at some of those amazing, huge greenhouse Chrysanthemums, cascading ones and the rest of the greenhouses.  I had a long chat with the volunteer on duty at the conservatory, Dan Fitzgerald,  mostly about black currants which are a passion of mine.

Gardening for a Lifetime-How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older by Sydney Eddison

Gardening for a Lifetime is so good (and so apropos(sp?) for me) that I finished it in 2 evenings.  Sydney Eddison's basic thrust is to help people figure out how to cut down on the size of their gardens- this is a book for plantaholics.  As I remember it , and I read it a couple or three days ago: get rid of alot of different perennials- especially ones that aren't pretty for 3 seasons.  Get more shrubs.   Keep Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Siberian Iris, old fashioned German Iris, Peonies, Nepeta, grasses, Amsonia.  Accept imperfections such as slightly messy edges, slightly shaggier plants, meadows rather than gardens.  Get help.  When you can't manage your garden, get rid of it (accept defeat). Accept change- particularly that as the trees all get bigger, there will be less sun but shade gardens are less weedy.

In any case, her writing is delightful even though the subject is a little sad.

Lilac Pruning

Three things happened to me or more correctly I noticed over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I read a fairly new book by Sydney Eddison about downsizing large gardens as one gets older and I spent time showing my daughter all the trees and shrubs growing in North Stonington, CT which was to help her with her course in horticulture at Smith College (I was quite impressed as she seemed to recognize everything except Fraxinus and Sassafrass).

The third thing was I noticed how vigorous and healthy the lilacs at the Vermont Welcome Center on Rt. 91 in Guilford were. All the plants there get heavily pruned--way more than I would ever do it even if I had plenty of time to prune and/or money to hire people to help me do it.  The lilacs are doing very well and are particularly well budded for next May.  Suckers have either been removed or there just aren't very many- the plants look like a dark purple one -perhaps 'Monge' which doesn't sucker prolifically anyway.  The main "trunks" which are about one inch in diameter are cut off at about 4 to 6 feet--there about 6 per plant. There are many many very prime looking flowering shoots coming off each one of those trunks- I predict excellent blossoms nest spring.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

putting things away for the Winter

We are covering all the potted plants at the nursery these days.  First we have to tip the pots on their sides so water doesn't accumulate in them which can rot them over winter.  Then we put insulating blankets over them and finally white plastic over top of that which we weigh down with gravel and tires so it won't blow off during the winter.  We still have some planting to do-- there is no problem installing trees and shrubs but plants in little pots tend to be frozen solid so it can be hard to get the pots off the plants.  We've been cutting plants down so we don't have to do that in the spring when the ground is very wet and squishy.  Sometimes we leave things for "winter interest" but as I get older I cut more things down in the fall when I'm not so busy.  We have also been mulching- it can be easier now when the ground is frozen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Flower Arranging in November

The pickings are getting very slim these days although there have been Calendula and Johnny-jump-ups still blooming in my garden as of Monday.  Today they may be done- I didn't check this morning and it got quite cold last night.  My large church altar arrangement still looked OK with winter berry, beech foliage (now tan and dead but still pretty) and grasses- maybe I'll leave it and rejuvenate it slightly Sunday morning.  Instead of my large silver-plate rose bowl which I have been using for several years, I tried the large white ironstone tureen from my grandfather's farm which I don't have to worry about (it being stolen, that is).  I wish those robins had left my winterberry alone this year but they ate most of the berries.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

trip to King of Prussia and Bryn Mawr

This past weekend my wife and I went down to the Philadelphia area to go to the Bryn Mawr College family weekend to support Libby (our daughter).  There is such a variety of oaks there- I noticed willow and laurel oaks and beautiful specimens of mossycup oak,  I noticed the new dwarf varieties of Cornus doing very well there- I think better than they do in this area probably because it is warmer there.  I also noticed lots of knockout roses growing very well and getting bigger than I have seen them around here.  They seemed to get about 5 or 6 feet high and wide there whereas around here,  they are often a 3 to 4 foot bush.

Now that I am back it seems colder and a lot like November which is my least favorite month.

On our way to Penna.,  we stopped in Northampton to see Kady (our other daughter) and briefly visited the Smith College conservatory.  I drew a Stanhopea oculata (orchid), saw a show of beautiful prints made from  actual leaves(I had met and talked to the artist a couple weeks ago),  and peaked at the preparations for the Chrysanthemum show (huge Chrysanthemums are not my favorite flower but they are amazing)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scott Farm Heirloom Apples

Last Friday, when I went down to Dummerston to help go through more stuff of my father's, I visited the Scott farm in Dummerston Center.  I talked to Zeke (Ezekial) Goodband (sp?) about some of the old varieties of apples they specialize in and tried some of his favorites: 'D'Arcy Spice' and 'Orleans Reinette'--I bought a couple 'Esopus Spitzenberg' which is another of his favorites.  I already have a tree of 'Esopus' and I have tried and like that apple which I think may have been Thomas Jefferson's favorite.  These three apples were Zeke's favorite tart apples.  I also bought a few 'Winesap' which is my favorite apple of all, a couple 'Sheepnose' which I've heard of but not ever tried and some 'Calville Blanc d'Hiver' which I have a tree of but have never tasted.

Another apple I am on the look-out for is the 'Reinette Simirenko' which Michael Phillips told us about--it's similar to a 'Granny Smith' but does well in the north (it's a Russian apple, developed in the 19th cenury by Simirenko.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Daffodil bed finished

I just this morning planted the last ca.300 daffodils and last 100 tulips.  My daffodil bed is about 90 yds.x 2 yds.  As you look across our hayfield from Urquart Rd, the first swath of daffodils is 250 'April Queen'- if you draw a line from the near left hand corner to a point on the far side about 1/3 of the way down the bed, the 'April Queen' are behind that line.Then parallel to that swath, is a 250 bulb swath of 'King Alfred II' and nest a similar swath of 'Flower Record'.  The rest is solid "Yellow Daffodils for naturalizing"  from van Bourgundien with 2 islands. The first is about 3/5 of the way downhill from the left side --there's a group of 50 'Suada';  then at the right side, near edge, there is a planting of 25 or 50 'Tropic Sunrise' running for about 15 feet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Michael Phillips and Holistic Orcharding

I spent Friday morning at a workshop with Michael Phillips at the Smith College family weekend.  I keep planting more apple trees because I mainly want to see what certain types of apples taste like and I enjoy growing them.  I also like having plenty of apples to eat, bake with and made onto cider ( and I prefer a more tart flavored cider than most).  I find apple trees particularly beautiful as trees and after planting fruit trees in Berwyn, Villanova, Paoli and Bucktown in Penna and then in Tunbridge and West Newbury in Vermont I finally am getting fruit from my trees.

Phillip's main idea seems to me to be trying to grow apples in the sort of situation they would be in naturally.  The edge of a woods is good where is plenty of fungal activity and good sun:  being on a slope with good airflow is good,  so they don't freeze too much in a cold air pocket and so they dry out pretty quickly to save them from fungal attacks.  Mulches with ramial material are good (my understanding is that this is twigs and new growth of woody plants that contains more of the stuff that trees want than conventional mulch- also it can be cheaper).

He is coming to Thetford Center in the spring to give one of the talks in our series of Saturday morning plant lectures and workshops.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October Flowers

It's getting late in the year for flowers and I'm still doing an arrangement every week for the West Newbury Congregational Church.  This Saturday, I'm doing flowers or leaves and berries for the Scottish Country Dance in Fairlee. I've picked a very nice late Allium: 'Ozawa', common witch hazel and beech twigs which should make a good combination for table arrangements. For the bigger bouquets, I'll probably use some Miscathus, European spindle tree berries, and beech or oak foliage (I've noticed that oak gets dull looking fairly soon after picking).  In the last several weeks I've used alot of maple leaves, asters, brown-eyed susans, burning bush, hydrangeas.  However it's getting to be "slim pickings"

I thought I had inadvertantly deleted my last entry so I redid it and now I have 2 almost the same- sorry

October flowers

It's getting late in the season for many flowers and I'm doing flower arrangements for the Scottish Country Dance this Saturday in Fairlee.  I've already picked Allium 'Ozawa', common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), and beech leaves which should work nicely for the table arrangements.  I guess I'll use European spindle tree berries (if they are still good), leaves- probably oak or beech and perhaps some Miscanthus.  Lately, I've  been using mostly leaves with the occasional aster and brown-eyed susans (Rudbeckia triloba) and also berries of both bittersweet and especially European spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus)..  I've also used burning bush (Euonymus alatus).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Big Frost

Last night the temperature got down to 16 degrees.  That was the first real killing frost.   I picked my last zucchini the evening before and dug up a few geraniums, a verbena and a fuchsia-- also, I picked the orange cosmos and the calendula.  The latest purple Allium , Ozawa, looks good with the orange so I picked some of those, not really knowing how they like 16 degrees.  

I'm not sure what I;m going to pick for tomorrow's church arrangements: I've been using burning bush, maple foliage, hydrangeas, European Euonymus, asters.  I notice alot of leaves falling off today and the winterberry I had my eye on got eaten by a huge flock of robins.

I hope the beets didn't get hurt but I bet they are fine.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

pruning Hydrangeas

We visited a nursery in Newbury, VT on Sunday: the Green Reaper--they had the most beautiful specimens of hydrangeas I've ever seen around here.  The secret is to prune them fairly heavily.  At my house, I have noticed that the ones which I use for cut flowers and therefore cut alot of blossoms, get many, many huge panicles.  Chris Esten, at the Green Reaper, said pruning is swhat gives hers such size.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Daffodil talk

I'm giving a talk on daffodils tomorrow morning at 10:00AM  for the nursery.  There is a charge of ten dollars as we have to rent the Thetford community center.  As I've given other talks on plants and have a yearly "daffodil walk" at my house with tea and something to eat to go with a tour of my plantings (for free), I suspect there will not be that many takers.  Also anyone can come to the nursery anytime for my advice.

As I  have been growing and planting daffodils for more than fifty years, I guess I have some experience but I don't consider myself a daffodil expert.  I just this afternoon learned about the daffodil code used by the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and the ADS (American Daffodil Society).  By this system, a daffodil such as 'Ice Follies' would be 2W-Y--it's in division 2 and the perianth segments are white and the corona, yellow.  'Serola' would be 2Y-O: with a yellow perianth and an orange cup.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Daffodil planting

I just got all my Narcissus planted this past weekend.  As I remember,  I bought April Queen, King Alfred II, Tropical Sunset, and Flower Record.  When I ran out of bulbs to fill my prepared area, I ordered more "large yellow daffodils''- a bushel of them.  As usual, I tend to get the cheaper varieties and slightly smaller sized bulbs (which, of course, are less expensive).  I'm giving a talk on Daffodils this Saturday at ten o'clock at the Thetford Center Community Center.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Naturalizing Daffodils

I have 800 daffodil bulbs to plant this week or next.  It seems that I do it differently each and every time I plant bulbs.  This year I have 3 swaths envisioned.  I've hired someone to brush hog at the far side of our big hay field.  Now that the raspberries are cut down, it is going to be roto-tilled and then I'm going to plant in 3 long drifts.  I plant by digging down as far as I can go with a conventional shovel and turning one big shovel-ful of earth out of the hole.   Then I put in 5 to 7 bulbs and backfill.  I've found that if I fertilize at the time I plant, skunks, especially, will dig up the bulbs trying to get at the organic fertilizer.   Instead, I fertilize in the spring by broadcasting.  I've found that if I don't rototill first and I'm planting in established sod, it's very hard digging.

Most of mine are in areas where there is lawn of sod or even hay.  I would say they do better without the competition from the grass roots but in a deciduous woods there are all the tree roots.  I just have to delay mowing until the foliage turns yellow.   In the hay field, usually they don't get mowed until all the other hayfields are done so it seems to work out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I'm getting to like Hydrangea paniculata more and more--almost as much as lilacs and forsythia.   Over the years, I've been slowly collecting the large late panicle hydrangeas, especially the ones with the wild form of inflorecence which is pointed with lots of fertile florets intersperse with the larger, showy sterile florets which are there to attract insects. My favorite to date is 'Floribunda', I also like 'Big Ben'-- well perhaps my all time favorite is 'White Moth'.  Some of them turn green after flowering and never are pink: 'Tardiva', 'White Moth' and 'Kyushu' are like that.  Others turn a nice pink.  I use all of them for flower arrangements- they stay beautiful for almost 2 months.  I just got a new one called 'Great Star' this year- the sterile florets are huge.  I like 'Pinky-Winky' alot and 'Quick Fire'.  'Mega Pearl' , 'Passionate', and 'Summer Princess'[sic] are ones that I just got to try out and like them so far.  I'm dissapointed by a new one 'Skylight' as it looks like the big puffy PG type which I don't care for as much.  'White Lady' isn't too happy where I planted her so I can't tell if I like it or not and the new 'Mystical Flame' hasn't bloomed yet for me to decide if I like it or not.  'I just got a 'Brussels Lace' last year which I like and I also have 'Unique'

Saturday, September 15, 2012


My only real fruit crop left is grapes- the apples failed this year.  I've harvested probably half my grapes and they haven't all been dead ripe when I picked them.  I didn't want a repeat of my elderberry harvest where I was waiting and waiting for them to get perfectly ripe and then birds got inside my poorly secured bird netting and it got too dry and all the elderberries were either eaten or fell off on the ground.  With my grapes, I decided to pick a charge of them before birds and squirrels got to them  I made enough grape juice for the Thetford Hill Church thursday evening meditation group's communion.

My favorite grape is 'King of the North'.  I also have 'Valiant', 'Beta','Worden' and 'St. Croix'.  I still have plenty of 'St. Croix' to pick (unless I have mixed up 'St.Croix and 'Worden').

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chanticleer Gardens

I just returned from my summer vacation--it was really taking my daughters to and back to college.  While in the Philadelphia vicinity (we stayed in Glenmoore at "The Rutherford", we visited Chanticleer, a most beautiful public garden, in St. Davids, PA.  They had a wonderful Asian woods section, and a pond with the largest flowered lotus I have ever seen.  I was let in for free as I am a "Gardening professional" and I was given some baby sycamores which were coming up as weeds in the bog garden.  They had a mass planting of sorgham which was quite ornamental.   They used yellow foliage plants very well there- some people, in my opinion, over use plants with interesting colored foliage.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer Phlox

Phlox paniculata is at its peak right now.  I have plenty of the white: 'David' and other white varieties and seedlings which all seem to be fairly free of mildew.  Then I have planted a few plants of 'Blue Paradise' and 'Nicky'--they both change color somewhat depending of the temperature.  When it's cooler as in the morning, the Blue Paradise is almost blue and the Nicky is a true violet rather than a red-violet.  They last for quite a long period and I feel that if the soil is rich and moist enought with maybe a tiny bit of shade, they don't get so much powdery mildew.

Friday, August 24, 2012


2012 is going to go down as a bad elderberry year-- it looked very promising 2 weeks ago and I netted my very heavily laden plants but this past Monday birds were eating them from indside and outside the nets and most of them had fallen off.  I think it got dry and they mostly fell off before they were quite dead ripe.  I only made 22 quarts off elderberry juice (mixed with blueberry, blackberry, gooseberry, rhubarb and crabapple juice)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August Flowers

I'm still in the middle of picking blackberries in my patch.  We made more than four gallons of jam last night and two pies.  For the first time this year, I am making jam with bought pectin which means I don't have to use as much sugar and I don't need to cook it so long.

The flowers I picked for a bouquet this morning are:

beebalm-  still OK but almost gone by
phlox- it has just come in
yellow coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
Hydrangea paniculata (Kyushu and Quick Fire)
Nepeta siberica

Friday, July 27, 2012


I started picking blackberries this morning.  They are not dead-ripe and falling all over the ground quite yet but I'm trying to get picking before they go bad.  I've already canned ca. 210 jars of juice and jam this summer and I'll planning on getting going on the blackberries soon.  The paths that I made through the patch this spring have all grown up to briars.  The red raspberries were poor this year and the blueberries so-so--they are pretty much over.  Red currants weren't so great but gooseberries and black currants did quite well this year--they are all harvested now.

My daylilies are at peak now- I have alot of newer, truer red tetraploids, some lemon yellow and golds but I'm still into oranges.My 'Tuscawilla Tigress' crossed with 'Alabama Jubilee' are setting seed.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Currant and Gooseberries

All my black currants and gooseberries are picked, as of last Sunday and I thought I could relax but no.  The Blackberries are ripe- all of a sudden- and pickable.  I've canned several hundred jars of juice and jam at this time.

Friday, July 13, 2012


My Hemerocallis are coming into it now.  They were one of the first plants I collected and after losing interest in them I'm now into daylilies again--especially orange ones.  I first liked lemon yellow ones which I still do- perhaps Big Bird and Hyperion are my favorite.  Then I got interested in pink and lavender ones which I have since gotten tired of .  I went through a period in which I was trying for true red ones-- Chicago Apache, Baja, Poinsettia are some of my favorites of those and I have a row of about 10 outstanding ones.  Now either orange or gold are my favorite.  In orange I like Rocket City, Tuscawilla Tigress, and Alabama Jubilee (the latter two being my 2 favorite daylilies of all at the moment--I'm making crosses of those every day).  In gold or yellow approaching gold, I like Buttered Popcorn and Ophir--also Ping is excellent.  I'm also interested in exceptionally tall Hemerocallis such as Autumn Mineret and Autumn Prince.  I've gotten 3 new ones so far this year but the year is not over.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Black Currant Juice

We made plenty of black currant juice this past Sunday and Monday. Fifty jars that are quarts or whatever size it is that "Classico" spagetti sauce comes in.  All of a sudden my black currants, red currants and gooseberries need to be harvested and used before they fall off.  I've noticed that once they hit the ground they are not the same--insects get them or they just shrivel by themselves and taste bad.  I've been planti ng daylilies among my bushes so there is something pretty to enjoy as I seem to be spending alot of time there while the daylilies are blooming..

I'm going to a "conference" or "work shop" on Ribes in a week at Cherry Hill Farm in Springfield, VT.

I notice thrips on my 'Alabama Jubilee' this year and none on the other varieties.  I hope I didn't pick a favorite that is susceptible to a problem.  I'm continuing to cross Alabam Jubilee and Tuscawilla Tigress.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Black Currants

All of a sudden my black currants are ripe- they are starting to fall off the bushes and I have quite alot of them.  I started havesting them this morning and my daughter is picking now.I have invited people to have them, so maybe they will.  I'm trying the Scottish method which a customer told me about which is to cut the whole branches with the fruit and them pick them off while sitting comfortably.  they need to be pruned any way and this kills two birds with one stone.  Three really because they are growing out too far into the path and need wacking for that reason also

Friday, July 6, 2012


Hemerocallis are one of the first plants I started collecting.   They are very easy and showy and come in very bright true colors.   Also they propagate quickly.  I got sort of overloaded with them and a little bored by them before I had my infestation of Heracleum mantaganianum-- at that time when they put my property on the world map of the range of that plant and the Vermont noxious weed people told me it was the worst case they had ever seen.   I sprayed round-up on all the Heracleum and accidentally took out alot of my daylilies and my rhubarb.  Since then I got a bunch of late blooming (and mid season) true red ones from Ollolie Daylily Farm in Newfane, VT and got some other big yellow ones and since then, I started collecting orange ones and gold or cadmium yellows 

Right now my favorite of all is Alabama Jubilee but I also love Tuscawilla Tigress(orange).  Other favorites are Ophir(a diploid gold with good grace and fragrance), Hyperion (lemon Y and fragrant and gracefull), Ping (huge gold), Turned On (red orange), Poinsettia (an old, old red-red orange), Buttered Popcorn (gold),Rocket City (tall orange), Bright Sunset (burnt orange)H. lilioasphodelis (H.flava) or lemon lily, Big Bird (huge lemon yellow).

I'm growing some seedlings of Alabama Jubilee fertilized by pollen from Tuscawilla Tigress.  I won't know for a few years if any are outstanding.

I often prefer the older, diploid varieties as they are more gracefull.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I got all excited about my beautiful gooseberries this year. They were coming along very well- covered with huge fruit.  First the gooseberry worms defoliated all the varieties with the huge fruit.  I thought that was OK because I could see the fruit better.  I looked this morning and they are all going bad- My Invicta, Tixia and Hinnomaki Red.  Now that they are weeded, they are getting sunburned and going bad.  I should either try to get rid of the defoliating gooseberry worms (but I don't believe in using poisons), leave the weeds till after I harvest the berries , plant new weeds to shade them, or rig up some sort of shade structure.   On the other hand, Pixwell, which has a smaller fruit, doesn't have this problem and I have 100 feet of that variety.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I just picked the last of my peonies for a flower arrangement to give to the family of Conner Cook, a sixteen year old boy killed by lightning.  That peony is Ann Cousins, a very fragrant, late rose type.  Some years they are still in bloom the first of August but this year things are ahead.

My roses are the best they have ever been, even though they got a bit of die-back.  I have mostly variesties of Rosa alba and Rosa rugosa 'Roseraie de l' Hay' which is about the darkest one of the rugosas plus some Rosa gallica and my "Roger's Hill rose" (R. griffithii?)--also There is a smattering of eglantine rose.  I can smell roses in various parts of my yard.

My black currants are almost ripe.  Soon I'll be very busy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sweet Rocket

Hesperis matronalis is a beautiful, easy flower-- too bad it's been added to the invasive plant list.  My lilac collection is mostly gone by but I have 10 or 15 Canadian lilacs and Miss Kims, Palabins, etc. which are at their paeak now.  Also the orange poppies are still there a little bit and the Beauty of Livermores are starting to bloom.   The peonies are starting and it mon't be long before the roses start.  The Siberian iris are out and the German iris still going but not for much longer.   Over all, however, it is the rocket which ties my gardens together right now.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


The lilacs are fading fast.   Luckily we had tea on the 20th when the lilacs had first come out because even by the 27th, they had started to go by.   The shrubs didn't have as many blossoms as some years but the panicles were bigger than I've ever seen.   Amy Schott and Sarah Sands were particularly impressive (huge) and Priscilla was even bigger than I remember it,   The later lilacs are coming into bloom and now the bright orange orintal poppies and my Mandarin Lights deciduous azaleas are in full bloom--so there is orange to bring ou the purples and lavenders of the lilacs.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lilac Tea

Our lilac tea went very well this year.  We had it 1 week ahead of normal and the lilacs were just perfect.  Only one, Gertrude Leslie, had already turned that ugly brown which double white lilacs turn.  Maybe the whole garden is even nicer now as the orange deciduous azaleas--Mandarin Lights and the floppy spreading type of  Oriental poppies are now in bloom---also the rocket (Hesperis matronalis).  I would guess between 50 and 100 people came.

The only problem was that Dana had been blacking and passing outand finally had to be taken to the hospital just at 4:00 when 50 people people or so turned up to see lilacs.  She had gotten dehydrated and was cured with intravenious saline solution.   The show went on.

This Sunday, I'm doing the flowers for the wedding of a couple who started coming to our church recently.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Showy Orchis, daylilly Seedlings and Clematis

Three exciting things happened today.

While weeding at a huge estate in South Woodstock, we came upon some showy orchis, Orchis spectabilis, which the former groundskeeper had transplanted from a pasture and they were spreading!

All my clematis made it over the winter: General Sikorski, The President, C. jackmani, Jackmani Superba, Bonanza, Ramona and Niobe.   I guess it's not too late for them to go bad.

Seeds I planted which were crosses of the two daylilies, Tuscawilla Tigress and Alabama Jubilee came up.

Also my lilacs seem like they'll be a good stage for my tea on Sunday afternoon.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lilac Tea

Our tea is this coming Sunday and we are not quite all the way ready.  I have successfully mown the grass even though all 3 of my lawnmowers have now broken down twice and so far,I've spent $200 fixing them and now I need a new riding lwnmower.  Yhe earliest lilacs are now out: Gertrude Leslie, Royal Purple, Evangeline and Nadehzda is starting.  Also Little Boy Blue (Wonderblue) and oblata.  I'm hoping for warm weather this week.  I'm getting a load of mulch on my way home from the nursery tonight to do my rose beds.  The roses took a hit this winter and look terrible.  The daffodils are still quite nice, about a quarter of mine are still fine: N. poeticus, Modern Art, Decoy, Fragrant Rose, Acropolis, Felindre, and Elizabeth Anne are now at their peak.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Visit from Don and Lela Avery

The owners of Cady's Falls Nursery came to visit our nursery today.  Among the many other interesting plants they have, I'ld like to get some of their Rocks variety of tree peony, also Rodgersia podo........, Ligularia siberica, 'Garden Treasure'- an Itoh peony as well as some nice yellow Hellebores.  Alot of our plants seem so common place compared to theirs.   They brought mw a rare Paeonia veichii variety and some dwarf goatsbeard and Disporum for the nursery

Monday, May 7, 2012


I'm planning on buying alot of new tulips this fall.   Unfortunately, they get eaten by rodents and , in general, don't last well--year after year--in the garden .  However, they are very showy and work well in the large church flower arrangements I do.   Also, they come in very good true reds and bright oranges.   I have to plant them where deer won't eat the blossoms off which they like to do.  I generally have to buy new ones every several years-- I order at the same time I order new daffodils for my ever expanding daffodil collection.  My daffodils are still at their peak-- the early ones are done and the latest ones not out yet but the pink ones are just coming into it.  Alot of the orange ones weren't as deeply collered as some years and I noticed alot of sunburn on the oranges.   However they have been quite nice

Monday, April 30, 2012

Daffodil Walk

I must have had 100 people at the daffodil walk and the daffodils were at their peak.  Only February Gold was done and Peeping Tom was getting tired..  Most of the pink ones weren't out yet and of course the Poeticus weren't  even showing buds yet.  Most of the rest seemed pretty good. I ended up giving people bulbs of Mon Cherie and Serola- 2 which grow very well.  It was in the 40s-- fairly cool, but sunny and beautiful.  The Forsythia still had some flowers but the Magnolias and Rhododendrons lost their flowers with the hard frosts.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Daffodil Walk

Our "Daffodil Walk" is the day after tomorrow and we're not ready.  My mower still isn't fixed so I've held off mowing but the grass is too tall to ignore- I have 2 hopefully working hand mowers but I was hoping to first mow what I could with my elderly riding mower.  Besides that, there is junk still very evident on the porch.  I still another evening of polishing serving trays and tea pots, etc.

On the bright side, the daffodils seem like they might be a the perfect stage. Peeping Tom,Februay Gold are getting a little tired but other early ones such as rapture, Jet Fire, Ice Follies are still OK. Precosious, Passionalle(sp?), Mon Cherie, Unsurpassable, Spellbinder, Serola, Tahiti, Las Vegas, Audubon, Sounds, Border Beauty, Prof. Einstein, Barrett Browning, Fortissimo. Gigantic Star,Carlton, Dutch Master, Red Devon, Juanita, Early Harvest,Monal, Mon Dragon I remember seeing.  There are quite a few that aren't out yet but it's about peak

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Daffodils now in Bloom

We're having a daffodil "walk' at our house on April 29th- just under 2 weeks away. We do every year the first Sunday of May but this year, with the week of weather in the 70s about three weeks ago, we decided to have it a week and a half early which we've every one and sent out invitations. Naturally that was all it took to slow things down so that Friday my first daffodil opened and I didn't know what kind it was.  It was haot again on Sunday and got to 82 yesterday so several varieties are now out and I don't need to worry.Ice Follies is out, as is February Gold and Peeping Tom.  Unsurpassable  and Gigantic Star which look identical are blooming and Rapture is just about to start.  The only variety I bought last year, 'California' or 'Pentewan' is at its peak- I picked it beacause as the very cheapest of all in van Engelens' catalog, I knew it would be a good grower- it's like a small Kinf Alfred

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spinach up!

I planted spinach and lettuce a couple of weeks ago when we had several days of temperatures in the 80s.  After that it got cooler and I feared the seeds had rotted but they are up.  Spinach seems to be one of those plants whose bolting depends on day length more than temperature so this far north it sometimes starts flowering right away while the plants are still tiny.   Lets hope this is going to be a good spinach year.

I still have not a single Narcissus in bloom and our anual walk is going to be the 29th which is in 2 and a half weeks

Friday, April 6, 2012

Still no Daffodils

I have my invitations ready although the ones on card stock aren't printed yet which are the ones which I can mail.   However, as yet, no daffodills are blooming- I still think April 29th will be good date for our walk.   Snowdrops are still good in some spots- gone by in others.  Scilla are blooming, also crocus, Chionodoxa, lesser celandine, bloodroot is starting and I noticed Viola odorata today.  I got the rest of my fertilizer spread although, I could use a few more bags.   Hopefully I'll get the apple trees which have lived a year in the vegetable garden moved to where I want them

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I got my Asparagus weeded today and a row of red currants and a row of gooseberries.  Now is a good time to get out witch grass if you have the time.  It was coming out in long strands, but of course, witch grass eradication is difficult.  Another weed in my asparagus patch is the vetch which has tiny rootx which break off meaning one can never truely get rid of the vetch.  At least it'd sort of pretty and fixes nitrogen

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Early Spring

We should know later today if the lilacs went bad.  It was so hot for so long that alot of plants got way ahead of themselves: Forsythia are blooming, Magnolias about to and the lilac buds are more expanded than ususl for this time of year.Lilacs are suscepible to Pseudomonas, a bacterium when they've sustained some tissue freezing which happens when they start to expand and then iot freezes- it got quite cold last night but my thermometer read 27 at 7:00 am so I think I'm going to be OK.  Quite alot of lilacs are at stake here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Forsythia in bloom

Last night on my way home, I noticed Vermont Sun Forsythia in bloom already.   It is a different sort of Forsythia- F. mandschurica, with wider cordate based leaves looking sort of like lilac leaves.  It get quite good fall color.   It tends to be a little bit sparser flowering- in severe winters some of the flower buds get wiped out but this year it's fine and it is earlier than the others.  The plant is somewhat stoloniferous and, in my opinion, it has a tendency to flop.   When it's not flopping to one side, it is ridgidly upright rather than having the widevase-shaped to rounded form of the other Forsythias

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bulb Show at Smith College

Friday I visited the annual bulb show at Smith's Lyman Conservatory in Northampton ,Mass.  As I've noticed before over the years, plants forced in greenhouses tend to have brighter colors.  Also, they different Narcissus were way taller than when grown outside--they all had to be staked and pressed closely enough together to hold each other up.  Two varieties which I don't have and liked at the show were Avalon and Tropical Sunset--I am hoping to getmore this year.
   Our Daffodil walk is planned for April 29th, a week earlier than normal.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Planting Early

I can't believe it but I just planted lettuce and spinach in my garden this afternoon.   The frost is out of the ground-- I was also able to dig overwintered parsnips which are better in the spring than the fall.  At the farm, where I help out in the winter, this has been the worst maple syrup season we have ever had.  Now I start at the nursery tomorrow.  Snow drops are in full bloom now, snow crocus just starting, pussy willows just emerging

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Snowdrops are now blooming in my garden,   My favorite thing about these small, delicate, unassuming and yet very fragrant, readily proliferating bulbs is that they are the first thing to bloom at my house.   I keep deviding and putting them im new locations so I have managed to get them in the spots which warm up first.  I have quite alot in lawns where they seem to be OK.  They are not the best flower for arranging as they are about 3 inches tall but I often dig up clumps for the house which I later devide and replant.   This winter I have created lots of new areas for plantings.     Spring is Here or as was spelled out in crocus along Rt. 320 in Villanova, PA where I used to live ..."P ING IS HE"

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Winterberry is now brown

We now have had some cold enough weather for the Ilex verticillata berries to turn their rich reddish brown.  It's been -20 degrees f.

I'm helphing at Maple Grove Farm where I live in the early mornings, helping work out side forenoons, we're splitting wood for next saeson or lately,  fixing sap lines preparing to start tapping by about Valentine's Day.  I'm also cutting and splitting maybe 5 cords of wood put aside for me by a logging operation at my house.  The real reason for the logging is to clear pines so I can plant more hickories, chestnuts, walnuts and burr oaks

Monday, January 2, 2012

Winterberry still red

This is the mildest winter we've had since I moved to Vermont about 26 years ago.  Usually the berries of Ilex verticillata turn reddish brown just before Christmas and this year they still are bright red.  I have guessed that at zero degrees ferenheit they turn and that therefore it hasn't been quite that cold yet.  Tonight will probably be the night.