Friday, May 28, 2010

Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 4

Top 5 shrubs to attract hummingbirds (plus one tree):

#1. Azalea - Azaleas make up part of the genus Rhododendron. Azaleas grow best in a cool, shady spot with acidic, well-drained soil. They are easily damaged by excessive soil moisture with a few exceptions - the swamp azalea, Rhododendron viscosum, which can grow in - you guessed it - swampy conditions, has fragrant flowers, and bright red fall foliage. (Pictured above.)

#2. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)- Beautiful flowering shrub, makes good cut flowers. Butterfly bush flowers from June-July to fall and colors vary from white, pink, lavender, purple and to near red, depending on the variety. Butterfly bush prefers a well-drained, moist, loamy type soil and tolerates heat and drought after it becomes well established. Butterfly bush can grow 5 to 10 feet high and wide, but can be trimmed to 4 to 6 feet. The more you trim, the more it blooms. Cold hardy in zones 5 through 9.

#3. Honeysuckle shrub - A species of the genus Lonicera, there are more than one hundred varieties of honeysuckle shrub, which grow from three to six feet high and wide. Most of the varieties of honeysuckle shrub have very fragrant flowers that bloom throughout the entire summer, some well into autumn.

Honeysuckle prefer full sun to partial shade, and most types of honeysuckle prefer a moderate amount of moisture in order to thrive. Pruning encourages a bushier growth.

#4. Flowering Quince Chaenomeles

#5. Weigela - Cold hardy to zone 4 Weigela can be cut and used very effectively in floral arrangements. The colorful foliage of the burgundy varieties adds long lasting color to any garden.

Plus a tree suggestion: Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)- If ever a tree was a femme fatale, this one definitely is. Big, amazing upright blooms later in summer. A petite tree, growing only about 18' tall, cold hardy to zone 4, and poisonous if any of the plant is digested!

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 1

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Gardens - Part 2

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 3

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 4

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 3

Continuing our series on Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden, here are the top ten perennials to attract hummingbirds:

#1. Salvia, sage (Salvia spp.)This is a Victoria Gardens, deer-resistant, full sun favorite.

#2. Bee balm (Monarda spp.)Another deer-resistant, full sun perennial. Plant with air flow as a priority or these can get powdery mildew.

#3. Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)These are exotic looking, but very cold-hardy.

#4. Beardstongue (Penstemon spp.)"The most distinctive feature of the genus is the prominent staminode, an infertile stamen. The staminode takes a variety of forms in the different species; while typically a long straight filament extending to the mouth of the corolla, some are longer and extremely hairy, giving the general appearance of an open mouth with a fuzzy tongue protruding and inspiring the common name beardtongue." -Wikipedia

#5. Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea)These are best grown against a fence or the house, so that the tall stalks have some support.

#6. Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea) Technically a biennial. Has two-year life cycle. Grows only leaves first season from seed. Then in second season, blooms, seeds and dies with first frost.

#7. Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moescheutos)There is no way the hummingbirds (or your neighbors) will overlook this showy bloom.

#8. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)Two- to four-foot tall stems are laden with brilliant crimson flowers from July through September.

#9. Columbines - (Aquilegia spp.)Especially Aquilegia canadensis 'Little Lanterns' which is a great selection of wild Columbine that grows less than 1 foot tall. (Pictured below.)

#10 Lupines- beautiful and prolific (they reseed like nobody's business.)

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 1

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Gardens - Part 2

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 3

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 4

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 2

So you think you've seen hummingbirds in action? Wait until you see the PBS documentary Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air. This behind-the-scenes video with the film maker has some amazing shots of hummingbirds filmed with a high speed camera. (To watch Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air visit The filmmaker Ann Prum says it best when she says, "We thought that they were delicate and jewel-like." But the high speed cameras show they are athletic, competitive, Spartan-like warriors. Watch and you will be amazed.

Besides the selection of annuals listed in our previous post (Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 1), you can also attract hummingbirds with a simple feeder. At Victoria Gardens we carry hanging hummingbird feeders and window mounted feeders. Watching from inside lets you get a up-close look at the speedy little birds.

(These suction cup hooks can hold other types of bird feeders as well - they hold up to 6 lbs.)

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 1

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Gardens - Part 2

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 3

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 4

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 1

We spotted the first little hummingbird in the nursery the other day sucking the nectar from a honeysuckle vine. Oh, he was soo skinny! Poor little guys are starving and searching out nectar where ever they can find it.

Attract humming birds to your garden with some of their favorites - and don't believe that old wives tale that humming birds will only feed from red flowers, they will drink from other brightly colored flowers as well. There's no reason to banish pink, purple and even yellow and orange from your garden!

Top ten annuals to attract hummingbirds:

#1. Fuchsia - Pink, purple, white, it doesn't matter, these are the hummingbirds favorites in our greenhouses.

#2. Agastache - Some varieties are perennial and some are not in our zone. Hummingbird favorites are the tender varieties like 'tutti fruity' and 'Mexican sunrise'.

#3. Nicotiana - Or the Flowering Tobacco plant. And every one should plant these fragrant annuals in their gardens, because they are spectacular ornamental additions as well as great hummingbird attractors. (We have these in 4-packs now, but once they're gone we won't be able to bring them in again this season.)

#4. Cleome - A great re-seeder, we also have these in 4-packs for a limited time.

#5. Calibrachoa - Also called Million Bells, these make fabulous hanging basket and container plants, because they form a cascade of millions of flowers (slight exaggeration - but they are indeed floriferous) and the spent blooms simply fall off on their own (no deadheading required)!

#6. Snapdragons - Also available in 4-packs for a limited time.

#7. Morning glories - (Ipomoea spp.)Already a garden staple for many, this vigorous annual vine is also a hummingbird enticement - even the blue variety of this flowering vine!

#8. Cardinal Climber - The Latin is ipomoea quamoclit, but this red flowering annual vine has many, many common names. It is a species of Morning Glory, but with smaller flowers.

#9. Salvia - Annual Salvia as well as perennial Salvia in any color are a good source of nectar.

#10. Good old fashioned Petunias - These classic container plants will lure hummingbirds with their big open blooms. (I think people either love petunias or hate them, and I think it's because they do need to be deadheaded. I have a friend who wanders through her containers and dead heads while she chats on the phone - she finds it soothing. If you don't find deadheading soothing, the Calibrachoa is a better choice for you.)

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Gardens - Part 2

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 3

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden - Part 4

Monday, May 24, 2010

Vaccinium spp. (Blueberry Shrubs)

Everyone loves blueberries! Now is the time to grow your own. Victoria Gardens has healthy and well-grown blueberry shrubs in stock.

Blueberries are great because they have fewer pests than most of the other fruit trees and shrubs. The key to their success is making sure they are grown in acidic soil. With varieties as small as 6" high, they can be grown in any size garden or planted in containers.

Growing Tips For Blueberries:

The most important thing to know about suitable soil for blueberries is that it should be acidic, with a range of 4.5 to 5.2. (Most of us in Ulster County with pine trees nearby already have acidic soil, but if you may want to test the ph.)

Otherwise, blueberries prefer sandy loam soil that is well drained. If you have clay soil, add in organic matter like compost and greensand. Place a layer of mulch around the shrub after planting to help stifle weeds and protect the roots from heat.

Water your blueberries regularly. They should receive about 1-2" of water per week.

In order to make the plant stronger and more productive, pick off any flower buds that appear for the first 2 years after planting. This will encourage the plant to work on the roots and branches (canes).

Blueberries are self-pollinating, but for the best fruit production, plant more than one variety.

Prune your blueberries every year. For years one and two, you only need to worry about removing any dead or damaged branches (called canes). For lowbush blueberries, cut part of the shrub completely down to the ground every 2 or 3 years.

For the remaining years :

1. Prune any dead or diseased canes.

2. Once a cane is six years old, remove it, as they do not produce well after this age. By that age, they are usually thick with peeling gray bark.

3. Look at the rest of the canes. Leave the ones that are growing long and strong with many buds. Per the Maine Cooperative Extension: "Leave six to seven vigorous two- to five-year-old canes and two or three one-year-old canes per bush. A mature blueberry plant should have six to 10 healthy canes varying in age from one to six years old."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Prune Lilacs

First of all, Lilacs do not have to pruned at all, unless you are trying to maintain a smaller size than your variety's natural tendency. There are hundreds of varieties, including a dwarf variety we have in stock, which only grows 3 to 4 high.

That being said, if you are trying maintain a large variety to a more diminutive size, here are some tips:

Taking cuttings to bring inside is actually a great way to prune the shrubs, because it ensures that you are not pruning too late, and thus removing next year's blooms.

Wait until after the bloom to remove suckers from the base of the plant as well.

Overgrown lilacs that are not blooming well, will benefit from being cut back hard in the winter, but don’t hack it all back at once. If the branches are thick, cut away a third of the shrub each winter. Fertilize with Plant Tone in the spring.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don't let the road closure detour your garden plans!

You can get here from there. Click on the image to see a larger version of the map or visit our webste.

Coming Rt. 213 from High Falls, the scary sign flashing "ROAD CLOSED! CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION!" would have you believe that if you travel any farther, you will fall off the face of the earth.

BUT, the detour that will bring you from there to Rt. 32 brings you right past our front door.

If you are coming from New Paltz, take Mohonk Road over the mountain and turn right at Rt. 213 (you too will pass this horror-inducing flashing sign).

We are putting up signs to direct you as soon as possible, but if you are unsure about how to get here from where you are just call us, and we will give you directions around the road closure.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

All Chaenomeles (Flowering Quince) 20% off!

Chaenomeles (Flowering Quince) is an easy to grow, round-topped, deciduous shrub growing 6 feet tall and 10 feet across, with - let's be honest- beastly thorns. BUT this thorny beast becomes laden with showy spring blossoms.

When planting this very sturdy and low maintenance shrub you have two options: for those of you who (like most of us) would prefer to avoid battle scars while gardening, plant your Quince in full sun somewhere where you can admire its profusion of blooms from a distance. (One gardener even recommended a hedge of the tangled, dense shrub as an excellent security barrier!?)

But for the brave gardeners (with heavy leather gloves) this shrub can be pruned every year to keep it a manageable size. Flowering Quince can also be espaliered (trained to grow against a wall) and is a popular bonsai choice. Pruning the quince has the added benefit of encourages better blooming.

Flowering quince will produce a hard, pear-like fruit. These tart fruit can be used in jelly making.

Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
Habit: Deciduous
Growth Rate: Moderate
Site Requirements: Sun to partial shade; range of soil types; best flowers in full sun; prefers acidic soil
Height: 6 to 10 feet
Width: 6 to 10 feet
Form: Rounded, broad spreading, multi-stemmed shrub; tangled and dense growth

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blooming Now: Chionanthus virginicus (White Fringe Tree)

This is a pretty spectacular example of a mature Chionanthus virginicus (White Fringe Tree). But even the smaller specimens we have in the nursery are turning heads with their long, airy, white blooms.

One customer said as he walked by, "Well! My! Who's this character?"

That pretty much sums it up. Here are some details:

Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
Height: 12 ft to 20 ft Spread: 12 ft to 20 ft
Form: upright oval to round
Type: deciduous tree
Annual Growth Rate: 6 to 12 inches
Flowers: White star-shaped flowers, then feather panicles Blooms in May and June

Prefers full sun to partial shade. Soil should be moist, well-drained and ideally acidic. The primary attraction of this small deciduous tree is the drooping clusters of fragrant, white blossoms and dramatic feathery panicles. Dark-blue, grape-like clusters of fruits are produced from female blossoms. It is one of the last trees in the spring to bear leaves.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Grow your own 'Royal Gala' apples!

Apple Trees (Malus 'Royal Gala')

'Royal Gala' is a semi-dwarf tree growing only 12' to 15' tall with deep red apples that have a crisp, sweet flesh. Blooms in mid-season and fruit matures two weeks earlier than 'Red Delicious'. An excellent apple for eating and cooking.

Cold hardy to Zone 4. Plant in full sun.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Endless Summer, Twist and Shout - Celebrate Your Mother!

These beauties have been forced into bloom for Mother's Day, but because these are the ever-bloom varieties, they will continue to bloom all season long! (We have 'Blushing Bride' too!)

We think your mom will love them!

Cold-hardy to Zone 4. They will grow to be 3' to 5' high and wide and they have the unique ability to bloom on both old and new wood, ensuring consistent flowering year after year.

The perfect spot to plant these shrubs are anywhere with afternoon shade. They can take full sun, but they will look "wilty" and cause you anxiety when exposed to hot afternoon sun.

Mama Gonna Knock You Out!

Don't forget it's Mother's Day on Sunday. What are you going to get your mom to let her know how much you love and appreciate her?

How about an 'Knock Out' rose?

Why a 'Knock Out' rose? First, they are so easy! You can't kill them. And they bloom and bloom and bloom. (The one planted here at the nursery was beautiful all summer long (thoroughly neglected by us) and still blooming in November last year.)

They are shade tolerant and resistant to black spot, mildew and rust. (Easy!) In late winter or early spring prune the rose plant back to about twelve to fourteen inches above the ground. The rose will bloom on the new growth. Do not fertilize in winter. A little mulch or compost in the spring is all it needs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Make your Garden Green - Rain Barrels $145

These sturdy, handsome rain barrels have a screen to keep litter and critter alike out, and they can also easily be hooked up to the down spout from your gutters.

Matching stands are $60.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The greenhouses are full of beautiful and unusual annuals. We divide the annuals into shade and full sun and by color for your convenience. We also will plant up custom containers - you choose the pot, you choose the plants, and we'll do the dirty work for you.