Saturday, June 29, 2013


Hydrangeas are now my favorite plants.  I'm getting tired of lilacs becase they are in bloom for a relatively short time and are not that exciting the rest of the year.  Hydrangeas are in bloom for almost 2 months.  I've decided to put in a new Hydrangea bed with one each of my pet ones:  these are the ones with large open panicles with lots of tiny true florets, not only the larger, showy sterile florets.  Pee Gee and Limelight, showy as they are are not my favorite- I find them a little vulgar.  As this week end I am to have two days off from the nursery for the first time since April, I'm planting Hydrangeas.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Old Roses

The old roses are just starting to bloom in my garden.  I have a border around the old childrens' fenced play yard where I have my roses.  I just posted phots on our facebook page.  I have three main types which prosper in West Newbury. Rosa rugosa is native to Japan but is naturalized all along the coast of New England, thriving in thin sandy soil.  After its primary blooming period,  it blooms sporadically the rest of the summer. The flowers are very fragrant and the plant takes off by stolens so is easy to propagate. The large hips are ornamental and edible.. 'Roseraie de l'Hay' is a dark red cultivar (my favorite rose) and 'Blanc Double de Coubert' is another.  Rosa alba is very hardy, blooms once with exceedingly fragrant flowers and has attractive blue-green foliage (the flowers are pink or white). There are many cultivated varieties such as 'Madame Legras de St Germain', 'Alba Maxima', 'Felicite Parmentier', 'Queen of Denmark'.  Rosa gallica is pink or red and quite stoloniferous. Some of my favorites are 'Tuscany Superb', 'Apothecary Rose', 'Charles de Mills',  and 'Rosa Mundi'. One thing I particularly like about these roses is that they bloom early and therefore they are done when the rose chafers and Japanese beetles arrive. All three of these roses are often found around old houses in Vermont.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Recent Books

Backyard Foraging by Ellen Zachos describes how to eat many garden plants and weeds.  Some of our worst plant enemies can be delicious to eat.  Goutweed, Fishmint (Houttuynis), Garlic Mustard, Japanese Knotweed are all eaten.  Hostas, common daisies, spiderwort, Autumn Joy sedum, mayapple, redbud buds, and rose-of -shoaron flowers are also edible plants.  I already have been eating dandylions, nettles, lambs'quarters.  One of our customeres lent me this book and said they will lend it back to me again if I need it.

The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening and Life by Margaret Roach is another new book--I just finished it last night.  It is more literary than many garden books --more witty and full of allusions than alot of plant literature. Her first garden was red-hot pokers and hens & chicks planted in a grid-  she has come a long way from that.  She goes into some of her spiritual beliefs and writes in a quite poetic manner, but also discusses thinks like overwintering different tender tropicals, buying seeds, mulching, animal proof bulbs, ripening tomatoes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sarah's Wedding flowers

This past Saturday my daughter Sarah married my wife's naephew and I did the flowers at Wytchwood Farm in N. Stonington, CT.  Luckily we had 5 inches of rain and it was chilly on Friday and Saturday so the flowers stayed good.  I bought several hundred beautiful peonies grown by my cousin, Jos Konst, which were outstanding and brought down a truck full of late lilacs and iris from my garden in W. Newbury.  Because I picked the lilacs when it was cool (in fact it was cold and rainy), and put them right away into deep buckets of water after smashing the stems (and I used some of that floral life stuff), they held up very well.  With iris, I got rid of the open flowers and arranged with the buds in mind.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Heirloom Iris

I have an ongoing project which I have been doing for the last 20 years.  I feel that most of the modern Standard Tall Bearded Iris are not nearly as good growers of the old varieties which our grandmothers had growing like weeds so I'm collecting these old varieties and hope to be offering them for sale at E.C. Browns Nursery.  I especially like the pure color ones. Check out my pictures on Facebook