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Daylilies on the Bank and on Pickett Lane

Daylily Bank in Heath

Daylily bank in Heath

The Daylily Bank in Heath is coming into bloom. This solution to eliminating lawn mowing on the  steep bank has been very successful. It was planted over the course of three years with daylilies mostly in shades of yellow and pink.

Yellow daylily

Yellow daylily

The proper name for daylilies is Hemerocallis or ‘Beautiful for a day.’  I think this sunny yellow daylily is as beautiful as the day.

Pink daylily

Pink daylily

I have taken a  couple of daylilies down to the new house in Greenfield, but I am planning to be at the Daylily and Arts Festival on Saturday, July 11 between 9 am – 4 pm at 23 Pickett Lane. Lots of daylilies in bloom, and lots of daylilies to buy! Other vendors will be on site, too. Richard Willard has moved his Silver Gardens business to Pickett lane. Can’t wait to see his new site, and decide which daylilies  are crying to be planted in my new garden.

Full Weekend Monday Report – June 1, 2014

Nasami Farm Plant Swap New England Wildflower Society

Nasami Farm Plant Swap

On this Monday morning I can report on a full weekend beginning with a New England Wildflower Society member Plant Swap at Nasami Farm. I brought waldsteinia and tiarella and came home with Jacob’s ladder, an unusual epimedium, more tiarellas, a spicebush plant (very tiny) and an unusual native sedum.

Greenfield Community College Graduation

Greenfield Community College Graduation 2014

There  was a big crowd and a big tent for for the Greenfield Community College graduation Saturday afternoon. Granddaughter Tricia was graduation with honors and an Associate Degree in Accounting. She is very smart, and encouraging to all the students she has been tutoring over the past two or three years. She has been working at a bank while working on her degree.

Tricia in line for her diploma

Tricia in line for her diploma

Tricia and the young woman in front of her are wearing gold stoles to denote their entry into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

Tricia and  her fiance Brian

Tricia and her fiance Brian

Tricia and her fiance Brian are both so proud of each other’s academic achievements. He graduated from UMass-Amherst with a psychology degree three years ago, and just finished the pre-requisites he needed to apply for a Physican’s Assistant program which will begin in January. He has been working at the Brattleboro Retreat to pay off student loans since graduation, and trying to save money for the new program.  These two are so smart, and disciplined. They will go far, but a first stop is a September wedding.

Chris and Bibi at work

Chris and Bibi at work

Son Chris stopped by over the weekend to  congratulate Tricia and to help us in the garden. Mowing, raking AND picking up the grass for the compost pile. What a guy!  Bibi, the elderly French bulldog, still has enough energy to supervise and cheer him on.

A great weekend! The garden is starting to look good too.

Plant Sales in the Spring

The Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale is Today, Saturday, May 17, 9 am – noon.  Don’t Be Late.

Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale perennials

Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale perennials

Plant sales are a sure sign that spring is here. When spring arrives plans and projects to spruce up our outdoor spaces, in our yards and in our towns, are set in motion. The Bridge of Flowers is a big beautiful public space, but other public spaces are getting their spruce up, too.

The Bridge of Flowers is one of the notable tourist attractions of the region. Certainly it has the most flowers per square foot anywhere. It is a joy – and an education – for the local residents who get to cross the Bridge regularly on their daily rounds. For the thousands of tourists who come from as far away as China, it is an unforgettable wonder and marvel.

This year the Bridge got a new bench designed and built by John Sendelbach whose studio is on the Buckland side of the Bridge. It was very exciting to have it rolled down the street, across the Bridge and into its place on the Shelburne side of the Bridge. That corner of the Bridge garden is definitely spruced up.

Another Bridge spruce up is not quite so visible.

As a member of the Bridge of Flowers committee and the monitor of the BOF email, one of the most frequent questions I get is ‘When is the best time to visit the Bridge?’ My answer is always, ‘It depends on what kind of flowers you like best.” The Bridge opens on April 1 when only the earliest crocuses are blooming but by mid-May there are tulips, daffodils, scillas, snowflakes, hyacinths, bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, blooming trees like cherry and magnolia, and a variety of annuals from pansies to peturnias and osteospermums. More annuals will be added over the next few weeks.

By June the Bridge is in the full and glorious bloom that we promise everyone.  And it remains in full and glorious bloom into October when frost usually kills many bloomers, but there are always a few plants in flower after the Bridge officially closes on October 30.

But now anyone can check the bloom seasons because new pages on the spruced up website (www.bridgeofflowersmass.org) list all the hundreds of blooming bulbs, trees, shrubs, and perennials in their season.  You will be astonished by the variety of bloom when you look at the list, which will soon include some photographs as well. For those who would like to take a virtual walk through the seasons on the Bridge of Flowers they can scroll through the posts for the past year on Facebook. Just remember every year is a little different. We are all complaining this year about the long cold spring that has made many plants decide to sleep a little longer than usual.

Greenfield Garden Club

I am also a member of the Greenfield Garden Club, and our efforts to beautify and educate the community are not always so visible because they are more dispersed.

One of our most important projects is giving grants to schools for garden projects. This year Mohawk High School, as well as schools in Leverett, Shutesbury, Gill, Conway, Colrain, Heath, Leyden, the 8th grade at Greenfield High School, and the Wheeler Library in Orange have been awarded funding for projects as various as an edible garden, a greenhouse project and a Monarch Waystation.  I have served on the grant committee and it is always inspiring to see the ways that teachers fit gardens into various parts of the curriculum, and the fun the students have as they learn and gain some very practical skills.

In addition the Greenfield Garden Club works with the DPW and the Greenfield Rejuvenators, a community group devoted to the beautification of downtown. The garden club is funding the planting of containers on the medians on Main Street, Bank Row and Deerfield Street.  Greenfield is getting a lot of sprucing up and the garden club is a part of that.

So how do the Bridge of Flowers and the Greenfield Garden Club fund these worthy projects? They organize plant sales!

The Greenfield Garden Club Annual Extravaganza will take place today, Saturday, May 10 from 8 am until 1 pm at the TrapPlainGarden at the intersection of Federal Silver Streets. This garden is maintained by club members. Today it will also be filled with potted perennials for sale, as well as a selection of annuals and hanging baskets from Spatcher Farms. Just in time for Mother’s Day. There will also be a raffle of garden related items like tools, and a tag sale where you can find some real bargains for the garden.

The Bridge of Flowers Annual Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, May 17 from 9 am til noon. In addition to perennials off the Bridge, there will be a wide assortment of annuals from LaSalles, wildflowers from Hillside Nursery, vendors selling tools, books, and other garden related items. Shoppers will also be able to refresh themselves with a snack and drink from the food table. This is the single fundraising event for the Bridge.

The Greenfield Garden Club and the Bridge of Flowers Committee are both committed to making our communities more beautiful. Making them more beautiful also makes them more attractive to visitors, and to businesses.  So, shop at the plant sales and beautify your own landscape, and beautify the community at the same time. ###

Between the Rows   May 10, 2014

Spring at Last in the Vegetable Garden

Ready for planting

Ready for planting in  the vegetable garden

Dear Friend and Gardener: Even  though I have planted seeds in the vegetable  garden, and a few seedlings that I started in the guestroom a few weeks ago, I can never resist  buying a few starts at the garden center.  I can never have enough parsley in the summer, and I don’t need very much chard, and I just want a headstart on the tender basil – so purchased starts are needed. Tomorrow should be perfect planting weather with clouds and showers predicted.  I also bought ‘Evolution’ an annual blue salvia, my traditional edging around the Shed Bed which holds the roses Belle Amour, Mary Rose, Leda, and Mrs. Doreen Pike. The rose are very slowly coming out of hibernation so it is too early to tell how much winter kill there has been.

Early garden for vegetables in  front of the house.

Early garden for vegetables in front of the house.

I did plant seeds (and forgot to note the date – Earth Day?) which  are starting to come up in the bed closest to the house – Early Rapini, Purple Top White Globe turnips, Patty’s Choice lettuce and Ruby and Emerald Duet lettuce – all from Renee’s Garden. I can see tiny plants coming up in rows so the variable weather did not deter these cool season crops.  I also planted a few cippolini onions from Dixondale Farms. The main vegetable garden  and onion beds are down in the Potager. A neighbor  is running a kind of one man coop and he puts together  a bulk order of various kinds of onions and leeks.   On Saturday I planted more seeds – DiCicco broccoli, Bloomsdale Spinach and more lettuces, again from Renee, in the more southern bed.  Those planting take me beyond the crest of the bank where a collection of daylilies is planted. I’ll plant Renee’s Garden Vanilla Berry nasturtiums as the transition between vegetables and daylilies. Nasturtiums act as a really good groundcover, keeping down the weeds, and lots of biomass in the fall to put in the compost pile. In addition, I can eat  the flowers, leaves and seeds.

Pansy studded salad

Pansy studded salad

Then in the summer my salads might resemble this one. Today was the day we priced the  1000 perennials that will be sold on Saturday at the Bridge of Flowers Annual Plant Sale. Lynda Leitner who has been giving the plants tender loving care and watering over the past month put our little subcommittee in a good mood with a beautiful lunch that included this charming salad.

This is my first post as a new member of Dear Friend  and Gardener,  the virtual edible garden club started by Dee Nash, Carol Michel and Mary Ann Newcomer. I have had a vegetable garden for many years, but I am planning to learn a lot from the other members!

Plant Sale Season is Upon Us

Van Sion daffodils

Van Sion daffodils

These Van Sion antique daffodils are strong growers. So strong that they persist in blooming in a rose bush no matter how many time I try to dig them out.

No matter. I am glad to see them blooming. They are the earliest of my daffs, but a few others are coming into bloom. And if daffodils are blooming in Heath it must be time for plant sales.

The first plant sale is organized by The Greenfield Garden Club and will be held at the Trap Plain Garden at the intersection of Federal and Silver Streets on Saturday, May 10 from 8 am – 1 pm.  Perennials from members gardens will be on offer, as well as annuals from Spatcher’s Farm, a garden tag sale  and a raffle with wonderful prizes like this set of heavy duty hand tools.

DeWit hand tools

DeWit hand tools

Bring a soil sample from your garden and have it tested by a Master Gardener!  This annual Extravaganza sale raises money to fund grants that the Garden Club awards to schools in their area.  This year they funded garden projects at the schools in Buckland, Leverett, Shutesbury, Gill, Conway, Colrain, Heath, Leyden, and Greenfield High School as well as the Wheeler Library in  Orange. The Club is also funding the  containers that will be planted and placed on the median on Main Street, Bank Row and Deerfield Street. If you buy plants or other items at this sale you’ll be beautifying your garden, while you beatify the  community.

Next week, Saturday May 17, the Bridge of Flowers will hold its Annual Plant Sale from 9 am – noon at the Trinity Church’s Baptist Lot on Main Street in Shelburne Falls. Perennials off the Bridge, annuals from LaSalles, and many  beautiful and useful things brought by vendors like OESCO which sells sturdy useful tools.

Epimediums and Hellebores Thrive in Dry Shade

Epimedium ‘Rubrum’

Dry shade is a challenge in the garden, but epimediums and hellebores, two very different plants, both turn dry shade into an opportunity. For years I admired epimediums in other gardens, always asking the name of the beautiful low plant with heart shaped leaves. Sometimes I got no answer, but even when I did I was incapable of remembering the word epimedium. I finally saw a pot of this plant at the Blue Meadow nursery in Montague and, out of the several varieties there, each with a nice little name tag, I bought Epimedium ‘Rubrum.’ I chose this because it was listed as the most hardy. Even then I was afraid Heath was too cold, but a friend who was working there that day just shrugged and told me to give it a try.

“Give it a try,” is always good advice. A plant in a pot is not much of a financial investment, and we all must learn to endure disappointments and failed experiments if we are to have a happy life.

Epimedium ‘Rubrum’ has thrived in my garden, planted beneath a ginkgo tree which provides shade for part of the day. I love the heart-shaped green leaves with their reddish border. The tiny pink flowers were a bit of a surprise. I had never actually seen an epimedium in early spring when it blooms. The delicate little flowers are best seen at eye level which means not only down on hands and knees, but maybe even down on your stomach, chin in hands, to admire them at leisure.

I have given away bits of E. ‘Rubrum’ to friends, assuring them that this easy care plant will increase at a stately rate. It is not invasive. It is a native ofAsia, but adapted to a well behaved life in Zones 3 to 9, depending on the variety. I later learned that there are some very hardy varieties.

Epimedium ‘Sulphureum’

And there is variety. I bought my second epimedium, E. x versicolor ‘Sulphureum,’ at the Bridge of Flowers plant sale a couple of years ago. The yellow flowers at the end of wiry stems are slightly larger so it is easier to see why epimediums are sometimes called bishop’s hats and fairy wings. It is less easy to see how anyone came to call it horny goat weed or rowdy lamb herb. Perhaps goats and lambs find it intoxicating, but I don’t know that for a fact.

Now I have two varieties of epimedium, but if you look at the Garden Vision  or Plant Delights catalogs you will see dozens of epimediums in many shades of lavender, purple, red, pink, white, orange and yellow. The flowers take many forms, including some that almost look like spiders, and the foliage varies as well. Not all the varieties have heart-shaped leaves, some are spiky and some are mottled.

Epimediums require very little care. The dying foliage should be cut down in the fall to clear the way for early spring growth.

Garden Vision nursery is located in Phillipston, Massachusetts. They open their nursery to viewing and sales the first two weekends in May.

Hellebores are another early bloomer that doesn’t mind dry shade. Right here I should say that any new plant should be kept adequately watered while it is settling in the first year, giving it time to let its roots grow enough to support the plant even when it is dry.

The term shade has many shades. Pun intended. There is dense shade like that under evergreens, there is high shade, a much weaker shade created by trees whose foliage begins up high, and dappled shade that dances dark and light. There is summer shade that is created when trees are fully leafed out, and the early spring sun can no longer shine through bare branches in the same way. But remember, some sun is usually needed for any flowering plant to actually bloom.

The BridgeofFlowershas a few hellebores, otherwise known as Christmas or Lenten roses because they bloom early in the spring. I always think of them as having blossoms in shades of green, but some bloom in shades of white, pink and deep red. On the Bridge they get a lot of sun which shows you how tolerant they are of differing conditions. They can survive in the shade, but they need some sun to bloom well.

Hellebores have deep roots and they do not need dividing the way most perennials do. This means they should be planted in a soil deeply dug and well enriched with compost and aged manure.

They are quite trouble free, and have a long bloom period. The dead flower stems should be cut back after blooming, and the dying foliage can be cut down in the late fall.

Last year I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museumfor the opening of the newly designed and planted Monk’s Garden. This small area is now a serene woodland underplanted with many hellebores as well as other groundcovers. Michael Van Valkenburg, the designer, said the place would be ‘crazy with hellebores” in the spring. I am planning to make another trip this spring and admire the craziness.

In the meantime I’m waiting for the snow to leave so I can see my epimedium shoots, and wonder where I might plant a hellebore.

Between the Rows   March 29, 2014

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – August 15, 2013

Ann Varner Dayliliy

On this Garden Bloggers Bloom day there are some surprises.  The weather should not surprise anymore, but it does, and often causes gnashing of teeth. In June we had a glorious 12 inches of rain. In July there was no rain! It was hot! An official heat wave. In August it has been much cooler and we had 4 inches of rain so far. Still there are lots of blooms in the un-irrigated flower gardens. The Daylily Bank is drawing down but Ann Varner is still magnificent.

Helenium “Mardi Gras”

In spite of the dry, and now cool weather the Helenium  is a colorful clump.

Black Beauty lilies

I have to lie under them to get a shot of the Black Beauties. The blossoms of the lilies and the adjacent crimson bee  balm are not very big this year. Note to self. More compost in this spot. The other lilies are also still blooming by the house.

Artemesia lactiflora

Artemesia lactiflora has much less dramatic blossoms,  but they are dainty, and much taller than usual this year.

Achillea ‘The Pearl’

Achillea is another dainty flower, but a strong grower. The only other yarrow blooming now is the sulphur yellow variety. Nameless.

Joe Pye Weed

This new Joe Pye Weed has just come into bloom.  I don’t know if it is a miniature, or just not fully feeling its oats this first year.

Echinacea and Miss Lingaard phlox

The big clump of Echinacea purpurea will need to be divided but it is gorgeous this year. The white phlox is Miss Lingaard and it should have bloomed in June!  The Russian sage on the other side of the Echinacea is also blooming well.

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

‘Limelight’ is the only one of the three ‘new’ hydrangeas to have recovered very well from a good browsing from the deer, but ‘Pinky Winky’ and the oakleaf hydrangea do have a few small blossoms.

Thomas Affleck rose

A visiting friend sighed that there were probably no roses anymore. Well, not quite. Thomas Affleck, as usual, is putting out a strong second flush, and other roses put out an occasional bloom

Folksinger

Folksinger, a Griffith Buck hybrid also put out a good second flush. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of his delicate decline. I do not think he has much strength left for this season.

Also blooming are the tall veronicas, very tall and deeply blue aconite, cimicifuga, a few zinnias and  gomphrena. Not too bad, and there is still more to come which makes me happy.

To see what else is  blooming across our  great nation go to May Dreams Gardens where Carol hosts Bloom Day. Thank you Carol!

Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale – Saturday May 18

Plants ready for the sale

One thousdand perennials are ready for the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale on Saturday, May 18. When the starting bell rings at 9 am (no sales before that hour) the buying begins. From this photo you might be able to pick out lady’s mantle, candelabra primroses, hostas, Solomon’s seal, ferns, and bleeding hearts, pink and white. I can tell you that there are also peonies, fairy bells (new to me) campanulas, yarrow, achillea, shasta daisies, and some shrubs including  butterfly bush, rose of sharon and forsythia. All at bargain prices.

Candelabra primroses

There are other primroses, too. pink and wine colors.  Most of the plants, including these primroses come off the Bridge. There will also be vendors selling tools, notecards, books – and wooden spoons. Unusual native flowers from Hillside Nursery will also be on sale – as usual. Annuals and geraniums will  also be available. Come early!

Pots for Sale

This year we also have an array of handsome, gently used, pots. This is not the whole collection. Beautiful plants deserve a beautiful pot.

Plant Sale begins promptly at 9 am and will conclude at noon. Hope to see you there.

 

Greenfield Garden Club Extravaganza

Plants ready for Greenfield Garden Club Sale

The Greenfield Garden Club Extravaganza is a wonderful plant sale and is held annually on Trap Plain at the corner of Federal and Silver Streets, Greenfield  on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 8-1.  Hardy perennials from members’ gardens, annuals, herbs, and hanging plants for Mother’s Day will be sold.  There will also be soil testing by the WM Master Gardener volunteers, a Green Thumb Tag Sale, and a Garden Gift Drawing. The Garden Club members have potted up lots of interesting and useful plants from their gardens. This year I am sending the purple campanula ‘Joan Elliot’ which is a wonderful spring bloomer and good at increasing – but not a thug in any sense. I’m also sending an unusual artemesia. Artemesia lactiflora is not silver; the fine foliage is a shade of blue green and it sends up spires of tiny white flowers, kind of like the way coral bells do. I’m also sending a purple leafed coral bells, ‘Terra Cotta’ yarrow, pink chelone (turtlehead) and the wonderful pink Sheffield daisy. I first saw this late summer-fall bloomer at the Smith College Botanical Garden and was lucky that when I bought a pot of ‘pink daisies’ at Wilder Hill Gardens it turned out to be Sheffies. They also propogate nicely, which is why I have some to share. This sale is a good place to do some Mother’s Day shopping.

The Greenfield Garden Club sale is a great chance to get some bargains, of plants and other plant and garden related items at the tag sale, and a great chance to get a soil test. You can’t help loving those Master Gardeners!  All proceeds support the many community projects of the Greenfield Garden Club.

How to Divide Perennials

Me and the daylily clump

Over the weekend I spent time weeding the Lawn Beds. There were spots that had few weeds because the plants had developed into such large clumps that the weed seeds had no place to land. Some clumps were so big that it was clear it was time to do some dividing.

As a general guideline perennials need to be divided every 2 -4 years. A clump will outgrow its spot and start crowding the plants around it. Sometimes it will begin to die in the center, or start producing smaller leaves and flowers.

Autumn is a perfect time to divide plants because temperatures are cooler and there may (if we are lucky) be rain. New plantings need to be kept watered whether in spring or fall.

When I divide plants in the fall I cut the foliage back first. That will make it easier for me to see where I can make my cuts. Then I dig up the whole plant, starting from the drip line. I want to make sure I dig up as much of the root as possible. I put the clump on a tarp or piece of plastic so I don’t lose any soil while I am working with the plant.

With the plant out of the ground, the first thing I do is see what weeding I can do. If this means disturbing the soil and loosening the roots that is all to the good. Sometimes during this process little divisions will fall off the mother plant all by themselves.

Daylilies, weeded and ready for division

With the plant weeded, I look to see where I can get my spade in to make my divisions. Volunteers at the Bridge of Flowers often use a serrated hori hori knife to make divisions. Spade or knife, it is up to you. You want to make as neat a cut as possible. One good clump can probably make four or five good divisions, each of which will make rapid growth in the spring.

Daylilies and their roots are practically indestructible

Some people water plants they are going to divide the day before. This is a good idea as long as you are careful not to make the soil so wet you are digging in mud. Whether you water before dividing or not, you will want to make sure your new divisions are well watered afterwards. If you are not going to plant the divisions immediately, keep them in the shade and keep the roots covered and damp.

Dividing your plants is an opportunity to enrich the soil of your garden beds. Add compost to the hole where the plant came from, and put a good helping of compost underneath the new division in its new location.

Many plants can be divided in the fall including plants that are often used as ground covers like lamium, foamflower (tiarella), coral bells and heucharella, lamb’s ears, pulmonaria, lady’s mantle, and ajuga. These are all easy to pull apart by hand after they have been dug.

Popular perennials that will need a sharp spade or knife, include bee balm, asters, garden phlox, daylilies, Echinacea (coneflower) and achillea.

Some perennials have a woody crown that may best be cut with a saw. These include peonies, astilbe, Joe Pye weed, and gayfeather.

A special word about peonies that are such long lived plants. Unlike many perennials, these rarely need to be divided and will live happily in the same place, growing bigger and more beautiful every year. A top dressing of compost is all they will need. However, if you want to divide your peonies to have more plants, or to make a gift to a friend or because it is necessary to move them, it is best to do this job in the fall.  I know they now sell  container grown peonies in the spring, but if you are going to divide a peony fall is the time to do it.

Cut back the foliage to a couple of inches. Old peony plants have large brittle root systems. Make sure you are digging up a large root ball and be as careful as you can because the brittle roots break easily. Some root loss is probably inevitable, but you want to limit it as much as possible. Each peony division should have at least three eyes.

When re planting your peony, as with any new planting, make sure you enrich the planting hole with good compost. For the peony you can add a handful of lime because peonies prefer a pH between 6.5 and 7 which is nearly neutral. Just remember that herbaceous peonies must be planted so the eyes are only one or two inches below the surface. If they are planted too deep the plant will not be harmed, but it will not produce blooms.

It doesn’t take many years before a perennial garden produces more plants than it can contain. This is part of the reason gardeners are so generous. They have to pass those extra divisions on to friends, and friends of friends who may be starting new gardens. They can also put those divisions in a holding bed where they can be dug up and potted in the spring for fund raising plant sales. The extra plants from our gardens can not only spread the beauty around the community they can raise money for other community beautification projects.

What plants are you dividing this fall?

Between the Rows   September 15, 2012