Friday, December 1, 2017

This Month in the Garden: Winter is Coming: Tips to Preserve Your Garden During the Cold Months

It has been a spookidly warm autumn but do not be lulled into a false sense of security; irrespective of what went before, winter brings wild winds and cold weather. So late autumn is a good time to take some elementary, precautionary measures. In doing so, come spring, you and your garden will be ahead of the game.

It is worth pondering the fate of birds and insects in your garden during these inhospitable months. Keep the water in your birdbath clean and topped off, ditto the bird feeders. If there is a quiet spot out of sight of tidy-minded passers-by, you could consider making it hibernation city. Just collect old logs, bundles of sticks, leaves and branches into an untidy heap to encourage hibernating wildlife. This heap will then act as a magnet for pollinating insects and pest predators. At the end of winter, they wake up and supplement the population of good guys in the garden.

There is also cutting down and tidying to be done. Most urgent is to rake up leaves that make paths slippery and kill patches of lawn. You might want to think about pressure washing concrete/stone paths – they may become slippery if you don’t. Small leaves from deciduous trees can be put in a heap where they turn into leaf mould.  Rose and fruit tree leaves tend to harbour disease and need to be binned or burned. Any structural shrubs or trees which have grown wayward branches need pruning back into the shape you want. Branches should not cross, otherwise they may rub and create a wound. At the same time remove any diseased, damaged or dead growth.

Never prune when the weather is freezing or when sub-zero temperatures are expected within 48 hours. Subject to this overriding rule, hedges can have a very tiny trim where they have sprouted before the frosts come, but allow enough time for new growth to harden off. While you are clipping your hedging, whenever your arms get tired, have a little weeding moment at the base.

Cut back perennials that look lost and faded but keep the ones that look good shrouded in frost. Compost all these trimmings, but before you do so, empty your compost bins of last year's well-rotted compost and use that on the beds once you have cut everything back. The soil looks much better with a layer of black compost as mulch, weed suppressant and joy for worms all at the same time - how is that for multi-tasking?

Cut large rose bushes back by about a third. Don't bother with careful pruning, if you have lots you can do this with a hedge trimmer.  Proper rose pruning happens in early spring.  This quick 'haircut' is to reduce the chance of your roses being rocked around by the winds.  Stray shoots from climbers and ramblers should be tied in while they remain pliant.

Soft fruit bushes (such as currants and gooseberry) will need pruning as well.  This is a fair-sized topic that you can find a good article on the subject here which will guide you through the intricacies of old and new wood and fruiting spurs.  While speaking about fruit, nothing will ripen any further so any remaining fruit on the trees should be picked and stored, fed to the birds, or composted.

Some fruit trees will need pruning in winter. The golden rule here is you can prune any fruit that has a pip (apples, pears etc) and you cannot prune any fruit that has stones (plums, cherries etc). While you are there, check stakes and ties on your trees to prevent strangulation and apply tree grease. November is the best time to prune walnut trees- they bleed less. 

Evergreens are the ones to watch in winter. They continue to transpire and need watering if young or newly planted. 3 cm (1.18 inches) of rainfall a week is necessary, and you need to supply the shortfall. It is the drying wind that is so pernicious. A protective, temporary barrier will stop this. Such a windbreak is an idea for any newly planted hedge in an exposed position.

Pots can be planted with pansies, ornamental cabbage and dwarf boxwood for winter interest. Any pot that you leave outside which is not truly frost proof may need wrapping in bubble wrap in severe frosts.

The virtue of all this tidying is that you actually get to see your fences/ trellis/ greenhouse again, presenting the perfect opportunity for repairs, cleaning of glass (don't forget the roof), seed trays, application of wood preservative to exposed timber and decking-and crucially clearing leaves from gutters and down-pipes. If these empty into water butts then these should (I know, I know) have an annual scrub to remove algae. Winter is the time because they have a chance to fill again before dry weather next year. Outdoor furniture needs to be taken indoors or wrapped with tarpaulin. Genuinely outdoor furniture can be titivated with a clean and, where relevant, a generous application of reviving teak or furniture oil. Machinery can be serviced and tools oiled and sharpened before being put away.

All that is done you can go inside and, instead of putting your feet up, start wrapping Christmas presents!

The contributing author of this article, Julian de Bosdari is a garden writer and owner of Ashridge Trees, a UK based gardening site that specializes in hedging and hedging plants. The site is full of valuable information, and if your visit their advice page, you will encounter numerous articles on all facets of gardening.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving: A Note of Thanks to You

Thanksgiving 2017
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. Life has its ups and downs and sometimes hands us challenges, but it is always best to look for the positive, such as good health, a comfortable home, the love of family and friends, and of course the beauty of a garden. We often take so much that we have for granted, so on occasion, I like to share one of my favorite quotes, "Life is not about counting the days but making the days count...and while you're making the days count, always be sure to stop and smell the roses." I know this is a combination of two quotes and a little cliche, but these are words I try to live by.
Autumn Garden
While reflecting today, I want to thank all my readers who have followed me throughout the years, many whom I feel I've gotten to know on a more personal level. I appreciate all your visits and comments and love to visit your blogs. You've made me laugh, cry (sometimes a combination of both!) and your posts and beautiful photographs are something I always look forward to. I never knew that when I started this blog in 2010, that blogging would form so many new relationships and develop such close connections with others who share the same passion, whether they be in the same area or far away. 
Thoughts of Spring!

I look forward to many more years of your wonderful posts and visits, and maybe someday I will actually get to meet you in person! In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy your gardens and other journeys virtually. Keep on blogging, and as you celebrate this day, I wish you and yours all the best that life has to offer.
 ~Happy Thanksgiving!~

And As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up November 2017: The Changing Colors of Fall

November 2017 Garden
Welcome to my Long Island garden. It's time for another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up for the month of November. Autumn is a wonderful time of year as the garden slowly transitions into an array of bountiful color with seasonal changes everywhere. The temperatures are moderating to produce 50 degree days with cool autumn evenings in the 30's and 40's, with a couple of nights dropping into the 20's, signaling that winter is just around the corner. There is a wonderful crispness in the air at this time of year, which is quite refreshing. Come stroll with me to see all the changes and colors that fall has to offer.
Sedum Brilliant
As the garden transitions into a palette of changing color, the foliage of Sedum 'Brilliant' turns from deep green to lime-yellow, while dried flower clusters deepen from pink to a rusty brown. The contrast is much more noticeable in front of the deep green foliage of Weeping Norway Spruce at this time of year, and creates a striking combination.
Nandina domestica
Nandina domestica (also known as Heavenly or False Bamboo) forms its fall/winter berries against evergreen foliage that changes from light green to blue-green during the fall months here in the northeast. Known mostly for its foliage, Nandina domestica is hardy in zones 6-9 and is non-invasive here in zone 7. If you are located in a warmer climate, check your local Cooperative Extension for details.
Skylands Golden Oriental Spruce
Along the driveway entry is Skyland's Oriental Spruce. This tree is always a pleasure with its golden-yellow foliage which can be seen as soon as you enter the property. It has been on a bit of a growing spurt over the past season and now reaches to a height of about twenty feet and width of 5-6 feet.
Hydrangea Tardivia
Some flowering shrubs continue to provide interest even after the blooms are spent. Hydrangea Tardivia is one of them on the north side of the property, with its elongated spikes consisting of multiple miniature flowers, all in one package! 
Spirea and Stella D Oro Daylily
As we venture to the pool gardens, there is a sight to behold. Believe it or not, 'Stella D Oro' Daylily is still blooming! It's been such a mild fall that the plant just isn't ready to quit. Fall clean-up is going to be delayed this year!
Golden Variegated Sedge (Carex oshimensis 'Everoro')
Here is one of my new favorites for designing. It is an evergreen, grass-like variegated golden sedge called 'Everoro', that is virtually maintenance free. 'Everoro' Sedge is considered a perennial and is hardy to USDA zone 5. It reaches 18-24 inches wide by 12-15 inches high, approximately the size of a hosta, and is prized for its outstanding foliage and all year round beauty.
Succulent Planter
As we approach the patio gardens, the succulent planter is still showing off its interesting foliage of Sedum Aurea and Hens & Chicks (Sempervivum). Talk about low maintenance...all you have to do is give these plants a location with full sun and water as needed. Soon I will be bringing the ceramic planter inside to overwinter.
Astilbe and Lamb's Ear
The Lamb's Ear looks exceptionally well at this time of year along the patio garden. I think it prefers the cooler temperatures for developing new sprouts and the silvery-white foliage always looks more pronounced against the orange glow of the dried Astilbe blooms behind it.
Double Red Knock Out Rose
Double Red Knock Out Rose continues to bloom throughout November, extending the gardening season well into fall. It is literally a three season plant here in the northeast.
Weeping Norway Spruce
As we pass by the patio garden once again, here is a long view of how the garden wraps around to the main sitting area. You can see the Astilbe and Lamb's Ear to the left with Blue Star Juniper and Weeping Norway Spruce to the right. The tall purplish looking perennial in behind the Norway Spruce is Platycodon (Balloon Flower).
Platycodon  grandiflorus' komachi' Balloon Flower
 I didn't have the heart to cut it back because it still has one lone bloom remaining on it.
Hellebore Shooting Star
It certainly has been an unusual autumn temperature wise. This Hellebore is pushing out some blooms way ahead of time. We did get a couple of nights in the upper 40's, then warmer days to follow, which must have confused the plant. Hellebore 'Shooting Star' is my winter blooming plant, which should be blooming in January!
Fall Pumpkin
It's November, so it's and pumpkin and Chrysanthemum season! The Chrysanthemums just barely held in there for Bloom Day. 
Weeping White Pine-Pine Cones
One of my favorite evergreens, Weeping White Pine, is producing its wonderful pine cones that reach their full size during the fall. The cones have such an interesting look to them with their varying shades of brown that are accented with white edging. 
Foliage, foliage, foliage!!!
Here the dark green foliage of Skip Laurel acts as a backdrop against 'Caramel' Coral Bells and Japanese Golden Variegated Sedge. At this time of year it's all about the foliage, and if you are familiar with what I do, you'll know that one of my passions is finding the perfect combination of color and texture! I especially enjoy this combination when the color of the Coral Bells turns to a deeper caramel color against the gold of the sedge.
Autumn Colors
As we come towards the end of the tour, the autumn foliage of the maple tree along the median of our street is turning to hues of fiery-orange. Speaking of autumn foliage...each year I take a drive with telephoto lens in hand to the local pond in my little town of Sayville. I have fond memories of the beautiful transitioning trees along the pond as a child, and gain a deeper appreciation of the view each passing year as I get older. Let's take a short ride to the pond and I'll share the view with you.
Mill Pond Sayville, Long Island, NY~Autumn Reflections

Mill Pond Sayville, Long Island, NY~Swan Song

Mill Pond Sayville, Long Island, NY~Tranquility

Mill Pond Sayville, Long Island, NY~Beautiful View

Mill Pond Sayville, Long Island, NY Autumn 

 The Colors of Autumn

The Beauty of Autumn 
Nature's Artwork
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus
November 2017
I hope you enjoyed this month's tour through my garden. Special thanks go out to our hostesses Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who makes it possible to see blooms on the 15th of every month with her meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up. I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Floral FridaysMacro Monday 2, and Nature Notes at Rambling Woods. Also check out Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides, Wednesday Around the WorldDishing It & Digging It and Image-in-ing weekly photo share every Tuesday. Fall is a time for dreaming and planning, so if you are getting ready to plan your garden for next year, be sure to check out my two books.

Enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

This Month in the Garden: A Visit to the Peconic River Herb Farm Long Island, New York

Welcome to This Month in the Garden!
Welcome to the first This Month in the Garden, a new monthly meme that will start off the beginning of each month with posts all to do about gardening! This new meme is an extension of the previous This Month's Color in the Garden and will cover a broader range of topics including places to visit, feature plants, garden design, color in the garden, garden structure, maintenance and more. For the first edition, come along and explore a wonderful autumn getaway to the Peconic River Herb Farm, right here on Long Island!
Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
The Peconic River Herb Farm was established in 1986 along the Peconic River on the eastern end of Long Island in Calverton, New York. The farm consists of 14 acres of display gardens, eight greenhouses, a garden shop and picnic areas for visitors to relax and enjoy the view. The farm is a huge draw to visitors from all over and as the name implies, they are known for their extensive variety of herbs, which you can purchase and grow. While there, you may want to take in all the beauty the location has to offer by strolling through the gardens. Come along for a quick tour!
Garden Shed Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

The story of the Herb Farm began in the late fall/winter of 1986. While expecting her second child, Cristina Spindler was looking for a small farm/garden where she could set up a business selling garden related products, whether it be cut flowers, vegetables, fruits or maybe even herbs. Having just completed the horticulture program at Suffolk Community Collage, Cristina decided to construct a small 14 x 24’ hoop house to grow vegetable and herb plants. A life changing bus trip to the famed Caprilands herb farm in Coventry Connecticut sealed the deal for herbs, and that's where it all started. The grand opening of the Peconic River Herb Farm was on May 15th, 1986, and the farm is now in its 31st year, a dream come true.
Hydrangea Walk Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

I have been visiting the farm for a number of years and it is constantly growing as it expands on the fourteen acres it lies on. Wonderful rustic style arbors and pergolas grace the landscape with beautiful vines and hydrangea and as you walk through the opening, there is a view of the Peconic River in the background.
Frog Pond Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
A planked boardwalk takes you to the frog pond, where you can experience local wildlife, and if you stay a couple of minutes you are likely to see some of the inhabitants! The pond was built a few years after the construction of the Tool Shed and Log Cabin by digging out a naturally wet area with a backhoe. It is called a groundwater or dugout pond.
 Pond Area Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
The pond area is surrounded by an array of interesting plantings.
Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
Here is Callicarpa americana, also known as Beautyberry. Beautyberry is a native shrub of the southern U.S. which is often grown as an ornamental in the landscape. The shrub is hardy in USDA zones 6-10, prefers full sun to partial shade and grows to a height and width of 3-6 feet. You will immediately notice its bright purple berries as you enter the farm in the fall.
Calicarpa americana (Beautyberry) October Berries
One of my favorite things about the herb farm (besides the shopping!) is the beauty that lies there. It is the perfect spot for some photography. Let's continue along and take a look.
Cypress Tree at edge of Frog Pond-Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
The Cypress trees that border the algae-rich waters of the frog pond make for a lovely space to stop, relax and gaze into the woods.
Frog Pond Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
As autumn sets in and the forest starts to transition, the colorful views become even more dramatic.
Local Wildlife at the Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
Here is some of the local wildlife.
Birch Trees-Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
Birch trees add to the scenery while venturing towards the edge of the river.
Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
Take in the view for a moment.
Come sit and relax at the Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
These adorable swings call out saying, "What's the hurry? Come...sit and relax for a while!"
Unusual Cypress Roots at Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
Here is an interesting tidbit. These strange roots are referred to as cypress knees. They are woody projections sent up above the water level of cypress trees, especially in swampy areas. Scientists are not sure of the purpose of these "knees", but early theories proposed that they were used for absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere. Later studies found that this was not the case and it is now believed that their purpose is for stabilization, since cypress trees found in wet areas tend to have these extensions, while those in dry areas do not. It is still a bit of a mystery to some.
Lone tree Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

Bottle Art Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
I love the bottle art and sculptures that can be found in many areas of the farm. It adds such whimsy to an already beautiful place.
Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
Here is the infamous herb section, where you can find just about any herb for your indoor or outdoor garden, and some flowers too!
 Greenhouse Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

Greenhouse Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

Pretty Planter Combo-Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
Here's just one of the numerous planter boxes sold at the farm.
Garden Structure Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

Greenhouse Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

Tool Shed Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY
All the structures on the farm were built by the Spindlers themselves starting 35 years ago. This adorable Tool Shed was the very first building constructed, which served as a place to get out of the weather and store tools while the couple was building the main log cabin. 
View of Peconic River

More Blooms!

Garden Shop Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

This visit to the farm made for the perfect day. Be sure to make plans to come down to the south shore of Long Island along the Peconic River. That's where you will find this fabulous place to visit, shop and take in the view! The farm is open by appointment only starting in November, so be sure to put this on your to do list for next season! 
Peconic River Herb Farm, Calverton, NY

2749 River Road Calverton, NY 11933
April-June:  9am-5pm 
July-October:  9am-4pm  
March and November by appointment
December-February Closed for the Season 

I hope you enjoyed the first post of This Month in the Garden. Watch for this meme on the first of each month. Next, join me for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up on the 15th! See you around the garden!

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved


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