Monday, September 02, 2013

Fall colors with Azalea Blossoms
Bloom-a-thon Pink Double

The cool evenings of fall are fast approaching. My garden handled the summer heat particularly well, but there isn’t too much color in the shrub area of my garden, but there soon will be a burst of blooms.  Although spring  is the season that is traditionally associated with azalea blossoms, plant breeders have been working to change that association by creating stunning new varieties that bloom in multiple seasons.

The Encore Azalea series was invented by plant breeder Robert e “Buddy” Lee of Independence, LA. Lee first envisioned Encore Azaleas in the early 1980’s when he found a tray of azalea cuttings blooming in the summer sun at his small Louisiana azalea nursery. Inspired, he began crossing tradional spring-blooming azaleas with the rare Taiwanese summer-blooming azalea, Rhododendron oldharnii. His crosses bloomed heavy in the spring, flowed by occasional surprise blooms in the summer.  Fall comes with the finale, with a set of blooms just as heavy as it flowered in the Spring.  A true encore in the garden.

These original crosses were well accepted down south.  They became so popular, that we were constantly getting phone calls asking if we carried them. Unfortunately at the time, there wasn’t any varieties that would survive the NJ winters.  The good news is that there are now almost ten varieties that will survive our winters.  Encore Azaleas like more sun than some of the other azaleas. I would recommend a minimum of one half a day.  Azaleas prefer their soil slightly acidic. For optimum flower bud production, feed twice yearly with my favorite evergreen food by Espoma, Holly-Tone.

The following varieties are all rated for zone six, and will survive our NJ winters.  
  • ‘Autumn Debutante ®’ has large bright pink flowers. It will grow to approximately 4’ tall x 4’ wide.
  •   ‘Autumn Princess’ has unique salmon pink flowers that blend with any other flower color. It will grow approximately 3’ tall by 3’ wide.   
  • ‘Autumn Rouge®’ has gorgeous red-pink flowers. It grows approximately 4’ tall and 5’ wide.  
  • ‘Autumn Amethyst®’  is covered with clusters of dark lavender flowers. It grows approximately 4’ tall and 4’ wide. 
  • ‘Autumn Embers®’  has orangey-red flowers. It grows approximately 3 ½’tall and 3 ½’ wide. 
  • ‘Autumn Royalty®’  was voted Azalea of the year in 2004 by the American Rhododendron Society.
  •  It is an extremely forgiving variety and can tolerate temperature extremes.  It has purple flowers, and grows 5’ tall and 4’ wide.  
  • ‘Autumn Sangria®’ has deep dark pink flowers. It grows 5’ tall and 4’ wide. 
  • ‘Autumn Sundance®’  has pretty bright deep pink flowers. It’s foliage will turn reddish in the winter. It grows 4’ tall by 4’ wide.  
  • ‘Autumn Twist®’ has one of the more interesting colored flowers. It’s blooms are striped in vivid red-purple and white, with some flowers solid red-purple.  It grows 6’ tall and 5’ wide. It is just a tad less tolerant to cold winters, and I would recommend planting this one more sheltered location.

Bloom-a-thon Red
Bloom-a-thon ® Azalea’s were bred by Bob Head, and do best in part sun to dappled shade.  They are all evergreen and are all winter hardy to zone 6b. They flower for months instead of weeks. Their first cycle of blooms is in late April, followed by continuous lighter cycles of blooms through the summer and then  flower heavily  again in the fall and continue blooming until a hard frost.  I feel that the growth habit on these azaleas is tighter than the Encore Azaleas, but the flowers are slightly smaller.  The foliage is disease resistant, and maintains excellent color year-round.  The Bloom-a-thon® Azaleas like to be in part-shade, and can tolerate more shade than the encore azaleas. There are less varieties than the encores, and these are what are currently available:
  •  ‘Pink Double’ with its incredibly doubled, bright pink flowers. It grows 6’ tall and 5’ wide.  
  • ‘Red ‘ has slightly doubled Bright crimson-red flowers.  It grows 5’ tall and 4’ wide.
  •  ‘Lavender’ has large ruffled deep lavender flowers that are sprinkled with deeper rose freckles through the throat. It grows 6’ tall and 6’ wide. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Summer Tree Fireworks Spectacular

We probably spend more time in our yards in the summer than any other time of year.  Almost all of the other trees have finished blooming, however the Crape Myrtles have yet to burst into bloom. Colors range from pinks, to purples, to whites, and reds.  Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia) used to be a tree that could only be enjoyed if you lived in Cape May or further south. There have been several things that have changed that have helped to bring these wonderful trees into our gardens.

For those that are interested, there seems to be a debate over the common name. There are lots of gardeners that argue that the name is “Crape Myrtle” and others “Crepe Myrtle.”  The flower resembles crinkled “crepe” paper, but the proper English spelling is “crape.” My opinion is that either spelling would be acceptable.  The flowers look delicate, but are very sturdy. The bloom lasts for almost three months, making them one of the longest blooming trees in the garden. They generally start blooming here late June or early July.

Crape Myrtles originally were USDA hardiness zone 7-9.  The USDA recently has changed our hardiness zone.  Our average winter temperatures have not been as cold in Westfield, so our current hardiness zone is now 7a. There also has been quite a bit of breeding and selection of hardier varieties, which has led to more choices of varieties that will grow in our area.  I generally like to grow my Crape Myrtle as a multi-stem tree, as it seems that it responds to our winters better.  Crape Myrtles flower on new wood which means that the best time to prune them is early spring.  Powdery mildew seems to be the only problem that affects them, but many of the newer varieties are resistant.

These are some of the more popular varieties: (All zone 6 unless noted)
  • Lagerstroemia ‘Catawba’ : Dark Purple flowers. Grows 15’ tall. Foliage has a bronzy cast in spring, bright green in summer, and orange-red fall color. Zone 7.
  • Lagerstroemia ‘ Tonto’ : Fuschsia  flowers.  Grows 8’ tall. Orange-red fall color.
  • Lagerstroemia ‘Tuscaroa’ : Coral Pink  flowers.  Grows 15’ tall. Orange-red fall color.
  • Lagerstroemia ‘Muskogee : Light lavender  flowers.  Grows 15’ tall. Red fall color.
  • Lagerstroemia ‘Zuni’ : Medium lavender. Grows 9’ tall. Orange-Maroon fall color.
  • Lagerstroemia ‘Dynamite’® :Fire Red. Grows 15’ tall. Orange-Red fall color.  (A personal favorite)
  • Lagerstroemia ‘ Red Rocket’ ®: Ruby Red. Grows 15’. Dark green summer foliate. Bronze-red fall color.
  • Lagerstroemia ‘ Raspberry Sundae’ : Raspberry red with a touch of white. Grows 20’ tall. Sterile with very few seed pods.
  • Tonto
  • Lagerstroemia   'Red Filli' : A dwarf variety that only grows 2’ tall. Red blooms. Purplish fall color. Zone 5.
Down South the bark of the Crape Myrtle is considered one of its major ornamental features. They develop very dramatic bark that peels back as they get older.  We don’t see that feature as often in our location because sometimes winter will throw us a curve with lower than normal temperatures. If the temperature drops below 0⁰ F, the top portion of the Crape Myrtle could be killed off. However, this is not the end of your Crape Myrtle! The roots can withstand these sub-zero temperatures.  Once the tree leafs out in the spring, be sure to prune off any dead wood. We have one tree next to my parent’s house that was about 10 feet tall, and the winter die back killed it off to a one foot stub. We cut it back, and it was back to six feet tall and blooming the very same year.

Because of the cool Spring the Crepe Myrtles are just starting to set their flower buds. You will have many months of blooming enjoyment on these plants.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Blooming Back at You. Bloomerang Lilac

My mom with her mother's day lilacs.
I wrote this article for the Gardener News last Spring. I then gave my mom a copy of this article with a large bunch of lilacs for Mother's day.

As a kid growing up, my mother’s favorite flower was a lilac.  Every mother’s day I would walk to the back of our nursery and find the big lilacs that we had growing. I would cut five or six flowers and make a giant bouquet for her. I probably was making my dad look bad, but it was mom’s special day, not my dad’s. Mom raved about the lilacs and the cut bouquet was given a prominent location in the center of our kitchen table.  I continued with these bouquets for many years. The lilac bushes are long gone, but the memories still remain.
The traditional old fashioned lilac, Syringa vulgaris, may have beautiful fragrant flowers in the Spring, but the flowers only last a week or two. They are somewhat problematic for the rest of the year. They are subject to powdery mildew, they stop flowering on older wood, and need proper pruning.  Things have since changed dramatically in the lilac world.
I had a few customers early last Spring ask if we had the repeat blooming lilac. I was a bit baffled, as I never heard of one before, and thought the customer was confusing it with the repeat blooming ‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea. I had forgotten about those questions until a sales rep come to our nursery last September and asked if I wanted to look at some plant samples. He opened the back of the truck and I saw a dwarf lilac in a container in full bloom. Wow! I was impressed. Meet ‘Bloomerang’®, he said.
Syringa x Bloomerang® is an amazing new dwarf purple flowering lilac that flowers for months, not weeks.  It’s similar in shape and size to the Korean lilacs, but the flowers are larger, and invoke memories of the traditional lilac. The leaves are smaller than the traditional lilac, slightly glossy, and tend to be mildew resistant. One of my mom’s favorite lilac attributes was the fragrance. Bloomerang does have that distinctive lilac aroma, although it isn’t as strong as the old fashioned varieties. Considering there is almost four months worth of flowers, I feel that slightly less fragrant isn’t a bad thing.
The growth habit on Bloomerang® is tighter and shorter than the traditional lilac.  It will grow 4-5’ tall and close to 6’ wide. With pruning you should be able to maintain it to about 3-4’ tall. Since Bloomerang ® blooms so heavily in May, its important to trim off the spent flowers when its first flowering is done.  It This will speed up the rebloom time, and help keep a nice tight growth habit. It could take until mid-Summer to start again, but then it should bloom until frost.  It mixes well into the border, or you could use it as a foundation plant. I’m also thinking of using it as a container plant on my deck. The delicate lilac scent will add ambiance to your late night gatherings.
Even with a winter as harsh as the last, Bloomerang® would be a success story. It is hardy to an extreme cold of -40F . Feel free to buy one for any of your friends between here all the way to Maine.  Bloomerang® needs to have full sun for a minimum of 6 hours. Although it is resistant to some root rots,  it prefers well drained soil. Deer generally will not like Bloomerang® but I always recommend using a deer repellant when installing any new plant into the garden. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Is it time to Plant?

One of the most common questions that we get this time of year is "when is the last chance of frost?"

Since weathermen seem to have a hard enough time predicting yesterday's weather let alone tomorrow's this is a tricky question to answer.

We've had years where we haven't had a frost after the 10th of April. We've also had years where there has been a frost towards the end of May. This is generally the exception to the rule. Generally the chances of a frost after the first of May is fairly low. The trees have also leafed out by this time, and this actually offers protection to the plants that are under them.

Some plants have more tolerance to frost than others. The cool season annuals such as pansies, primrose and rannunculus can handle a frost with no problems, and can actually tolerate temperatures in the low 20's. Annuals such as impatiens are less tolerant of the cold weather, and can not take any frost.

The national weather service does have a probability chart that covers the Plainfield area.

will fall below
90% 50% 10%

36F 22-Apr 04-May 66-May
Frost 32F 06-Apr 20-Apr 04-May
Freeze 28F 23-Mar 05-Apr 17-Apr

What this means is that there is only a 10% chance that there will be a frost on May 04th. With chances dropping every day after that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Still time to See the Daffs! Reeves Reed Arboretum

Reeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil display
Reeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil displayReeves Reed Arboretum Daffodil display

Reeves Reed Arboretum, a set on Flickr.

With the dramatic cooling off of weather, the daffodils are still at their peak. If you haven't visited Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit. Go! Over 40,000 daffodils in bloom. It's one of my must visit places in Spring.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gardening in Japan

 I had written this article before the devastating earth quake in Japan. My heart goes out to everyone that has been affected by this tragic event.  When I saw the video of the greenhouses being washed away by the tsunami, I had to sit down. I have heard back from our friends in Japan, and the places that we’ve visited haven’t been directly impacted, and they are safe.  I urge everyone to make a $10 donation to the redcross. No links no credit cards just use your cell phone and txt “REDCROSS” to 90999 and you’ll have made a ten dollar donation. Just a few seconds and your done, and it does make a difference.
This October I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent the United States as President of Garden Centers of America at the International Garden Center Association Congress in Japan. In attendance were two hundred and twenty garden center owners from sixteen different countries. The Congress was more than just a business meeting. It was a concentrated business study tour of Garden Centers, Public Gardens, and historic sites through out the Tokyo and Kyoto regions of Japan.

For me, this trip came fairly last minute. Garden Centers of America (GCA) became a member of the International Garden Center Association  (IGCA) only in August of this year.  Which also means that every member of GCA is now an individual member of the IGCA. The IGCA was established to provide a forum for the mutual exchange of information to exchange best practices, ideas, methods and experiences. 

Fox Face Solanum mammosum
The flight to Japan was fourteen hours direct from Newark. It was strange to leave at 11:30 AM on Thursday and arrive at 2:30 PM on Friday.  We didn’t pass through night at all.   We had our business meeting the next day.  At the meeting we compared how the industry was faring, and spoke about new trends. The thing that amazed me the most, actually it scared me a bit, was that it seemed that everyone all over the world had weather issues this year. Weather does effect how people garden. Usually if weather it really bad in one part of the world, it will be great in another. It didn’t seem like this pattern was the case this year. I hope we didn’t mess the world environment too badly, and that this is just a blip. 

It was an early start the next morning. There were five busses on the tour. We shared our bus with quite a few garden center owners from the UK.  One of the first things we noticed is that most of the homes we passed had very small yards. There are almost thirteen million people in Tokyo (compared to eight and a half million in NY.) Space is at a premium.  So the actual space that is available to garden is relatively small.

After visiting several of the garden centers, I noticed a few extremely interesting trends.  The first must be related to the smaller yards. Most of the sizes of plants that were available were in smaller size pots than in the US.   There was quite a bit more color, and a larger variety of plants than are available in US garden centers in the fall. I think part of this is that gardening is more a part of there culture than it is in the states. From what I could determine online, their hardiness zone is about a zone 8, which would be similar to Southern Georgia. 

There were lots of small potted plants that were covered with berries. We’ve been selling large potted purple berried callicarpa (beauty berry) for years, but I’ve never seen them available in four inch pots before. I was amazed that these four inch plants were covered with berries. There were other plants in berry in these tiny pots too.  Some I recognized, but some I am still trying to find the correct botanic name.   I would love to get a grower in the US to grow small pots of berried plants for fall containers. What a great way to add excitement, and also some height to a pot of pansies.  Speaking of fruiting plants, one of the coolest new plants that I saw was called “Fox Face”. I had to ask several people at several different garden centers before I got the botanic name. Fox Face, Solanum mammosum, is a relative of the tomato and potato. It is a native of South America. It has large orange fruits that last for about three months. The fruits get their name because they resemble fox heads. These were in pots standing about three to four feet tall.  This would be fantastic in fall container arrangements.  Since they are in the nightshade family, I would not recommend eating them, as they could possibly be poisonous.

In the 1980’s the United States used to be the number one importer of tulip bulbs from the Netherlands. That title has passed to the Japanese in the last decade with total purchases exceeding one hundred seventy nine million.  People were swarming around the tulip display.  Each tulip bulb is individually priced and bar-coded with a color-coded tape. The tape color matches the flower color. The skin on the tulip is very important to the Japanese and looked perfect. Every tulip bulb was in perfect shape. The price in US dollars was about $1 per tulip

Many of the garden centers that we visited in Japan also had pet departments. Pets play a very large roll in garden centers in the United Kingdom, and are also have started to make appearances at garden centers here in the US.  The thing that I thought was very unusual about the Japanese Garden Centers is that pet department included a display dedicated to Rhinoceros Beetles.  The Rhinoceros Beetle is one of the worlds strongest animals, as it can lift up to 850 times their own weight. To put this into human terms, a person would be able to lift a 65 ton object!  The beetles are clean, easy to maintain and are safe to handle. The children think they make exciting pets. The male beetles are very territorial and in some parts of Asia, two males are made to fight as a form of gambling.  I was tempted to bring one back to my son Dakota, but I figured I didn’t want to get into trouble with the department of Agriculture.

Since it was only mid-October when I was in Japan, I was surprised when I saw what looked like poinsettias. When I got closer to the display I was impressed with a new type of Euphorbia from Suntory called Princettias.  They are similar to poinsettias, but the flower bracts are smaller. There were several colors. None of them were red. They were all in various shades of bright pinks. The plants were more compact than a poinsettia, and had dark green glossy leaves. I think these would be perfect on an end table or coffee table. When I returned home, I spoke to my friend, Lloyd Traven, who will be supplying Poinsettias to Martha Stewart this Christmas. Lloyd is a grower that is always up on the newest and coolest plants. He just happened to be trialing a few of the Princettias here in the states. He says that I’ll be able to have a few so we can sell some in December.

Phalaenopsis Orchids are the easiest orchids to grow indoors.  They’ve become extremely popular all around the world. When I first saw the orchids in the Japanese garden centers I was stunned.  The Japanese Orchid growers use wires when the phalaenopsis are growing to train the flowers to look like giant waterfalls of flowers. They would put several plants in a pot, and the effect was beautiful.  It was more like a living sculpture than a flowering plant. If I could have brought them home with me, I would have. 

I can’t wait to put some of ideas that I got while I was there to use.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where Squishy is Fun!

There are certain instance were squishy isn’t fun, as in when its raining and you step in a puddle, but squishy is enormously fun when you are talking about GelGems.

Loved by the very young and older…my daughter has them decorating her common room area in college…these versatile, colorful, clinging shapes open up endless creative decorating opportunities. Halloween is no exception.

Here is the chance to move haunting ghosts, glow-in-the-dark skeletons or silly pumpkins all over the windows of your house. Visit the Williams Nursery gift shop or the hard cover greenhouse to see the current selection and unleash your inner artist.

Then get even more out of your GelGems experience by visiting these links:

- Send a GelGems eGreeting card.
- Create a virtual GelGems on the Internet window of your choosing, save it, edit it and/or send it to a friend
- Learn about a new, lighted GelGems that will be available at Williams in the spring.

GelGems are reusable and don’t require extensive cleanup after they are applied, like some other types of window decorations. If they get dirty you can wash them in warm water. New designs are available with each season.

Don’t apply them to wood or painted surfaces, plastic or fabric or they will leave a mark.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Here's to Hats

Did you just receive a Halloween party invite in the mail?
Want to standout from the crowd on Halloween?
Looking for the uncommon choice?

Visit the gift shop at Williams for a unique and easy solution to your Halloween costume dilemma.

Before you head off to the party your hat can be a stunning decoration on top of your hall sidetable or entryway coat rack.

Then on Halloween all one of these hats need is that little black dress that everyone has in their closet in order for you to become an elegant and bewitching party guest.

Visit the gift shop for other unusual decorations of the season.

Monday, October 04, 2010

OMG :( My Crabgrass is out of Control!!!

Normally what happens in the lawn is "not my department." The seemingly endless diversity of flowers and shrubs with new introductions all the time are much more fascinating to me. But still always being curious when I notice something "horticulturally" unusual I decided to track down the why and the how. And so it was with the question, "Why is last year's beautifully re-sodded side lawn now a hotbed of crabgrass?"

The answer is that first of all the side lawn ended up being next to a construction site of sorts (actually more of a destruction site). Crabgrass seeds love open soil to take root in. The second part of the answer is this year's weather.

The summer presented the perfect conditions for extreme crabgrass growth. Crabgrass sprouts when the soil gets to between 50-60 degrees. But it was really the hot, dry July and August that set off later season spreads. Apparently my sod must of consisted entirely cool season grasses. The hot weather forced the grasses into dormancy and left more open areas for the crabgrass seeds to quickly sprout. So what to do now?

Some people talk of the home remedy using vinegar on lawn weeds but I would caution against this as store bought vinegar is not acidic enough and industrial vinegar is likely to damage the soil and kill beneficial insects and organisms in the soil.

Since children play in the lawn, I prefer a more organic approach. So I was pleased to discover that Williams' carries a line of both Dr. Earth and Jonathan Green organic lawn products, including Jonathan Green's Crabgrass Preventer Plus Green-Up Tm.

_______(Print & Clip Here)_______________

Dear Husband:

Right now the focus should be on preventing the crabgrass from going to seed. Mowing short with a grass collection device on the mower is recommended if the seeds are not too evident. Clippings should go in the trash and certainly not back on the lawn. If the seeds are already abundant the next step is to pull the crabgrass up. Not a particularly pleasant task but a drastic situation calls for drastic measures.

Then reseed to help give the crabgrass seeds less room to flourish in the spring. Look for grass seed mixtures that offer a combination of grasses, including rye grass, as these will stand up better to hot, harsh weather conditions. A soil test, either through a kit or by contacting the local Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office (in Union County) will help determine what our soil's true nutritional needs are. Mulch the grass seeds.

In the spring around the time the forsythia bloom, apply Jonathan Green's Crabgrass Preventer plus Green-Up to suppress the remaining crabgrass seed growth. It won't hurt to get a bag now so that you have it on hand. While Jonathan Green's can be applied later than other types, timing is really critical in catching the seeds before warm weather causes them to germinate. Which is probably another reason why our crabgrass is so bad, the critical window as missed this last spring because we did not have any on hand at the right time.

________Sincerely, Your Loving Wife_____________________

Thursday, September 30, 2010

AIB begins!!!

The America in Bloom symposium has begun in St. Louis. Tonight the criteria awards were given for different categories.

We are very excited to announce that Westfield has won the award for landscaped areas. The judges noted "that the landscaped areas were all neat and well conceived. The entire residential area of the city was impressive. All yards were crisply landscaped and evidenced an overall pride of community."

We still have to wait until Saturday night to hear how Westfield has done in the entire competition. But this is an exciting start. Special thanks to everyone in town!!!

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, September 06, 2010

Trees for troops in the running for a grant from Pepsi!

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Hey I think this is a great program...One that we have also dedicated our time to support.

Trees for Troops is in the running for a $250k grant from the Pepsi Refresh Everything project. As a big supporter of Trees for Troops, would you encourage your visitors to vote for us? Details at: dirct link to vote and more at: 

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The winterberries are starting to color up

The winterberry holly berries have started their transformation and started to turn to red.... Fall isn't that far away!

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Running to Bloom

Just a quick note. I'm at the Downtown 5k race and Pizza extravaganza with a booth promoting the Westfield in Bloom garden and flower competition.
I'm also handing out coupons for 30% off any one item at Williams. Stop in and say hi! And tell me if you like all the flowers around town.
-Dave Williams

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, July 12, 2010

News flash! Murray had a New Planter

Special Thanks to Donna Perch, Caldwell Banker, Galaxy Building Contractors, Westfield Lumber and Williams Nursery for adding this great flowering addition to to the South Ave Train Station.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Coreopsis Big Bang "cosmic eye"

I'm at the Ofa show in Columbus Ohio looking at the new plant varieties for 2011.
I just love this Coreopsis Big Bang(r) "Cosmic Eye"
Great contrasting claret-colored tipped in gold flowers that will take our hot Nj summers.
Grows 12-15" tall in full sun.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thanks to all the Tree Stewards

 We sometimes forget how important trees are to our everyday. I've written about the importance of trees before. Today I'm writing to thank the people that have planted them. This year for Arbor day I set aside 50 5-6' trees to give out to anyone who wanted one for no charge. I even thought that I may have a hard time giving out these fifty trees. I was happily surprised that we had 50 people come in on arbor morning, and in an hour's time all of the trees had happy homes.
I had created a little pledge sheet that the family taking the tree had to sign, that they would take care of their tree, and they also promised to share a picture of their tree in their new home.
Shown on the right are the O'Keefe's of Westfield. Mary O'Keefe send me a note that the tree stewards have planted and watered it faithfully. Thanks!

Thanks to all of the other tree stewards for sending in their pictures. (If you haven't sent your pic there is still time.) I am compiling them all together.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Billy, Do you like movies of Gladiator allium? - In Bloom today

allium gladiator-10
Originally uploaded by williamsnursery
Excuse the reference to the movie Airplane:-)
After a great soaking rain last night, I walked back into our perennial department. Right away I spotted this Allium covered with water droplets. The variety is Allium gladiator. It looks like a giant fireworks show in the garden. You can see the other pictures that I took of the allium here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New arrival! Just in from Monrovia and a first for us

I just love this mandevilla stars and stripes. A new mandevilla that I had first seen last year, that I've been counting the days for us to get them. Dark red blooms with bright white lines. These are in limited supply for this year. They have tons of buds and ready to go.

-- Post From My iPhone

Learn how to Garden with the Master Gardeners

The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County will be holding their 21st annual Spring Fair & Plant Sale on Sunday, May 16, from 12:00 to 5:00 PM at Trailside Nature Center in Mountainside.

The Master Gardener Helpliners will answer your gardening questions, so bring samples of that sad looking plant that is struggling in your yard. The Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control will also be there to show how you can help prevent mosquitoes from taking up residence in your yard.

4- H will have a display on trees, and children’s activities include face painting, planting a marigold to take home and making bird feeders, all at no charge.

Attend the lecture at 2pm if you want to learn how to grow a vegetable garden. At 3pm a composting lecture will be given. They will be conducting tours of their Herb and Community Sharing Garden, where over 1,500 lbs. of fresh vegetables were grown by volunteers and donated to community food banks and churches last year. Among the wide variety of plants for sale will be the hard-to-find Ramapo tomato, as well as many other vegetables.

Visit their website at for more information about the Master Gardener program, or for directions to the garden.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Branch Brook Park Past Peak and misses Festival

After writing about Branch Brook Park in my e-news this morning I waited for my son Dakota and his friend Jack to come home from school, grabbed my camera gear and headed to Newark.
  For those that didn't read my e-news, Branch Brook Park has the largest selection of flowering cherries in the US. Over 1000 more than Washington, DC.  Their cherry blossom festival starts tomorrow and runs April 10th through April 18th. When it's at its peak it truly is heaven on earth. Maxwell Smart would say "Missed it by that much" Unfortunately the peak was early this week right when the Summer temperatures started. The warm air, and the warm breezes caused the cherries to bloom at an extremely accelerated rate. In fact when they were at peak there were probably a larger percentage that were ever in bloom at one time because Branch Brook has planted many different varieties to extend the blooming time. I think that more varities were flowering at the same time this year because of the heat.
This was my son's first time to Branch Brook. I wanted to show him a glorious flower display, but instead I got to explain to him that God doesn't look at a calendar. I'm sure thousands of people will be going to the park this weekend, and will walk away disappointed. That's too bad because even when the trees are not in full bloom, it is a beautiful space. The Kwansan Cherries are still in bloom and haven't peaked yet. The Kwansan has large pink flowers that remind me of cotton candy balls. There were a few scattered weeping cherries that were also very pretty and also haven't peaked, but the majority of the cherries were more than 75% done blooming.  There is also some extremely large cherries that make great family photo opportunities.
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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Reeves Reed in Bloom

Reeves Reed in Bloom-1
Originally uploaded by williamsnursery
Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit NJ has a collection of 40,000 daffodils in bloom. The warm weather has gotten them popping early. Their official Daffodil Day is April 18th, but the daffs don't watch the calendar, so I would put it on my visit right away list.

This picture was taken yesterday with my son Dakota and his friend Jack. This year at Reeves Reed they are celebrating the year of the tree, and there are some amazing trees on site. There's one beech that the three of us couldn't wrap our arms around.