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Spring Pruning Tips

Category: How-To Projects, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Pruner Maintenance: Anne Cleves Symmes, horticulturist and garden educator at Beatrix Farrand's celebrated Bellefield Garden in Hyde Park, NY, demonstrated how she keeps her pruners sharp and well oiled each Spring. First she uses the scouring pad side of a discarded kitchen sponge to rub off gummy buildup on the blades. You can also use a piece of wire wool for this. To sharpen your pruner she recommends a diamond blade, or you can use a sharpening stone or whetstone.  Swipe the diamond blade or stone…
Pruner Maintenance: Anne Cleves Symmes, horticulturist and garden educator at Beatrix Farrand's celebrated Bellefield Garden in Hyde Park, NY, demonstrated how she keeps her pruners sharp and well oiled each Spring. First she uses the scouring pad side of a discarded kitchen sponge to rub off gummy buildup on the blades. You can also use a piece of wire wool for this. To…

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Forcing Bulbs Indoors and Getting your Amaryllis Bulb to Rebloom

Category: 'Ask Ruth' Column, How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

If you received a free package of three Hyacinth bulbs, they are ready to be potted up indoors as soon as you get them. This is because they have spent the winter in a cool warehouse in Pennsylvania. (For other Spring blooming bulbs, you need to put them in a cool, refrigerated location for 6-8 weeks before potting them up indoors.) Follow these instructions for forcing your bulbs to bloom this Spring indoors: Fill a pot (6" diameter or more) with potting…
If you received a free package of three Hyacinth bulbs, they are ready to be potted up indoors as soon as you get them. This is because they have spent the winter in a cool warehouse in Pennsylvania. (For other Spring blooming bulbs, you need to put them in a cool, refrigerated location for 6-8 weeks before potting them up indoors.) Follow…

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How To Create A Meadow Garden

Category: How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Katie Rose Hillegas and her husband Jay Erickson have created a 4-acre meadow garden at their home in Pawling, NY.  I spoke with Jay about their garden, which is now in its third year, and what they learned that could be helpful to others. Here’s his story. “I’ve always been a fan of meadows,” says Jay. His earliest memories of meadows include grassland plants in the Rockies where he spent summers as a boy, and early spring bluebell woodland gardens…
Katie Rose Hillegas and her husband Jay Erickson have created a 4-acre meadow garden at their home in Pawling, NY.  I spoke with Jay about their garden, which is now in its third year, and what they learned that could be helpful to others. Here’s his story. “I’ve always been a fan of meadows,” says Jay. His earliest memories of…

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How To Store Dahlias in Winter

Category: How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

If you live in a cold climate (Zone 6 and colder) you need to dig up your dahlia tubers before the ground freezes, and store them for the winter if you want them to live. More and more people are discovering the beauty of growing dahlias and many of us are learning this Fall ritual. I received a dahlia plant from my friend Kathy Scherer last Spring. Kathy and her husband have built a beautiful garden in Pawling which is…
If you live in a cold climate (Zone 6 and colder) you need to dig up your dahlia tubers before the ground freezes, and store them for the winter if you want them to live. More and more people are discovering the beauty of growing dahlias and many of us are learning this Fall ritual. I received a dahlia plant…

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Floret Founder Shares Flower Arranging Secrets

Category: How-To Projects, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Erin Benzakein, founder of Floret, is one of the original farmer-florists. On her farm in Washington's Skagit Valley, she and her family have created a thriving flower farm, design studio and learning center. Her workshops are soldout affairs, created for those who want to learn more about small scale, high intensity flower production and floral design. We asked Erin…
Erin Benzakein, founder of Floret, is one of the original farmer-florists. On her farm in Washington's Skagit Valley, she and her family have created a thriving flower farm, design studio and learning center. Her workshops are soldout affairs, created for those who want to learn more about…

vaccinating a dog

Container Gardening How To

Category: How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

In one of the classes I took at the NY Botanical Garden I learned about the container gardening concept of "Thriller, Filler, Spiller". When you're selecting plants for your container, the Thriller is the central plant that grows taller than the others and is the focal point. The Filler is the plant or plants that surround the Thriller, and the Spiller is the plant that spills over the edges of your container. I followed this concept with the container I…
In one of the classes I took at the NY Botanical Garden I learned about the container gardening concept of "Thriller, Filler, Spiller". When you're selecting plants for your container, the Thriller is the central plant that grows taller than the others and is the focal point. The Filler is the plant or plants that surround the Thriller, and the…

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DIY Hypertufa Plant Containers

Category: How-To Projects, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Hypertufa containers offer the perfect environment for succulents and alpine plants. They're porous and provide a good vessel for the arid, fast draining soil required by these types of plants. They also have an unmistakable charm if you're a pushover for anything made of stone or resembling stone! What is hypertufa? Hypertufa is a manufactured substitute for natural tufa, which is a slowly precipitated limestone rock. Hypertufa is a man-made rock composed of various…
Hypertufa containers offer the perfect environment for succulents and alpine plants. They're porous and provide a good vessel for the arid, fast draining soil required by these types of plants. They also have an unmistakable charm if you're a pushover for anything made of stone or resembling stone! What is hypertufa? Hypertufa is…

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Protecting Container Plants in Winter

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

When Rebecca asked me for advice on protecting her potted plants over the winter, I had a few suggestions as follows: Huddle the pots together in a protected spot next to the house and bury them in shredded leaves or surround them with hay bales.…
When Rebecca asked me for advice on protecting her potted plants over the winter, I had a few suggestions as follows: Huddle the pots together…

vaccinating a dog

Organize A Milkweed Plant Giveaway

Category: How-To Projects, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

For two years in a row our local land trust has sponsored a milkweed giveaway at our local farmers market. The momentum has grown and this year we had an eager crowd of friends and neighbors waiting to receive their plants. In addition, there were plenty more who did not yet know the value of milkweed and were delighted to learn they could make a contribution to improving our local ecosystem! We contacted two sources for our milkweed plants this…
For two years in a row our local land trust has sponsored a milkweed giveaway at our local farmers market. The momentum has grown and this year we had an eager crowd of friends and neighbors waiting to receive their plants. In addition, there were plenty more who did not yet know the value of milkweed and were delighted to…

vaccinating a dog

Meeting Martha Stewart

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Last week I visited Martha Stewart's estate (aka 'farm') in Katonah, NY, just 30 minutes from where I live. My garden club had arranged a special tour by Martha's head gardener, Ryan McCallister, and Martha herself was our host for tea on the terrace and a question-and-answer session in her vegetable garden. I found her to be a friendly and hospitable host, and it was fun to see her gardens, her greenhouse and her collection of animals (dogs, horses and…
Last week I visited Martha Stewart's estate (aka 'farm') in Katonah, NY, just 30 minutes from where I live. My garden club had arranged a special tour by Martha's head gardener, Ryan McCallister, and Martha herself was our host for tea on the terrace and a question-and-answer session in her vegetable garden. I found her to be a friendly and…