Sales Representative & Gardening Coach
TEICH GARDEN SYSTEMS
Q. Gardening questions this early in the year?
A. Although outdoor activity is at a low in winter with snow covering the ground into March, deciding what vegetables, herbs, and flower seeds and plants to order is already in full swing.
Planning for the next growing season can be as simple as deciding which new tomato variety to grow or where to build a compost pile. Or maybe you are thinking of adding a water feature? Now is the perfect time to research new projects.
Q. What subjects can I ask about?
A. Anything about gardening, landscaping, and public beautification. Not sure how to divide a perennial, grow a particular vegetable, or attract butterflies? You can grow vegetables whether you are in the Village, have a studio rental, or an estate in the woodlands. Have a question about what to plant by a seasonal stream, what is perfect for a shady porch, where to site a raised bed for vegetables, or how to grow herbs in containers?
Attracting, living with, or preventing wildlife (from hummingbirds to voles, turtles, and deer) and ideas on enjoying the wetlands on your property, building a compost pile, how to make plant choices, adding drainage to a window box, or how to garden in your street tree bed Ã¢â‚¬â€œ allÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s up for discussion.Ã‚Â The focus is gardening in Philipstown – our rocks, our soil, our native plants, birds, and snakes. Look for tips, whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in bloom, what plants were popular in the 1800Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s to grow an historical garden. timely to-doÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, and suggestions of local places to buy plants and supplies along with services and websites to peruse.Ã‚Â
Q. Why does my seed catalog ask what zone IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m in? Does it matter?
A.Ã‚Â Philipstown (just over 50 square miles) is in Zones 6 and 5 in the higher elevations for both Plant Hardiness & Heating Maps. These guidelines are based on past temperature data and yes, it really does matter. You want the right plant in the best place. Ã‚Â If you order perennial plants, shrubs, and trees that are hardy to Zone 5, they will not only survive unusually cold winters, but will thrive for years to come in our unique climate.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Gardeners throughout Philipstown have great success in growing annual flowers from warmer zones. Ã‚Â Yes, that tropical pink hibiscus will not survive the winter outdoors but will be gorgeous until the first frost. Ã‚Â If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re considering trying to over-winter a tender plant next year, plan on creating a microclimate so that it gets the most sun in a protected, well-mulched, and low-wind spot.Ã‚Â
Q.Ã‚Â What should I be doing now?
A.Ã‚Â Do keep bird feeder full and observe the outdoors from indoors.Ã‚Â It may sound silly, but if you are looking out the kitchen window or from your desk, what do you see?Ã‚Â Do you have any so-called Ã¢â‚¬Å“winter-interestÃ¢â‚¬Â grasses, trees, or an evergreen in view?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Maybe consider hanging a bird feeder, nesting box, or wind chime from that branch in the future.Ã‚Â Think now about what you may want to see or smell from indoors through open windows or to enjoy seeing next winter.
Yes, the snow will recede! Notice where the ground Ã¢â‚¬Å“showsÃ¢â‚¬Â first. Take a picture to remember these ideal places to plant spring-flowering bulbs next fall.Ã‚Â When you drive into Cold Spring, notice which sunny places the crocus are first seen, followed later in sunny areas in GarrisonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s valleys and higher up on the eastern slopes of the North Highlands.Ã‚Â
Q.Ã‚Â What do you think about starting seeds indoors?Ã‚Â
A.Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great to do and buying you own seeds, well Ã‚Â - – you know what you are growing! Starting your garden inside is a promise of warmer days. Before planting the seeds, you need to count back from the ideal planting time for each vegetable, herb, or flower you want to grow. Get started at least eight weeks before you plan to transplant young plants into the ground.Ã‚Â To be safe from cold nights, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even think about planting tomatoes and peppers until the end of May.Ã‚Â Of course, I usually ignore my own suggestion and set out a seedling or two by MotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s DayÃ‚Â – - more often than not, I have to replant again.Ã‚Â
Q. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t I need special lights?
A. Your dual concerns are providing adequate lighting once the seeds have sprouted and having the space to put the growing seedlings. If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a sunny window with at least eight hours of sunlight, but are determined to grow your own tomatoes, peppers,or eggplant, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll need to set up artificial lights.
Lighting systems can be simple or elaborate and expensive. The Internet and gardening catalogs offer a range of systems to meet your needs. The ideal height is to place the light source an inch or less above the tops of the seedlings. Check with your hand and adjust as needed. Seedlings need both a simulated full day of light (between 12 and 15 hours of light) and darkness to fully develop. The more light the seedlings get, the better, or they will be too thin and weak.
The top of the refrigerator fits my seed-starting trays, and the bottom warmth is ideal for germination. A radiatorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heat is the worst idea; investing in the steady, low heat of a warming mat is the ideal.Ã‚Â
Q.Ã‚Â What kind of soil should I start seeds in?
A.Ã‚Â Bags of lightweight seed-starting or sowing mix are available through most seed catalogs, websites, and garden centers. Make sure the mix is marked as sterilized: regular potting soil will just not do. Buy double the amount you will need to fill the initial seedling containers, since they will have to be transplanted into larger pots with potting soil. Delicate growing roots prefer a soil-less mix that is usually composed of peat moss, vermiculite, fertilizer, and ground limestone.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â If you want to create your own mix of soil, be sure to place it in a baking pan at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to make sure the seedlings wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t catch any disease. One of the most confusing purchases can be choosing one of the different kinds of pots or packs in which to grow your seeds. Two-inch-square pots and larger are great. Round, biodegradable peat pots are often used. You can plant them right into the ground (the roots push through), but their shape can take up a lot of room under grow lights. You can also poke holes in the bottoms of cutoff milk cartons or paper cups then fill with three inches of starting mix. Plastic, individual Ã¢â‚¬Å“cellsÃ¢â‚¬Â designed for growing seeds come in four- and six-packs and will last over a decade. If the surface area is too small, the mixture will dry out too quickly and the seeds will suffer.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Drainage holes are a must for any container you use. The starter trays with long, narrow plugs make it difficult to remove seedlings. You can also sow seeds in rows in wide rectangular peat flats, but the seedlings will still need to be transplanted into their own pots.Ã‚Â Also make sure your seed-starter trays come with covers (to use until you see the first sprouts break through) and bottom trays so water doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t flow all over the place. If water is still sitting at the bottom ten minutes later, lift the containers out and dump the water, or use paper towels to sop it up. Rimmed baking sheets and shallow roasting pans come in handy for holding soggy peat pots.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll also need more pots, because once the seedlings grow their second set of leaves (known as Ã¢â‚¬Å“trueÃ¢â‚¬Â leaves), theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll need to be transplanted. Plastic square pots or six-pack planters take up the least amount of room. The ideal, if you can create the space and provide adequate light, is to sow the seed directly into individual pots where the plants will spend all their growing time.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Email your questions to Hobens at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hobens is a landscape consultant, garden designer, author, and gardener in Philipstown.Ã‚Â On Facebook? Check out and Ã¢â‚¬Å“LikeÃ¢â‚¬Â Hudson Highlands Garden Design.Ã‚Â
Saturday March 12, 2011
By Barbara Hobens FeldtÃ‚Â
A harbinger of spring arrived at 11:13
a.m. last Sunday.Ã‚Â A familiar sound was heard while pulling out
leaves stuck behind the patio planters and looking up towards the noise,
a V-shaped flock of migrating Canada Geese came into view. Ã‚Â The
formation kept shifting and swerving. They were reacting to the wind
while enjoying the lifting wake of the lead goose easing their flight. The
day after the intense rain that melted the snow cover, bright green
moss came out on shady rocks and ground covers started to emerge in the
woodlands. Ã‚Â Since buds on lilacs, forsythias, and other
spring-flowering shrubs and trees are now forming, hold off on any
cosmetic pruning until just after they finish blooming.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The weight of the snow was too much for one dwarf boxwood. Even thought itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best to have a full summerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s growth before doing a good shaping, this shrub had both broken and crushed branches so a good thinning was in order.Ã‚Â
Even if your compost pile is ready and you plan to use it (as a base for starting a raised bed for vegetables, to sift and amend your lawn, or dig down and bury some in the perennial beds,) hold off until everything dries out. Ã‚Â Look for weeds in the lawn to pull but if you see some in a planting bed, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t risk using a tool that will slice into tender roots or cut that perfect tulip bulb in half that you planted last fall.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Many beautiful birds live and pass through Philipstown. Not only will they eat the grubs from your lawn and pick pests out from your garden, but they are both calming and amazing to watch.Ã‚Â If you are not already enjoying having a birdhouse within site of your kitchen window or porch, do buy at least one now and get it out there soon since bluebirds and other songbirds are scouting for nesting sites. If you plan on putting out bluebird Ã¢â‚¬Å“housesÃ¢â‚¬Â (nest boxes) in your backyard, choose any open area and place them at least 100Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ apart and up on 5Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ poles.Ã‚Â They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need a bird seed feeder since they just eat insects and fruit.Ã‚Â If you or a close neighbor uses pesticides or employs a lawn-care company that still does (they must by law place small flags out that state that pesticides were used), donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t place nesting boxes near any treated areas.
Move any other bird houses to the front of your house since you want enough physical and visual space between wrens and bluebirds.Ã‚Â The sweet song of the wren is lovely, but they are predators (as are English house sparrows and starlings).Ã‚Â Bluebirds raise two or three families a year and wrens may try to take over their nests if they see it empty.Ã‚Â Two years ago in early spring, chickadees raised their one family in a bluebird house. Once the six babies fledged, the mossy nest was removed and the bluebirds moved right in.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Q. How is it that
Philipstown can have cacti growing in several areas in the community?
With our cold extended winters I would not think they would survive
season to season. -Ã‚Â Michael Gibbons
A.Ã‚Â It seems very odd that a plant we associate with the dry desert heat of the Southwest is thriving here in the soil of the Hudson Highlands.Ã‚Â Actually, the Prickly Pear Cactus grows throughout most of eastern and mid-America from Zone 4 to 10 in Florida. Ã‚Â I had the mixed pleasure of meeting this plant in the 9/11 Memorial at the top of the mountain at Graymoor.Ã‚Â It was in full bloom in June and, as curiosity killed the cat, it was too interesting not to touch it every so lightly with one finger.Ã‚Â For well over an hour I was tweezing the sharp embedded spines from my burning, itchy, painful finger.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll find the clumps of Eastern Prickly Pear cactus growing in groups in sunny open and rocky spots. Ã‚Â If you see one, odds are that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll find more, especially while hiking up on AnthonyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Nose but they also found in backyards and out on Constitution Island.The bright yellow flowers appear in late spring and bloom into summer. Ã‚Â The pad-like stems, seeds, and the fruit of the Eastern Prickly Pear are actually edible. Ã‚Â The Ã¢â‚¬Å“prickly pearÃ¢â‚¬Â fruit, called tuna, is larger in its western cousin where it is made into jam, candy, and nectar; the sap is also used as a hair conditioner and for medicinal purposes.Ã‚Â The sharp spines keep predators away and hurt enough to keep this gardener from attempting to harvest it and try any of these recipes.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Does the Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) belong in your garden or landscape?Ã‚Â Sure. Ã‚Â Bees enjoy the flowers and visually, it is a fascinating, perfectly low-growing addition for the full sun, well drained soil of a rock garden or featured in a container but warning – - never near where inquisitive hands or bare feet could reach it!
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â If you already have them on your property, enjoy their beauty but be really careful even with a sturdy pair of garden gloves on if you to weed near them. Use kitchen tongs and have paper bags at the ready to drop any loose parts in.Ã‚Â You can use a shovel if needed to remove a section encroaching on other plants, but easy as you go.Ã‚Â Although this cactus really looks flat and dead in the winter, there are perennial evergreens and they soon fill out with warming temperatures.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â I failed at a few attempts to propagate them, but you can try by cutting off a pad, letting it dry out for about a week, then just push the cut end into a loose sandy or clay soil for about a month. It should form roots if you water it very lightly and give it time.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Q.Ã‚Â I planted two
Butterfly Bushes last year 10 feet apart. Ã‚Â They sure lived up to
their name since there were butterflies landing on the purple flowers
well into the fall. Ã‚Â They get full sun but they are way back by where
the woods start, can I just let them go without pruning? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Butterfly Watcher
You can just let Buddleias go, but they do flower on new growth. Ã‚Â New shoots and little sage-looking light green leaves will soon be coming out of each branch but you will be disappointed if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t prune them (as will the butterflies).Ã‚Â It really doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take much time or effort to get out there and give them a judicious pruning.Ã‚Â I used to be very nervous using a lopper and just hacking them low to the ground. Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right. Ã‚Â You “got to be cruel to be kind” when it Be tough and cut the main stems down to just a foot or two from the ground.Ã‚Â If they are starting to bud, let that be your guide and cut at an angle, right above the 2nd bud forming from the ground.Ã‚Â Yes, that low.Ã‚Â Cut off any dead wood and if there is crowding or you see weak stems, just cut them out right at soil level.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Buddleias (Buddleia davidii) are fast growers Ã¢â‚¬â€œ at least 4-8 feet after this severe Ã¢â‚¬Å“haircut and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll fill with plume-like sprays of small fragrant flowers all summer. Ã‚Â They thrive in moist, well-drained soil. Ã‚Â Give them a good start with an organic fertilizer (I use fish emulsion) in early April and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s it.Ã‚Â No pests, no diseases, and no deer nibbling but plenty of beauty and butterflies!Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Q.Ã‚Â I heard that
ornamental grasses should be cut down by St. PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day but I
already seeing green growth. Ã‚Â I have some Karl Foerster grasses; how
low should I cut them? - Ã‚Â Lazy Gardener
A. Ã‚Â I also see some green coming out of the base. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s okay. Ornamental grasses are very hardy plants. Other than this pre-spring pruning, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really nothing else to do except admire them. Ã‚Â Most are full sun lovers, as is this Feather Reed grass. The Ã¢â‚¬ËœKarl Foerster’ (Calamagrostis acutiflora) really behaves well and looks great alone in the garden or planted in groups. They add nice height (3Ã¢â‚¬â„¢) but rarely get wider than 2 feet and their golden feathery plumes are lovely.
There are many varieties of ornamental grasses to choose from and they are all deer-proof. Ã‚Â If you plan to add more or different kinds this year, try to Ã¢â‚¬Å“backlight” a few so that you will see the sun shining through or setting behind them.Ã‚Â It is delightful watching them sway in a summerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s breeze.Ã‚Â It is Ã¢â‚¬Å“theÃ¢â‚¬Â plant to add if you are planning a Ã¢â‚¬Å“5 senses gardenÃ¢â‚¬Â since you can hear them rustle.Ã‚Â The song birds also enjoy them so leave them alone for the winter to enjoy. Ã‚Â After the slightest dusting and major snow storm, they catch the flakes so beautifully.
So, get out there soon and give them their annual Ã¢â‚¬Å“haircut.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â Before the new growth really starts, get out that knee pad, and cut straight across Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 6 to 8 inches is perfect.Ã‚Â You really canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make a mistake and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fret if you find you are cutting into some new growth; it will recover. Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easiest to cut a handful at a time; grab a bunch in one hand and cut with the other.
Many Philipstown residents have the delightful challenge of woodland gardening.Ã‚Â What could be better than having all the ideal places required for every type of plant, with their varied sunlight demands?Ã‚Â You can plant such a wide variety.Ã‚Â Rich soil and full sun conditions at the woodland edge are just perfect for daffodils, milkweed, bee balm, and creating mixed (annuals and perennials) borders.Ã‚Â
Roads and driveways cutting into woodland properties also offer opportunities to add sun-loving plants.Ã‚Â Where the forest opens to the eastern sun is ideal for adding our white native Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) and look for opportunities for adding shrubs where the sun gets in between the high-canopy trees such as oak, tulip trees, and hemlock.Ã‚Â From Highbush cranberry and Mountain Laurels to shadier spots calling for pathways bordered with some Ostrich, Lady, and Christmas ferns.
Ã‚Â Great local deal offered
This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s selection from the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District is well worth the investment of your time and money.Ã‚Â As long as you protect your newly planted treasures from your own feet (yes, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve done it) and nibbling deer, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s well worth the trip to pick them up in Kent on April 29th or 30th. Their prices on bluebird and bat houses, selection of berries and shrubs, and native transplants of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobes) canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be beat. Check out this list and get your order and payment in the mailbox by April 2nd at the latest to make sure it gets there before the deadline (April 6th). Ã‚Â Yes, they also have native ferns, Buddleia, Lilac, and Blackberry, too.
Q.Ã‚Â Do bluebirds have favorite trees or shrubs?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â -Michelle
A.Ã‚Â Yes and they thrive here – American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana), Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), and American Holly (Ilex opaca). Great shrubs are the Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), Red-osier (red-stemmed) Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera). Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), and Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).Ã‚Â If you want to add one really special plant for them to enjoy, add a grapevine.Ã‚Â
Q. I would love to see something on invasive plants in our area, especially about bittersweet, Japanese Barberry, and burning bush.Ã‚Â I would think this is a great time for property owners to get in their wooded lots and cut vines from their trees which are being strangled and remove barberry and euonymus.Ã‚Â – Joanne Murphy
A.Ã‚Â Thank you for this email, Joanne.Ã‚Â I wholeheartedly agree with your comment how disheartening it is to see the area filling up more each year with these strangling plants. This is not a case of Ã¢â‚¬Å“may the best plant winÃ¢â‚¬Â scenario, we are creating opportunities for the invasives to take over Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not due to any weird evolutionary process, but because we are removing the natural habitat of what was once native and flourishing.
I am not a Ã¢â‚¬Å“natives onlyÃ¢â‚¬Â gardener or designer. Ã‚Â Nor can I lie and say I have pulled all the invasives growing in my past or present garden. Why?Ã‚Â Because some serve a purpose Ã¢â‚¬â€œ hummingbirds adore Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) the bluebirds and bees love another, and turkeys and I share a craving for Wineberry or Wine Raspberry (Rubus phoenicolasius). I keep them confined to one area and give them a strong pruning in early spring every two years.Any plant, even the Ã¢â‚¬Å“good stuffÃ¢â‚¬Â can be overplanted and take over a garden and this is where the hands-on gardener gets to decide.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
What can stay and what must go?
One of the most obvious invasive in our forest if not the worst in North America is Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata). Ã‚Â Birds disperse the berries all over the place.Ã‚Â It even likes to climb up and get tangled in telephone wires so take great care if using a pruning saw.Ã‚Â If it is has completely engulfed them, then call Central Hudson and they or Verizon will come and do it.Ã‚Â If you are planning any digging where you are not totally positive of the placement of any gas or electric lines run Ã¢â‚¬â€œ call first before digging. Central Hudson suggests that 2-10 days before you dig, drill or blast, you must call Dig Safely:Ã‚Â New YorkÃ‚Â ( 800-962-7962 or 811.) Calling one of these numbers will also contact affected municipalities and other utilities (such as telephone and cable TV companies) so that they can mark out their facilities, as well.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â If we just took the time to tackle the obvious, it wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be a problem.Ã‚Â If it is throughout your property you may need to gather a few friends or neighbors and have a Saturday morning invasive invasion with a brunch as bait.Ã‚Â Look for vines wrapping around every size of tree and covering shrubs. Ã‚Â If you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do it all, then the priority is to get them off of the trees.Ã‚Â Confine it to certain areas and get in there often to prune it to a size you can reach and manage.
Ã‚Â A neighbor has a gorgeous
bittersweet wreath on the front door that sadly adds to the problem.Ã‚Â
The Oriental Bittersweet reproduces with native, American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) creating a hybrid so finding a real native is increasingly rare.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Like Japanese knotweed, bittersweet spreads via rhizomes and just chokes out any native plant in its way.Ã‚Â There are two other bittersweets. False Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) which is not invasive and has nice while Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t invasive either, but it is poisonous.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is a very well-behaving shrub but Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) is very invasive Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother with the European Barberry either.Ã‚Â So many landscapers have plopped this thorny prolific seeder as Ã¢â‚¬Å“line-`em-upÃ¢â‚¬Â foundation plants since deer donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother them.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Local nurseries may tell you that the cultivar they
Ã‚Â carry is really not the bad one, but it is.Ã‚Â Please donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t buy it. Instead, here are some shrubs with similar Ã¢â‚¬Å“looksÃ¢â‚¬Â with no bad habits.Ã‚Â Try a lovely Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum), or Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia).Ã‚Â All are much better choices and are no/low maintenance natives.
Euonymus (Burning Bush or Winged Euonymus) (Euonymus alata) is another Asian import that seeds easily and forms really dense thickets. Ã‚Â It is widely planted for its fiery red leaves in fall. Ã‚Â There are great huge ones just as you cross the bridge heading to the Garrison train station and drive towards to Putnam County Historical Society.Ã‚Â Birds carry the shrub’s seeds into natural areas, where the seedlings out-compete native plants. Ã‚Â Nurseries continue to sell them because customers like the color.Ã‚Â
The native Euonymus Americana can be found in the woods where there is not an overpopulated herd of deer and is not invasive.
There is a never- ending Ã¢â‚¬Å“battleÃ¢â‚¬Â between the soil we cultivate and expose on our property and that located on roadsides, that highway machinery exposes to new sunlight..Ã‚Â Either we need to add desirable plantings or the wilderness and invasives will take it over.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The most painful invasive?Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a toss up between the Multi-flora Rose, Thistle, and Barberry.Ã‚Â Get out the spade, shovel, and get these root systems completely out of the ground.
Ã‚Â ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) can literally be seen Ã¢â‚¬Å“advancingÃ¢â‚¬Â under your watchful eye. First, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll notice lovely green somethings and then you turn your head to find 30 strong thin green stems, nicely-shaped green leaves, and delicate white flowers on top.Ã‚Â YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll think, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, what seeds did I plant there?Ã¢â‚¬Â and then it hits. They arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t from your seed list Ã¢â‚¬â€œ theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re weeds!
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â But these are
quite easy to take care of Ã¢â‚¬â€œ especially when just after a
rain.Ã‚Â Yank straight up and place into black garbage bags.Ã‚Â Once
gathered, close it up and place the bag in the full sun Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I keep
adding until its completely full before adding to the household garbage.
Technically, they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want any plant materials but I want
these gone since this is certainly not a compost ingredient to consider.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Garlic mustard is like some of our common lawn invasives which will be the subject of a future column – Dandelion, Chickweed, and Plantain, which is the best bee-sting-curative.Ã‚Â Another nasty plant to discuss is poison ivy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ preventing the rash while getting it off your property.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â An Ã¢â‚¬Å“innocentÃ¢â‚¬Â English Ivy (Hedera helix) planted as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“ground coverÃ¢â‚¬Â will take over trees, shrubs, windowsills, and wildflowers.Ã‚Â Watch for it in our forests where it creates a complete carpet of shade and carries bacteria to many tree species to boot.Ã‚Â No part of this plant has any benefit for native wildlife for food or shelter. Ã‚Â DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t grow this outdoors.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The Ã¢â‚¬Å“sexy natural fenceÃ¢â‚¬Â of Bamboo (Bambusa, Phyllostachys or Pseudosasa) is the most obvious invasive in Garrison.Ã‚Â Stay away.Ã‚Â Bring in the goats.Ã‚Â Really.Ã‚Â More about this in a future column since for some reason, bamboo and the (literally) gate and arbor crashing wisteria has become increasingly in vogue.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) has taken over a swatch of the entrance meadow of Manitoga.Ã‚Â Introduced in the late 1800s as an ornamental, it is aggressive and very difficult to eradicate.Ã‚Â You just need to get in there with spade, shovel, pitch axe and muscle and rip it all out. A neighborÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s huge Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) smells lovely but it is an invasive and will soon make history of the spring wildflowers nearby.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Another popular invasive is Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) with its hot pink flowers.Ã‚Â It is sold in some nurseries although it may be the most invasive European import. It spreads and chokes wetlands, actually disrupting ecological processes. If these plants are on your property, please consider removing them.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Hold on to your Garden Hat
Ã¢â‚¬Å“NaturalizingÃ¢â‚¬Â is often a nice term for Ã¢â‚¬Å“invasiveÃ¢â‚¬Â and there are two common plants that have just taken over some Philipstown gardens: Common Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) is shade tolerant and it spreads via thick roots.Ã‚Â The genus, Hemerocallis, is not native here or anywhere in our country.Ã‚Â The other is Periwinkle (Vinca minor & V. major) that forms a dense, evergreen mat that smothers out native plants you may have tried to grow.Ã‚Â If you just love them, they will be happy in containers.Ã‚Â
Know what you grow
When heading to any nursery, never purchase a plant that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t include its scientific name.Ã‚Â The Latin will tell you whether that variety will grow 4 inches wide or 4 feet. Mint is lovelyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦as are chives, but reserve a small planter for them since they will spread, spread, and spread some more. Some gardeners donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect some fabulous groundcovers such as Pachysandra , Ajuga reptans, and Sweet WoodruffÃ‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â to be Ã¢â‚¬Å“so happyÃ¢â‚¬Â in one area and they just take over.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Be on the lookout for three nasty invasives – the Common Reed (Phragmites australis ssp. australis), the Water Chestnut (Trapa natans) , and the Giant Hogweed Ã‚Â (Heracleum mantegazzianum) Ã‚Â seeÃ‚Â Ã‚Â
Most of us want a diverse balance of plantings so anything that takes over is not welcome.Ã‚Â Sadly, the opposite is true.Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not so easy to find local native plants to add to our gardens but as stewards of this land, shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t we try?Ã‚Â There are alternatives for different colors and habits that we have come to enjoy,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Nature is always changing but since an over-population of deer have nibbled away the lush understory; it is really up to us to bring it back and work towards controlling the deer population. These are just some invasive plants that encroach on our forests and gardens.Ã‚Â Seeing wild columbine thriving and spreading to the neighborÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s property is so much better than having to search, buy, and sow seeds.
Ã‚Â IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it a positive to grow
plants that will increase food and shelter for songbirds?Ã‚Â We have
native insects that need certain plants to live and breed and they, in
turn, are eaten by our native and migrating birds.
Photos courtesy of B. Hobens
Email your questions to email@example.com. Barbara Hobens Feldt is a garden and landscape consultant and designer, wildlife garden specialist, and author of Garden Your City.Ã‚Â
By Barbara Hobens Feldt
April 2, 2011
With warmer temperatures soon heading our way, there are many wonderful outdoor places to plan to visit. And, as the saying goes, there is so much right in your own backyard. Have you ever been glad for having the Ã¢â‚¬Å“excuseÃ¢â‚¬Â of a visiting relative or friend to spend a whole afternoon driving around back roads, finding treasures on Main Street, or have you just taken time to play Ã¢â‚¬Å“touristÃ¢â‚¬Â and treat yourself?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â If you have never been to Manitoga, then you are in for a treat.Ã‚Â If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been in awhile, spring is the ideal time to rejuvenate with a woodland stroll over the four miles of paths.Ã‚Â If you are Ã¢â‚¬Å“intoÃ¢â‚¬Â architecture, design, history, or hiking then you will have hit the jackpot.Ã‚Â If you just enjoy nature and picking up landscape design ideas for your own woodland property, then you will be absolutely hooked and will certainly return again and again.Forestscaping is my term for taking all existing elements into consideration before one branch is pruned or bench is placed in any woodland area.Ã‚Â It is this attention to his use and preservation of native
plants and Russel WrightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s keen
observation of nature that first drew me to Manitoga.Ã‚Â As
ManitogaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s website states, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Though the landscape appears
natural, it is actually a careful composition of woodland trees, rocks,
ferns, mosses, and wild flowers.Ã¢â‚¬Â Since serving on
ManitogaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Woodland Landscape Committee since its founding in
2007, I have realized the importance of considering all aspects of
placement and plant choice. It is even more important since, not only
must RusselÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s design intentions be tantamount, but it is a
National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â At last Saturday’s Volunteer Day, I had the pleasure of standing in the living room of Dragon Rock to address a nice-sized group of smiling volunteers.Ã‚Â I had been asked to speak to the volunteers about designing with rocks in the streams and creeks on the property.Ã‚Â These rain or shine events are a fun way to do something positive and meet like-minded folk.Ã‚Â Bring your garden gloves for the next one on Saturday, April 16 from 9 to 2 p.m. Lunch is provided. Please RSVP at or call 845-424-3812. Information about guided tours, beginning Ã‚Â Friday, May 6 may also be found there.Ã‚Â Manitoga is located at 584 Rt. 9D, 2 miles south of Rt. 403.
ROCKS REMAIN: Designing with Rocks in ManitogaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Streams
ManitogaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hillsides offer challenges to plants, to stones, to soil, and volunteers.Ã‚Â It is even more challenging and exciting as you are Ã¢â‚¬Å“having a goÃ¢â‚¬Â at what also fascinated the landscape designer himself.Ã‚Â Russel Wright found this property in 1942 and spent the following 35 years redesigning the landscape. He always observed first, and then sculpted the twists and turns of the water that made its way through this property he nurtured so dearly.
The look?Ã‚Â Natural.Ã‚Â It is hard to imagine that for a century before, firewood and quarry operations had stripped this 75-acre parcel.Ã‚Â The granite outcroppings date back over 1.5 billion years.Ã‚Â Wright had a deep admiration for this geology and his native plant choices and design decisions were guided by his understanding of the importance of living in harmony with nature.Ã‚Â He studied the large boulders on the property before moving any and mimicked their positioning since it was so natural. Wright actually diverted natureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s original mountain stream in order to create the incredible waterfall to fully enjoy the views and the sounds seen from the house and office.
Why should we reposition rocks?Ã‚Â Curves and the flow of water can change by Mother NatureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hand, disruptions from machinery, and peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s feet shifting the positioning of rocks.Ã‚Â The intense flow of the mountain streams from this winterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s snow melts may also have had a damaging impact.
We move rocks for function.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Rocks can hold back soil erosion and they are ideal for making foot crossings easier.Ã‚Â For pathways that cross shallow sections of water, place large flat-topped rocks to create safer crossings.Ã‚Â Secure different-sized rocks firmly into the stream bed in a slight curve, with varied spacing in between.Ã‚Â Russel enjoyed crossing over water and encouraged people to take off their shoes and enjoy it.
We move rocks for sound.Ã‚Â Hearing the sound of water before you see it is such a wondrous experience in the forest.Ã‚Â Even in the middle of the hottest August day, the sounds of water cool us.Ã‚Â The sound of the water can be altered by wedging stones in at different angles, leaving flat smooth stones or creating a narrow space to for the water to rush through.
We move rocks for beauty.Ã‚Â Watching the flow, the colors, and the splashing of a waterfall, like the waves of the ocean, can be both relaxing and exciting at the same time.
We move rocks for creating life – little pools for fish and frog eggs and pockets for plantings and wildlife.Ã‚Â The mosses that are already growing nearby will Ã¢â‚¬Å“findÃ¢â‚¬Â pockets of soil between rocks although Wright would remove plant growth between rocks that were focal points.
Observe the immediate area.Ã‚Â Are all the rocks in the area exactly Ã¢â‚¬Å“matchingÃ¢â‚¬Â in size, shape, and color?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â No.Ã‚Â But you will see a natural pattern.Ã‚Â Look downstream, then up for inspiration.Ã‚Â Large exposed rock faces produce small pieces of the same rock-type below.Ã‚Â Placing four rocks just out in a gentle letter-C-shaped curve works in calmer flowing areas. An interestingly-shape stone placed in the middle of a fast-moving part of the stream will smooth the flow.Ã‚Â On the inside of a shallow curve, add some small pebbles.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â All of ManitogaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s land has been lovingly manipulated and designed.Ã‚Â Even before being influenced by the Japanese gardenersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goal of re-creating nature, Russel Wright was utilizing their meaningful placement of moss and rocks. Although there is no mention of WrightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s discussing principals of feng shui, the stream, rocks, and seating are arranged in auspicious, practical placements.Ã‚Â He got such a kick (and I dare say the ultimate complement), when guests would ask how he ever found such a beautiful site.Ã‚Â Well, you are part of that today.Ã‚Â As a member of ManitogaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Woodland Landscape Committee,
Canada Geese: plant smart for a balanced populationÃ‚Â
ByÃ‚Â Barbara Hobens Feldt
April 16, 2011
Q.Ã‚Â There were a few Canada
geese at my pond last year which I like but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want a huge
flock messing up the lawn.Ã‚Â What can I do?
A.Ã‚Â It is such a wonderful asset to have a pond, stream or wetland on your property.Ã‚Â The key to fully enjoying it is to be able to watch and listen to the wildlife that live in it, nest nearby, or visit for a drink of water.Ã‚Â For deciding what and how much to plant by your pond, you have to decide if Canada geese are welcome guests or do you consider them pests? Ã‚Â Since you enjoy the few that have been raising their brood for the last few years then by now, Ã¢â‚¬Å“yourÃ¢â‚¬Â geese couple (yes, they are until death do they part) are likely already nesting on clutches of up to a dozen eggs.Ã‚Â
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â What could be sweeter than to watch a female leading her fluffy yellow brood with the attentive large gander strutting proudly and protectively behind?Ã‚Â It depends on who you ask.Ã‚Â Many homeowners like you look forward to seeing them return to raise another family and will feed them cracked corn, never bread.Ã‚Â Conversely, others arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happy with the messy droppings that many geese will create.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â If you have been providing an ideal habitat for generations, they why should they consider moving?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â It is more than just a Ã¢â‚¬Å“donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feed themÃ¢â‚¬Â situation.Ã‚Â To reduce an overpopulation of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) a thoughtful plan based on observation and understanding their behavior must be developed to be effective.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Do geese actually build nests on your property or do you just see the families?Ã‚Â It is important to know since as soon as the eggs hatch (about a month after they are laid) the majority of geese will leave for another site to raise their young.Ã‚Â By watching their patterns, you can decide which landscaping and humane approach to take. If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want more next year, the obvious is to stop feeding them. Ã‚Â Offering a tip sheet or erecting signage if your pond is visited by others will help and anyone who has bird feeders in the vicinity should only use sunflower seed until they leave.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Canada geese want to raise their goslings in a calm, safe environment.Ã‚Â If they first return to their regular habitat only to encounter fencing, see balloons or flags, or a Border Collie racing around the waterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s edge, they will certainly seek another place to live. Other than dogs and humans, Canada geese have no other predators since even a hungry coyote or raccoon won’t bother a flock. Ã‚Â They can live to be 20 years old and are also smart, so they soon get used to plastic decoys, noise and even mute swans.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Canada geese prefer open mowed expanses of lawn that lead down to the waterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s edge.Ã‚Â When visiting local nurseries, look for a selection of tall grasses, perennial wildflowers, and shrubs to plant to reduce their preferred habitat around your pond.Ã‚Â If you want to reduce their numbers, think like a goose and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make the whole area so inviting.Ã‚Â Grow a meadow on one side of the pond, add a low fence to another, plant a selection of ornamental grasses in a sunny spot, and then be sure to leave a nice section wide and open for them to enjoy.Ã‚Â Kentucky bluegrass is a favored lawn seed of theirs, but they turn up their beaks to rye grass.Ã‚Â Although Methyl Anthranilate is a natural repellent made from red grapes to apply to your growing lawn, the reviews are mixed.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â It is a realistic goal to keep large flocks away from human activity, but there is great debate over the success and trauma from methods used to destroy the eggs in the nest. Ã‚Â A flock may leave if harassed or if no goslings were born, but if the pond remains desirable, they will certainly return.Ã‚Â The collection and gassing of hundreds of geese in Prospect Park, Brooklyn last year (see links below) have not halted their return this spring.
There are organizations, Facebook pages,
and petitions that support practical and humane means to live with,
advocate for, and learn about our Canada geese.
Photos courtesy of B. H. Feldt
For more information
Prospect Park Canada geese