Sunday, June 10, 2012

Earthly Delights Part 2

Part of our display at Earthly Delights

Earthly Delights certainly lived up to its name! John and I went into this venture blind having never done a show before. The grounds where the event was held were stunning and Andrea Filippone and her group of volunteers could not have been more friendly or accommodating.

We also met a number of amazing vendors dealing in a fantastic array of plants. It takes a great deal to stump John with plant identification after his many years in the gardening world, but believe me, he saw many plants that he had never encountered.
John speaking with one of the other vendors

Overall the weather was glorious, but Mother Nature did hit us with a couple of heavy rains.The rain had little effect on the vendors or those in attendance-- as gardeners we are all used to her whims by now. There are a number of vendors that we plan to visit on one of our "bus man's holidays" and we hope to see some of them here at Pittsgrove.

This was a "delightful" experience and we were quite glad we decided to attend. Maybe we'll see you there next year.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Earthly Delights

Earthly Delights... Cultivating the Gardener

Join Us for New Jersey's Preeminent Horticultural Event


John was recently contacted by Andrea Filippone of AJF Design to be a vendor at Earthly Delights . This was something he had not heard of before and told Andrea he would discuss it with me and get back to her. After checking on what this was all about and asking a few of our customers about it, we have decided to go ahead and appear at this event taking place June 1, 2, and 3. I'm sure it will be quite an experience for us and for any of you who also attend. The estate where Earthly Delights will be held looks breath-taking from the photos we have viewed online and we look forward to walking the grounds.

Have no fear, we will still be open that weekend here at Pittsgrove (we'll work that out one way or another) but look forward to seeing those of you who attend for what promises a quite interesting and informative weekend. 

More and more plants are coming into bloom here and each morning, John and I have another surprise awaiting us in one of the garden beds. Peonies are in full color and tall bearded, Siberian and water iris have been popping one after another.

The bird houses are full and butterflies have started to spread their wings. All is right with the world, at least the world of nature here at Pittsgrove.

Hoping your world is also blossoming,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Butterflies-Welcome Them To Your Garden

 Butterflies on perennial hyssop
When people visit us here at the farm, they often marvel at the number of butterflies seen throughout the gardens.  A Star Ledger article by Ryan Hutchins informed us of a recent visitor to Pittsgrove, the Red Admiral, and we have noticed a number of egg cases on plants throughout the property.

There are a number of plants that you can add to your property to attract these beautiful insects.

John and I have been planting here at Pittsgrove since we've been married (believe me, that's a long time!) so we have a terrific number of plants to bring these beauties of nature our way. No matter the size of your property or your budget, there are plants that may soon make Monarchs, Swallowtails, Skippers, etc. seek out your garden.

Annuals such as zinneas, petunias, impatiens and verbena along with cosmos, nicotiana, and marigolds are all easily found in an abundance of colors at your local garden center or big box store. 

Yellow Swallowtail on hyssop
For long term success in enticing our winged delights to the garden, plant perennials such as yarrow, hyssop, butterfly weed, and peony. Thyme, mint, rosemary, and sage not only attract butterflies, but do double duty in your kitchen.

The butterflies go crazy here for our cone flower (echinacea) and black-eyed Susan (rudebeckia).
Coneflower and Black-eyed Susan
Butterflies like the plants they seek in warm, sunny, wind protected locations. 

It doesn't take a big budget to plant with these flying beauties in mind and they will reward you with a colorful dance of grace enthralling to behold.

Make a butterfly your friend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dig It-Aggressively Forward-Tall Bearded Iris

Aggressively Forward (Innerst-1994) was aptly named as it was the first tall bearded to bloom in our beds this season. With its very large blossoms and tall stature, there was no overlooking this handsome (in my opinion) iris. Its muddied appearance may be off-putting to those of you who prefer solid colors in your flowers, but I have always been attracted to the unusual. Aggressively Forward also has a nice fragrance making it even more distinctive.

On a personal note, May is GBS/CIDP Awareness Month. Say what??? Exactly. A family member has CIDP and believe me, we went insane with worry before he was properly diagnosed as it mimics so many other conditions. My purpose today is to inform our readers as these are 2 of those "orphan diseases" barely known by the public, but can strike people who had been perfectly healthy dumbfounding them and their physicians alike.
And yes, our family member is now doing quite well, thank you!

Happy Gardening!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Please Stop The Itch!!!

First off, let me be clear this is not a commercial endorsement, since unlike some of my blogger friends, I make $0 from writing. Most of us bloggers just enjoy writing about things close to our hearts and somewhere in the back of our minds lies the "Great American Novel". 

John and I have noticed an overabundance of poison ivy this spring and have decided to completely redo an area next to our driveway rather than contend with the ridiculous amount of it that has infested our rudebeckia and echinacea.Poison ivy is a vine whose leaves grow in clusters of three and every part of it is poisonous, even in winter.

Several years ago, I infected myself miserably while weeding and not realizing that my bare arms were exposed to a ton of poison ivy. The itching was unbearable and I went to our local pharmacist for relief after everything else I tried was futile. He recommended a product, technu, which made me sigh "Ahh".

I have given it to others who were miserable after contact with this wretched weed and they have thanked me profusely for bring an end to their anguish.

technu can be found in your local drug store and believe me for all of you avid gardeners, it is well worth keeping on hand since if you have experienced this rash before, you know how easy it is to contract.

Happy gardening!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dig It-Heuchera-"Coral Bells"

If you are looking for an easy to grow perennial to add some punch to your garden, you might want to consider Heuchera. Also known as Coral Bells, these hardy, easy to grow plants do well in sun or part shade. Hybridizers have developed outstanding colors ranging from yellow-green to deep purple leaves. Spikey white, pink, or red blooms appear late spring to early summer. The plants range in height from 10-15" and at maturity attain a width of about 15".Heuchera-Miracle

Heucheras are also great plants to use in combination pots, as they fill out quickly and provide great texture and focal points.
Heuchera-Plum Pudding

Other than cutting back the dead foliage in the fall, (which should be done with all of your perennials) Heuchera is really a carefree perennial which will add a unique look to your garden for years to come.
Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dig It-Age of Victoria Peony

John and I are fortunate enough to own a second home in historic, Victorian Cape May, New Jersey, the original seaside resort. The streets are lined with stately Victorian and Queen Anne houses in colors that would seem out of place elsewhere, but provide a welcoming magic to this quaint town on the Atlantic.

Age of Victoria fits right in with its old-fashioned, yet regal appearance. Blossoms are quite large for a single and its peachy-buff color brings to mind the hats and dresses worn by ladies in the late 1800's as they strolled the shore enjoying the summer breeze.

The plants reach a height of approximately 34-36" and sport large, showy leaves. However, their stems will need support in the garden as they are not always strong enough for the weight of the blossoms.

If you haven't already done so, I would advise a visit to Cape May, one of New Jersey's gems for a step back in time and an experience unlike the rest of the Jersey shore.

Happy Gardening!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Garden Apps-For Those of You Who Are Not Me

Both sons, Jeremy & Garrett have Smart Phones. I don't, because well..... Yeah that's what the sons would say-"Mom, you aren't very smart." They wouldn't be saying that in a derogatory way, but because I'm very slow to pick up on new technology. I was one of the last people in our circle of family and friends to get a dish washer or microwave. And whenever I complain to one of our sons about a problem with our PC or laptop, I get the same answer--"The problem is your computer is 10 years old! Get a new one!"

An article I read in the Star Ledger recently will be of use to both Jeremy & Garrett and for a great many of you, but alas of little use for me. You see my flip phone has no use for Apps, but all of you with Smartphones will find some pretty handy, dandy info at your finger tips to make gardening a little easier in what appears to be approaching an age when the Jetson's would feel at home.

Gardening Toolkit is an app from Applied Objects for $1.99 for iPhone and $3.99 for iPads. You punch in your zip code that will establish your plant hardiness zone and then you can continue on to general guidance for what chores you should be doing each month. Planting advice, plants for attracting bees,butterflies, and hummingbirds, along with recommendations for shade or sun are also provided.
Garden Tracker from Portable Database at 99 cents for iPhones helps you plan a garden for the best of plant health and vegetable yield. The iPad version runs $3.99 and is called Garden Tracker-Bumper Crop. Pest control, watering, and fertilization are also topics that are discussed.

So, one of these days when I approach the expertise of my grandchildren when it comes to technology, I may actually be able to put the above information to use. Until then, I hope there are more of you out there who find this helpful and perhaps if you stop in at Pittsgrove, you can pass along what you have learned:)

Until then, happy gardening!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dig It-Ice Chalet-Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris

Dwarf bearded iris are beginning to come into bloom here at Pittsgrove, although a customer 30 minutes south of us recently told me most of hers had come into bloom the end of March. In any case, the dwarf are the first of the bearded iris to show their blossoms, usually after the daffodils have finished and tulips are beginning.

Ice Chalet (Paul Black-1981) is 6-12" and like other dwarf iris makes a good rock garden or border plant. It is icy white with a bluish cast and a lavender-blue beard. It has an almost translucent quality to it with a sweet fragrance.

Those of you in the area of the Presby Gardens, will be able see many varieties of Dwarf Bearded coming into view long before their taller brothers.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dig It-Barbara Walther-Historic Iris

Barbara Walther

When someone comes to Pittsgrove Farms looking for a white bearded iris, we immediately go to our Old Faithful, Immortality, which is both hardy and prolific. Our customer goes off happy as can be, especially when told that it is a fairly reliable rebloomer. However, every now and then we will get a comment that Immortality is more cream or ivory, not as "white" which is when we go to Barbara Walther.


Barbara Walther is pure white with a white beard and named for the the woman who was instrumental in getting the property next to hers in Essex county turned into the parkland on which the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens now stand. Barbara Walther as volunteer curator at Presby was personally responsible for turning it into the world renowned iris gardens that it is today.

Barbara Walther

Barbara Walther, the iris, is tall (37") and sturdy and shines brightly amongst groupings of its colorful relatives.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Iris Unguicularis-AKA Winter Blooming Iris

Having just experienced "The Winter That Wasn't" here in Jersey, it may seem strange to be writing about a winter blooming iris, but we try to introduce you to some plants that may be unfamiliar to all of you who just remember Grandma's iris (tall bearded) growing in her back yard.

Iris Unguicularis, additionally known as Alge
rian iris, is rarely available and rarely seen. Its foliage is evergreen and is about 18" in height, forming a nice clump. The approximately 3" light purple blooms are nestled in the center of the clump.

The plant will start to bloom when the weather starts to turn cold, around November and will continue to bloom until about April, stopping its blooms if the temperature drops to 15 degrees or so. The plant above had 6 or 7 flowers blooming for months since this winter was so mild.

Winter Blooming Iris does well in a warm, dry location in
zones 7-9 and really seems to thrive on neglect. When you come upon it in the garden in January or February in full bloom, it really surprises you. The color and size of the flowers make you think of spring, not winter.

The iris should be planted in the early fall by division. It takes a couple of years to form a nice size blooming clump.

With the warm weather continuing, we expect it to be an early year for all our plants, so as we watch the flowers fade on the Winter Blooming Iris, we welcome the burst of color that spring brings and await the first blossoms on our bearded iris.

Look forward to seeing you at the farm!

Happy Spring!