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Native Buzz!

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Butterfly gardening is becoming very popular. Schools are having their students plant butterfly gardens, and adults can find more than a dozen books devoted to gardening in a way that will attract butterflies to their landscape.

Butterfly gardening could just as well go by another name, pollinator gardening.  Everyone knows that bees are pollinators, but butterflies along with many other creatures like wasps and bats are important pollinators. Planting a butterfly garden helps support pollinators.

Most of us do not give much thought to pollination, except possibly in the spring when we see honey bee hives being moved into local fruit orchards to insure good fruit set. Yet the reality is that every third bite of food we take is due to the work of a pollinator. Wheat, corn and rice depend on the wind for pollination but most other food crops depend on animal pollinators, bees, wasps and other insects, bats, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds to produce fruit and seeds.

One of the threats to pollinators are the insecticides and herbicides that are routinely used in agriculture.  When we grow our gardens, including lawns and flower gardens without these poisons we are protecting pollinators and our food supply that is dependent on them.

The New England Wildflower Society, which has its headquarters in Framingham and operates both The Garden in the Woods, and the Nasami Farm nursery in Whately, is drawing attention to the importance of pollinators with a competition – Native Buzz: Creative Container Gardening for Pollinators.

This competition has three categories: for youth up to age 17; for amateurs including groups like a garden club; and professionals. Application forms and a separate document with full guidelines are available online at

“The intent of this exhibit is to explore the many and varied ways a container gardener can attract pollinators using native plants in unique and creative containers. Containers can be large (no larger than 3’ x 3’), small, whimsical, colorful . . . as long as they serve the needs of our native pollinators well.”

This is the first time the Wildflower Society has offered the public the opportunity to create an exhibit. Get ready to do some research and creative planting because applications are due on April 15.

The application requires a description of the container or group of containers (taking up no more than 3’ x3’ of space), and a list of the pollinators to be attracted and fed. The forms asks, “How will you accomplish that goal? What steps will you take to attract pollinators over the 11 week period of the Native Buzz exhibit.”  If you are going to list the pollinators you want to attract, you need to have a list of  the native plants that attract them. That means research, especially since it  sounds like you need to keep attracting pollinators for 11 weeks.

Applicants will have to think about what kind of site the container will require, sun, shade, or part shade, as well as arrange with a park or other public site to accept the container once the exhibit at The Garden in the Woods ends on August 31. I’ll bet the Energy Park would love such a container planting.

On May 1 the Society will announce 15 winners, five in each of the three categories. At that point, the winners will be able to refine their design because on May 1 a full list of  plants will be available from Nasami.  All plants must come from Nasami, and the winner can choose plants for their container with a retail value of up to $300 at no cost.

This exhibit requires some real skull-work and creativity. Whether or not a applicant is chosen as a final exhibitor, I think applicants will have a whole new appreciation for the process of pollination. There is a lot of information about pollinators on the Internet about which pollinators pollinate which plants on Wikipedia and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at

For those who like turning to books, The Pollinator Conservation Handbook: A Guide to Understanding, Protecting and Providing Habitat for Native Pollinator Insects by Shepard, Buchmann, Vaughan and Black may give you the information you will need.

Another book that might be useful is The Forgotten Pollinators by Buchmann and Nabhan. Don’t forget to check your library for these books. Both are intended for a general audience.

Even if we are not interested in making a pollinator container we can encourage pollinators in our gardens. I have bee balm planted in the Herb Garden in front of the house. From our windows we can watch bees, hummingbirds and those funny little hummingbird hawk moths sipping at the blossoms and carrying away pollen. Actually, from a distance we can’t see the pollen work, but we know they are doing it.

Other plants for the pollinator garden include asters, foxglove, Echinacea, helenium, joe pye weed, sumac, salvia, elderberry and serviceberry. It is very easy to invite and sustain pollinators in our garden, while creating beauty, and fruitfulness in our vegetable gardens.

Between the Rows  March 19, 2011

The Three Sisters Sanctuary

Richard Richardson turned his grief over the passings of his brother and daughter into a magical garden that is now open to the public.  The Three Sisters Sanctuary, right next to Richardson’s business Good Time Stoves in Goshen, has been in the making for 18 years. The story of the garden is now told on its own website, along with information about events like concerts and plays, and how you can hold your own event in this amazing space.  This Sacred Garden Garden contains a cairn containing his daughter’s ashes.

The garden is made up of circles arranged in the Circle of Life.

Dancing Ladies

The garden is a wonder of ‘hardscaping’.  When I asked Richardson where he got all the stone, surely it couldn’t have all been on site, he laughed and said it was all right there, stones going down ten feet deep. This piece of land had been used as a stone dump when Route 9 was being widened.

Richard Richardson

A few of the enormous stones are made of quartz, a stone that can receive and emit energy. These are carefully placed through out the garden. Here Richardson is in the Garden of Conception, preceeded by a Walk of Courtship, and Gardens of Seduction, and Committment.

Butterfly Mosaic

The Three Sisters Sanctuary is not only a garden it is an ongoing work of art. Richardson has welcomed, and solicited work from others. Brilliant butterfly mosaics made by a friend are resting in the Butterfly Garden where butterfly plants donated by Annie’s in Amherst bloom is wild abundance.

Tree House

Although the garden was born out of Richardson’s grief, it is not a place for mourning, but a place celebrating life with riotous exuberance. There is humor as well as beauty. When Richardson saw me looking at his tree house, he laughed and said he always wanted a tree house, but was afraid of heights.  He solved that problem!

Three Sisters Sanctuary Ampitheater

It took six years to build the ampitheater, with stone donated by the Goshen Quarry. People often asked why on earth he was building  an ampitheater and his response was people like Arlo Guthrie and James Taylor, who live nearby, might want to perform there.  Destiny can surprise. Concerts and plays have been performed here, and it is possible that Arlo Guthrie may, too.

The Three Sisters Sanctuary Dragon

I did not totally recognize this as a Dragon when I first saw it near the entry, although the head was clearly ferocious.

Three Sisters Sanctuary Dragon

It was not until I got up close and could look inside the curling body of the dragon that the monster was revealed to me.

Three Sisters Sanctuary Dragon

Although Richardson’s approach is often fantastic and whimsical, he had a massage therapist help him get the musculature of the dragon’s head correct.  The head is placed above a fireplace; it will not breathe fire, but it will breath smoke.  And remember, Richardson is a stove man. He knows how to make smoke go where he wants it.

There is much more to this garden.  Richardson’s creativity is not limited to the Three Sister’s Sanctuary.  What would you do with a bunch of old bicycles? Visit and see.

Berkshire Botanical Garden – Jewel of the Berkshires

Berkshire Botanical Garden

The Berkshire Botanical Garden is one of the jewels of the Berkshires. This summer it is sparkling more than ever. In addition to the regular plantings of trees, shrubs, perennials and vegetables, the Garden is hosting several special exhibits this year.

I was particularly taken with the display of garden sheds. Five fantasies consisting of standard pre-fab garden sheds are arranged around the Garden grounds. Naturally I was delighted with the Garden Blogger’s Retreat designed by Michael Devine even though it looked like a better place for napping, or at least dreaming and reading. Why, it didn’t even have a laptop or point and shoot camera, basic tools for all bloggers.

Swedish Shed at the BBG

Having attended the Larson Family Reunion last month it is no surprise that I also loved the delightful Swedish Reading Retreat designed by Annie Selke of Pine Cone Hill.  The most elegant shed, all black and white geometry was also the most humorous. This shed was turned into an 18th century privy (by Bories/Shearron) that might have been at home at Monticello.

18th Century Privy at the BBG

There was a Tolkein-esqe shed, and a Berkshire Cottage shed (by Sarah and Peter Thorne) with cozy seating and a table for playing well-used board games. This shed had additional artistic and whimsical seating outside created by Peter Thorne.

All the garden sheds were donated by Barn Raiser of Saugerties as were the designers’ labors, and some of the furnishings to raise money for the Botanical Garden.

Another exhibit was titled Sitting Pretty: Artists Reveal the Garden Bench as Sculpture.  Most of us have at least an Adirondack or resin chair or two in our gardens, although I am fully aware that gardeners themselves rarely take the time to sit and admire, but the Berkshire Botanical Garden has invited six avant-garde artists to create benches that not only provide seating, but exciting sculptural accents to the garden.

Chair by Jack Larrimore at the BBG

Nico Yektai, Jack Larimore, Douglas Thayer used a variety of woods from ipe, paulownia, Atlantic white cedar, and sapele with steel and concrete, and create their benches. Terence Debreuil works in concrete and glass mosaics while Vivian Beer and Lisa Fedon work in metal. The twenty benches are arranged throughout the various gardens.

More and more people are planting containers, everything from vegetables to exotic flowers. I’m quite happy with pots of geraniums myself, but I am trying to be more creative when planting my pots.  Recognizing the increasing interest in imaginative container plantings the Berkshire Botanical Garden invited nine of their favorite local plant professionals to create container plantings that have been placed throughout the Garden.

Some put their plantings in fancy pots, but I was entranced by the dramatic planting that included a wire vine, staghorn fern, a voodoo lily and a ‘Big Red Judy’ coleas in a large windowbox  on a weathered tool shed.  Jenna O’Brien of Viridissima Horticulture and Design in Becket was the designer. O’Brien spends her days working in large conservatories and estate gardens, as well as putting together beautiful container plantings.

Viridissima windowbox at the BBG

With a business name like the sophisticated Viridissima, I was surprised that O’Brien did not choose an antique urn to plant, but she said, “I chose the tool shed as my venue because, as a horticulturist who spends the majority of her life in the garden or greenhouse (physically and in thought)… well, where else?  That is my element.

I chose the plant material because I love begonias and foliage plants.  Our poor flowers are under such pressure to perform while foliage is just so consistent, reliable and interesting all on its own.  Flowers are the “icing.”

Making a greater and better use of foliage plants is a lesson that was brought home to me during my tour of Buffalo’s gardens earlier this summer, and here was a local person making the same point in the most delightful way.

The Berkshire Botanical Garden teaches through its plantings, but it provides more direct instruction through its lectures, workshops and classes.  One of those programs will precede the Pond Dedication on October 16 at 4 pm  Anthony Archer-Willis, water gardening expert, will lecture about water gardens and bring participants to the newly planted Pond Garden. This program is a seminar format in which gardeners at all levels can participate.

Other programs through the fall include Invasive Plant Control for Homeowners (September 4), All About Apples lecture (September 19) and a Traveling Landscape Design Clinic with Walter Cudnohufsky (September 25).  I have traveled through gardens with Cudnohufsky myself and tours like this were not only instructive, opening my mind to new perspectives, but also a delight.

Sue Reed, author of Energy-Wise Landscape Design and Shelburne resident, will give a talk and sign her book on November 13. For full information about programs from mushroom hunting to ikebana,  fees and registration logon to

Only one more week until August 21 at 2 pm in the Energy Park  when the sunflower judging begins.  Bring your sunflowers to the Energy Park on Miles Street in Greenfield between noon and 2 pm.  There are five prize categories for both Youth, under 16, and Adult, 16 and over. They are: the tallest, the most flowers on one stem, the heaviest flower, the largest flower and the best arrangement of sunflowers. There may also be a Judges’ Choice. Ribbons and bags of apples will be awarded.  While waiting for the judging you can enjoy the music of the Fiddler’s Reunion.

Between the Rows  August 14, 2010

Emily Dickinson at the NYBG

A little Madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King,

But God be with the Clown–

Who ponders this tremendous scene–

This whole Experiment in Green–

As if it were his own!

Emily Dickinson

Spring madness was in the air when I trekked to the New York Botanical Garden for the special exhibit Emily Dickinson’s Garden: Poetry in Flowers. Two rooms of the stunning Enid E. Haupt Conservatory were given over to interpretations of the gardens and Dickinson’s home, The Homestead, in Amherst.

While many of us have a vision of a slight, white clad woman quietly writing odd verses in her bedroom, seeing no one, Emily Dickinson’s early years were quite ordinary. She did not become reclusive until she was in her thirties. Her father was a prominent citizen of the town who served as treasurer of Amherst College for decades, as well as a state legislator and as a member of the U.S. Congress. The household was busy and engaged in the social life of the town.

Born in 1830 Emily, and her sister Lavinia, attended school at the Amherst Academy, and later attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Throughout her girlhood she suffered from health problems, and it was poor health that ended her attendance at Mount Holyoke after only a year.

In spite of her poor health, the family deaths that occurred while she was young, and the view of the Amherst cemetery from the Homestead’s windows, her life was not drenched in sorrow. Emily grew up in a busy family, in a handsome pale yellow house, amid flower and vegetable gardens and once declared, “I was reared in a garden, you know.”

In fact she studied botany, and when she was only 11 she began putting together an herbarium that ultimately included 400 plants, each labeled and identified with its proper Latin name. A beautiful facsimile of this herbarium was created and published by Belknap Press of Harvard University; the original resides in Harvard’s Houghton Library.

Dickinson gardened all her life, caring for roses, lilacs, tulips, zinnias, foxgloves, sweet Williams and poppies as well as all the bulbs that bloom in the spring. When the family was prosperous enough a small conservatory (now gone) was added to the house. Plantings there included a fig tree and other tender and exotic plants.

All these and more are included in the lush plantings in the Conservatory. I was particularly taken with the recreation of the well traveled path between The Homestead and The Evergreens, the house her brother Austin built for his family next door. Of course the Conservatory staff has the skill to bring flowers from a whole season into bloom at the same time, peonies with roses, delphiniums with foxgloves, columbine with morning glories.

Set among the plantings are little placards with appropriate poems including all the creatures that visit the garden including birds, and bees. Only 18 of Dickinson’s poems were published during her lifetime. It is only after her death that her sister found the little booklets in a drawer – the more than 1700 poems her sister had written and organized.

One of the poems set among the flowers shows a more positive feeling about fame than I ever imagined she possessed.

“Fame is a bee.

It has a song –

It has a sting –

Ah, too, it has a wing.

That poem strikes me as wistful, a peek at Dickinson imagining a different world for herself if she had found fame. Yet another poem with its black cawing crow presents a very different picture of fame and its consequences.

Fame is a fickle food

Upon a a shifting plate

Whose table once a

Guest but not

The second time is set

Whose crumbs the crows inspect

And with ironic caw

Flap past it to the

Farmer’s corn

Men eat of it and die.”

Fame did come to Emily Dickinson, but not until many years after her death in 1886.  She is now considered a major American poet. The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. By R.W. Franklin have been published by the Belknap  Press of Harvard. The exhibit in the Conservatory gives an idea of the joys and inspiration Dickinson found in the garden.

Nearby the Conservatory is a Poetry Walk with 30 Poetry Boards featuring some of Dickinson’s poems about flowers and the garden.

Dickinson's garden included vegetables

A further exhibit is on display in the NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library Gallery will showcase items reveal the context of her life. It should be noted that Jane Wald, Executive Director of the Emily Dickinson Museum is a key member of the Curatorial Team that put this exhibit together.

The exhibit will continue at the NYBG until June 13. On Saturday, June 12 from 10am to 6 pm visitors are invited to read their own favorite Dickinson poems aloud, and on Sunday, Judith Farr, author of  The Gardens of Emily Dickinson will give a talk about Dickinson’s Eden” at 4 pm.

Even if you can’t nip down to the exhibit, we have the Emily Dickinson Museum in our own backyard, and there is a whole raft of beautiful and fascinating books about Emily, her garden, and an imagined life in the novel I Never Came to You in White, also by Judith Farr.


One place to spruce up our own individual Edens, is the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale next Saturday, May 22, from 9 am to noon at the Green at the corner of Main and Water   Streets. In addition to a wonderful selection of perennials, and annuals, the following vendors will be on hand: Nancy Dole Books; OESCO, Michael Naldrett’s photo notecards; Steve Earp’s pottery; and John Sendelbach’s garden art.

Between the Rows   May 16, 2010

The Week That Was

Sargent Crabapple

It was quite a week, with two New York days, visiting parks, and the New York Botanical Garden’s Emily Dickinson Exhibit. (See my earlier posts) I came home to my own show – the Sargent Crab in the mucky Sunken Garden is in full bloom. So far it has been able to hold on to it’s leaves and flowers but ever since I got home late Wednesday the winds have been blowing, and the temperature has been dropping. Not below freezing, so far.

Although the Sunken Garden is still boggy, the winds have been drying. I have been watering the roses and vegetables. On April 1 I planted Renee’s Baby Leaf ‘Catalina’ spinach in the Herb Bed and it is just about ready for a thinning.  The soil here is good, and there is some protection from the wind.  The seeds and seedlings that I planted in the new Front Garden are also surviving. I must have slipped with the Red Sails lettuce because there are clumps in serious need of thinning. I think we’ll have our first garden salad this week.

Forget me nots

Of course I have flowers. The daffodils are continuing and the lilacs are just beginning to bloom, as are these tulips which I have no memory of planting. I can’t wait to see what color they are.  And the forget me nots! Last year at the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale (coming up May 22 in Shelburne Falls) I bought two little pots and now I have all the forget me nots I could want. Plenty to share too.

Golden marjoram

Looking forward to this year’s Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale I have been potting up bits of golden marjoram for the new Herb Section of the sale. I’ll also be bringing some down to the Greenfield Garden Club’s Spring Extravaganza plant sale on May 29.   Friends of the Sunderland Library are having a Book and Plant Sale on Saturday, May 15 from 9-3 pm. Baked Goods too. All these local fund-raising sales are excellent ways to get good plants for your own garden and support the good works of many community organizations.

Two Tobaccos


On Tuesday, my friend Le Flaneur and I went to the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx to see the exhibit Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers. Two large rooms in the Enid Haupt Conservatory were given over to an interpretation of Emily Dickinson’s garden at The Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, which is only about 45 miles from us in Heath. There were wonderful plantings of the flowers that grew in her garden, some of which inspired her poetry. The exhibit will run until June 13. It has everything, flowers, veggies, poetry and history.

I didn’t see any poetry about red nicotiana, but I can understand why Emily and other gardeners plant it. In our climate we treat it as an annual, but the sweet fragrance is all the reason one needs to include this somewhat leggy, sprawly plant.  Nicotiana, sometimes called flowering tobacco, is related to the kind of tobacco that you smoke, but it is also a member of the Solanaceae family which means it is related to deadly nightshade, tomatoes and eggplant.

After spending happy hours at the Emily exhibit which included A Poetry Walk that included many of her poems inspired by the garden and the natural world, and a quick tour of the Rose Garden where a few roses were just beginning to bloom, we set off for Arthur Avenue just a few blocks away. Arthur Avenue is a kind of Little Italy – good food! One of the more exotic emporiums gave space to four cigar makers, rolling tobacco leaves into very nice cigars.  I guess this store figures after a wonderful meal, the men will want a good cigar – and they want to supply that too.

Tobacco is native to the New World and was smoked only on ceremonial occasions. When Europeans learned about tobacco they quickly decided that it  could be sold in their home countries and used recreationally in snuff, and for smoking.

I am not a smoker – and I prefer the sweet fragrance of flowering nicotiana.

Ohhhh – Look at that!

Ohhhhhh – Look at that! I cannot tell you how many times I uttered those words, and Le Flaneur listened patiently, turned and followed my pointing fingers at heucheras, sailboats, meat packing establishments, roof top restaurants and etc., etc., etc.

Battery Park NYC

We took the train into the city and set off to explore an array of Parks.  We began at Battery Park, South Ferry, where people can get ferries to Staten Island, or Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. This area has all been refurbished since we left New York in 1979.  The plantings were big and varied, with spring bloomers, foliage in every shade of green and red, ferns, grasses, and shrubs. The weather was mild, although rain threatened all day, and people were enjoying the promenades along the Hudson River.

Where to go? Castle Clinton? or off to the Islands?

Guide books are available with information about plantings. For the website click here.

Wagner Park

School children were enjoying Wagner Park, the first of the Parks for Battery Park City. Plantings for this Park were designed by Lynden B. Miller who I heard speak about her book, Parks, Plants and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape. She was the inspiration for this tour. We saw our first roses in bloom here.

The Hudson as Water Feature

These gardens between the Hudson River and the building of Battery Park City look right down at the  tidal river. With its tides and moods the river becomes an amazing water feature.

A luncheon view

We had lunch at the South West Restaurant. We watched the boats on the river, the joggers, bicyclists, moms with strollers, and workers taking their lunch hour picnics.

The Wintergarden

I expected a lavish conservatory to be inside the Wintergarden, but the large skylit lobby had only eight very tall palm trees – and a wonderful photography exhibit of the faces of our Elders, Clint Eastwood, Bishop Tutu, Vanessa Redgrave, Madeline Albright and many others.


We set off  to find The Highline and saw that parks aren’t the only place to see magnificent plants. These wisteria are amazing.

The High Line

We walked uptown and over to 14th Street and ascended to the new High Line Gardens built on the old elevated freight train tracks.  We walked along up to West 23rd Street. The High Line is still being built and planted and will continue up to 34th Street.

Bryant Park

The beauty of the Battery Park City Gardens was an unexpected pleasure. They were so beautiful and were being enjoyed by so many people, even on this less than lovely day. But Bryant Park, the park behind the 42nd St. Public Library, was the highlight of the day. The park was restored and renovated in 1986 and it is a treasure. Seating, drinks, and so much more.

Children's Wing of the Bryant Park Reading Room

A section of the park was designated as The Reading Room with a number of bookshelves filled with books and audio books, to be read and returned right there. If you aren’t reading those books you can’t sit in this area of the park.

Book Club Meeting!

Actually, I guess you were allowed to sit here, if you had read the books. A lively book club meeting was being held here.  Nearby were people playing chess and one gentleman was offering chess lessons.  This park is named for one of our great American poets, William Cullen Bryant. A statue of this poet who was born in Cummington, Mass, not far from us, watches over the gatherings in the park. I am sure he will be happy to know that tomorrow we will be celebrating Emily Dickinson at the New York Botanical Garden.

Mark Your Calendars

Tower Hill Daffodil Field

As the gardens green up and come into bloom special events are also popping up everywhere. Tower Hill Botanic Garden will have its Free Spring Open House on Sunday, April 11 from 10 to 5 pm. For the first time visitors will enter through the new Reception Gateway. Right now the famed field of 25,000 daffodils is in bloom. Read about my trip to Tower Hill last summer here.

Next weekend IKEBANA–the Japanese art of floral design–will be the focus of a flower show presented at Tower Hill Botanic Garden by the Boston Chapter of Ikebana International. The Show takes place Friday through Sunday of Patriot’s Day Weekend, April 16-18. The Show is included with regular Garden admission: $10 Adults, $7 Seniors, $5 Youth, and FREE for Tower Hill members and children under 6. Ikebana displays and the whole garden await. There is always something special going on at Tower Hill.

Nasami Farm and Sanctuary in Whately, the native plant nursery of the New England Wildflower Society, will open on weekends Thursday through Sunday, beginning Thursday, April 15. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm. At Nasami,  the New England Wild Flower Society is able to produce native plants suited to the region — its climate and character — on a scale that will make them available to all who wish to use native plants. In addition, Nasami is an ideal location to serve our membership in the Pioneer Valley and collaborate with the region’s nursery and landscaping industries.

Yoga for Gardeners.  Prepare yourself for the gardening season with Lindel Hart, Owner/Director of Hart Yoga, at Yoga for Gardeners, a workshop designed to help you learn ways to keep yourself healthy before, during and after gardening. This special event takes place on Saturday, April 24, 2010, from 9:00 – 11:00 AM at Hart Yoga, 1 Ashfield Street, Shelburne Falls, MA.

Yoga for Gardeners will focus on strengthening the core, opening the shoulders and hips, and protecting your knees and back. These are all areas that are used extensively in gardening. “A healthy, well-prepared body allows for a deeper enjoyment of the work that goes into creating and maintaining your garden,” Hart adds.

The cost of the workshop is $20. Prepayment and pre-registration is required, as space is limited. For more information or to pre-register, contact Lindel Hart at or 413.768.9291.

Jeff, Gloria and Lisa

The gardeners at Trillium Workshops are offering a session on Sunday, April 25 from 1-4 pm. tThe hree-hour container planting workshop includes everything from container selection to maintenance. They’ll walk you through all the steps with a round-up of container options, a review of great container plants
(annuals, perennials, vegetables, and shrubs), design ideas, how to plant and maintain your containers throughout the season, and ideas for refreshingcontainers to keep them in bloom until the first frost. Hands on demonstrations, question and answer time AND a snack. The snacks that Gloria makes are fabulous!

Please reserve your space ($30)  by e-mailing us at


Kiku exhibit

Kiku exhibit

I went to the NYBGfor the roses but I got chrysanthemums, kiku, too. This is the third and final year for this extraordinary exhibit of Japanese chrysanthemum art forms set up at the Enid Haupt Conservatory courtyards.

Kengai or cascade

Kengai or cascade

I was familiar with this form, Kengai, because similar cascades are created for our local Smith College Chrysanthemum show. All season long a single chrysanthemum plant is trained through wire mesh, pinched and artfully pinched again to create this waterfall of bloom.

Ozukuri or One Thousand Blooms

Ozukuri or One Thousand Blooms

There are not actually one thousand blooms in this Ozukuri form, but again, a single (yes, single1) plant is trained on a form and pinched so that over the course of 11 months this amazing form is created. Because the blooms are so heavy, at a certain point each blossom is provided with a support to hold it in place.

I took this photo in the greenhouse where it was easier to see the metal rods that made up the structural support and the little supports for each blossom.



The third and final form of chrysanthemum ‘sculptures’ (I don’t know exactly what to call these forms) is ranks of tall chrysanthemums, each plant trained to a single stem and blossom and arranged in diagonal rows by height.

Those artful forms might have been the most spectacular elements of this exhibit, but they were not the whole. Almost every class of chrysanthemum was on display.



This particular chrysanthemum has three types of petals that change as the blossom matures to resemble ‘Driving Rain.’

Driving Rain is amazing, but I’m partial to the spider mums, and I think I might be able to grow these in my own garden.

Several Bonsai forests were on display as well.

The combination of rare scarlet Japanese maples with golden mums gave an idea of what a Japanese garden might look like at this time of the year.

After looking at so many different elements of the Japanese autumn garden I was particularly enchanted to see an arrangement to give an impressionistic view of the Japanese mountains with forests in their autumnal dress.  I was told that last year’s exhibit showed the mountains in snow – the snow being all white chrysanthemums.

I was lucky to see this exhibit which will not be held next year, but special exhibits are always a part of the NYBG year. Next is the annual Train Show, where electric trains run through a familiar city landscape, except that all the buildings are made of plant materials. If you are in the area this is not something you want to miss.

Roses in November

This red Austin rose is climbing the fence at the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden. It is just one of the more than 3000 roses growing in the newly designed garden with the goal of showing all visitors what roses can be grown in that climate without a lot of fuss.

Peter Kukielski, Curator

Peter Kukielski, Curator

I got to spend the afternoon with Peter Kukielski, the Curator of the Rose Garden, who arrived  in New York from Atlanta three years ago, just when the garden needed reorganization and renovation. He is a charming and knowlegeable gardener with delightful tales about roses, hybridizers, and rose gardeners. His affection for the roses and the people who love them is palpable.

One change was moving all the Heritage Roses to the other side of the garden where there was sun fewer hours of the day. Peter wanted visitors to be embraced by bloom when they entered the garden, whether that was in May or October, and old fashioned roses only bloom once.  Now, on both sides of the main entrance are 14 foot deep beds filled with David Austin’s everblooming roses. I wasn’t good at keeping names straight as we toured, but this is a yellow Austin rose, still blooming in November.

Rainbow Knockout Standard

Rainbow Knockout Standard

There are a few standard roses in the garden like this Rainbow Knockout. Peter said the Knockout roses are great disease resistant roses. In their ancestry is Carefree Beauty, one of the Buck Roses bred for hardiness. I can testify to the hardiness of Carefree Beauty and my Double Red Knockout. Knockout was chosen as a winner in 2000 by the All America Rose Selections (AARS) and now include a range of colors. They are easy to grow and care for.

Peter explained that new New York State regulations now make it illegal to use many of the sprays and insectides that have been required for healthy roses. Many roses have been removed from the garden and have been replaced with disease resistant varieties. They are also constantly being evaluated.

The climber New Dawn is a sport or mutation of the Dr. Van Fleet rose. Peter said that New Dawn can revert back after about 10 years. However, New Dawn mutated at one point resulting in this new pink climber, Awakening, which is more stable. It grows on the lovely gazebo in the center of the Rose Garden.

There were so many roses in bloom, and Peter Kukielski had so many stories that that I couldn’t keep them all dependably straight. but I can’t resist closing with this bouquet on a branch.  I will be posting more about the NYBG and the special KIKU exhibit of amazing Japanese chrysanthemums.