Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shady character

No not me... The ferns...Just got these ferns in from Monrovia

These are the biggest one's we've ever gotten.

European Ostrich Fern

  • Matteuccia struthiopteris
  • Key Feature: Shade Loving
  • Ferns
  • Cold Hardiness Zone: 3-7
  • Mature size: Moderate-growing 3 to 5 ft. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide. Spreads by underground stems.
  • Growth Habit: Fountain
  • Flower Color: Brown
  • Blooms: Dark brown fertile fronds in late summer.

Don't Monkey with me!

This flower, MIMULUS tigrinus Grandiflora is called the monkey flower. According to what I've read online, the name comes from the flower resembling a smiling monkey face. (OK, so I don't see the face, but the name has stuck...maybe after a few glasses of wine in the dim light, you'll look to the garden and see these smiling up at you)

Mimulus is a great annual for shade to partial shade. It prefers slightly damp soil. It will grow to a height of about tweleve inches, and will make a great edging in front of impatiens. It will also do well in a container.

Another huge plus, is that its one of the few DEER RESISTANT annuals that will grow in the shade.

We have them in Red, Yellow, and the spotted one that you see in the picture.

Impatiens Color Planting Poll Final Results

Thanks to everyone for voting.

Here are the results for this years color choices:

What color impatiens are you planting this year? You may choose more than one.

  • Blue 17 (32%)
  • Carmine 6 (11%)
  • Deep Pink 19 (35%)
  • Mixed -Regular 6 (11%)
  • Mixed -Pastel 8 (15%)
  • Orange 10 (18%)
  • Red 10 (18%)
  • Salmon 6 (11%)
  • Violet 18 (33%)
  • White 22 (41%)
  • I don't plant impatiens! 4 (7%)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Westfield Garden Club visit

I was happy to host the Westfield Garden clubs meeting this morning
with a container gardening workshop.

Although it was a bit chillier than normal we had a great time. I showed a few new plants such as the Cuphea Cha-Cha

For more info on the garden club contact Ruth Paul 908-232-3736.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Plant ID 101- Bark no worse than its bite

For years I've driven down parts of 22 and noticed signs that said "Blue Star" drive. I've always thought it had something to do with the shopping plaza in Watchung. In doing a bit of research on the dogwood, I've also discovered that the dogwood tree is also connected to Blue Star Drive, and its taken on a completely different meaning.

I found this resolution passed by the state of NJ in 1951:



Introduced January 15, 1951

Referred to Committee on Ways and Means

A Concurrent Resolution providing for the adoption of the
dogwood tree (Cornus Florida) as the New Jersey State
Memorial Tree.

WHEREAS, It is the practice of many patriotic and public-
spirited organizations and the State of New Jersey, and the State
Highway Department , to plant dogwood trees along the border of New
Jersey's Memorial Highway known as the "Blue Star Drive" in honor of
the men and women in our Armed Forces; and

WHEREAS, It is in the public interested and welfare to foster
the widespread use of the dogwood as a memorial tree in our parks,
parkways, monuments, and building sites; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Assembly of the State of New
Jersey (the Senate concurring):

1. That the dogwood tree (Cornus Florida) be and it is hereby
adopted and designated as the New Jersey State Memorial Tree.

The dogwood in bloom right now is the Cornus Florida.
They will flower either pink or white. They are one of the few flowering trees that will tolerate a a fair amount of shade, up to full sun.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Plant Id 101 - Eastern Redbud

Most of the Cherries are done blooming, and the Magnolias are just about done. Driving around I've noticed that the Eastern Redbuds are just starting to bloom.
The Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis is one of my favorite blooming trees. Tiny clusters of purple flowers cover the stems. It will grow between 15' and 30' tall. It will grow in full to partial sun, and is relatively disease and pest free.

The leaves are a nice dark green color. There is also a slower growing variety that is called Forest Pansy that has dark red leaves in the Spring. For the best red colored leaves, this variety needs to be put in full sun.

Bear sighting at Williams

Happy Birthday to David Haynes!
Staff member David Haynes has just turned eighteen... And he just
received a bear hug from his family.

Best wishes to David!

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Camelia is a bloomin'

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Earth Day & Arbor Day 25th

For those interested in a free tree for their school, you can skip over the wordy stuff and go to the bottom of this post...

People breathe. In breathing our bodies take oxygen, reacts it with sugar and converts it into Water, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and the energy we need to survive. So each one of us is a CO2 generator. Plants photosynthesize. The process of photosynthesis takes CO2, Water (H2O) and with the energy of light produces sugar and Oxygen. So each plant is a very efficient tool in removing CO2. Since 1960 the world’s population has increased from 3 billion to approximately 6.5 billion. A person exhales approximately 800 pounds of CO2 a year, and a single tree will absorb about 50 pounds of CO2 in the same year. I’ve found conflicting statistics as to how much the world forest has shrank since 1960, but currently about 50,000 square miles of forest are lost each year. That is a lot of trees. Even when you look at our local surroundings, there are fewer forest areas, houses have grown to fill the yards, and there are quite a few less trees then when I was a kid.

Besides helping reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere trees provide quite a few other benefits. Ever seek the shade of a group of trees in the heat of summer? The leaves of trees will absorb or deflect the suns energy in the summer. There is also water vapor released by the leaves that will help lower the temperature. The temperature in the vicinity of trees is cooler than away from trees. A tree will help moderate the climate in your own yard. Although you may be grumbling about the raking in the fall, the loss of the trees leaves helps increase the amount of direct sun that your house gets in the winter time and will actually help decrease your energy needs for heating.

Trees also help improve air quality. The leaves will help filter the air and remove dust and other pollutants. A tree will also help reduce soil erosion by slowing down the force that the rain hits the ground, and their roots help keep the soil in place.

There are other benefits to having trees, and one of them is aesthetics. There’s a certain tranquil feeling that a group of trees provide. People prefer to live on a tree-lined street than some cold sterile environment. This may sound a bit touchy feely, but ask a real estate agent about how much more a home is worth with trees than one without. You’ll find that trees add an incredible amount of real dollar value into your property.

Your choice of trees is huge. First you need to look at how much space you can give your tree, and if you want the tree to be used primarily for shade, or as more of an accent ornamental. Acer rubrum, commonly known as the red maple, is one of my favorite shade trees. The red maple actually gets its name from the outstanding red fall color. The variety that I prefer is called October Glory. October Glory has a very nice dense oblong habit or shape in maturity, and the leaves tend to be a very dark green in the summer. It’s a medium to fast grower and tends to mature around thirty five feet tall. Acer rubrums tend to be very adaptable as related to soil moistures, so if the soil is a bit too wet, or if it’s subjected to drought like conditions it will tend to do pretty well.

If you have a bit more space you could consider Fraxinus americana ‘Autumn Purple’. This cultivar of the American White Ash is seedless and can grow up to three feet per year. It will mature between fifty to seventy feet tall, and will develop into an oval shape habit. Fall color can range from an outstanding deep red, maroon or purple. There are few if any trees with longer lasting fall colors.

If you are limited in space there are quite a few selections of smaller trees that are grown for a particular ornamental interest. Acer griseum, the paperbark maple, has one of the most outstanding barks out of any tree. The paperbark maple has peely cinnamon colored bark. This is a smaller tree and will mature between twenty to thirty feet in height. It also has a very nice fall color that ranges from orange to bright red. In my yard its one of the last trees to color up, and the leaves persist for a very long time.

If you would prefer a tree that has leaves that are not green in the summer, consider planting a Prunus cerasifera 'Krauter Vesuvius'. This is the darkest red leafed cultivar of the purple leaf plum and provides an excellent contrast in the landscape. In fact the leaves are such a dark purple they are almost black. The dark foliage isn’t the only benefit of this superb small tree. In early Spring it will be covered with light pink flowers. It will grow between fifteen to twenty five feet in height. You can’t have everything though. This tree like most other red leafed plants has no fall interest. The fall color is a muddied purple.

One of the first blooming trees in Spring is Magnolia soulangeana, commonly known as the Saucer Magnolia. There is a new cultivar of the Saucer Magnolia called the Black Tulip Magnolia that is absolutely stunning. Unlike the other saucer magnolias, this variety has extremely deep burgundy flowers that are quite larege with a unique tulip shape and heavy texture. Flowers will appear before the foliage in very early spring and are quick to bloom when the plant is young. It has a slender upright growth habit which makes it an excellent small specimen tree. It will grow fifteen to twenty feet tall with a six to ten foot spread.

If you would rather have a summer blooming tree, I would highly recommend Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk.’ Ivory Silk is a cultivar of the Japanese Tree Lilac. It is related to the Spring blooming lilacs, but it has none of the problems associated with them. The flowers are large creamy white and are in spicy fragrant clusters. This tree will flower in the early summer and is sure to delight those who visit for an evening party. The flowers will show up great in the moon light. It will grow fifteen to thirty feet in height, and it is resistant to most insects and diseases.

We all can make a positive impact on our environment. Planting a tree is a small but important step to help bring things into balance. For those that want to take it one step further I would recommend the 4-H Master Tree

Below is the press release that appeared in last weeks Westfield Leader:

COUNTY — The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has a
gift of free trees for Union County schools this spring. The five- to sixfoot-
tall flowering crabapple trees can be used to beautify school grounds,
add shade and contribute to Arbor Day celebrations at school.
The free trees are available, one per school, while supplies last. Along with
the tree, students, teachers and parent volunteers will receive free training in
tree care and planting. Workers from the Union County Shade Tree Bureau
and volunteers from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Master Tree
Steward Program will demonstrate how to pick the best spot to plant a tree
on school grounds, prepare the planting hole, mulch, water and protect the
tree from vandalism.
On Monday, April 21, a training session will be held for seventh- and
eighth-grade students, high school students and their teachers. On Tuesday,
April 22, a training session will beheld for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade
students with their teachers.
Both of the sessions will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. at Williams Nursery in
Westfield. The trees will be given out after each training session, along with
a protective cage. Schools also may receive a tree without attending the
training program.
Parent volunteers who wish to represent their child’s school and receive
the training should contact their child’s principal. Parent volunteers are welcome
to attend the April 21 session. To register for a training session
or to obtain a tree for a school, contact Barbara Knapp at (908) 789-
3653 or Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Agent and chairman of
the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board James Nichnadowicz at
(908) 654-9854 or
Arbor Day has been a national observance since 1872, encouraging
the public to plant and care for trees. It will be celebrated on Friday,
April 25

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fwd: New this week - Salvia pink delight

There are hundreds of varieties of Salvia. Some are annuals and some are perennials. This new perennial variety (comes back every year) was bred by Piet Oudolf of the Netherlands. It has a habit that is quite a bit more compact than other perennial varieties .

It has a soft pink color that is unique to many salvias and will work well in any perennial border. It will grow to about two feet tall, and will rebloom if cut back after flowering. This one is a winner.

Thanks a bunch!

Just got this cool thank you from the second graders at tamaques school in Westfield for us donating vegetable plants. It was the highlight of my day!

Wow! A great poster. Thanks a bunch!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Plant Id 101 - no partridge included

This tree is a flowering pear. I'm thinking its probably Pyrus calleriana 'Chanticler'
These are located on Mountain Ave in Westfield.
There are quite a few flowering pears in bloom right now. For years, the most popular pear was the Bradford Pear tree. Unfortunately it was not the perfect tree that everyone promised. It happened to have weak crotches. (This is where several branches split) After a wind or a snowstorm, the bradford would break. The newer varieties such as Aristocrat, Redspire, and Chaticler seem to have a better form, and hold up better over time.
Fall color is amazing. A bright Shiny Red. They tend to have very few insect issues.

Plant id 101 - in bloom now

I've been getting lots of questions of what is blooming now...and the "Did I see those trees in the center of town in flower?" so what I'm going to try to do in the next few days is do a drive-by photo click and ID.

Show in this picture is the purple leaf plum. I'm not sure which variety that this is, but the one that I like the most is Krauter Vesuvius since it tends to hold its summer color the best. Prunus cerasifera 'Krauter Vesuvius'. Its flowers are a bit paler than the cherries that are blooming, but they are quite stunning.

The other variety that deserves mention is the Thundercloud plum Prunus cerasifera 'Thundercloud'.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Amethyst In Snow-New arrival


> Centaurea montana. Perenial bachelor button.
> This lovely bicolored flower is a silky white with tubular petals
> that radiate from royal purple centers.
> It will grow approximately fourteen inches tall and will grow about
> thirty inches wide. It needs full sun and prefers well drained soil.
> This is a Blooms of Bressingham introduction.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Which magnolia is it?

I get a lot of questions as to which magnolia is currently in bloom. I
took this photo today. The one that us pictures is the star
magnolia. Magnolia stellata.

The star magnolia is one of the earliest to bloom. It has small pure
white flowers. The mature height is between ten and fifteen feet
tall. If I had to choose, I would pick this one since it js the least
messy if the Spring blooming magnolias. Our weather has been running
a bit cooler this year than last year it is actually starting to
flower later than normal.

The other popular Spring magnolia is the saucer magnolia. Magnolia
soulangiana. The saucer magnolia grows quite a bit larger than the
star magnolia. It will grow twenty to thirty feet tall and has large
pink or purple flowers. The flowers are so large and plentiful that
they can cover the lawn when finished blooming.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

True blue flowers

Lithodora 'Grace Ward'
There are not many true blue flowers for the landscape. This ground
cover is one exception.
This plant will grow to height of 1 ft. And flowers for almost two
months. Prefers a sunny location to part shade.

These have become very popular and we just recieved enough for everyone.