Category Archives: Rivertowns Westchester NY

Cultivating a Beautiful Rose Garden

The Garden Club of Irvington has been restoring and maintaining the Rose Garden at Lyndhurst for more than 50 years. Club members, led most recently by Rose Garden Chairman Lou Zapata, plant, weed, prune, fertilize and generally care for a wide variety of roses throughout the year to maintain healthy plants and robust bloomers.

Rosarian Josyane Colwell, left, has been leading the early-morning Rose Garden team at Lyndhurst every week this summer.

A Little History

We are fortunate to have as an active member a longtime rosarian and expert in growing roses. Josyane Colwell has been deeply involved in the Lyndhurst Rose Garden since joining the Garden Club in 1982. She grew up on a family farm in southern France with her grandparents, who cultivated roses for the perfume industry in Grasse. As a child, she learned every aspect of growing roses—and is not reserved in sharing that knowledge.

Josayne was featured in a 1986 cover story in the Rivertowns Enterprise about Rose Pruning Day at Lyndhurst, which is usually a public event at the end of March. We hope to be able to sponsor it again next year.

In addition to sun and water, roses need expert care to nurture new growth (the “baby shoots,” as Josyane calls them) and to help the plants survive the weather, pests and disease.

Here is some of Josyane’s advice:

Pruning

The pruning season begins in late March/early April with the removal of dead wood from the winter, and the removal of old, weak or dying branches and crossing branches, particularly those that are crowding the center of the bush. Shaping of the plant allows for strong growth, good air circulation and an aesthetic appearance during the blooming season. Cuts are made at an angle just above an emerging bud. The cutting of large canes requires sealing the exposed surface with a sealant such as Elmer’s glue to prevent future rot and disease.

Clean lopping shears or a folding saw are essential for the removal of larger canes in order not to damage the plant.

Deadheading

Cut at an angle with sharp, clean pruners.

Deadheading, the removal of spent blooms, should continue throughout the summer and early fall to encourage repeat bloomers to send out new buds and shoots.

This is also the time for heavy pruning to reshape and rejuvenate the plants so they can harden up before winter. When deadheading, never cut straight across; always cut on an angle, which prevents water from resting on the stems and causing them to rot. The cut should be just above the second branch of five (not three) leaves down from the spent bloom. Pruning shears should always be sharp and clean so as not to damage the cane and spread disease.

When the plant is pruned and deadheaded, healthy “baby shoots” emerge and bloom all season.

Climbing Roses

The pruning of climbing roses on a trellis or other structure is always a challenge, but can offer a wonderful display for a long time. In the early 1980s Josyane and her Rose Garden co-chair, Natalia Schell, could barely walk under the overgrown trellises. They spent hours almost every day removing the dead and diseased canes and tying back and training the younger canes to encourage growth and blooms on the outside of the trellises. The taller Natalia, from Russian aristocratic blood, held the ladder while the more diminutive Josyane from the farm pruned and tied from above. This French-speaking pair found great joy together in restoring the beauty of the rose trellises. Because many climbers re-bloom, this process continued throughout the summers as well. However, the length of bloom is worth the effort.

Trellises with climbing roses enhance every tier of the Rose Garden at Lyndhurst.

Maintenance

Fertilizing in the springtime will encourage healthy growth and beautiful blooms. On the farm they used manure to feed the plants. Most nurseries carry manure or can recommend an appropriate fertilizer. Turning the soil in early spring is also encouraged to allow moisture to reach the roots more easily.

Black spot, left, is a fungus that occurs in extreme heat and moisture and where there isn’t sufficient air circulation. Rose-related diseases such as black spot should be dealt with by a professional. However, gardeners can help stem its spread by removing yellow leaves with black spots, both on the plant and on the soil.

The Results

If you follow these simple tips from a seasoned rosarian, you can achieve results as stunning as these!

 

Filed under Garden History and Design, Horticulture, Landscape and Garden Design, NY and CT Public Garden Tours, Rivertowns Westchester NY, Tarrytown NY

City Pickers for a Suburban Harvest

Learn how one Irvington family is deepening their connection to the earth and each other (and having fun) by growing their own food — using some very interesting, rewarding, and easy-to-emulate methodologies.

by Gwen Merkin

Irvington resident Gwen Merkin, Program Manager for Corporate Sustainability at UL, has more than ten years experience in the fields of energy efficiency, corporate sustainability, green building, waste auditing, and city planning. She lives in a pondside house near Sunnyside Lane with her husband, Ryan Merkin, also a leader in building science and energy consulting, and their two young daughters. She spends her limited free time fostering connections between people and the Earth, and loves the magic of plants.

Throughout the quarantine, our family has found growing our own food to be incredibly soothing — from the bonding it brings as a family activity, to the wonders of nature and science, to the confidence of increasing self-sufficiency. We are feeling grateful for our deepening connection to nature.

Last year, after years of tinkering with vegetable gardening that resulted in very small yields, we bought three City Pickers, which are mobile, self-watering, raised-bed grow boxes. The plants live above an aeration screen that enhances the oxygen flow to roots and encourages faster growth. They worked really well for snap peas, cucumbers, arugula and kale.

This year, we bought two more City Pickers and seven Earth Boxes (a similar solution, made from recycled-content plastic), and decided to test a few more strategies to see if — on our 200-square foot deck and a plot in the back yard below — we can produce enough veggies to feed four adults and two children throughout the summer and early fall.

We started from seeds we’d been collecting over the last few years, plus a few purchased online from Seed Savers Exchange. We planted them in a combination of trays designed for growing seedlings, hydroponics (for lettuce), recyclable plastic salad containers (which are maddening as a single-use product), plus direct sowing into the 12 City Pickers and Earth Boxes. We borrowed a grow light to help expedite the process of turning the seedlings into viable plants.

We like this Parks’ domed seed-starting tray with 60 cells.

We use bagged potting mix — which is soil-less and designed to maximize growth in pots. The raised-bed systems require it — plus a blend of dolomite (crushed limestone) and organic fertilizer. We’re growing cucumbers, kale, mustard greens, arugula, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, cilantro, and basil. The ‘garden’ is up on our deck so we don’t create a tasty buffet for the abundant deer and geese.

The black plastic ‘mulch’ comes with the Earth Boxes. It helps retain moisture and keeps the weeds and critters out. In this box, we’re growing arugula and snap peas. You water the Earth Box through the pipe in the corner. The water is stored in the bottom of the container and the plants suck it in; you can’t overwater because the excess drains out through the bottom.

This is our electric hydroponic grow station, in which we’re growing butterhead lettuce. The dials on the bottom let us know if we need to add water or food. It took approximately three weeks from planting until we were able to enjoy the first crop (it was good)! The next round should be ready in half the time; the leaves are getting big again.

We put all our food scraps (except for meat, cheese, fish) in this FCMP Outdoor Tumbling Composter, and it makes amazing compost fertilizer. We start with an equal volume of leaves and vegetable peels and scraps. In spring temperatures it takes three to four weeks to make compost; it’s a lot slower in the colder months and faster in the summer. I also bury unfinished compost right in the backyard, and have seen it transform our clay soil into beautiful, worm-filled garden beds.

We are obsessed with watching the magical process unfold.

While our six- and eight-year-olds have not yet taken to eating salads (in a bowl, anyway), they love to pick leaves straight from the plants and pop them into their mouths!

 

Filed under Conservation, Horticulture, Rivertowns Westchester NY, Vegetable Gardening

Happy Trails Along the Saw Mill

Steve Pucillo, board member of Groundwork Hudson Valley, spoke about how he headed up the transformation of 14.4 miles of crumbling, 19th-century railroad tracks along the Saw Mill River Parkway in Westchester County, NY, into the beautiful South County Trailway.

The work, which is continuing, includes clearing away tracks, cleaning and widening the pathway, placing benches, birdhouses and bridges.

The South County Trailway is now a haven for walking, running, biking, roller-blading in three seasons, and x-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.

Filed under Conservation, Recreation, Westchester County, NY, Rivertowns Westchester NY

How to Develop a Pollinator Victory Garden and Pollinator Pathways

Did you know that communities all over the world are making and linking pesticide-free, native-plant gardens, meadows and forests to encourage beneficial insect and bird species? Especially bees, which are dying out and so essential to our ecosystems.

And we can do this right here in the Rivertowns, beginning in our own gardens.

This free public event with Kim Eierman of EcoBeneficial® is typical of Garden Club of Irvington programming.

Kim is a well known environmental horticulturist who specializes in ecological landscapes and native plants. She teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and The Native Plant Center.

Please subscribe to this site and get updates and invites to all our 2019-20 events.

Filed under Conservation, Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Rivertowns Westchester NY, Tarrytown NY, Zone 7 Native Plants, Zone III Events

Photo Review of Our Flower Show—The Sunny Side of the Hudson

The members of the Garden Club of Irvington-on-Hudson are delighted to bring you this selection of photos of our flower show at the Lyndhurst Carriage House. The theme, “On the Sunny Side of the Hudson,”celebrated the influence of Washington Irving on our Rivertowns region of New York and featured floral and horticultural exhibits inspired by characters and situations on the pages of Irving’s books.

The show was the result of two years of hard work on the part of all our members, especially show chair Barbara Defino. Here is just one of the many accolades sent to Barbara: “Dear Barbara and Members of the GC of Irvington: Congratulations on staging a beautiful flower show. The outstanding classes and excellent club participation showcased the talent within the Garden Club of Irvington. My thanks to you, and all the members of Irvington for their incredible hospitality. We truly were on the sunny side of the Hudson on May 10.”

Guests to the show, which was open to the public on May 10 and 11, were greeted with vases of cut stems set out in tables on the patio in front of the Lyndhurst Carriage House.

Inside the tent, an entire wall of tables was set up with glorious displays of blooms cut from exhibitors’ gardens that morning. All were judged for beauty, horticultural perfection and grooming. Categories included peonies, viburnums, lilacs, and rhododendrons.

The “Best in Show’ award for Horticulture went to Lydia Wallis of the Southampton (NY) Garden Club for her cut specimen of an epimedium.

At the entrance to the Carriage House, below, the Floral Design section opened in a dramatic fashion with mass arrangements of primarily yellow flowers — such as those grown at Sunnyside Cottage, Washington Irving‘s home — displayed on pedestals.

The winners in the “360 Degrees and Sunny” mass arrangement class were Libby Welch and Anna Getz of the Greenwich, CT, Garden Club

“The Book Party” class, channeling a book signing for Washington Irving’s literary friends that included sips of schnapps and games of dominoes, was the theme of the above winning table setting by Colleen Hempleman and Christina Vanderlip of the Hortulus GC. Judges and guests admired the rich, masculine color scheme and rare, deep-toned flowers.

This table setting by Renee Shamosh and Ellen Shapiro of the Garden Club of Irvington featured an arrangement of tulips, hydrangeas and wildflowers and a faux feather made from paper and wire. According to GCA rules, real feathers are not allowed, challenging all entrants in the class to devise a way to depict an appropriate 19th-century writing instrument.

A category entitled “Sleepy Hollow Awakenings” featured arrangements of flowers in bud and in full bloom, displayed in niches. This arrangement by Emily Meskat and Kristina Bicher Rye GC took first place in the class. Richard McKeon, a former GCI member, now with the Garden Club of Millbrook, created the second-place arrangement below.

 

“Short Stories,” miniature arrangements displayed on a mantelpiece, could not exceed five inches in height, width or depth. The winner, below, was Amy Hardis of the Little Garden Club of Rye.

Visitors to the Horticulture exhibits in the tent were treated to a lush display of exquisite plants grown over specified time periods according to strict conditions laid out in the show entry brochure, or “schedule.”

The horticultural displays included a “challenge class” of window boxes in which all the plants were to be propagated from cuttings or grown from seed. The award winners included GCI members Anne Myers and Nancy Stoer, who used unusual cultivars of coleus (above), and Veronica Gedrich, for the window box (below) filled with herbs, which the judges commended for “flavorful eating all season long.”

The window box above, with dipladenia and regal pelargoniums propagated by Renee Shamosh and Ellen Shapiro, was nearly disqualified because it included a few perennials from Ellen’s garden. Propagation by division was not included in the schedule. (Note to future exhibitors: Read the schedule extra carefully!)

The Rosie Jones award for “reflecting the spirit of growing with joy and enthusiasm” went to the above “Mother and Daughter” pair of coleus propagated by Julia Burke of Rye Garden Club.

“Rip Van Winkle” troughs could feature Alpine species or cultivars. dwarf conifers, and/or succulents owned for a minimum of three months. A special club award went to Ellen Shapiro, whose trough (below) included succulents grown from cuttings taken from her daughter-in-law’s San Francisco roof garden.

Our “Imaginary World of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” children’s class, hosted in conjunction with the Irvington Public Library, displayed fairie houses made by children 8 to 12 years old. Proud exhibitors included Fitz Anderson, above, and Jordana Laks, below, with her mom, Lisa Izes.

In the “Inside Story” photography category, honors went to Susan Van Tassell of the Short Hills, NJ, Garden Club, for her macro shot of a dahlia, and Dori Ruff of GCI for her study of the inner workings of a peony.

The conservation and education exhibit by Catherine Ludden demonstrated the beauty and benefits of adding native plants to your garden — through a slide show and a 20-page handout illustrating “Plant This, Not That” plant pairs. This exhibit, designed by Ellen Shapiro, won a judge’s commendation. It included an exquisite arrangement of native plants, below, from Cathy Ludden’s garden.

A few of the 25 GCI members who organized and staged the show took a break from setting up the exhibits. Clockwise from left: Renee Shamosh, Jo Gurley, Ellen Shapiro, Harriet Kelly, Linda Azif, and Heather Kenny. Photos in this post by Steve Beech and Ellen Shapiro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Fab Flower Show “On The Sunny Side of the Hudson”

washingtonirvingsbooksThrough flowers and plants — our 2017 GCA flower (and plant) show celebrated the life and work of Irvington’s own Washington Irving. All club members worked very hard on this for more than a year to make this show happen.

The floral designs, judged by an esteemed panel of experts, were:

• “360 Degrees and Sunny” — glorious mass flower arrangements featuring yellow flowers in season.
• “The Book Party” — fanciful table settings for a book-signing by none other than Washington Irving at his Sunnyside Cottage,
• “Short Stories” — tiny miniature arrangements displayed on a mantelpiece
•  “Sleepy Hollow Awakenings” — designs with some flowers in bud and others in full bloom.

The horticulture classes included displays of  “Rip Van Winkle” alpine garden troughs and “Home Grown” window boxes — and dozens and dozens of beautiful cut stems and branches of the best in local perennials and flowering shrubs and trees in season.

Visitors also delighted in a display of photographs of historic houses and gardens at rest, among other subjects. All work was done by members of our own and other Garden Club of America clubs who register via the GCA website.

A special and timely conservation exhibit demonstrated the importance of native plants in our landscapes.

The show, chaired by Barbara Defino, was free and open to the public at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, and from 10 am to 1 pm on Thursday, May 11, at the Lyndhurst Carriage House. Photos to come soon…

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a native plant that is an important food sorce for Monarch butterflies. The conservation and education exhibit will feature native plants to consider for our gardens, such as the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), which is an important food source for Monarch butterflies.

The conservation and education exhibit will feature native plants to consider for our gardens, such as the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), which is an important food source for Monarch butterflies.

Filed under Conservation, Garden Club Flower Show Categories, Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Irvington NY, Rivertowns Westchester NY, Tarrytown NY

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

A Winter Visit to the Wildflower Meadow

Cathy LuddenThere’s a new Native Wildflower Meadow at the Greenburgh Nature Center.

The meadow project, conceived and spearheaded by GCI member Cathy Ludden, left, president of the Nature Center’s board of directors, was designed by Bill Boyce of Biosphere Landscape Architecture and installed on a reclaimed two-acre patch that was once part of an apple orchard. In recent decades, Ludden explained during a recent tour for GCI members and guests, the area was neglected and overrun with invasive plants.

The meadow incorporates several remaining apple trees and existing stands of bayberry and sumac. New plantings include perennial beds with flowering native plants and grasses selected to provide year-around interest. The beds are bordered by mulched paths that showcase newly planted native trees and shrubs. There’s also an outdoor classroom area with seating made of granite slabs found on-site, an oak tree circle, and beehives.

GardenClub

Cathy Ludden leads GCI members and guests through the outdoor classroom at the Wildflower Meadow.

grasses

A stand of switch grass, Panicum virgatum, a perennial warm-season bunchgrass native to North America.

Meadow

A stand of sumac and ashy sunflower (Helianthus mollis).

The surrounding area has been seeded with native grasses and flowers to create a naturalistic meadow that will develop and change with time, always providing food and shelter for insects, butterflies, birds, turtles and small mammals. An arbor made of red cedar is being constructed as a centerpiece for the meadow, and it will be used as a structure to house the Nature Center’s annual summer butterfly exhibit.

Milkweed

A milkweed beetle on a milkweed seed pod. American milkweeds are an important nectar source for native bees, wasps and other insects, and a major food source for monarch butterflies.

A leader in environmental education since 1975, the 33-acre Greenburgh Nature Center, located off Central Avenue in Scarsdale, also features a woodland preserve with hiking trails, an organic garden, a green roof exhibit, a discovery playground for children, and more than 100 live animals. The Center is open from dawn to dusk all year round. Che their website for specifics, current exhibitions, and news.

Filed under Conservation, Rivertowns Westchester NY

Serving the Community

Thanks to a successful Plant Sale and other fundraising events, the Garden Club of Irvington is once again helping support organizations that improve and protect the environment, including the Center for Plant Conservation, Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, the Garden Conservancy, Greenburgh Nature Center, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Irvington Land Trust, Native Plant Center, O’Hara Nature Center, Scenic Hudson, Untermyer Gardens Conservancy and Wave Hill.

OHara2

The O’Hara Nature Center on Irvington’s Mountain Road is one of the projects supported by GCI. This center features nine demonstration gardens that have curriculum-related content for educational programs—and are examples for beautifying your landscape. They include the Bird, Butterfly and Bee Garden, the Bog Garden, the Xeriscape and Rock garden, the Edible Forest Ggarden, the Shade Garden, and the Woodland Garden.

We look forward to an equally successful 2016, and wish you and yours a happy, healthy New Year.

 

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

Bravissimo to Our Artists!

The exhibition, “Home Grown,” art by the members of the Garden Club of Irvington, was on display at the Irvington Public Library through November 28. The show featured collages, watercolors, photography, prints, and needlework by Bunny Bauer, Barbara Defino, Nora Galland, Harriet Kelly, Edna Kornberg, Cathy Ludden, Louise Petosa, Dori Ruff, Renee Shamosh, Ellen Shapiro, Amy Sherwood and Dongkai Zhen.

Galland

Helpful husband Al Galland helped Nora hang twelve of her beautiful botanical illustrations.

Renee

Adam Shamosh helped his mom, Renee, with her paintings.

Donghai

Donghkai Zhen had four exquisite needlepoint pieces in the show.

Photo

Edna Kornberg and Harriet Kelly of the photo committee decided how best to arrange their work.

Bunny

Bunny Bauer shows a collage with three of the many pressed-flower bookmarks made by GCI members for a 2002 Garden Club of America Zone Meeting. In the background are photographic and typographic prints by Ellen Shapiro.

If you are interested in any of the works shown here, please contact us through this site.

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