Tuesday, June 24, 2014

There’s No Place Like Home!

I was sitting at my desk this morning wondering what to write about. I looked through a pile of papers I keep in the ‘Please Read Me’ file and checked my notes online. I thought of writing about Greenhouse Growers June issue that’s dedicated to Protecting Pollinators. The spokes woman from the Xerces Society took issue with some of the facts put forward by Joe Bischoff in his article entitled ‘What’s All the Buzz About’. That could have been a good he said/she piece but then I looked out the window…

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and there is a light breeze with spring azures racing about. It’s an all around perfect day but not for debate. Days like this are meant for enjoying our gardens. Time to smell the roses or whatever is flowering. This is what we do it for, the weeding and watering and planting and pruning.  My inspiration was right here all the time. Take a walk with me…

The Quaker Ladies are just going to seed after a spectacularly long season of color. The Eastern Red Columbine was covered with orange-red flowers attracting our season’s first hummingbirds.

Viola ‘Silver Gem’ is finding her way into the cracks and crevasses of the natural stone we have in our back yard.

The Coneflowers are all just beginning to bloom. It didn’t take long for the bees and butterflies to find them. I have some in a vase beside on my desk. They last forever.

'Moerheim Beauty' Sneezeweed attracts butterflies and other pollinators and is surprisingly rabbit resistant and I have proof. Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Peter and their whole damn family live in our garden.

The fire pit area had a tremendous show of Columbine all spring and the Black-eyed Susans will take over in just a week or two along with ‘Major Wheeler' Trumpet Honeysuckle. Threadleaf Bluestar’s golden foliage will be on fire in the autumn sun.

‘Tiger Eyes’ staghorn sumac has been a favorite plant of mine since a co-worker and friend selected it at Bailey Nurseries.  Look at that color!

Blueberries with an under planting of Green and Gold – the ultimate ground cover for shady areas.

Short Toothed Mountain Mint is under used and under loved! It blooms for weeks on end and is an extraordinarily good source of nectar for smaller types of butterflies and a host of other insects. I use the silvery foliage in bunches of flowers I pick for the house.

The Fort is a work in progress. We thought of it last summer while we were trying to eat dinner outside and were being eaten alive by mosquitos. Now we can have our dinner and watch the fireflies too. Forts are never not fun!

Bringing life to your garden!

Have fun out there, Peggy Anne

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Magnificent Meadow

Last Thursday I was fortunate enough to be invited to the opening celebration for Longwood Gardens’ new 86-acre Meadow Garden in Kennett Square, PA. It’s Longwood so; even in the rain it was fantastic! Route 52 had long divided the meadow, but it is now whole again, providing habitat for native flora and fauna. Excited volunteers told me they have documented over 95 different bird species in the meadow. They’ve planted 1,100 native trees and shrubs and over 100,000 native wildflower and native grass plugs. The majority of the plugs were grown locally at our very own North Creek Nurseries.

It’s so exciting to see such prestigious institutions like this one bringing holistic design practices to the main stream. I think Claudia West, MLA, Ecological Sales Manager North Creek Nurseries, summed it up best when she said “Longwood Gardens shows us what it means to be stewards and validates the role of native plants play in built landscapes of a post-wild world. The Meadow Garden hybridizes design principles of the natural world with horticultural strategy – an intentionally designed and managed plant community where population dynamics are encouraged within an aesthetic framework.”

The paths, bridges and pavilions in the meadow were thoughtfully built from trees that had come down and been milled on the 1,077-acre property. Over 3-miles of walking trails wind their way through the bucolic landscape. From the forest’s edge to the wide-open fields and to lush wetlands they demonstrate the complex relationships between plants and animals. “I admire Longwood for their foresight with this project and predict that this revitalized meadow will become a favorite destination for those seeking the peace and hope that comes from connecting with the natural world.” -Douglas W. Tallamy, University of Delaware and author of Bringing Nature Home.

Bringing Life to Your Garden!

Have fun out there – I’m going for a walk!
Peggy Anne

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Are We So Different from Our Cuban Neighbors?

Last April, I had the great good fortune to visit Cuba with the Delaware Center for Horticulture. Our trip was a cultural exchange with an emphasis on horticulture. We visited a number of beautiful, botanical gardens, reforestation and organic gardening projects around the island. Each time we received a warm welcome by highly educated staff that accommodated us by speaking English. I could sit here all day and write about all the reasons I fell in love with Cuba. But, for now, I will just highlight our visit to the Jardín Botánico Nacional, Universidad de La Habana - The Cuban National Botanic Garden in Havana. It was during that visit, early on in tour trip, that I realized no matter what our governments might say, we are not so very different from each other.

The garden is an educational, scientific and recreational institution that displays Cuban flora as well as plants from other tropical places around the world. They have a special program called Planta! It’s a conservation initiative focusing on preserving and appreciating native Cuban flora. It warmed my heart to think that native plants were just as important to our Cuban neighbors as it is to us at American Beauties. No matter where you live, preserving our ecosystems is vital. Alejandro Palmarola, a student working on his PhD at the botanic garden gave us a marvelous lecture and tour. Much of his work is centered on native Cuban magnolias.

They say there are 6 degrees of separation between people but in horticulture I think it’s really only three (just one or two in the Brandywine Valley). One of my friends and fellow travelers was Andrew Bunting, Curator of the Scott Arboretum, President of the Board for The DCH and President of the International Magnolia Society. As it turns out, the International Magnolia Society has been funding some of Alejandro’s work and he and Andrew were able to meet for the first time in person. I love to think that horticulture is building bridges over blockades.

Alejandro and Andrew
Many of us pushed our baggage weight limits to bring hand tools and art supplies to show our support of the arboretum. We recently got a thank you note from Alejandro with pictures of the Cuban National Botanic Garden's "Festival del Monte 2014". I think I see some crayons we got at Target and even some of the suckers I couldn’t resist buying. I also see the light in the children’s eyes as they learn about the wonders of nature and the flora of their island. It’s the exact same look our children have when we take the time to teach them.

Muchas gracias DCH y te quiero Cuba!
Trayendo vida a tu jardín!
¡Que te diviertas!

Peggy Anne