Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: June 2016

In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all these anniversaries, no man can ignore all of them. Aldo Leopold


The Great Healer: More studies have emerged that a preventative of many common ills (and remedy) is gardening, passive appreciation as well as making and care of them.

Summer is coming. Summer arrives this month so tend to spring bulbs (remove browned foliage, divide if necessary, feed) and refill spaces with annuals.

House plants: Give them a summer out of doors. Place in semi-shade, feed with liquid fertilizer, water when needed.

Be Brutal: Edit the garden. Remove dead and dying plants, trees, shrubs, discard weeds, thin zealous perennials and biennials . “Ugly” plants or plants that are “wrong”- out with them, give them away.

Lawns: Keep up with mowing, collect clippings. Mix clippings with chips or shredded paper to prevent mold on compost pile.

Vegetables: Harvest spring crops-radishes, spinach, plant warm weather plants and seeds. Prepare collars for beans, tomatoes, cucumbers to prevent cut worms (bottomless dixi cups work). Remove tomato suckers, these can be rooted.

Sculptural Vegetables: Grow vertical crops, they yield more in less space with cleaner foliage. Children love sunflower huts, cucumber tunnels, pole bean playhouses.

Roses: Feed, water and enjoy. Cut roses for your home but also the work place, the altar, your friends. Teach your grandchildren the joys of the rose garden. Invite your friends to see your roses, compliment a friend by asking to see theirs.

Planters: Thriller, filler, spiller is a fading trend. More designers are using a single architectural plant, low profile plants inmixed grouping, or tall see through arrangements to reveal a strong background. Planters are mobile, meant as a distraction. When something amazing is about to bloom (peony, lily) move the planters. Bring them back after the in-ground show passes.

Chelsea Flower Show 2016. Colors are yellow and orange, designs are sleek, geometrical (much like interior design). The SMART garden –water features, irrigation and lighting all controlled from your cell phone.

Mulch Reminder: No more than 1”-2” deep, keep away from tree trunks and stems.

Holiday Reminders: Flag Day June 14, set your sundial at 12:00 noon on June 15, Father’s Day June 19, summer begins June 20.

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: May 2016

The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May. Edwin Way Teale


Weather: It has been fluky, cold and raw and grey but we are way behind in rain, with average temperatures above normal. Continue to water in any March transplants.

Pruning: To effect a neat and tidy look prune now, spring bloomers will have to wait. Check for nesting birds before you clip.

Bulbs: Deadhead and fertilize spent bulbs, divide tight clumps of daffodils.

Supports: As perennials emerge keep ahead with supports. Peonies will bloom soon,  prevent flopping and breakage

Hostas: Divide as they emerge. Though they can be divided and transplanted any time it is far easier now.

Seedlings: Begin to harden off seedlings andgarden center flats as the weather remains cool at night. Best to wait until nighttime temps are in the 50’s for planting annual bedding flowers.

Pests: Beware!!  Tent caterpillar sightings in our cherry trees. Cicadas are coming.

Blights in the Soil: If a rose bush or boxwood succumbed to blight, use grower Peter Beal’s idea, replant the new bush in a cardboard box with new fresh soil. Would it work with tomato plants?

Garden Design: Circles are in. Circular floral displays, Moon Gates, round raised beds, ponds, rings of ground cover and even discs of lawn.

Rainbows of Leaves: The green leaf is passé. Heucheras alone have over a dozen different colors in leaves including silver, gold, copper and pewter. Remember when planting these to either match or complement the flowers around them. Purple leaved coral bells planted with dark purple tulips or iris … stunning.

Summer Bulbs: Dahlias and Glads should be planted this month. Sow seeds of summer blooming perennials directly into the garden. Biannuals like pansies and wallflowers should be planted now for next spring.

Vegetables: Time to plant the veggie patch. Make sure fertilizers are well worked into the soil. Set up supports and trellises, set in paths for easy access. Secure fencing.

Year of the Cucumber: Why not? Cucumbers do best with vertical support. The Victorians had foot long glass tubes in which the cucumbers grew, perfectly straight. 

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: April 2016

“April’s rare capricious loveliness” Julia Dorr


This is a month of perpetual astonishment as every day sees surges of growth, color and lushness. As our volatile weather continues, watch for a see- saw of weather changes as the month rolls on.

Neatness: As spring evolves the garden is at its neatest, round clumps of growth, perfect flowers and leaves, tidy borders and lawns. Keep the look by attacking weeds as they emerge. Watch for the rooted weeds- like quack grass or couch grass, catch the weeds before they flower and seed.

Borders:  Create gutters between turf and beds now to prevent intermingling of grass and flowers.

Planters: Add fresh compost to tops of planters, plant early spring colors, ranunculus and forced bubs. Add grit or gravel onto pots of spring Alpines.

Ties and Stakes: Reposition supports. Tie in climbing roses for horizontal effect. Check ties on clematis and honeysuckle.

Fruit Trees: Protect fruit tree flowers from unexpected frost.

Perennials and Self- seeders: As plants emerge move them to desired locations. Divide overgrown clumps, or poorly flowering oldies, transplant self seeders or biannuals to desired sites.

Turf: Reseed bare patches, if moss appears add lime, time to apply re-emergent crabgrass control (corn gluten is the organic method)

Fertilizer: Wait to fertilize on established plants. Trivia; in the early 1900’s “fertilizer” was called “Man Made Manure”.

Vegetables: Time to plant peas, radishes, lettuce broccoli, and other cool weather crops. Plant parsley, potatoes, asparagus, berries and grapes.

House Plants: Time to increase watering and repot for outdoor display.

Celebrations: April 22 is Earth Day, April 29 is Arbor Day.   

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: February

“What fire could ever equal the sunshine of a winter’s day
- Henry David Thoreau


A Winter of Freezing and Thawing- Never an ideal situation for live plants and garden hardscapes. When the thaw occurs check for heaved bulbs and plants, protect clay and cement pots and statuary.

Look for Blooms- Witchhazel, camellias, quince, wintersweet, cornelian cherry, Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, winter jasmine, winter-honeysuckle

Trends: Be Wary of the new fads!

Fighting soil compaction- If you live in a house that has had any machinery on the land in the past 20 years the property has compaction. Best solution working naturalmulches into the soil or even just top dressing. Winter project, have mulch pile turned.

Soil amendments to avoid- Bioenhancers, phosphate fertilizer, Epson salts, inoculants, water crystals. “Clay buster” scams?; gypsum, conditioners (i.e. soap) breaks up soil but also kills soil-dwelling critters (earthworms-think soap). Like human health gimmicks. Beware.

Warmer Winter Weather Temptations- Pruning- Don’t prune when the sap is flowing, or during excessively cold temperatures, don’t prune plants with soft squishy core (viburnums, smoke bushes, honeylocusts). Wait until March.

 Garden Shows- Tired of Philadelphia (March 5-13)? Try a new one. Boston (March 16-20), Hartford (Feb. 18-21), New Jersey (Edison, Feb 11-14), Chicago (March 12-20), Chelsea, London (May 24-28). Smaller shows are perhaps better and you learn more.

Winter Vacations in Warm Climes?- Learn the names of five unfamiliar plants and their care and maintenance.

Valentine’s Day- Ask your beloved to skip the flowers or tell your beloved you are skipping the flowers. Go for a gift card or gift certificate at the nursery. Or go on a trip to Winterthur or Longwood, or even New York Botanical Garden, or Chelsea. 

 Forced Spring Bulbs- Garden Centers have bulbs ready for forcing. Why not have your March home filled with daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. Start now, they take time.

Orchids- This is the season to look at your orchids, transplant time? fertilizer? Hide them or show them off? Throw them out, or get a new one? Many are on sale after 2/14.

Plant Indoor Color Now- Ditch, hide or store the poinsettias. Purchase a half dozen primroses to scatter about for spring color. They come in jewel and pastel tones.  

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: January 2016

Happy New Year….Some words of wisdom to get through January

 “Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the unrestrained beauty around them” .Vincent Simeone, Planting Fields, NY

 “January is the quietest month in the garden, but just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Microorganisms convert tilled- under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come”. Rosalie Wright

 “There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of winter. One is January thaw. The other the seed catalogues". Hal Borland


Resolutions. Time to make some resolutions for the 2016 garden. Only make a few? Here are some suggestions.


  • Review garden notes and pictures from 2015 and make a plan.
  • Set a budget based on reality. Remember tree pruning, plant acquisition and replacement, hardscape changes etc.
  • Start and maintain a 2016 Garden Journal with pictures,(computer templates are available) include weather conditions, what, where and when you purchased things, when you planted them, results, weekly walk through results, to do list.
  • Have a horticulturist come and assess your garden.
  • Get the soil tested.
  • Go organic for at least part of the garden.
  • Join a public garden so you can use the reciprocal visitation privileges for free entry to over 300 gardens throughout the US.
  • Only plant a shrub, perennial, annual, houseplant or tree with a name marker.
  • Never let a container look tired or forlorn.
  • Get tools that work, that are sharp, ergo dynamic, cordless.
  • Don’t bite off more than you (and your gardeners) can chew.
  • Read your resolutions at the start of every month

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: December 2015

How did it get so late so soon, It’s night before afternoon, December is here before June, my goodness how time has flown how did it get so late so soon”. Dr. Seuss

Craft Time: No other time do we craft things out of natural materials as now. Pine cones, evergreens, nuts, berried branches, seed pods, citrus, dried artichokes (the in thing this year). Decorate with a natural look whether you get the glue gun out or purchase something, keep it real.

“Pine” Cone Interest: Two ideas with cones. 1 Bleach them, they come out a soft ivory.  2. Using real pine cones (from pine trees not just conifers), heat them in the oven. The sap exudes and hardens giving them a shiny glow. 

Protect the Garden: Spray large leaf evergreens with antidessicants, protect tender shrubs with a wrap, mulch marginally hardy perennials.

Containers: Dump out the mums, raise the containers off the ground a bit and fill them with a variety of evergreens. Yew works well along with holly and magnolia. Did you grow schubertii allium? If so the flower heads are large and very strong, they take paint well and make beautiful decorative balls for outside or inside use.

Interior Gardens: Create an interior garden for your entertaining events. Shine the leaves on your house plants, set them in fine containers, add lights to them or a spot light on them. Add flowers onto the plants. I have a poinsettia free zone which has caused me to get other ideas. For one evening florist flowers interspersed with house plants looks fabulous.

Harvest: Best after the frost vegetables; root veggies, Brussel sprouts, kale. Parsley, if mulched, will produce all winter. If you are using glass cloches remember to remove them on days when the sun is strong.

Gifts. In this gift giving season think garden. Some outstanding garden books are out there as well as some fine gardening DVDs. I find the plant a month idea a wonderful idea, usually bulbs they make a rewarding present. Take it up a notch and give a subscription to Horticulture or Fine Gardening. Give a membership to one of our gardens, Old Westbury Gardens, Planting Fields, NY Botanical Garden and my own dear Friends of Bailey Arboretum.

Watering: We are still making up for the drought. Remember to water young evergreens if we go through winter dry periods.

The Wild Side: Time to get out the bird feeders, heated bird baths. Time to care for our feathered friends. Maybe purchase one of those seed covered bird houses as a gift?

Winter Solstice December 22: On the 23rd, days start getting longer.

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: November 2015

In autumn don’t go to the jewelers to see gold, go to the park” Mehmet Murat ildan

Of all the seasons autumn offers the most to man and requests the least” Hal Borland

Pre-winter Prep: While the weather remains comfortable continue to clean up spent perennials, Hostas, peonies, etc. Last call to lift and divide perennials. Collect, clean and store stakes and supports.

Winter Protection: When the weather cools protect delicate plants (remember last winter) with mulch, straw, burlap. Though black plastic and bubble wrap are being used a warm patch might burn these protected plants.

Turf: Grass will continue to grow in temperatures over 41 degrees. Mow high. Water newly planted lawns on a daily basis.

Winter Interest Plantings: A panel of experts suggest in the WSJ: pyracantha, snowberry (Symohoricarpus albus), winterberry Red Sprite or Aurantiaca.

Other thoughts, trees with bark interest, twiggy dogwood, Stewartia, paper bark maple, or quirky non green evergreens and showy seed-heads like grasses.

Leaves: Keep up with leaf removal on lawns and walks. Recent studies indicate it is not necessary to clean off leaves around trees and shrubs. Waxy leaves like oak might be better shredded.

Record Keeping: As you clean up take pictures of the name tags on plants especially roses, the tags might disappear over the winter.

Analysis: While the garden is still growing, note what bloomed well or not, was there bloom succession, are there blank spots to be filled in in the spring, Evaluate the mix of height, texture, need for more or different color.  You are translating “spatial design into horticultural context” (impressive!)

Houseplants: Now safely inside and adjusted to the dryer heated rooms, water as needed. Remember overwatering is the death knell for houseplants.

Drying Herbs: Cut fresh herbs in the morning, place in plastic “knit” bags-such as onions or bulbs. Let the herbs dry and then place the bag inside a zip lock bag and rub. The dry leaves will go into the storage bag; the stems will remain in the knit bag.

Empty Containers: Tubs that could crack in the cold can be stored in bubble wrap or fleece. Potting soil can be stored and recycled in the spring.

Vegetables: Most vegetables need to be harvested before the frost. Exceptions are Brussel sprouts and kale both of which sweeten with the cold.


Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: October 2015

Ah, September: You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul…but I confess that I only love you because you are a prelude to my beloved October.

Peggy T. Horton

The Drought: The drought seems over but, the results will last. Lawns will regreen, annuals can be replaced, perennials will reemerge but the trees! Stressed trees (e.g. Dogwoods) are now more susceptible to disease. Keep a watch out.

Autumn Watering: Do not close up the sprinkler systems for the season. Trees and shrubs will continue to need water. Most shrubs and trees will do well with good mulch and adequate water. Any newly planted shrubs, trees or perennials will need water even after the frost.

Turf: Continue scarifying/raking, aerating/spiking, top dressing, and flattening (fill in any indentations) the lawns. Heavily reseed. Continue to mow.

Garden Bare Patches: Dig up empty spots in the garden, expose larvae and grubs for birds to eat, and get air into the soil. Eventually cover the patches with mulch to prevent erosion and augment the soil.

Chic Garden Color Now: Get away from the golds, oranges of mums. For something stylish, use purple asters (not used enough) and red annuals (celosia?). 

Feeling Brave: Time to consider well-rotted manure in vegetable and flower areas for over wintering. If it is rotted the odor is indiscernible and the nutrients remain.

Sprinkler System: Found your sprinkler system was not efficient during the drought? Look into installing multiple garden taps placed throughout the property connected to separate computers. Set them to work in rotation to keep up the water pressure.

Vegetable Garden: Clean up spent crops, plant a quick salad crop, remove shading leaves and slip wood under ripening veggies to prevent rot. Transplant herbs (forget basil and mint) into pots for indoor care, (parsley will sulk for a few days but then perk). 

Garden Design: As the garden closes down reevaluate garden layout. Use the triangle. We are always told to plant in threes, intertwined triangles work beautifully.

Autumn Plants: Try “Edo Shibori” bush clover Lespedeza thumbergii,  a bee attractor, beautiful at close range, Vitas Vinifera, Sweet Lace patio grape vine, bred to grow in cramped containers, and white autumn Crocus, Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’.

Autumn Pots: Minus the mums: Ideas; dwarf evergreens, ornamental pepper, heucheras of gem colored leaves, bergenia, grasses, lettuces and pansies. 


Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: September 2015


“Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance” Lauren DeStefano


Season Change: 75% of September is summer, so the summer activities continue with the renewed energy of cooler temperatures, softer sun and shorter days.

Assess Your Garden Now, Not As A Memory. The five Fs of gardening: flowers, fragrance, foliage, fruit, and form. Take each issue and look at the garden: trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials. Do all five appear and appeal? Not too late to correct.

Trees: Trees remain so important to our lifestyle. They have kept us cool this summer, we seek shade outside and appreciate the lowering energy costs as trees shade our roofs. Recent tree accidents remind us that we need to watch out for older trees BUT If you remove them, plant new trees. Otherwise, garden equilibrium changes.

Arboretum: “Happy the man who plants an arboretum and sees it grow to maturity” You do not have to plant a seed like Johnny Appleseed or Frank Bailey, but to plant a seedling or young tree and note the joy when you see the first flower!! Happiness

Compost and Mulch: Mulch has been the savior of my garden during this drought. Try a small experiment in this very dry season. Dig up a small clump of grass with some soil (soil sample 1); remove some mulch or compost and dig up the soil underneath (soil sample 2). Which clump of soil has more moisture?

Perennials: Divide plants to keep some in check, give room to others, balance color and height. Cut back climbing roses. Perennial weeds can be conquered now.

Lawns: Time for fall maintenance, use fertilizers high in potassium (not nitrogen), time to scarify (dethatching) and aerate (perforating) the lawn. Time to seed.

 Ponds and water features: Keep water level up, keep leaf free, and divide water lilies.

Annuals: Keep the color going, if plants lag replace with fall options, zinnias, marigolds, dahlias, asters (perennial) and of course the mums. Blooming flowers bring out bees, birds and butterflies.

Hardscape: Last chance to shore up and paint outdoor furniture and decoration.

Vegetables: Harvests peek   Watch ripening of grapes and berries and harvest before birds find them.  Tomatoes like cool, wet days to ripen and mulch covered roots.

Shrubs and Trees: Wait for cool weather to transplant trees and shrubs, Water them constantly and thoroughly. Final hedge trim.

Autumn Begins September 23: Start the fall season. Celebrate with a local apple pie!


Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: August 2015

*No quote this month. Most quotes about the August garden are depressing.

 Fixes for the Tired Garden:  Concentrate on a few things to perk up the garden. Make a strong first impression. What is the first thing seen? Entrance to driveway, pots at front door, walkway plantings?  Create a clear and inviting path, some pruning, edging and a fresh layer of mulch can transform an overgrown garden into a trim and tidy one, add a focal point to attract the visitor into the garden with an arbor, birdbath, sculpture, gate. A featureless lawn perks up with a bench or brightly colored chairs.

 Summer House Guests: Before they arrive refresh mulch, position outdoor furniture for best effect-whether you will use it that way or not. Water the garden for rigor, deadhead flowering plants, walk the garden for possible debris, wipe furniture clean, sweep any leaf litter under the shrubs

 Camouflage: Unsightly spots in the garden? Cut back and remove dead or dying plant material and add a sculpture, garden ornament or planted container or even a lattice screen.

 Weeding: Too tired to catch up? Work on the edges, the pavement, along the driveway and paths. Perennial weed do not respond well to weed killer at this time.

 Unify the Garden: This weather has brought a strange growth cycle, if things look out of whack buy some annuals that at least match the color of the dominant plants in your garden, a single color scheme adds harmony

 Pruning: Prune rambling roses, hedges (for the last time), herbs, wisteria. Remove old raspberry canes.

 Deadhead: Cut back hardy Geraniums and Lady’s Mantle for flush of new growth. Dead head dahlias, roses, penstemmon and all spent annuals for continued bloom..

 Lawns: Show your concern with the environment and “Go Brown” in August; it will green up naturally in the fall.

 Pests: Watch for grubs, mites, aphids, lace bugs, earwigs etc.

 Vegetables: Check the veggie patch daily, stake, feed, water and harvest as need be, Can plant fall crops this month.

 Watering: Soak drought stressed plants and spring flowering shrubs as they set bud for next year before watering the lawn. Soaking is better than sprinklers in August.


Bailey Arboretum July Horticultural Notes: July 2015

“Do what we can, summer will have flies” Ralph Waldo Emerson

June continued to put forth glorious blooms. The spring was one for the garden archives, as close to perfection as nature allows. Now for summer.

Hydrangeas Bloom! Defying all the predicted odds after our severe winter, hydrangeas are blooming with spectacular results. Keep them watered and fed.

Integrated Pest Management: As Emerson concluded insects cannot be avoided
in July. It seems every insect has a toxic “cide”. Prevention is the best solution. Purchase pest resistant plants, rotate plantings, remove all standing water, try growing insect repulsing flowers and plants like marigolds. Use pesticides when there is a measurable infestation, keep a record of their impact, seek least toxic chemicals and use sparingly.

Fruit Trees: Continue with the spraying program now that fruit is growing and ripening.

Mulches: Much ado about mulches! Now it is colors of the mulch that matter. Red plastic mulch is supposedly important to the growth of tomatoes. Try it.

Fertilizing: “Side dressing” is adding fertilizer to established plants. If done moderately
it can be very beneficial to the summer growing plants. Available charts on fertilizer bags tell how much is useful for different plants. Don’t forget to fertilize your indoor plants and containers of annuals.

Second Bloom: Perennials like delphiniums and annuals like snapdragons benefit from
cutting back after blooming for another round of flowering.

Leyland Cypress. These very popular evergreens are used for hedges and can be pruned for tight growth. Last call to prune them this month.

Harvest: Current vogue is to pick small eggplant and zucchini for summer cooking.

Weeding: A real challenge this year, mulching helps and weed preventers work with mixed results. Need to kill the roots either with a herbicide (organics are available) or
extracting them with one of the many weeding and hoeing tools available. 

Suckers, Warm wet weather promoted the unwanted growth of suckers in hybrid roses (including Knockouts), tomatoes, and trees with removed limbs. Cut out these nutrient

Container Plants: Cut back leggy container plants   for a new flush of bloom in your 
outdoor pots.

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: June 2015

“Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June” -Al Berstein

Spring Garden Notes: Hope you noted how everything bloomed at once and the spectacular Azalea and Rhododendron show, the best in years. And the drought!!

Drought: We had not one but two droughts this spring. Though things looked lush and green we might have to look back and reflect on this dry start to our growing season. Keep up watering practices until things even out. Water wisely, collect rain water or use grey recycled water when possible.

Pruning Flowers: Prune spring flowering plants after they bloom, cut back bulb foliage, trim back post flowering trailing plants, halve chrysanthemums and other Aster related...

Pruning Trees and Shrubs: Cut out winter damage on evergreens, clip Privet and honeysuckle (Loinicera) if necessary, prune deciduous Magnolias, prune flowering shrubs after they bloom (lightly), prune damaged or overcrowded Clematis  and Pyracantha. Prune out green stems on variegated Euonymus so it doesn’t revert.

Roses: This is their season, enjoy them. Tie up climbing roses near the horizontal causing more shoots to grow along the length of the stem. Disbud smaller buds from hybrid teas for a central large bloom. Monitor the plants for blackspot, aphids and mildew. Choose some new roses for fragrance, you deserve more than “Knockouts”.

Vegetables: Plant the last of the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. Pinch outside shoots on tomatoes. Best bet for taste, vigor and yield- cherry tomatoes, try “Amish Salad”, “Camp Joy”, “Green Grape”, When tomatoes first set give them a boost of fertilizer. Harvest the remaining lettuce, radishes and other salad plants. Protect berries now from birds with netting. Raised bed gardens?? Remember that vegetables have roots: beans, eggplants, peppers cucumbers send roots 18”-24”‘ deep, tomatoes and melons: 2’-3’ deep!

Lasting Cut Flowers: This is the month for arrangements of peonies, roses and other perennials. Rid peonies of ants by submerging them in water-flower and all. A wet towel will keep them submerged but not injured. For long lasting cut flowers Fine Gardening conducted an experiment. Worst choice, adding vinegar and sugar to vase water. Best home remedy, lemon and lime soda. Best choice, the patented “FloralLife Flower Food 300”. Don’t expect flowers to last beyond 14 days- longer than on most plants.

Containers: Just as china is changing shape to rectangles, ovals, triangles and squares so are containers for the outdoor garden. Choose the container for the site: size, shape, material, color. Analyze the location: sun, access to water, function,  Then and only then plant. To fill up large containers and save on potting soil and weight fill the pots with discarded plastic pots from the nursery or use small pieces of tinder wood.

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: May 2015

Mother’s Day: If Mom would rather visit a garden than a restaurant, take her. Purchase and plant a garden for her, or buy her a favorite tree—planted! If she wants to work in the garden that day, let her.

 Plants in distress? Could be early aphids or slugs, but more likely soil  conditions, frost damage, wind, and moisture variables caused by our  severe winter and dry spring.  

 Pruning: Continue pruning evergreens, prune spring flowering shrubs  after they bloom,Remove reverted green shoots emerging from  variegated shrubs, Time to coppice (ground level) or pollard (head  height) trees and shrubs, Check for nesting birds before you prune.

 Patience: Wait until June before discarding winter harmed trees and  shrubs. Brown leaves are winter damage, black leaves is fungus. Wait  also to plant warm weather crops and seedlings. Hold back on  planting herbs for a few weeks.

 Spring bulbs: Divide crowded clumps of daffodils, continue to  deadhead tulips and daffs. Take lots of pictures of your spring garden  so you can recall what bulbs were planted where. Fertilize bulbs and  let the foliage die back before removing.

 Biennials: Plant seeds of spring blooming biennials ( wallflower, Bellis  perennis) now for next spring.

 Perennials: Divide Primulas and Hosta, cut back spring bloomers for a  fresh flush of growth Some new “hot picks” include: Heucherella  Sweet Tea, variegated Brunnera, Dianthus Ruby Sparkles, Persicaria  Red Dragon, and Sisyrinchrium Devon Skies. Define the edges of your  garden areas with hard scape or soil troughs.

 Climbers: Twining of clematis and honeysuckle keeps them neat and  orderly and adds to the impact of the bloom.

 Lawns: Learn about the products going on to your lawn, keep up with weed control in the lawn. Identify the weed; it often indicates some deficiency in the soil necessary for lawn growth, ph. level, nitrogen level, compaction etc. Prepare a 3”gutter around the lawn so grass doesn't seep into other areas.

 Paths: Check all paths for accessibility, levelness and safety. Clean    algae off slate or bluestone, mark any surface roots, and fill in any  holes or muddy areas. Perhaps consider widening them for a stroller,  wheelchair, or walker.

 Gifts: Next to December this is gift buying time. Consider garden  related items. The best array of merchandise is available now. Newly-  weds need garden tools, graduates would enjoy an outdoor vacation  or gear for outdoor activities.

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: April 2015

“I’ll remember April and be glad”. Jonny Hartman lyrics but appropriate for 2015 after a long arduous winter.  Time to do all the garden chores meant for the snow covered March garden.

 Arbor Day April 24: Attend a local celebration and plant a special tree.

 Winter damage: Brown leaves on hollies and other broad leafed evergreens were caused by burning as the sun  hit the snow and ice. Shrubs are stressed but will survive, give them time.

 Pruning: Still time to prune, shape up the gangly shrubs, perennial vegetables and fruit. Hard prune carpet and  knockout roses, prune all roses by a third or half, tie up ramblers.

 Uncover: Gradually remove mulch from perennials beds. Choose an overcast day to unwrap tender plants. Cut  down old stems and foliage from perennials, cut back winter foliage on hellebores.

 Bubs: The bulbs are pushing out on schedule, aconites, snow drops, crocus are blooming. Daffodils, the flower  of April will be everywhere. (Remember to put cut daffodils in water for a while before you add them to other  arrangements, they secrete a poison injurious to other flowers)

 Vegetables: Prepare vegetable beds, plant peas, potatoes, pinch back seedlings started inside. Bite the bullet and  invest in raised beds, you will be thankful.

 Containers: Finally thawed, renew with at least 2 inches of fresh potting soil. Plant early annuals, tall sprigs of  shrubs. Place the pots where they can be seen from inside your home. Seeing flowers bloom from every window  is very therapeutic now.

 Perennials: Put out stakes for emerging plants, too large, flowering poorly, lost shape? Dig up, divide and  transplant. Transplant self-seeded plants: (I.e. digitalis, lunaria) to where you want them.

 Soils: The SSA has themed April as “Soils Clean and Capture Water” month. Keep our soil healthy,  contamination free. Get your soil tested for more than PH. Earth day 4/20.

 Something Different: Pussy willows were very welcomed this March. If you wish to get a special one purchase a  Salix Caprea, French Pussy Willow, larger flowers with a reddish or pink cast to them.

 Cutting Garden: Plan for a continuous “crop” of flowers. Choose harmonious colors, varied heights, textures,  and fragrances.

 Weeds: Keep up with early weeds, avoid using pre-emergent weed control near tulips.

Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: March 2015

March days are “when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens

Spring arrives 3/20/2015. Will we be removing the protective winter cover by then?

March Melts into April. Each day lengthens and the temperature will increase with typically only 10% of the days below freezing. Day light saving time March 8, 2015.

Winter Weather Effects: The long lasting snow cover acted as a blanket protecting our perennials. Freezing and thawing is beneficial as it breaks up compacted soil. The extensive cold temperatures eradicated some harmful insects.

Alert: The Southern Pine Beetle has appeared on the North Shore in our area. This beetle infests and kills pine trees in 2-4 months as it tunnels through. Inspect your pine trees for popcorn shaped clumps of resin. Arborists can recommend solutions.

Insecticide Bans: Several municipalities in the Mid Atlantic region are contemplating the banning of all pesticides [largely supported by organic product manufacturers] Our local horticulturists stress this is an overreaction. Similar bans in Canada and Europe are already being rescinded. Think vaccination debate (see above).

Trees: This is the month to transplant trees and shrubs and to plant hedges. Check fall planted stock and firm up soil from possible upheavals.

Pruning: Stool (cut down to ground) grasses, Buddleia, Salix. Prune roses before leafing. Prune remaining fruit trees. Thin bramble berry bushes

Bulbs: After the snowdrops and aconites bloom, divide and replant for next year. Fertilize bulbs as they emerge. Purchase pots of forced bulbs to cheer up the house.

Plant Early Crops: Midmonth plant peas and sweet peas, radishes, lettuce.

Fountains, Ponds and Planters: Hopefully we can clean out and start the fountains this month? Planters should be cleared of winter debris. A few forced branches, forsythia? cherry? make a lovely display in outdoor pots.

Supports and Ties: Don’t let new growth get ahead and old growth falter, check supports and ties throughout your garden.

Weeds: At last something green, but is it a weed? Get them early before they take over.

International Year of Soil: March is agricultural soil month. Check your soil for growing crops, not the same as for flowers, shrubs etc. Read planting information.

Bailey Arboretum Horticulture Notes: February 2015

“Winter in Manhattan… the streets were covered with a thin film of ice, but a little simple magic….I bought you violets for your furs…and it was spring for a while.”  ‘Violets for Her Furs’ by Matt Denis made famous by Frank Sinatra.

February the shortest month. By the end of the month we will see crocus and snow drops.

Equipment Prep: Tools should not only be cleaned but lubricated and sharpened. Coat tools with a product like Fluid Film which cleans, lubricates and inhibits rust. In addition to sharpening tools with blades, also sharpen hoes and spades.

Flower Shows:

  • February 12-15 New Jersey Flower and Garden Show
  • February 19-22 Connecticut Flower Show
  • February 28-March 8 Philadelphia Flower Show
  • February 28-April 19 New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Indoor plants: Try something new. Explore Succulents planted in groups or alone, also try Tillandsias air plants. As days grow longer plants will push more growth, time to renew fertilizer, best seems to be warm water soluble. Clivia begin to bloom now.

Outdoor Gardening: Use a nice day, clear away old hellebore leaves, turn over compost and water recently planted evergreens.

Pruning: Prune hollies, summer blooming shrubs, grape, and deciduous trees

Over 40 degrees? Cut branches for forcing. Look for emerging leaves of bulbs and fertilize them, replant any heaved bulbs.

2015 The Year of the Soil: The United Nations has named 2015 as the year of soil.

Though Leonardo da Vinci said  “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than we do about the soil underfoot” in around 1500, we are only getting to realize its importance now.  The national soil organization has developed an extensive program of activities for k-college with activities, videos, books etc.

February’s theme is “Soils Support Urban/Suburban Life” Activities for the month include investigating rain gardens... a good idea for Long Island gardeners.

Tree Removals: The terrible truth is that our stately tree lined streets have become dangerous. Many of our older trees are rotted, or weak. Damage from pedestrian and vehicle traffic, turf maintenance, construction, and disease have taken a toll. Do not fight the tree removal. Let the experts remove the trees and then plant new ones. Trees that will be better suited, better planted, and more easily maintained.

Seed Exchanges: Seed Exchanges are very popular. The American Horticulture Society has one of the best. With all the new equipment for seed starting it is easy to grow new and exciting varieties. Order now and many can be started by the end of the month.

Bailey Arboretum Horticulture Notes: January 2015

Happy New Year to Family and Friends of Bailey Arboretum!!! 

Every ending comes with guilt and every beginning starts with hope.

As the year ends and the deep freeze comes in, we scold ourselves about  all the things we were going to do better in the garden last year and then as the  seed and plant catalogs arrive we accept renewed interest and anticipation..

Annual Planning: Even if you didn’t keep a garden journal (tsk, tsk) take the 2015 calendar month by month and create a tickler file of garden notes, e.g. I look at my currently blooming hellebores (Christmas rose) and wish I had ten more, note to self on the Sept. calendar “ buy hellebores.”

Professional Advice: Thinking of re-landscaping a section of property, adding a pond, clearing an overgrown spot, covering up an eyesore? This is the time to seek out professional advice. Garden designers, arborists and horticulturists are available now to begin consultations.

Winter Protection: Not too late to protect newly planted evergreens with burlap. New types of antidessicants can be applied in colder weather. 

Forcing: Amaryllis bulbs are still available some on sale and in springtime colors. Garden centers have moved on from paper whites, other bulbs for forcing are available.

Time to Plant: By the end of the month onion family plants can be started indoors. First in the dark and then when sprouted moved to light.

Outdoor Containers: Keep them refreshed with evergreens and branches. Remove dead and battered displays.

Indoor Arrangements: Broadleaved evergreen branches: acuba, rhododendron, laurels, magnolia cut and brought into the house make large natural arrangements. Add favorite flowers from the florist or a few cut amaryllis and create an impressive display.

Houseplants. Now on center stage keep houseplants fed, clean, insect and disease free with enough light and not too much water. Prune them, take off dead or yellowed leaves, They are not only plants they are a room accent, a hobby, an old friend. 

Garden Education: Sign up for a lecture or a course, take an online seminar, buy a DVD or book. Learn about an area of gardening that is new to you.

Check the Garden: Grasses that look spent need to be cut, heaved plants and bulbs need to be pushed back in, garden structures need to be checked in severe conditions.

Tighten cabling or ties that have loosened.

Nature Dad, by Dan Kreisberg

Winter at Bailey Arboretum

Winter is a great time to visit the Arboretum.  Take advantage of every snowstorm, big or small.  Snow gives you the chance to see things you’d never notice in other seasons.  Even without it the woods and ponds are beautiful in the pale winter light.

The snow reveals the stories of the animals that live at Bailey.  Every night they move around looking for food, shelter and water.   Follow some tracks and see if you can figure out where the animal spent the night before.  Where were they going? What might they have been looking for?

Other Signs:
Keep your eyes open for piles of nuts or pinecones.  Can you find any twigs that have been snipped off?  Do you see any animal droppings?  Listen for the birds and squirrels rustling in the trees. You can see nests now that their branches are bare.  The more you pay attention, the more you will see.

Winter Trees:
You can learn a lot about trees in the winter.  It is much easier to see the distinct shape of each kind of tree and focus on its bark.  Pick a common tree and see if you can identify others like it by their bark.  Test each other by closing your eyes and asking a partner to put your hands on a tree.  Can you figure out whether it is “your” kind of tree or something different?

Look for patterns in the ice.  Step on ice in a puddle and watch how it cracks. Slide sticks across the pond and see whose stick goes the farthest.

Photo Scavenger Hunt:  Take a picture with a digital camera while your children or other companions have their eyes closed.  With the picture in hand, have them look for the spot where you took the picture.

Winter Animal Survival:  Have your children pick an animal that lives in Bailey Arboretum.  Have each of them mark out a “habitat” for their animal.  Hide some “food” for the animal that your children can find.  They may want to make a shelter for their animal as well.

Just taking a walk in the winter woods will take you into a wonder-filled place.  Children will find a lot to do if you just let them.

November Horticultural Notes, by Margaret Stacey


“I’d rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion” Henry Thoreau

November is a dark month of clean up and readiness, the last glow of autumn before we head inside.

Perennials: Remove the faded leaves and stalks, mark those you will want to divide in the spring, dispose of any leaves with mildew, cut back on grasses and bamboo, remove stakes and supports.

Shrubs: Cut back butterfly bushes and roses, last chance to prune back climbing roses, tie strings around arborvitae, Leyland cypress, laurels and juniper for over winter protection from heavy snows. Prepare burlap or other covering for tender shrubs. If you lost all your flowers on the hydrangeas this year, consider a winter wrap. Nursery stock shrubs in containers can still be planted. Ready anti-desiccant for evergreen protection.

Vegetables: Turn over vegetable patch, ready for early spring planting. Plant seed garlic for mid- summer harvest, harvest cold weather crops but wait with kale until after the first frost. Pot up parsley, chives and rosemary and bring inside for winter herb use.

Bulbs: Plant, plant, plant. Take pictures so you remember where you planted them. Buy more, plant more. They are pennies now.

Houseplants: Help them through the transition period from outside to inside. Increase humidity around them, group Tropicals together for moisture, Geraniums can be kept dormant over winter. Watch for mites. If you want to bother, time to put the Christmas cactus in the dark, along with left over poinsettia, place the paper whites on pebbled trays.

Property Care: Containers should be set off the ground, fragile pots should be emptied (potting soil can be used to fill in garden holes or mixed into the mulch pile) washed and stored. Keep leaves out of the ponds and fountains, check for any cracks or holes in outbuildings. Put steel wool in any opening to prevent rodent visits.

Turf: Still possible to sew grass seed, weed killers will no longer work. Fertilizing is illegal this month (Nov. 1 in Suffolk, Nov. 15 in Nassau). Last mowing of the season should be short.

Wildlife: Time to hang up the birdfeeders, watch for insects on the firewood.

Thanksgiving: Give thanks that you have a garden and all the wonder that nature provides us.  Make your garden part of the day in your home, pick a late booming flower, or decorate with leaves and evergreens, a few herbs or a vegetable. Add a locally grown ingredient to your Thanksgiving meal. Be farm to table!