Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pittsgrove Farms Year End Thanks

As 2010 comes to a close, I wanted to make sure to send our thanks to all of you who have found our web site, read our blog, and visited us here at the farm. We appreciate your interest in us and the plants we grow. We love what we do and enjoy sharing that love of gardening with all of you and hope to continue doing so for long into the future. We're going to kick back for awhile until it is time to start preparing for spring and another flower-filled season.

May all of you be blessed in the coming year with good health, happiness, and gardens without weeds!

Happy New Year!
The Gulish Family
Pittsgrove Farms

Monday, September 20, 2010

Peonies-Transplanting and Dividing

Butter Bowl Before Division
One of the most enjoyable aspects of running a nursery is the interaction John and I have with the folks who come to Pittsgrove. Some are longtime gardeners like us who swap gardening successes and failures, tell of their favorite plants, and of plants they had to leave behind in a move, etc. Other visitors are those who are new to gardening or just to the world of iris or peonies and are seeking an education on where or how to grow them. All make for lively discussions and we love imparting any knowledge we have in order to make "playing in the dirt" fun for one and all.

Questions about peonies arise often. "When can I plant them?" Potted peonies can be planted starting in spring as early as the ground can be worked and continue until late fall. Some people have the misconception that peonies can only be planted in the fall, but potted plants may be put in the ground throughout the growing season.

"When can I transplant or divide peonies?" Now the answer to that question is only in the fall and doing so is easy enough for the average gardener.

Cutting Back Foliage
Before digging, cut the stalks back to approximately 3-4" above the ground. Using a sharp shovel or spade, dig around the peony 6-8"from the stalks depending on how large the plant is and trying to break as few roots as possible.
Butter Bowl After Being Dug
If just moving to another garden area, make sure the new area is well-drained with no less than a half day sun. The spot should be well prepared and the peony should be planted with a rich mix of new soil as the plant should be able to flourish for twenty years or more. A critical point to remember is to plant the peony at the same level it was at originally as planting too deep will cause the plant not to bloom. The only exception to this is if the plant had been planted too deep in the first location and was not blooming, then just raise the plant slightly to promote future blooms. If you put a lot of loose soil in the bottom of the hole, plant the peony a little higher to allow for settling. Plant Soaking To Remove Excess Soil
If your peony has become quite large and you want to divide it, then after digging it up remove as much soil as possible from the roots using a hose or soaking in a tub or child's wading pool. Next study the plant looking down between the stalks for the pink or white eyes (similar to potato eyes) about the size of the tip of your pinky. For a good division, you want 5-7 eyes.

Looking Down At Peony Eyes

Further study the root structure to make a division using a bow saw or heavy duty clippers to divide the plant doing the least damage and retaining heavy roots which are the food storage for the coming year. Show caution in handling not to damage the eyes as they will provide the new leaves and flowers. Cutting Between Stalks
Prepare the new location as for transplanting, planting higher to compensate for settling and cover with 3-4 inches of mulch to prevent winter heaving the first year. Remove the mulch in the spring. In both cases, water in well after planting is done.

Five Divisions Each With Several Eyes

Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Memoriam


There has been so much animosity, derision, finger pointing, holier than thou attitudes, them versus us feelings taking place. For this one date can all of us just perform at least one random act of kindness. I think that would honor those who were lost more than anything.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hot in Jersey

Pittgrove feeling high and dry

While sipping coffee on the patio this AM, listening to the persistent rapping of a red bellied woodpecker on our maple, I read in the Star Ledger that we have just experienced the hottest summer on record in New Jersey. This is after we dragged ourselves through the hottest spring in Jersey in 116 years. Besides the heat, statewide our rainfall was down 65%.

Last year folks complained about how wet a year we were having and at times it seemed as though we should have switched from growing iris, peonies and daylilies to the cultivation of rice and cranberries. This spring areas of our property that never dried out in 2009 as they normally would, became dry as a bone and remain that way.Blue Mist Caryopteris

Since we depend on well water, John and I have been very judicious on how much watering we do. All our potted iris, peonies, daylilies and various perennials are watered regularly, along with our vegetable garden. But with the amount of plantings we have, all we can do is cross our fingers that most will survive. Some like our cypress have already bit the dust and we will have numerous gaps to fill come spring. Other plants like the Blue Mist Caryopteris look absolutely heavenly and you would never realize they had been so moisture deprived. Our pond which was overflowing its banks last year is down a good 3' in water level and the poor fish must be in stiff competition for oxygen. Pittsgrove in wetter days
After 40 years here, we have seen our share of drought and bone soaking rain. We have learned to adapt ourselves to whatever Mother Nature presents us, knowing it will always be a challenge but one certainly worth it in the end.
Happy Gardening!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

She's Baaaack! Pittsgrove Blogs Again


I know, I know, I know! It has been ridiculously long since I have contributed to this blog. As our son, Garrett, learned when he messed up in the military, the only acceptable response is: "No excuse,sir/mam". John and I ended up with more on our plates this year than anticipated. We dealt with what was most pressing and set aside the rest for another day, so blogging went on the shelf along with dusting and washing windows.

Anyway, our lives have reached a degree of norm
alcy and I've decided I can write again---dusting and windows still have to wait awhile longer.

Lilac Plants
John decided to try his hand at growing varieties of lila
c including the newly introduced spring and fall rebloomer. Being a skeptic, he is holding off telling people they are rebloomers until the proof is in the pudding and we actually see it happen. Sometimes plants are introduced into the market with lots of wonderful claims, but reblooming, low maintenance, etc. take place only under the most ideal conditions leaving the average gardener filled with disappointment when the plants do not measure up to expectations. That is why John and I like to grow the plants ourselves before backing up such claims.
Plants that have lived up to the hype, are the t
he Knock Out roses and their cousins the Drift Roses, both developed and produced by Star Roses. We have grown Knock Out roses for a number of years and grew our first Drift Rose last year when a plant broker friend gave us one to plant on a trial basis. It performed well despite the very wet season of 2009. This year we planted several more in new beds (John is determined to eliminate all our lawn areas and replace them with garden beds!).
While on vacation for two weeks, the temperature here at Pittsgrove hit 104 degrees and although a friend came and watered our potted plants, the beds were not watered at all. Even though some of our well-established plants (viburnum and cypress) suffered from the intense heat and arid conditions, the roses looked terrific upon our return. We'll see how they do over the long term, but certainly would recommend them for an attractive, low maintenance addition to that sunny garden spot.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens Plant Sale

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens When In Full Bloom

Our collaboration with the wonderful folks at the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens continues this year and we have been gratified to play a small role in the continuance of this national treasure.

Many of you are aware that the gardens were in dire financial straits a few years back and in jeopardy of having to close altogether. The hard work of many dedicated people kept that from happening and thankfully the gardens are now under the wing of the Essex County Park System, thus assuring Presby will continue to delight visitors for generations to come.

This weekend, May 7-9 the annual plant sale will be held to raise funds for the maintenance and expansion of the gardens. Besides multiple varieties of iris, peonies, daylilies, and very unusual deer resistant perennials will be available. Additional information regarding the gardens and this weekend's sale may be found on the Presby web site.
Just a sample of what is available this weekend
If you are in the area, stop in, make a purchase and know you are aiding this jewel that helps keep "garden" in our motto "The Garden State". We encourage any of you who have not had the opportunity to visit Presby to make the trip, especially in mid-May when the gardens are in all their glory. Everyone we have sent has been awestruck by the beauty of this natural rainbow of color. Go see for yourself!

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Iris Cristata-Dwarf Crested Iris

In the past, a number of people have asked us if iris grow in the shade and we have always answered that all of the iris we were growing required sun, that is until now. This year at Pittsgrove, we are trying our hand at Iris cristata also known as dwarf crested iris. These prefer shade to part shade, grow 6 to 8 inches high, and spread very nicely without becoming invasive.
The cristata are native to America and grow all over the mid-Atlantic states, but are not seen in New Jersey very often. The flowers are white, or come in shades of blue/lavender. These little plants need a well-drained location in rich, loose soil and will form dense clumps. Their roots are very shallow, therefore require just a pinch of mulch..
These iris are great for that shady spot, rock garden, along walks and or a path in the woods.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gardening with Mickey and Minnie

When planning our family vacation to Disney World (something Pop Gulish had been urging since the Fairy Princess was born 5 1/2 years ago!) we did not realize it would also become somewhat a bus man's holiday as it happened to coincide with the 17th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Throughout Epcot, whimsical topiaries and sculpted gardens developed by various landscaping and gardening groups provided eye candy for young and old alike. We particularly enjoyed seeing the myriad of Disney characters from swashbuckling Peter Pan, to waltzing Cinderella, to fanciful ostrich ballerinas. Naturally, John and I had to be photographed in front of farmers Mickey and Minnie. The favorite of our Fairy Princess

Vehicle Boy was delighted to watch the trains at Germany's garden railroad. (Watch for a future blog post regarding garden railways when I discuss a new venture of our friend, Jim Shepard of Our boy was quite content to view the miniature village while the rest of the family wandered the shops.

The Living Wall was an example of gardening that is starting to pop up in hotels and malls across the nation and something you are likely to see more of in the future.All of us were fascinated by the fruits and veggies being grown experimentally in the greenhouses at "The Land", especially pumpkins growing in air rather than on the ground. Seeing all the wonderful produce made us look forward to harvesting our own in the hopefully not too distant future.
Splashes of color everywhere and the sweet fragrance of roses and violas make our family anxious to see spring arrive back home. We thankfully were not affected by the horrendous storm that hit this past weekend, March 13 & 14, which caused so much damage in flooding and downed trees throughout the Northeast. Jeremy and Christina had a tree come down, but luckily it only damaged some wires, not the house. The 15" of snow we left behind when we began our vacation has now been replaced by sunshine and clear skies, so it looks like we'll be out in the gardens for the next few days. Hope that's where you are too!
Think spring!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tree Peonies-And So It Begins!


John and I attended the New Jersey Floral & Garden Show followed by New York In Bloom Flower Show at the Albany State Museum while visiting with our grandchildren, Vehicle Boy and the Fairy Princess and both visits made us anxious for "digging in the dirt". That, my friend, is a little impossible for us here at Pittsgrove at the moment since our dirt is still under a blanket of snow that the Olympic folks would be happy to have on Cypress Mountain in Vancouver! The only digging has been by our native white tail deer who have foraged throughout our property for some tender shoots to nibble upon.

Just as John was starting to get twitchy from having to implement his snow shovel while the garden trowel collects dust in the barn, our friendly UPS man appeared with a shipment of tree peony grafts for us. John's face lit up the way Vehicle Boy's does upon the acquisition of a new Match Box car. Now he had something to do that didn't involve the movement of snow.

Tree peonies are so darn beautiful and pretty darn carefree once planted in the right location. Rather than deteriorating with age, these plants just get more spectacular with each passing year---I try to convince John and our sons that I'm doing the same as I age, but they're not buying that theory!

After John removed the one year peony grafts (tree peonies are grafted onto herbaceous stock) from their packing material, he soaked them in a bucket of water to rehydrate them since they have been dormant for a few months. After soaking for at least an hour, he potted each of them in a 2 gallon container making sure the graft and at least one bud were buried beneath the potting mix.

A third to a half of those plants John just potted will bloom this year. But with each year to come the size of the plant will increase and number of blossoms will multiply, maturing in 5-8 years. Tree peonies reach heights of 2 1/2'-5' tall and blossoms reaching 5-6" across.


Although this batch was all yellow, we intend to have approximately125 plants in 8-9 varieties this year, ranging in age from 2-4 years old. Unlike their herbaceous cousins, tree peonies require partial shade and some protection from drying winds. With proper
planting these lovely plants will reward you for many, many years to come.

Just a reminder for those of you in our area, The Philadelphia International Flower Show starts this Sunday February 28 and runs through March 7. This is the premier event of its kind and if you have never attended, you will be blown away by the outstanding displays.

Think Spring!