Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy hallween to all our friends
~ from all of us at
Victoria Gardens

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Deer Resistant bulbs: 'Shubertii' and 'Ivory Queen' Allium

There are many varieties of deer-resistant bulbs: daffodil, muscari, fritillaria, and allium. The most common allium is the tall 'purple sensation' which we love, but here are two lesser known varieties of allium: 'Schubertii' and 'Ivory Queen.'

In the spring everyone asks about these two varieties when they see them in our display gardens. The 'Ivory Queen' in particular is hard to identify as an allium, because of its unusual (and beautiful) foliage and its very short stature. Before 'Ivory Queen' blossoms, it looks like an exotic ground cover, and after it blooms, it still only reaches a height of about six inches. The flowers are small white spheres, and 'Ivory Queen' is best planted at the front of the bed in full sun.

'Ivory Queen' has subtle beauty, whereas 'Schubertii' looks like small fireworks in your garden.

Growing to a height of twelve to eighteen inches, 'Schubertii' is a striking pink shock in late spring, and these unusual flowers dry well and can be used for arrangements. Plant in a group of five or seven in full sun or partial shade for a dramatic effect.

In addition to being beautiful, long lasting, low-maintenance, and deer-resistant, allium are also rabbit and squirrel resistant. Amazing! Come in and see all the great deer-resistant varieties we have in stock.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Planting Bulbs Video Tutorial

We realized after we filmed this that we went a little fast, so forgive us. Next time we'll slow it down. The basics covered here are: Make sure the bulbs are nice and firm. Squeeze them, if they feel soft at all, they are bad bulbs and will not flower for you in the spring. The top of most spring-blooming bulbs are points and the bottoms will be rounded, sometimes with roots, although the Anemone bulbs look almost like buttons (you have to look for the tiny roots in one of the dimpled sides). The next bulb basic is that you want to plant the bulbs at a depth three times their height, so if the daffodil bulb is two inches high, your hole should be six inches deep. The final basic we cover in the video is: firm those bulbs in! Padding down the soil around the bulbs will discourage squirrels and chipmunks from digging up your newly planted bulbs.

A couple things we didn't cover: You want to wait until after the first frost to plant bulbs. Many times they are available in September, but wait to plant them until there has been a frost.

Also, you can sprinkle in some bulb tone into the hole if you are planting somewhere other than a nice fertilized garden. When we plant bulbs that will naturalize (spread) at the edge of a wooded area and a lawn, we alway use bulb-tone in the hole as we plant, to feed the bulbs in the first year, and then we sprinkle the ground with bulb-tone each fall after that. If you are planting bulbs in a garden that you fertilize with organic material (fish emulsion, aged manure, compost) than no extra fertilization is necessary for your bulbs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Peacock Planter at Old Westbury Gardens

This very cool Peacock planter was another treasure that Victoria discovered while visiting the grounds of Old Westbury Gardens in Long Island, NY. The yew is planted in the ground behind the planter, while the body of the peacock is planted with trifolium, ferns, ivy, and the top plant we couldn't identify.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Victoria's Road Trip: Old Westbury Gardens and Planting Fields in Long Island, New York

I was a lucky girl this week and got to go on a wonderful field trip to Long Island with my great friends Deb, Bonni, and Barbara. We visited Old Westbury Gardens and Planting Fields where we attended a wonderful program put on by Horticulture magazine.

This is a dawn redwood Metasequoia glytostroboides that we got to visit with during the lunch break in class. This is one of my favorite trees, it's known as a living fossil because it has been around for 350 million years. It was rediscovered in the 1940's and brought here to the United States by the Arnold Arboritum. This one was maybe 70 ft tall. It had wonderful cones and these long string like beads of seeds? Not really sure what they are but boy were they pretty. Any one have a clue?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October Sale: 30% OFF Everything in the Nursery: Watch Your Investment Grow!

It's not too late to plant! Cool nights and the rain we got this afternoon, make it the perfect time to plant. Plus, with 30% off trees, shrubs, and perennials, adding to your garden now will earn big returns on your investment when they bloom next summer(gains measured in happiness and joy of course).

Take for instance this beautiful Hydrangea 'Limelight' is 4' tall now (easy to carry and plant), but will grow to be 8' to 10' tall and wide. Talk about watching your investment grow!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Color: DYCs (Damn Yellow Composites)

"Damn Yellow Composites."

In wildflower identification, the Asteracceae family is so large (1100 genera and 20,000 species), that specific identification in the field can be so difficult as to not be worth it. You can figure out it's an Asteraceae easily enough: most members are composite (they have both ray and disc flowers). You can usually identify the color, yellow, and the family, and that's it. (Unless you're lucky enough to have figured out you've got a sunflower) - Sometimes attributed to Lady Bird Johnson.

And even though gardeners hate trying to identify them, we love the way they offer fall flowers even after last night's heavy frost. This particular variety (we are lucky enough our grower knows the variety) is Helianthus 'Low Down' which has a low bushy growth habit (15" to 18" high) and an abundance of blooms.

Pictured behind the Helianthus is another fall favorite Fothergilla (we'll talk more about this one later) and a variegated holly called 'Honey Maid.'

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Color: Pyracantha Orange Glow

Pyracantha (Firethorn) is a fantastic drought resistant evergreen shrub. It flowers in the spring, covering the plant with clusters of white flowers, but as you can see, the real display starts in September. The bright orange berries can persist into winter, depending on how many birds stop by for a nibble.

Firethorn is in fact covered with sharp thorns, so be careful planting or transplanting a large specimen. Pyracantha 'Orange Glow' can reach 10' tall and 12' wide, although there are other varieties that are more compact (and also varieties with red fruit).

A favorite use of pyracantha is as an espalier, and up against a wall can be trained into many different shapes. Firethorn is a fast grower, and can also be used on slopes to help with erosion. It can be pushed in to the shade, but will flower and fruit best in full sun.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Come Get Your Scary Plants!

With Halloween just around the corner, we'll help you decorate inside and out with our Halloween-themed decorations and some spooky plants: the dark, almost black, Alocasia (of the elephant ear family) and the tropical cork-screw Equisetum (of the horsetail family). Both are house plants, and both could easily go from dressing up your Halloween display to adding a modern-Zen touch to your guest room or office.

Another great double-duty houseplant is the playful pincushion (Nertera granadensi), which can decorate your Halloween tabletop, and then don your Thanksgiving table too. These little plants will keep their berry best in bright light and cool temperatures. At the start of summer, they produce small white flowers, followed by long-lasting orange berries.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mums Make Us Happy

This time of year, when we cut back our sad, spent perennials, pull out the last of the weeds, and add a layer of fall mulch, we should feel content, satisfied with a good season. But we want more! More color more blooms! When we plant addicts see a neat and tidy garden after a fall clean-up, all we see is holes, open spaces where there could be color!

Lucky for us, mums, ornamental cabbage and kale, asters, pansies, and ornamental peppers offer us a few more weeks of of what we gardeners love. . . flowers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blue in October?

Still blooming blue in October: 'Endless Summer' Hydrangea and Delphinium 'Royal Aspirations'.

People who come into the nursery looking for blue flowering plants are often looking for a particular blue, one that is not too purple. These two are that perfect blue. An annual in the same shade is Salvia patens, which because we haven't had a killing frost yet, is also still blooming this October.

We've been talking about putting together a talk and slide show for 2009 called "Black and Blue," in which we will try to make a compilation of all the black flowering and blue flowering perennials and shrubs we can think of.

Here's a partial list of some of the blues we've already come up with: Baptisia australis, Brunnera macrophylla, Lithodora diffusa, Campanula poscharskyana, and Corydalis flexuosa.

Some blue bulbs: Muscari armeniacum and Muscari 'Blue Spike' (Grape Hyacinth), Scilla siberica, Camassia cusickii, and Camassia quamash. We have all these bulb varieties in stock at the store now, so come on in and get some, so you can be blue next spring.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fall Fruiting Trees: Attracting Birds

The crab apple (pictured foreground top and bottom left) and the dogwood (background top) are putting on their second show of the year. We love plants that do double (or triple) duty. Mostly known for their spring flowers, crab apples and dogwoods don't get enough credit or attention for their fall contribution. Their bright red fruit offer an additional texture to the autumn foliage. Not only ornamental, both are the favorites of birds, especially the Eastern Bluebird, the Northern Cardinal, and the Yellow Warbler.

At a time when many bird feeders in the Hudson Valley may be attracting bears, you can still draw birds to your back yard with these fall fruiting trees.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fall Bloomers: The Virtuous Echinacea

We at Victoria Gardens love all varieties of Echinacea. This one pictured to the left is named 'Virgin' (we can only guess because of it's lovely white pedals). Our specimens look fresh and fantastic. Other new varieties that we like are are 'Green Envy' and 'Green Jewel' (the latter being a little more cream colored with just a hint of green). 'Kim's Knee High' is another one of our favorites. It is a stout and sturdy Echinacea that only gets about 15" to 18" high.

There were a couple hybrids that disappointed us two seasons ago, 'Art's Pride' and "Meadow Bright', which promised to be red and orange, but they were scraggly and they lost their color. They were really miserable performers.

However, there are some new varieties, which are proving to live up to their promises. 'Sunrise', 'Sundown', 'Sunset', and 'Summer Skies' are some stellar Echinacea that we have field tested, and we highly recommend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Color

Many people (mistakenly) believe that once summer is over, their garden is over as well. At Victoria Gardens, we believe that fall in the garden has the potential to knock your socks off with an amazing assortment of autumn blooming perennials, fall-fruiting trees and shrubs, and a rainbow of fall foliage. Ornamental grasses are pluming now, offering great texture and height in perennial beds where you may have cut back many of your summer bloomers.

Rudbeckia fugida, pictured here in the foreground, is a native to us in the northeast, and a graceful and reliable addition to the fall garden. Pictured behind the rudbeckia is a Japanese Maple 'Tamukeyamia Threadleaf' which offers this stunning maroon color throughout the season. The threadleaf is a dwarf variety only reaching 8' tall and 10' wide, so it can easily be a focal point in a perenial bed. But take care in where you plant this ornamental tree, listed as zone 5b, we find that it likes protection from winter winds and prefers almost sandy, well-drained soil.