Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Green Wall: Victoria gardens vertically

Driving by the store lately, you may have spotted Victoria high up on scaffolding in the front of the building. What is she doing up there?
Well, she has been planting Victoria Gardens’ very own greenwall around the door of the front porch. Wayne Wadell engineered the soil-filled panels that surround the entrance and the automatic drip-watering system hidden within. Once the panels were installed, cold-hardy sedums and sempervivums (Hens and Chicks) were planted into every other square on the grid. The tiny plants are already growing and quickly filling up the empty spaces.

This type of panel could also be free standing, like a fence panel and could be planted on both sides. This application would be particularly useful when hiding an air-conditioner unit, where airflow needs to be maintained. The planted panel will literally “breath.” We learned so much installing our own greenwall, and the possibilities of this application are endless. Once you’ve gardened every square inch of your yard, you could always garden vertically!
Stop by and see the wall for yourself!

We will be hosting an official unveiling party for the new green wall on Sunday, August 29th from 2pm to 5 pm.

We will have information available on our process and the varieties of plants we used. Cheryl Alloway, garden professional and Master Gardener, will be our guest speaker on the various aspects of vertical gardening from around the world.

We will serve refreshments and be available to answer all your questions.

And we will be giving out special party favors to the first 50 guests - walk away with a “piece” of the wall!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Deer-resistant Late Summer Bloomers

At Victoria Gardens we know what a challenge deer can be in the Mid-Hudson Valley. We have a deer-resistant section in our rock-top nursery to make choosing plants you love, but the deer won’t – ornamental grasses, Crocosmia, Monarda, ‘Rozanne’ Geraniums, Balloon Flowers, coreopsis and so much more.

Friday, July 23, 2010

'Quickfire' Hydrangea

Hardiness: USDA Zone 3-8

Bloom Color: White flowers transform to rich, deep pink.

Bloom Time: Mid-summer; about a month before other paniculata varieties, not affected by pH.

Foliage: Green

Fall Color: Green with a tinge of yellow. Sometimes a reddish-purple color.

Size: 6-8 feet tall at maturity, 3-5 feet wide

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Prefers good, loamy soil. Most adaptable of all hydrangeas to different soil types. Most urban tolerant and very difficult to kill.

Pruning: Prune to maintain a desired size or to remove any wild branches. Best if done in late fall or early spring. Blooms on new wood. Make sure to prune off spent flowers when they turn brown. Very tolerant of hard pruning, in fact cutting the plant back from 1/2 to 1/3 will result in larger flowers.

Watering: Medium moisture. Not as water dependent as Hyd. Macrophylla. Will tolerant drought.

Wildlife: None

Type: Deciduous

Fertilizing: Fertilize in early spring by applying a slow release fertilizer specialized for trees & shrubs. Follow the label for recommended rate of application.

Uses: Groupings or masses, perennial or shrub borders, specimen, screens or hedges, mixed container, cut flowers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Join us July 24th and 25th at the Rosendale Street Festival!

The Victoria Gardens Display will be set up on the corner of Main Street and Snyder. Stop by and say hello.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Clethra ‘Pink Spire’: As sweet as roses, but better.

Clethra ‘Pink Spire’

Blooms July through August, soft pink, fragrant cone-shaped flowers. Oh, and what a fragrance! As sweet as roses, but more potent, and certainly less trouble. You will love this plant. Very low maintenance, deciduous shrub can take full sun to part shade, and can tolerate moist soils, even wetlands or pondside. Grows 6’ by 6’ in maturity. Attracts bees and butterflies.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Vitex: Chaste tree for a reason

Common names are often poetic or reflective of a plant's practical use. I never thought about it before, but here is the reason that Victoria's favorite, deer resistant, late blooming shrub is also called the Chaste Tree:

"...the shrub's been highly touted for its effectiveness in regulating menstrual cycles and relieving symptoms of PMS (I recently stumbled across a book titled Vitex: The Women's Herb). It also has a positively ancient reputation as a sexual suppressant, one that Athenian women used to keep themselves chaste while in frenzied worship of the Greek goddess of harvests. According to the Roman naturalist Pliny, the celebrants "made their pallets and beds with the leaves thereof to cool the heat of lust."

And it wasn't just the ladies. Southern European monks are said to have brewed libido-busting tea from the shrub's fruit - hence its other common name, monk's pepper (talk about your condiments).

But it's the most innocent of pleasures that have led me to the chaste tree - its performance in the late-summer garden. This woody verbena relative can play a role easily as dynamic as those of Buddleia davidii (butterfly bush), Hibiscus syriacus (rose of Sharon), Campsis radicans (trumpet vine), and Caryopteris x clandonensis (bluemist shrub).

Anything but chaste in appearance, vitex has all the angles, with a multiple-stemmed symmetry enhanced by tapered, five-fingered leaves and jaunty eight-inch flower spikes of the softest lilac blue. It's a shrub that seems always in motion, what with the aerial high jinx of dive-bombing hummingbirds and silver-backed foliage that flickers in the wind. Though vitex is capable of at least ten feet if left unpruned (or better yet, limbed up like a tree), it can also be treated as a perennial and cut back to the ground each spring (like Buddleia, it flowers on new wood).

Chaste tree is a Mediterranean native and, as such, prefers life sunny and well-drained. Though it's drought tolerant once established, it will grow faster with supplemental summer water. Still, given the modesty of these cultural requirements, it's surprising the plant isn't more of a staple in the low-maintenance garden (and that its cultivars are so difficult to find). My best guess is that the chaste tree is a hard sell in spring, when it's more stick than shrub with no sign of green. Even an experienced gardener might mistake it for dead up until June, since it's predictably late to leaf out. Alas, by the time it's really cruising, most gardeners are finished buying shrubs."

For the full article by Ketel Levine :http://www.npr.org/programs/talkingplants/profiles/vitex.html

Saturday, July 10, 2010


“All of life grows at one's own door step." -- Lao Tzu

All gardeners look out there windows today and release a collective sigh of relief.


Desperate, thirsty plants are expressing their version of relief as well. After such a stretch of scorching dry heat, many people are contemplating the benefits of rain barrels.

"Anyone with a roof on planet Earth can harvest rain water. From Mexico City to Calcutta or Los Angeles to Beijing. One inch of rain fall on a 1,000 foot surface will yield approximately 500 gallons of soft, untreated rain water. It’s a huge source of water as close as your nearest down spout. So liberate your down spout today and harvest the rain!"

-Dan Borba
Harvesting Rain Water Since 1999

In the simplest set-up, a rain barrel with an open top is placed underneath a gutter downspout, catching rainwater runoff from the roof. We carry rain barrels that hold 50 gallons of water and have screening devices for keeping out debris and insects. The tanks are made from polyethylene and are dark colors to prevent algae growth. They rain barrels cost $135 and we offer matching stands ($65).

(If you pay for municipal water, how much will your water bill be this quarter after watering your parched garden every evening?)

"The rain just goes so much further. I feel like for every five or so gallons of municipal water, one or two gallons of rainwater will do the same thing. My plants are so happy now," says one rain-collecting gardener, Ms. Gregory.

Greener plants were not, however, the original motivator that prompted Ms. Gregory to investigate rain harvesting. "Rain is free, and what pushed me at first was the cost of water," she says. "We keep track of what we use, factored out what we needed, and have found this is a practical solution."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Reminder: Fertilize Spring Blooming Shrubs Now

Andromeda (Pieris Japonica)covered in spring blooms.

Spring-flowering shrubs set their flower buds on new growth. This usually happens during the summer. If you prune back the forsythia, lilacs, azaleas, Andromeda, or rhododendron last fall, you would have been removing many of this spring's flowers. (Spring-flowering shrubs, should be pruned back immediately after they flower in the spring.)

But now is the time to fertilize spring-flowering plants to encourage new growth and the setting of next year's buds.

You can use an all purpose fertilizer, like Plant-tone or for acid loving shrubs like Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Andromeda (Peiris), and Mountain Laurel, you can use Holly-tone.

Another option is a top dressing of compost, compost tea, or composted manure. We love a new product called Moo-plus. It is organic, dehydrated, composted manure with more available nitrogen, phosphate and potash.