Archive | 2022

2022 Assess, Adjust, Savor: Part 2.

“The North America sylva — our tree flora — is the grandest in the temperate zones of the earth, and in some ways the grandest anywhere . . . . Almost every tree in our sylva has made history, or witnessed it, or entered into our folkways, or usefully become a part of our daily life.” Donald Culross Peattie, author and preeminent chronicler of our native trees: A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central America (Houghton Mifflin 1950). In recent years, there has been heightened interest in planting native trees in the home garden. Please consider one of my favorites:

Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood Tree) Z 5-9

Rightfully celebrated as one of our most beautiful deciduous trees, Sourwood is an all-season performer: In Spring, it produces large lacquered, dark-green leaves, followed in Summer by fragrant, weeping sprays of white bloom beloved by bees. According to Peattie, you can hear “the roar of the bees gone nectar-mad” for the flowers. In Autumn, the tree’s lustrous foliage turns dazzling shades of red and purple. Photo below taken on November 5.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

For more than two decades my Sourwood has been pest and disease free and it has attained a height of about 25 feet. Plant in well-drained, organically rich, moist, acid soil in sun or partial shade.

In my organic garden, in addition to showcasing native plants, I make every effort to attract the trifecta of pollinators: Bees, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies. Bees are happy with a wide range of plants. Hummingbirds and Butterflies are more discriminating. This year the Hummers and Butterflies voted for their favorite Annuals: Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’ (Hummingbirds) and Lantana (Butterflies) won hands-down.

When grown in organic potting soil, in containers kept well watered, no dead-heading, fertilizing, or spraying is necessary for either plant. Both are disease and pest free and bloom continuously from Spring to frost. Photos below of Cuphea on June 2 and November 15 and of Lantana on June 2 and November 7. Welcome these fabulous flowering plants to your garden and bask in the company of our precious pollinators.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

Wishing you all a wonderful December holiday celebration and a Happy, Healthy, New Year! Looking forward to gardening with you in 2023!

2022: Assess, Adjust, Savor: Part 1

“A garden, no matter how good it is, must never completely satisfy. The world as we know it began in a very good garden, a completely satisfying garden — Paradise — but after a while the owner and the occupants wanted more.” Jamaica Kincaid

For years my garden was an overgrown mess. Masses of volunteer Hydrangea, Viburnum, and Weigela invaded and occupied the landscape. Out of respect for Mother Nature’s gifts, I did nothing to stem the intrusive onslaught. Until now. This was a year of upheaval and positive change: Many of the large, established volunteer shrubs were dug up and were successfully transplanted or were given away. The garden breathed a sigh of relief. See photo below of a transplanted Viburnum that can now freely express itself without encroaching on a Japanese Maple and a photo of the Maple that was happy to see the Viburnum go.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Moreover, there is now space to add new interesting plants. If you plan to make additions to your garden, please consider:

Osmanthus x fortunei ‘UNC’ Z 7-10

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

This large, handsome, evergreen, flowering shrub is the progeny of a perfect marriage between O. heterophyllus and O. fragrans, inheriting winter hardiness from one and fragrance that carries on the air from the other. O. fortunei UNC is a longtime valued resident of my shady, organic garden and I look forward every autumn to the abundant, small white flowers that fill the garden with their intoxicating perfume. In addition, the shrub’s showy, dark-green foliage is deer and rabbit resistant. Provide moist, well-drained, acidic soil.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’ Z 7-10

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

Another floriferous Autumn treasure is this exquisite Camellia that produces sumptuous double, ruffled, snowy-white flowers and healthy, semi-weeping, evergreen, holly-like foliage. I love this plant. I bought three more this Spring. Provide organically rich, well-drained acidic soil; protect from voles; avoid a windy site and morning sun.

Calycanthus x ‘Aphrodite’ Z 5-9

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

This deciduous shrub, aptly named Goddess of Love, produces beautiful, red, magnolia-like blossoms in summer, on old and new wood. The flowers are said to be fragrant. My plant’s flowers are not fragrant but ‘Aphrodite’ has graced my garden for two years and it took three years before her kissing cousin, yellow-flowered Calycanthus ‘Athens,’ released its fruity fragrance. I remain hopeful. Aphrodite’s big, glossy, green, herbal-scented leaves are deer-resistant. Provide well-drained, organically-rich soil in sun or in shade. The plant is pH adaptable.

I purchased all of the above shrubs mail-order from Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, NC; www.camforest.com; (919) 968-0504.

 

NOTE: Years ago, Judge Learned Hand cautioned: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.” Thankfully, in November, Americans voted their hearts and democracy won.

WISHING YOU ALL A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY!

2022: Natural, Non Toxic Vole Repellant

Voles are underground terrorists and my garden’s Public Enemy No.1. They may look cute and innocent but these rodents are the spawn of the Devil and guilty of outrageously bad behavior.

After burrowing under ground they are active day and night eating plants, bulbs, roots of trees and shrubs — most everything really, they aren’t picky. Dogwoods, laburnum, styrax, edgeworthia, roses, camellias, azaleas, lespedezas, astilbes (Big-Mac for voles), epimedium, daylilies, woodland orchids, even toxic hellebores and foxgloves (voles never let a little poison come between them and a tasty meal), have been ravished and killed. I could go on and on. Nothing is safe.

Female voles as young as 4-6 weeks can mate throughout the year – that is, when they aren’t eating. Once pregnant, gestation is only about three weeks, and each litter can have 3-6 young. (One reference said up to 10 young.) Do the math: With that sort of reproductive ability they can, in a very short time, overrun a planet, much less a garden. Pretty darn horrifying.

What’s an organic gardener to do?

Poisons and traps that also endanger beneficial wildlife (not to mention beneficial family members) are out of the question. I had some success with Sonic Molechasers that repel voles and other borrowing rodents with penetrating underground sonic sound at 15 second intervals. (Despite the name, moles are not my problem; they eat slugs, not plants, though voles are opportunists and may take over the moles’ sub-soil tunnels.) But Molechasers are powered by batteries and therefore useless in winter when batteries run out and can’t be replaced. I was heartbroken one Spring — when the snow finally melted — to find several beloved camellia plants, loaded with buds, lying on the ground, rootless and dead.

There is a natural solution that works: Voles have sensitive skin and avoid tunneling through abrasive material.  Since 2012, after adding sharp particles of stone to the planting soil of new plants, I’ve enjoyed great success repelling these underground terrorists. I mix some stone with the earth at the bottom of the planting hole, then I mix in stone with the rest of the planting soil, and finally, I place a layer of stone around the base of the new plant. My stone of choice is 3/8 Burgundy Red Chip purchased from Southampton Masonry, 1540 County Road 39,  Southampton NY, phone: 631-259-8200. (A few members of my garden club have had success adding chicken grit to the planting soil.)

Protecting plants from predator damage is never-ending. Experience tells me that nothing is foolproof at all times and in all circumstances. With that caveat, I’m happy to say that this method has been working for 10 years and counting.

(Note: This post is an update of my 2012 post on the same subject. A version of the article has also been published in the November 2022 issue of my garden club’s newsletter, “HAH Happenings”.)

Summer 2022: A Rose & A Hydrangea

Rosa ‘Jasmina’ Z 5-9

My weather-worn, broken, metal rose arch finally gave up the ghost. In early April I detached its occupant Rosa ‘Jasmina’ and mail-ordered a new, weather-proof, vinyl replacement. By the time the arch arrived and was assembled, I was so overwhelmed with Spring cleanup I simply threw Jasmina over the new support — without proper attachment, pruning and feeding. Moreover, because the new arch was smaller than the old, which necessitated a change in garden placement, the rose stems had to change direction — north to south instead of south to north. I wasn’t sure Jasmina would survive this unfortunate treatment.

But survive it did and then some, filling the summer air with delicious perfume. I am delighted with the rose’s fortitude and untamed exuberance. Photos below.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

Jasmina is an award-winning Kordes bred climbing rose. The Kordes Nursery was founded in Germany in 1887 and since 1990 grows its roses without fungicides. All Kordes roses undergo years of trial evaluation for disease resistance, color, form and fragrance before they are introduced into commerce. Jasmina is beautiful, very healthy, fragrant, vigorous — and forgiving. It thrives in well-draining, moist, organic-rich soil.

 

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Sumida no Hanabi’ aka H.m. ‘Fugi Waterfall’ Z 6-9

In recent years, there has been a staggering number of sensational new Hydrangea introductions. But like the nursery rhyme “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold,” I want to celebrate a golden oldie — a Japanese native Hydrangea I’ve grown and treasured for over a decade.

H.m. ‘Sumida no Hanabi’ is a captivating, award-winning gem of a plant. It possesses attractive, healthy, dark green foliage, but it’s the charming waterfall of double lace-cap florets, dancing from long pedicels, that make this hydrangea special. In acid soil the white florets sport blue centers and the small clusters of fertile flowers — surrounded by the elegant, dancing lace-caps — are also blue. The florets will eventually age to creamy mint green. Photos below.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

Hanabi flourishes in my acidic, well-draining, moist, organically rich soil, in shade. As with other macrophylla, the shrub blooms on old growth, so prune after flowering.

 

News Alert: Naming Names

The Governing Board of the Entomological Society of America has changed the common name of the Lymantria dispar moth from Gypsy moth to Spongy moth. They concluded that the word gypsy was an offensive slur of the Romani people.

I think anyone would resent being closely tied by name to these vile, foliage-chomping moths. They have laid waste to — and continue to kill — millions of hardwood trees, especially our beloved native Oaks.

The moths are not native to the United States but were brought here in 1869 by a Frenchman, Etienne Leopold Trouvelot. He was hoping to make a fortune in the U.S. with a misguided plan to breed silkworms. When the moths escaped captivity and set about the rapid destruction of countless acres of our hardwood forests and home garden landscapes, Trouvelot hightailed it back to France.

Surely, wouldn’t Justice be better served if the moth’s common name were Trouvelot? Just sayin’.

Justice was served in California: A court recently ruled that four species of bumblebees could be protected under the umbrella of the California Endangered Species Act because the bees fell within the statute’s legal definition of “Fish”.  A surprising decision, yes. An important win for our pollinators, absolutely. (And I’m sure that for two of the species, Crotch bumblebee and Suckley’s Cuckoo bumblebee, a name change was welcome.)

2022: Small Treats & Joyful Moments

”One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”

Loyal readers know that I have often embraced this keen observation from the late British author Iris Murdoch. The New York Times now reports that the Murdoch “secret” has become a “popular trend” on social media called “Romanticizing Your Life.” Commentators on You Tube, Tik Tok, Reddit and Instagram are urging thousands of followers to find and appreciate moments of joy and beauty in their everyday lives and to “celebrate living for the smaller reasons.”

Here are some of my 2022 “moments of joy”:

First, after a long absence, native Lady Slipper Orchids have returned to the garden. Giddy with joy to have them back.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Second, two of the three ‘Liberty’ Hostas I planted last Spring have returned. Underground terrorist voles only got one!

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Third, my husband gave me the best birthday present ever: The Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon. We have a locked gate at the foot of the driveway to keep out the deer. Unfortunately, it also prevents package delivery to the house. I can barely lift heavy cartons of mail order plants, much less carry them 700 feet. With the small but mighty red wagon, I can effortlessly roll piles of boxes to the house. Don’t know how I lived without it.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Fourth, I love the pop of the color red in the garden and I delight in the Spring arrival of the tiny, unique red cones of the award-winning dwarf Norway Spruce, Picea abies ‘Pusch’.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Fifth, one of my favorite evergreen azaleas, Rhododendron ‘Marshy Point’s Daisy’, thankfully escaped a major garden breakout of azalea leaf gall, which affected both evergreen and deciduous azaleas.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Sixth, how can you not smile when enchanting gifts from Mother Nature suddenly appear? These mushrooms (Parasola plicatilis) are aptly named Pleated Parasols. (Lovely to see, not to eat.)

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And, finally, the roses never looked better, filling the air with their intoxicating perfume. They are represented here by my favorite climber,  the gorgeous, healthy, very fragrant Rosa ‘Compassion’.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Life is good.

May 2022: A Magnolia & A Camellia

I love Bumblebees.

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

They are chubby, fuzzy, buzzy, and beautiful. By nature, these native pollinators are docile, non-aggressive insects — totally absorbed with flowers, not with stinging. (Wasps, on the other hand, harbor evil intent: They lie in wait for a gardener to walk by and then pursue and sting to kill — for no reason. Ask me how I know this.)

Back to the bees. I recently discovered another reason to love them. Like me, they appreciate their morning cup of coffee.  Studies have shown that bees prefer naturally caffeinated flowers like those from coffee and citrus plants. And caffeinated bees have improved memories, helping them to find nectar. I’ll have to up my caffeine intake!

Bees and gardeners are now safer since toxic glyphosate has finally been removed from the herbicide Roundup — but, regretfully, removed only from Roundup formulated for home and garden use. Roundup for agricultural purposes will still contain cancer-linked glyphosate. And new toxic chemicals have been added to the formula for garden use.

Why play Russian Roulette with your health and the health of the wildlings gracing your garden? You can successfully garden without herbicides, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. Plants can and do flourish in organic gardens. Consider these April/May blooming beauties:

Magnolia denudata ‘Yellow River’ Z 4-9

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

Though this cold-hardy China native is small in stature — after many years in my garden, it’s only about 6 feet tall — it produces an abundance of large, fragrant, showy, buttery-yellow flowers. Yellow River has been a reliable bloomer and hasn’t suffered any disease or insect problem. Provide acidic, organically rich, well-drained soil in sun or shade.

Camellia japonica ‘Korean Fire’ Z 6-9

                                                                                                                                                                      copyright 2022  Lois Sheinfeld

I am beguiled by Camellias. I can’t resist them. But too often they are killed by voles and by dramatic shifts in the weather. I swear then never to buy another. Yet, this year, I bought six gorgeous plants. Can’t help myself: I’m addicted.

I celebrate here — and urge you to consider — the long-lived, award-winning Camellia, C.j ‘Korean Fire.’  It has flourished and flowered prodigiously for over a decade in my organic garden. The shrub has glossy, disease-free, evergreen foliage. And it is very cold-hardy — not surprising since the original plant was collected from an area in Korea with frigid weather conditions. Masses of fire-engine-red flowers are produced in Spring.

I planted Korean Fire north of the house in acid, well-drained, organically enriched soil, following the advice of the Camellia guru, William Ackerman. His book, Beyond the Camellia Belt, is an essential reference for anyone growing cold-hardy Camellias.

My go-to mail-order source for Camellias is Camellia Forest Nursery, www.camforest.com; 919-968-0504; camelliaforest@gmail.com. And do check out their singular selection of trees and shrubs. 

2022: Spring Has Sprung

How joyous the sudden emergence in the garden of yellow, purple, and white crocus, golden daffodils, and the deliciously fragrant flowers of the March-blooming honeysuckle, Lonicera purpusii. Spring is here!

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

As I think about the growing seasons ahead, I’m mindful of what Lewis Carroll’s White Queen said to Alice: “It’s a poor sort of memory,” she said, “that only works backward.” Isn’t that the truth. Since Mother Nature moved to Crazyville, it would certainly help with the planning if we could remember now what manic weather she will produce in the future. Still, we can look back and learn from our plants that have prospered despite MN’s insults.

In this post, I’d like to celebrate and share with you a number of healthy, beautiful, Rhododendrons that have flourished in my organic garden for many years. All do well with regular water in well-drained, acid, organically rich soil, in shade.  I can recommend with confidence the following time-tested shrubs:

Rhododendron ‘Solidarity’ Z 5-8. Evergreen Large-leafed Elepidote

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

This is the signature plant of RareFind Nursery and was bred by the late Hank Schannen, founder/owner of RareFind. Solidarity produces showy flowers in May that open dark pink and fade to light pink and white. An impressive, sought-after shrub, named after the Polish labor union by Hank’s Polish mother.

 

Rhododendron ‘Taurus’ Z 6-8. Evergreen Large-leafed Elepidote.

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

This late April bloomer is a standout with its glowing red flowers and dark green foliage. It can grow 5 to 6 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide. A handsome early-season performer.

 

Rhododendron ‘Aglo’ a/k/a ‘Weston’s Aglo’ Z 4-8. Evergreen Small-leafed Lepidote

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 — Lois Sheinfeld

This is one of the fabulous Mezitt hybrid Lepidotes bred at Weston Nursery. In late April Aglo flaunts clusters of radiant pink flowers with vibrant red flares that are beloved by bees. In the Fall, the foliage turns a rich bronzy green.

Decades ago, I purchased these Rhododendrons from RareFind Nursery. They are still available for sale along with other outstanding plants.

New to me is RareFind’s perennial offering, Aquilegia canadensis ‘Little Lanterns’, a dwarf form of our native species with bi-color yellow and red flowers. Little Lanterns is reported to be resistant to leaf miner, the scourge of Aquilegias. A plant worth having! My order is in.

RareFind Nursery, 957 Patterson Road, Jackson NJ 08527; Visits by appointment only. Phone: 732-833-0613. The 2022 catalog is online at www.rarefindnursery.com. The email address is support@rarefindnursery.com.

Winter 2022: Glance Back/Look Forward

Glance Back:

The recently enacted 2021 Infrastructure Act contains an important provision providing financial assistance–two million a year for five years—to assist States in adopting pollinator-friendly practices and in creating pollinator-friendly habitats along roads and highways. This addresses, in part, the sharp decline in pollinator populations—bees, butterflies, et al.— which threatens our food supply. Pollinators are essential to agriculture: Approximately one third of the food we eat would not exist without them.

Pesticides and climate change—flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, drought— are major causes of pollinator loss. In 2015, the serious threat to bees led President Obama to create a study task force which, after investigation, called on the Department of Agriculture to track colony loss and to restore millions of acres of land to pollinator habitat. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened: Greatly reduced colonies of rented bees are now trucked all over the country to pollinate crops. Hopefully, Federal financial support will make a difference.

We too can help pollinators by growing a diversity of plants with a succession of bloom throughout the growing season and by eliminating pesticides in our gardens. I don’t grow crops but I would not want a garden without the joyful presence of butterflies and bumblebees. One of my favorite pollinator-friendly plants is yellow foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora) which has thickly seeded itself in the gravel driveway and gravel paths. Bees love it. And so do I. Photos below. ( Yes, foxgloves are tennis fans.)

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

In 2021, orchids (Epipactis helleborine) also volunteered in the driveway and paths. The plants have pleated leaves and short stems entirely covered with tiny, exquisite flowers. The orchid is native in Europe and has naturalized here. It was discovered in New York in 1879 and many gardeners call it the weedy orchid and pluck it out. Not me. I think it’s special. Photos below.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Another special plant is a Rhododendron I’ve had for years but it flowered for the first time in 2021, producing elegant, bi-color pink and primrose-yellow bells. Talk about the wow factor! All my Rhododendrons bloomed like crazy last year but this one dazzled. Its tag is long gone. Can anyone identify? Photo below.

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, I was very impressed with Salvia Rockin’ Playin’ The Blues. I planted it last Spring and it bloomed all Summer, Fall, and into Winter. December Photo below. (See also the March 28 post, “Early Spring/2021: Expectations”.)

copyright 2022 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Alas, 2021 was not all good. Hostile anti-vaccine and anti-mask agitators increased the life-threatening risk of Covid infection. And, on January 6, treasonous, domestic-terrorist thugs stormed the Capital intent on violently overthrowing our newly elected government. Very scary.

Look Forward:

Years ago, The New York Times Metropolitan Diary reported the following conversation between two women:

Woman one: “This morning I listened to NBC. They predicted a very cold day and possible heavy rain or snow flurries.”

Woman two:” I listen to CBS. They usually predict much better weather.”

Hopefully, thanks to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and to the United States Department of Justice, 2022 may yet prove to be a CBS kind of year.

The mail-order plants I’ve purchased for 2022 make me happy. (Remember happy?) And I’ve been informed that a new mail-order Nursery, Deer Country Gardens, will open this year, specializing in deer-resistant native perennials. Something to look forward to. Much to talk about and share.

Wishing you all a Wonderful, Safe, and Healthy 2022!