Category Archives: Horticulture

Margaret Roach on “Nonstop Plants: A Garden for 365 Days”

The Garden Club of Irvington and the Garden Club of Dobbs Ferry recently enjoyed an illustrated lecture
by famed garden writer and designer Margaret Roach.

“Gardening is not my hobby, it is my spiritual practice and life partner,” Margaret said. After 25 years in the corporate world as garden editor at Newsday and garden editor and an editorial director at Martha Stewart Living, she chose a quieter life closer to nature in the Hudson Valley. But, lucky for us, she still gives lectures, does public-radio podcasts, gives tours of her 2.3-acre organic garden, where she grows much of her own food, and hosts the popular and information-packed website, “A Way to Garden.”

Margaret provided insights for making your garden a visual treat every day of the year, including lists of her favorite plants for all-season interest and color. To download the talk handout, please click here.

The lecture was followed by signing of her books: And I Shall Have Some Peace There and The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life.

This spring, may your garden be as lovely as Margaret’s!

Filed under Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Rivertowns Westchester NY

Four Historic Hudson River Gardens, a Virtual Visit

Garden Club of Irvington members and guests recently enjoyed a slide lecture by garden historian Judith Chatfield, author of notable books about Italian gardens, who spoke about four dramatic New York properties and their gardens. If you are planning to tour the Hudson River Valley this spring or summer, here is a suggested itinerary based on points made in Judith’s talk.

Judith Chatfield, center in red sweater, with Deborah Flock and Joanna Gurley of the Garden Club of Irvington.

Judith Chatfield, center in red sweater, with Deborah Flock and Joanna Gurley of the Garden Club of Irvington.

We begin by making our way 80 miles up the Taconic Parkway to Red Hook to Annandale-on-Hudson to visit Montgomery Place, an historic estate designed for Janet Livingston Montgomery, a Revolutionary War widow. The Federal-style mansion is the last remaining of its kind in the Hudson Valley designed by architect Alexander Jackson Davis. The property — designed by Andrew Jackson Downing to be at its peak in October — includes an arboretum, woods, and orchards. It was acquired and renovated by Historic Hudson Valley in 1985 and sold to Bard College in 2015.

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Aerial shot of Montgomery Place in fall

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Naturalistic landscape at Montgomery Place

In Hyde Park, 30 miles south of Bard via Route 9, Bellefield is an 100-year-old Beatrix Farrand garden at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Museum and Library. A prominent landscape architect in the first half of the 20th century, Farrand designed gardens for notable families and institutions, including the Rockefellers and Princeton and Yale Universities. In 1912, her cousin, Senator Thomas Newbold and his wife, Sarah, commissioned her to create the gardens at Bellefield, their 18th-century estate. Lining the grass lawn are beds of perennials selected for their soft color harmony, bloom sequence, and texture — a technique Farrand helped spearhead. This style became the standard for American garden design, replacing the practice of placing annuals in beds cut into the lawn.

Bellefield facade and perennial borders

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Formal gardens at Bellefield surrounded by clipped box hedges

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One of Bellefield’s garden rooms in spring

Leaving Bellefield, we make our way south to Cold Spring, across the Hudson from West Point, where we visit Stonecrop Gardens, originally the private garden of Frank and Anne Cabot, founders of The Garden Conservancy, the organization that hosts the Open Days tours every year. The Cabots were avid collectors of alpine plants, and finding choice selections hard to come by, started their own mail-order nursery. In the mid-1980s they engaged English horticulturist Caroline Burgess to make Stonecrop into a public garden. It now encompasses 15 varied acres of raised alpine stone beds, cliff rock gardens, woodland and water gardens, and enclosed English-style flower gardens that feature more than 50 plant families. A spectacular 2,000-square-foot conservatory housing tender specimens floats on a pond near the entry.

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Alpine plants drape over stone walls at Stonecrop

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The ‘floating’ conservatory at Stonecrop, where seedlings are started and tender plants overwinter

Even closer to home in Garrison — less than 60 miles north of New York City — is Boscobel, a Federal-period mansion. The house was built in Montrose c. 1805 for States Morris Dyckman, who served the British army during the Revolutionary War. He died with only the foundation in place, and the project was completed by his wife, Elizabeth Corne Dyckman. Through the efforts of Westchester County citizens, the house was rescued from demolition in the 1940s, dismantled, and stored in barns until Boscobel Restoration Inc. had it rebuilt on the Garrison site. In 1959, Boscobel’s chief benefactor, Lila Acheson Wallace, hired the landscape architecture firm of Innocenti and Webel to transform the grounds into an appropriate historic setting. They implemented a Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical landscape that included allées of maples, mature shrubs and an entire apple orchard, installed to give the feeling that everything had always been there. In the 1990s, the grounds were expanded to include 29 acres of woodlands with a 1.25 mile scenic trail. Today, you can tour the house, now a museum featuring furniture and decorative arts of the Federal period, walk the trail, and explore 60 acres of grounds that feature rose and perennial gardens and magnificent views of the Hudson.

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Approaching Boscobel in fall under an allée of mature trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under Conservation, Garden History and Design, Historic Preservation, Horticulture, NY and CT Public Garden Tours

GCI Big Winner in “Kaleidoscope” Flower Show

Every GCA garden club in New York state was required to enter a mixed planting in the ”Kaleidoscope” class at the GCA Annual Meeting in Rochester: Plants we’d propagated and/or grown in or our gardens composed in a 14″ terra-cotta-colored pot. Each club could choose a color scheme: yellow-orange, pink-red, or blue-purple. GCI chose blue-purple. Starting last September, we approached the project as a club, with members rooting cuttings and planting bulbs. Over the last few weeks, we combed our gardens for blue flowering plants. The harsh winter and late spring didn’t make things easy.
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Renee Shamosh and Anne Myers in Rochester, NY, with the club’s winning container planting.

The judges awarded us a first-place blue ribbon as well as the Rosie Jones Horticulture Award, for:

“An entry of exceptional visual appeal that reflects the spirit of growing with joy and enthusiasm and inspires others to propagate, grow, show and share horticulture.”
The container planting was designed by Ellen Shapiro, Renee Shamosh and Donghai Zhen. Renee contributed phlox, streptocarpus, evolvulus, forget-me-nots, and ‘super blue’ pericallis. Ellen contributed wood hyacinths and blue chalk fingers. Club president Susan Weisenberg contributed bearded irises, the centerpiece of the arrangement. Also adding to the arrangement were plants contributed Bunny Bauer, Deb Flock, Nora Galland, Cena Hampden and Anne Myers: the Cape primrose, comfrey, dwarf blue cypress, amsonia and forget-me-nots, respectively.
The entry was accompanied by the following key card, indicating to show visitors the botanical and common names of the plants and their relative position in the container.
GCI BlueContainerKeyCard

 

 

Filed under Garden Club Flower Show Categories, Horticulture, Zone III Events

A Visit from the Expert

Beth Hickman

GCA Zone III (New York) Horticulture Representative Elizabeth D. Hickman recently spoke to our club and demonstrated how to choose, display and groom plants for horticulture exhibits at the flower shows.

Here, Beth is critiquing members’ plants, describing how they should be groomed in order to be “passed” or allowed to be displayed in the competition. For example, in addition to no evidence of insects or disease, there can be no brown edges or yellowed leaves. She noted that some of the members’ plants were imbalanced, too leggy, needed fertilization, or were displayed in containers that clashed with the plant rather than enhancing it.

She also spoke about how to cut stems for display in glass bottles. Here are her cutting and conditioning tips that will help keep plant material looking fresh after two or three days, not dried and wrinkled:

1. Cut stems in the coolest part of the day, out of direct sunlight; early in the morning or near sunset is best.
2. Cut the stems at an angle for maximum surface.
3. Split the ends of woody-stemmed flowers or branches. For flowers that bleed milky juices, like euphorbia and poppies, pass the cut end through a flame to seal the cut.
4. Make sure the bottle is filled to the top with room-temperature water (see more details in our article on cut stems under the “Horticulture Tips from GCI” tab.)

Filed under Horticulture

“One of the Ten Gardens Not to Be Missed this Summer”

“And now at last we have a chance to catch our breath, and really stop and smell the roses at the annual Rose Day at Lyndhurst, home to one of our very favorite rose gardens in the whole Hudson Valley,” wrote Bill Cary in an article in The Journal News last Friday, in which he named the Rose Garden at Lyndhurst “one of the ten gardens not to be missed this summer.”

Sunday was an almost-perfect early summer day, and a record crowd of hundreds of people enjoyed an afternoon of observing, learning about, and photographing roses while they listened to live chamber and choral music, sipped punch, munched on cookies, and just relaxed. Rose experts from the Garden Club explained the finer points of planting, caring for and pruning many varieties of roses.

The Rose Garden, tended by members of the Garden Club, is on the grounds of Lyndhurst, a 67-acre National Trust for Historic Preservation property  on the Hudson River. It is open to the public, free of charge, daily from dawn to dusk. Rose Day is an annual event, the first Sunday in June.

Filed under Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Tarrytown NY

Annual Garden Fair & Plant Sale a GCI Tradition

What should I plant in the shade? Does this plant like to be wet or dry? Should I let it grow or pinch it back? Will the deer eat it? Every year, on the Saturday before Mothers Day, Garden Club members help guests to our Garden Fair and Plant Sale at the Lyndhurst Greenhouses choose plants and provide tips on care that, we hope, will contribute to the success and beauty of many gardens in the area. An added bonus: the daylilies, coleus and hostas that are unsold are donated to Lyndhurst to enhance the plantings at this National Trust property.

Filed under Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Plant Sale, Rivertowns Westchester NY, Tarrytown NY

A Rose Is Not Just a Rose

by Harriet Kelly

Pink and white rose

It needs a little tough love to thrive and bloom. When it comes to pruning roses, you have to be cruel to be kind. Grit your teeth and prune, prune, prune. So advised the expert rose growers of the Garden Club of Irvington yesterday—a beautiful, warm Saturday—during the club’s annual Rose Pruning Day. Under the tutelage of GCI rosarians Pru Montgomery and Bunny Bauer, club members learned how to properly use clippers, where to cut, and how much to cut (more than you think). There was a good turnout of local people who were eager to learn rose pruning techniques to use in their own gardens. All participants said that they’re looking forward to Rose Day on June 3 and promised to come back to enjoy the festivities and see how their handiwork turned out.

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Filed under Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Rivertowns Westchester NY, Tarrytown NY

What’s Eating Your Trees?

Are your trees suffering from the effects of disease, insect infestations, pollution, or ??? What can you do about it? Which trees should you plant and which should you avoid? Dr. Gary M. Lovett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, has the answers.

Dr. Lovett’s research is focused on the effects of air pollution, climate change and exotic species on forests. He is the author of many scientific publications and has edited two books on the subject. His recent research projects have taken place in New York’s Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, and in Maine, New Hampshire and Tennessee. The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, where he is senior scientist, is an internationally recognized center for ecological research and education.

Dr. Lovett is typical of the expert speakers that address the Garden Club of Irvington-on-Hudson at our public meetings. He discussed the insects and diseases that are destroying trees in our area and identified which trees are at risk and/or should not be planted any longer. This is invaluable information for anyone interested in which trees to choose for a public or private landscape in the Northeast.

 

Filed under Conservation, Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events