Thursday, April 29, 2010


"At the end of spring, underneath the small umbrella of leaves hang lovely, bell-shaped flowers with conspicuous red veins. Deadheading spent flowers should increase the number of flowers on young plants, however, we have never done it and our shrubs are beautiful and abundantly flowering every year. Apart from its unique blooms there is another show-off feature: its autumn colour. The leaves, before they fall off, turn to bright red, deep orange or butter yellow, depending on location. Red-vein need not be pruned, only the branches that, for instance, due to excess fertilizing went bananas and grew too long, may be trimmed. Mature plants can be kept compact by trimming immediately after flowering. Give it fully acidic, fertile soil that will always be moist but well drained, and a sunny spot. Fully hardy to zone 5."

-Milan Havlis (

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Organic, heirloom, locally-grown vegetable starts are here!

We are very lucky to have a wonderful local farmer (literally down the road from us) who supplies us with gorgeous, yummy, heirloom vegetable starts. Right now we have:

Champion Collards
Magenta Lettuce (Grown from The Hudson Valley Seed Library seeds)
Bright Lights Rainbow Chard
Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage
Red Russian Kale
Early Wonder Tall Top Beets
Blues Chinese Cabbage
Price Pac Choi (Bok Choy)

4 packs are $3. We will have tomatoes, melons, pepers, okra, leeks, and so much more!
Sarah from Regeneration CSA at Outback Farm delivers new veggie starts weekly as they are ready. Let us know if you are looking for something in particular.

We are thrilled to be able to work with Regeneration CSA and Sarah. If you don't have room for all the organic vegetable you want to grow yourself, you can be come a member of Regeneration CSA and pickup your share of organic veggies, herbs, and cut flowers every week!

Contact Sarah and the gang at Regeneration-- 845 687 0535 or visit their website for more information about membership.
Regeneration CSA at Outback Farm
81 Clove Valley Rd
High Falls NY 12440

Regeneration CSA practices regenerative agriculture.

Here is a definition of regenerative agriculture from Farmers Without Borders:

“Regenerative agriculture is any kind of farming that enables the restorative capacity of the earth. Regenerative agriculture preserves or improves the fertility of the soil, creates an abundance of food and other agricultural products, contributes to vibrant communities and equitable economies, and respects the ecology of the natural world. Fertile soil helps create nourishing food and, in turn, healthy people and robust communities.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Custom Container Service

Our greenhouses are finally full with the first delivery of annuals! (Everyone who has come into the nursery has been asking for them.)

The official frost-free date is May 15th (the unofficial one is Mother's Day).

This year, and we will be offering a custom container planting service. You chose the pot, you choose the plants, and let us do the dirty work!

We can make you container gardens with annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, or a combination. We'll help you make a stunning container for your house or as a Mother's Day gift.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blooms for your spring garden: Black Perennial Violets

The perennial Viola 'Black Magic' offers dramatic dark blooms year after year. We only have these in the spring, so don't miss out. Stop by and pick some up while you still can.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blue Spring Blooms for Shade

Blue Vinca.

Virginia Blue bells (Metensia Viginica)

Blue forget me nots (Myosotis sylvatica)

Blue Lungwart (Pulmonaria 'blue ensign')

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Color for your spring garden: Hakonechloa macra Aureola

It's a mouthful, but it is also a Victoria Gardens' favorite. (We refer to it by it's common name: Japanese Forest Grass most of the time.) Deer resistant and shade-loving, this grass maxes out at 11 to 15 inches tall. It offers great texture and great color for your garden all season long, but unlike other grasses it pops up and fills out early in the spring.

Blooms for your spring garden: Polemonium/Heuchera combo

The small dark foliage on the Polemonium contrast nicely against the 'Key Lime Pie' variety of Huechera. A great shade, spring blooming combination.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blooms for your spring garden: Tiarella 'Neon Lights

Tiarella is a close cousin to Huechera, with similar sprays of flowers over a low clump of foliage. "Neon Lights' has large, deeply-cut chartreuse leaves with deep purple veins. Chubby spikes of white -pink flowers appear in spring and they last and last. The bright green foliage offers bright color all season long. An excellent choice for edging in moist, shaded areas. This variety really visually brightens darkly shaded areas.

Color for your spring garden: Huechera

Heuchera offer colorful foliage all season and long-lived blooms from now until September. (They are one of the few perennials that offer such a long bloom time.

There are so many varieties of Heuchera it will make your head spin. (This variety is called 'Sweet Tea.') Each one has a slightly different colored leaf, and some times slightly different leaf shapes. And they develop new varieties and hybrids. (For a couple years there, the "experimental" colors were the most temperamental, but the more recent varieties have proven themselves hardy and garden work-horses.) From year to year some varieties are not available, usually because growers decide a new variety is stronger/prettier/more popular than the variety you bought last year, which can be annoying, but you just have to be flexible and match up the leaf colors the best you can. (Or divide the plant you have.)

Fertilize every 4 months with slow-release Osmocote, compost, or an organic fish emulsion fertilizer. Dead-head spent blooms, and in the spring, remove any dead foliage. Grow this long lived perennial in partial shade and avoid hot afternoon sun.

Friday, April 16, 2010

We have Pansies! And no, it's not too early to plant!

Yes, we have pansies in stock. Violas too. No, it's not too early to plant! Everyone has been walking through the nursery and saying to Victoria, "Oh, beautiful perennials, but it's too early to plant right?"

No! It is perfectly safe to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and yes, pansies! (It's still too early for annuals and warm weather veggies like tomatoes, basil, and peppers.) But now is a great time to put cold-hardy plants in the ground. Especially a rainy weekend like we're about to have. Experienced gardeners know how to let mother nature do their work for them. Moist soil is easier to dig in than very dry soil, and you don't have to drag the hose over if rain showers are on the way.

Happy planting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PJM 'Elite' Rhododendron

PJM 'Elite' Rhododendron is a Victoria Gardens' favorite shade shrub. They are in stock and in full bloom, and they look fabulous! The flowers look like Azalea flowers, but technically the hybrid shrub is a Rhododendron. The wonderful blooms last April through mid-May, but just before the end of May, the blooms tumble neatly down like autumn leaves.

This self-cleaning habit can be sabotaged by a heavy rain, which mats the flowers to the leaves so the faded blooms have to be picked off, but most years it takes care of itself. The tidiness of the bloom-fall is another plus for this plant, as some of the rhodies need to have the dead blossoms physically removed or the shrub looks messy with brown shriveled flowers.

In the winter the leaves turn a great bronze color. They will grow 2' to 4' tall and wide. The dark leaves have a herbaceous scent. (But don't be fooled, they are not deer resistant!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prunus 'Snow Fountain' (Weeping Cherry) Twisted Trunk

This Prunus 'Snow Fountain' (Weeping Cherry) is a perfect spring specimen tree. The twisted trunk is fantastic winter interest and in the spring... well you can see from the pictures - spectacular cascading branches of single white flowers.
We have these garden stars in stock now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Reminder: Edibles: Fern Fiddleheads

We are revisiting a post from last year as a reminder (depending exactly where you are located) to be on the lookout for emerging edible fiddle heads.

Also the newest VisitVortex spring guide has a great section on other edible plants: Solomon Seal (which when harvested early, can be cooked like asparagus) , Cat Tails (harvest the heart in late May and eat it like a cucumber), and Wood Violets (can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach). Pick up a free copy of the spring guide for detailed instructions on harvesting these and other unexpected edibles.

Fiddleheads, probably Braken (Pteridium aquilinum).

"The ostrich fern, or fiddlehead, is a Maine delicacy that appears in the early spring-April and May. The botanical name for the ostrich fern is Matteuccia struthiopteris.

Grown ostrich fern leaves taper in width from the middle to both ends. There is a deep groove on the upper side of the big stalk, and the distinctive brown to black shoots that grow from the center of the clump of leaves look somewhat like ostrich plumes.

In the spring, the ostrich fern's distinctive "fiddleheads," the young, coiled fern leaves about an inch in diameter, are mostly green, but have papery brown scales. Nearly all ferns have fiddleheads, but the ostrich fern's are unlike any other. These fiddleheads have a paper-dry, parchment-like sheath that usually has started to peel. Most other fern fiddle head sheaths are fuzzy or woolly.

You can also tell it's an ostrich fern if you see the previous year's leaves, broken to the ground, dead and brown, but still well attached to the root stock. Also, last year's "plumes" (the spore-bearing fronds that are still erect) are often there to identify the plant.

Gather fiddleheads in early spring, as soon as they appear within an inch or two of the ground. Carefully brush out and remove the brown scales. Then wash the heads, and cook them in lightly salted boiling water for at least 10 minutes, or steam for 20 minutes. Serve right away with melted butter."

Although I found some other recipes that sounded fantastic:

"Philip McGuire, head chef of the Blue Strawberry in Portsmouth, N.H., also makes fiddlehead soup. But after sauteing the ferns with leeks in butter, Mr. McGuire adds champagne, cooks the soup to remove the alcohol, purees it and finally adds a touch of cream. He also makes a pesto with olive oil and garlic, substituting fiddleheads for basil, and uses it to stuff veal or, with cheese and nuts, mushroom caps." From the article in The New York Times.

Yum! Seriously, I'm salivating.

The end of that New York Times article list restaurants that feature fiddleheads on their menus, when available in early spring.

According to Wikipedia these are other species of edible ferns:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Victoria Gardens at the Farmer's Market

This Sunday we will be at the Rosendale Farmer's Market with plants and a selection of organic garden solutions.

Also this Saturday Victoria will be speaking at Garden Day hosted by the Ulster County Master Gardeners and the Cornell Cooperative extension. It's not too late to register - you can even register at the door. For more information visit