Ear to the Ground: The Insider Dirt to Gardening in Upstate NY

Winter Photo Contest voting now open!

by cathym on September 5, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.33.20 PM

Photo with most votes will win the “online fave” category. Winner will be announced in the November-December issue of Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.

Vote for your 3 favorites here!

 

 

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Autumn in the Air

by cathym on September 4, 2017

by Cathy Monrad 

IMG_2774Nothing reminds me of fall more than apples and cinnamon. This homemade potpourri will not only make your house smell wonderful, but also makes a nice hostess gift—so make a few batches to set aside for those last minute holiday get-togethers.

MATERIALS PER PINT
1 large orange
1 large apple
2 tsp whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches long
pint jar with vented lid

TOOLS
oven
paring knife
mandolin (optional)
parchment paper
sheet pan

  1. Preheat oven to 250° F.
  2. Using paring knife, peel rind from orange, then cut or rip into 2-inch strips.
  3. Using mandolin or knife, cut apple into ⅛” thick slices.
  4. Place orange rinds and apple slices on sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 2 or more hours, flipping each piece every half hour, until fruit and rind are completely dehydrated. Apple slices should be crisp and orange rinds should not emit moisture when squeezed.
  6. Cool completely. Add orange rinds, apple slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks into desired container. I used a wide mouth mason jar and ring with a round of burlap inserted to provide ventilation.

VARIATION IDEA
Potpourri packs an aroma punch when used in a “simmer pot.” Place mixture in a small slow cooker and fill with water. Turn slow cooker on high with lid on until water comes up to a bubble. Remove lid and simmer up to 6 hours, adding water periodically if needed.

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and the self-proclaimed garden crafter for the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.

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Birds, Butterflies, and Water

by janem on September 4, 2017

by Liz Magnanti

Blue jay. Photo courtesy Flickr: C Watts

Blue jay. Photo courtesy Flickr: C Watts

One of the easiest ways you can attract birds to your yard is with a resource we have at hand throughout the year—water! When you add water, or a water feature, to your landscape, it attracts birds and wildlife that may not come to feeders or birdhouses. This is particularly true in the hot summer months when shallow

bodies of water are quick to evaporate, and winter, when water easily freezes over. Birds need water to bathe in and drink all year. Some birds, like goldfinches, do not eat berries or insects, which are great sources of water for most animals. Instead they rely on a source of water to flush their digestive system.

Fresh water is also important to birds throughout the year because without it they wouldn’t be able to keep their feathers clean. Clean feathers prevent feather mites and allow for birds to fly unobstructed. In the winter, clean feathers insulate better than dirty ones. Birds will fluff up their feathers to trap in warm air, which heats their body. This is why in the winter it is common to see birds sitting on a branch all fluffed up.

An easy way to add water to your yard is with a birdbath. Most birds only want one to two inches of water, so be careful not to get a birdbath that is too deep. If you get a deep birdbath you will get birds, but it may only be the larger species, such as blue jays and robins, who will sit in the bath and bathe. If you have a deep birdbath, don’t fret. Adding stones or rocks to it will create a shallow reservoir and will give birds something to perch on. Rocks can be added to the entire birdbath, or just a section, giving it multiple layers for different sizes of birds. Adding many layers of rocks, or even sand, to a birdbath is an attractant to butterflies. Layering your birdbath full of sand or rocks and filling it with just enough water to keep them wet creates a butterfly puddler (see our last issue for instructions on making your own). Butterflies will land on the wet sand or rocks and siphon off nutrients such as salts and amino acids.

Moving water is especially attractive to birds. The sound and sight of it draw them in. Solar fountain kits, plug-in fountain pumps, and water wigglers are all great ways to get your water moving. Misters and drippers can be attached to a hose to keep a small steady supply of water running for birds. Hummingbirds especially love misters. They will fly through the mist to clean their feathers. Drippers are little spouts that allow a drop of water to come out one at a time. Goldfinches and chickadees love drinking from drippers! Water wigglers are small plastic domes that sit in a birdbath. They have a little propeller that dips into the water and makes it ripple. Moving water is not only a great way to attract wildlife, but it also makes it impossible for mosquitoes to lay their eggs on it.

In the winter there are several options for providing water to wildlife. Heated birdbaths plug in and operate on a thermostat. They keep the water unfrozen, but don’t make the water hot. The same goes for birdbath heaters. These plug-in thermostatically operated heaters go into an existing birdbath and keep the water from freezing. If you keep a water feature out in the cold make sure it can withstand our winters. When water freezes and thaws, as it does throughout the winter, it can cause birdbaths to crack. Do not keep cement or pottery birdbaths out for this reason. Metal, granite, plastic and new fiber clay birdbaths can be left out all year and are safe to put a heater in.

Keeping a water feature clean is also very important. Non-toxic natural enzymes called “birdbath protectors” or “fountain protectors” will break down some of the stains, sludge and mineral deposits that may occur in a birdbath. Giving a birdbath or fountain a good scrubbing is also important. Use a stiff bristled brush and some elbow grease to get the grime off a few times a year, at least.

My favorite part about putting out water features is I never know what will come to it! Scarlet tanagers and warblers flock in the spring, butterflies and hummingbirds in the summer, and cardinals and blue jays all winter! Keeping wildlife hydrated has never been so much fun.

Liz Magnanti is the manager of the Bird House in Brighton.

 

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Those Amazing Mason Bees

by janem on September 3, 2017

by Steven Jakobi

A 60-tube commercial mason bee nest kit, partially occupied in June. Photo courtesy Steven Jakobi

A 60-tube commercial mason bee nest kit, partially occupied in June. Photo courtesy Steven Jakobi

Three years ago, I got a mason bee nest kit for a Christmas present. I confess that up to that point I had never heard of mason bees. The kit sat on a shelf for a year or so, but last year I decided to give it a try. I followed the instructions on the insert and I placed the nest in a sheltered area according to recommendations. Nothing happened. The contraption sat there without any insect activity all spring and summer and fall. I would periodically look at it, shrug my shoulders, and move on with my outdoor chores.

All of that changed this year. The mason bees discovered this wonderful nesting place and most of it has been occupied. Now I am excited because I have been reading about these amazing bees and their contribution as pollinators, and I welcome them to my garden.

A non-stinging species, the orchard mason bee is native to North America. It is one of several hundred kinds of bees world wide but, unlike the European honey bee, it is a solitary insect that does not have a queen, workers, soldiers, or other members of a hive. After a female breeds with one or several males, she begins to lay her eggs in tree bark crevices, cracks or channels in rocks, or tubular nesting places. Several eggs are deposited in one nesting site. Eggs that develop into females are laid first in the deepest part of the cavity and those destined to be males are at the outer edge. Then the outermost opening is plugged with mud, which forms a tight, secure cover over the eggs. It is for this reason that this animal is called a “mason bee.”

Mason bee at her future nursery. Photo courtesy Flickr: stanze

Mason bee at her future nursery. Photo courtesy Flickr: stanze

Like other bees and most wasps, mason bees have a complete life cycle that includes larval, pupal, and adult stages. Males emerge first from the nest and wait for the appearance of females. Once mating has taken place the males die, but the gravid female begins to collect large amounts of pollen for her eggs. As each of six to ten eggs is laid, a cache of pollen is deposited as a food source for the emerging larva. Each egg is in its own compartment, separated by a mud barrier from the next, so that there is no competition for food among the newly hatched babies.

It is during the collection of food for her eggs that that mason bee provides invaluable service to agriculture as a pollinator. Some people suggest that this bee is ten times more efficient as an agent of pollination than the honey bee. So it is not the production of honey, which the mason bee does not make, but the cross-pollination of flowers of vegetables, fruits, and other economically important crops that makes the mason bee so useful.

My Christmas present nest kit was a commercially produced tubular structure that probably cost a lot of money. I went to YouTube to look at home-made nest kit ideas and I was not disappointed. There are videos of people constructing nests from paper towel- and toilet paper cardboard rolls, by drilling 5/16 inch diameter drill holes into blocks of scrap wood or fire wood, tubular nests made by rolling cut up shopping bags pieces on a pencil and taping the rolled up sections, and many other methods. I am very happy to have discovered this small, attractive, non-stinging bee and I have many ideas for home-made nests to encourage their presence in my back yard and garden.

 

Steven Jakobi is a Master Gardener Volunteer for the Allegany County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

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Upstate Pairing: September-October 2017

by cathym on September 2, 2017

At 42 North Brewing Company, located in East Aurora, we brew a diverse mix of artisan ales and lagers with an uncompromised focus on quality, authenticity, and collaboration within our regional community. Drawing influence from centuries old styles and methods from Belgium, Germany, and beyond; we inject American creativity and ingenuity to brew beers that challenge and delight, whether you are new to craft beer, or a long-time enthusiast. —42 North Brewing Co.

radicchio-saladRoot’s Kitchen Farmers Market Radicchio Salad

Pair with 42 North’s New York Red Ale

 

Yield: 2 servings

2 heads radicchio, core removed, julienned
1 large kohlrabi, peeled, julienned
1 fennel bulb, sliced, reserve fronds
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried basil leaves
1 cup red wine vinaigrette
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard

  1. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a non-stick reactive bowl, whisk vigorously to emulsify. Set aside.
  2. In a small pan, caramelize fennel over medium heat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Let cool.
  3. Combine all salad ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Garnish with fennel fronds and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

To serve as a main dish with chicken:

  1. Double vinaigrette recipe
  2. Marinate two boneless, skinless chicken breasts in half of the vinaigrette for 4 hours up to overnight, reserve other half of unused vinaigrette for dressing the salad.
  3. Grill chicken on high for 7 minutes a side.

FARMS USED BY ROOT’S KITCHEN (INSIDE 42 NORTH) FOR FRESH INGREDIENTS
Kohlrabi & Fennel– Root Down Farm (Clarence Center, NY)
Radicchio– Native Offerings Farm (Little Valley, NY)
Chicken Breast– Gobblers Ridge Farm (Portageville, NY)
Parmesan Reggiano– Nickel City Cheese (Buffalo, NY)

42 NORTH’S NY RED ALE
ABV: 5.8%

Style: American Red Ale – Slightly malty with some light caramel notes. Finishes moderately sweet with citrus, floral, and some earthy hop aromas and flavors.

Notes: Hops are NY Centennial from Hunters Valley Hops in East Aurora. The Centennial hops add a floral, citrus, and earthy flavor and aroma to the caramel and soft dark malt notes of the Red Ale.

Compared to a typical Blonde or Pale Ale, Red Ales balance the additional malt flavors with a presence of American or English hops depending on the version. This balance allows the beer to pair with bigger flavors and more fatty foods like sausage or roasted chicken. We chose to pair with a chicken farm fresh salad. The salad boasts a bitter, earthy flavor that will complement the Centennial hop in the beer. The Red will also balance the umami and subtle roast flavors in the chicken.

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Near or Far: September-October 2017

by cathym on September 2, 2017

What’s in a Name?
A visit to the garden of Carl Linnaeus

by Reynolds Kelly

Rudbeckia in Linnaeus's country garden

Rudbeckia in Linnaeus’s country garden

It’s summer in upstate New York, and all our flowers are in bloom. Few are as appealing to me as blackeyed Susans. Some call them coneflowers, and they’re in the sunflower, or daisy family (Compositae): bright and cheerful. Horticulturists and botanists call them by the genus Rudbeckia. As a layperson, that name, like so many scientific names for plants, has always puzzled me. Rudbeckia? I never knew what it meant, but it sounded “rude” for such a friendly flower.

Turns out that the origin of that name goes back to the earliest days of botany as a science. Plants, of course, have been around forever. But the modern system of naming plants, binomial nomenclature, dates back to the mid-1700s in Sweden, and was the brainchild of botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus, the “Father of Modern Taxonomy.” Linnaeus started gardening as a boy, and Sweden’s climate is not unlike that of our own upstate growing season. In the 1720s, Linnaeus attended Uppsala University, about 50 miles north of the capital, Stockholm. By his second year he was selected to give lectures, a rare distinction for someone his age. After growing to doubt the common plant classification system then in wide use, Linnaeus went on to publish Systema Naturae. By the time Linnaeus published his twelfth edition in the 1750s, people sent specimens from all over the world for inclusion, and Linnaeus is credited with inventing the index card to keep track of his work.

Linneaus's private, fireproof museum

Linneaus’s private, fireproof museum

Building with a sod roof in the country garden

Building with a sod roof in the country garden

As a successful botanist and physician in Uppsala, Linnaeus enjoyed a country estate (the Hammarby) and a city home, both with extensive gardens. Out in the country he constructed a private fireproof museum for his botanical specimens. He wasn’t about to risk losing the world’s most extensive collection to fire, as happened to his mentor years before. A stately home, with outbuildings for the needs of his household, embraced a formal garden. A turf roof offered not just more opportunity to grow plants, but protection from fire—a spark landing in a garden is less likely to burn your house down than one landing on dry wooden shingles.

While Linnaeus’s country estate offered beautiful botanical bliss, in town he was all business. Linnetradgarden—Swedish for “the Linnaeus Garden”— was and is a living laboratory of plants and flowers, all carefully designed by Linnaeus and maintained today by Uppsala University. All of the plants are known to have been grown by Linnaeus himself (he kept scrupulous records) and are organized by his Sexual System. There are careful distinctions between spring and autumn flowering plants, with separate sections for different aquatic ecosystems. The garden is a jewelbox of botany: No more than an acre, it is rich with specimens and alluringly organized.

UGJ publisher Jane Milliman in Linneaus's town garden

UGJ publisher Jane Milliman in Linneaus’s town garden

But back to Rudbeckia. Naming seems to have been a fond hobby for Linnaeus. Born Carl Nilsson, he adopted the last name Linnaeus from a linden tree that grew out of an old stone heap on his father’s farm. When it came to naming the cheerful black-eyed Susan, Linnaeus chose the name of his longtime mentor at Uppsala University, botanist Otto Rudbeck. This time of the year, I see these flowers every day in my own garden, and think of Otto.

 

Lunch at Hambergs Fisk

Lunch at Hambergs Fisk

IF YOU GO:
Stockholm is wonderful in summer. Nights are long and the city is easily traversed by bike (citybikes.se). Pedal through the Old Town of Gamla Stan, and head to B.A.R. for dinner (restaurangbar.se).

Rent a car to explore Uppsala. Start with the Hammarby (botan.uu.se/our-gardens/Linnaeushammarby/), then head to the quaint university town center to see the Linnetradgarden (botan.uu.se/ourgardens/the-linnaeus-garden/). Stop for a relaxing lunch at Hambergs Fisk (hambergs.se), and be sure to sit outside along the banks of the River Fyris. Later you can drive to the outskirts to see ancient burial mounds at Gamla Uppsala, just a few miles out of town.

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story and photos by Michelle Sutton  

The rabbit-and-cabbage finial. Finials can pull together rebar to make a support for climbing vegetables and flowering vines.

The rabbit-and-cabbage finial. Finials can pull together rebar to make a support for climbing vegetables and flowering vines.

Birds don’t seem to mind dwelling in this cat’s belly.

Birds don’t seem to mind dwelling in this cat’s belly.

Mary Lynn and Bob Good. Photo by Hilary Argentieri Photography

Mary Lynn and Bob Good. Photo by Hilary Argentieri Photography

Nearly twenty years ago, native Chicagoans Mary Lynn and Robert Good discovered the Finger Lakes region of New York State on a return trip from NYC. The charm and natural beauty of the area kept them coming back for more adventures and explorations. The Goods are artists, history buffs, and historic home restorers—they restored three Victorian houses in Chicago and have always lived in homes of historic significance.

After Mary Lynn’s parents passed on, she and Bob were ready for a change. On a trip to the Southern Tier in 2002, they happened by accident on the William Goff House (1830) in Howard, near Bath. “It was everything we were looking for,” Mary Lynn says. “It’s one of the oldest, most historic houses in Steuben County. It’s a stone-and-brick, super-solid house with original everything—historic features intact. We were thrilled.”

Front of the William Goff House

Front of the William Goff House

Back of the William Goff House

Back of the William Goff House

William Goff purchased several hundred acres of land in 1812. He built Goff House by milling timber from his forest and making bricks from the white clay that runs in veins along Goff Creek. Goff was a stonemason who found and cut all the stone himself for lintels, thresholds, and foundations. He created an early 19th-century hub around him, operating grist, carding, and fulling mills, an inn, a post office, a distillery, and a tailor shop on the stagecoach line.

At the same time that the Goods threw themselves into fixing up Goff House, Mary Lynn started pursuing her longtime (since 1985) interest in pottery more seriously, taking classes at 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning. “I would volunteer to make glazes so I could learn how to do it. Anything they wanted done, I would do it for free—to learn,” she says.

• • •

For the Goods, 2006 was an auspicious year. They decided to open for retail sales at the studio of Goff Creek Pottery, and they went to Connecticut for their first flower show, where their flower pots, birdhouses, and sculptures sold like crazy. Each piece was unique, as is still true today. All of their work is created with a specially formulated red clay that can be fired to 2300 degrees in the kiln, hot enough for the clay to vitrify. The vitrifying process closes the pore spaces, which means that water cannot penetrate into pores like it does in terra cotta, where it would normally freeze and cause the structure to crack. “Basically, vitrifying turns the clay back into stone,” Mary Lynn says.

Closed pores is also the reason why the sculptures can be so heavy—some of the larger pieces are 300 pounds or more. It’s a good thing all Goff Creek Pottery pieces are frostproof and can stay outside all winter; that’s one of the hallmarks of the Goods’ work.

Garden sculptures with ornate finials, and a low birdbath with an everpresent toad.

Garden sculptures with ornate finials, and a low birdbath with an everpresent toad.

A section of a rabbit-and-cabbage themed totem that includes a birdbath.

A section of a rabbit-and-cabbage themed totem that includes a birdbath.

For eight years Bob and Mary Lynn took pieces—even the very large ones—to major garden shows around the country, including those in Rochester, Buffalo, Philly, Chicago, and Atlanta. “We loved doing the shows but we’ve tapered way back, in part because of the stress of moving such heavy pieces,” Mary Lynn says.

It’s also because Mary Lynn, who loves science as much as art, went back to school and became an ICU nurse. “I’d been thinking about it for a long time,” she says. “I’m equal parts right brain and left brain, and I’m happiest having both science and art in my life.” (Her first degree was in design and commercial art.) Bob is busy with Goff Creek Pottery, maintaining the house and larger physical complex, and writing his childhood memoirs.

Goff Creek Pottery ships anywhere in the U.S.— including heavy pieces. As you can imagine, the shipping for those is exorbitantly expensive, but Bob has also hand-delivered larger shipments, such as a suite of sculptures for a retirement community in Phoenix known for its huge art collection. “We saved them money on shipping, and they were very pleased,” Mary Lynn says.

The lawn chess toads show great team unity.

The lawn chess toads show great team unity.

Rabbit lawn chess figures

Rabbit lawn chess figures

Those heavy pieces were a longtime dream of Mary Lynn’s. “I’d always been drawn to English gardens [including follies] and had this idea of making a big lawn chess set of rabbits v. toads. Bob and I mean it as a nod to gardeners by having rabbits—which destroy the garden but everyone loves because they’re so cute—and toads—which are ugly but so beneficial for the garden—spar with one another.” A handful of clients have purchased entire sets, while many others buy one larger-than-life toad or rabbit.

A customer and friend in Louisville, Kentucky bought several of the chess pieces and then requested an Alice in Wonderland themed set of sculptures. “We made her an Alice, a Queen of Hearts, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter, the Dodo, the King, the Knave, the Red Queen, a big tree with the Cheshire Cat in it … she has 20 different pieces in all,” Mary Lynn says.

A lively subset of Mary Lynn’s Alice in Wonderland sculptures. Each one took two weeks to sculpt.

A lively subset of Mary Lynn’s Alice in Wonderland sculptures. Each one took two weeks to sculpt.

For specially requested sets or pieces, or for sculptures that are needed for a deadline, Mary Lynn makes two of everything to hedge against occasional accidents and misfires. There are three stages to the process for pieces large and small—the making, the drying, and the firing. For instance, sculpting each detailed piece in the Alice in the Wonderland set takes about two weeks, then the piece is dried in the kiln for a month or longer, then it takes three to four days to fire it. Because the whole process can take several months, Bob and Mary Lynn have to be good planners so that clients are sure to receive their pieces on time.

• • •

Cat finials to pull together rebar supports for morning glory, climbing beans, and more.

Cat finials to pull together rebar supports for morning glory, climbing beans, and more.

Animals are a big part of Bob and Mary Lynn’s life together and the primary inspiration and subject matter for their pottery. They found their very affectionate cat Floyd when they heard a teeny kitten yowling in the nearby woods. Floyd loves water, loves the rain, and sits in the sink and waits for Bob or Mary Lynn to turn on the water so he can go in. They have a parti poodle (“parti” refers to white with patches of color, as opposed to solid color) named Agnes who they brought home as a puppy. Floyd and Agnes are buddies who “look like MMA fighters when they wrestle—and Floyd’s always the instigator, whacking Agnes in the face,” Mary Lynn says.

The Goods are known for their toad houses. “Toads use them to hide from the sun and the more toads you have, the fewer snails and slugs you have,” Mary Lynn says. One customer asked Mary Lynn to make a toad house in the shape of a rabbit. From there, the rabbit theme took off and at Goff Creek you see bunnies on plaques, tiles, finials, birdhouses, birdbaths—and most dramatically, in the larger-than-life chess pieces.

Serving plate

Serving plate

Ceramic bunny flasks

Ceramic bunny flasks

The rabbits of Goff Creek Pottery look at you with some classic lagomorph attitude. Mary Lynn says, “These are real rabbits who, when they’re eating your garden, look at you like, ‘Hey I’m eating here, don’t bother me!’ Look at Victorian woodblock prints of animals—all the animals look like they were having a really bad day,” she says, laughing.

Before Floyd appeared on the scene five years ago, there was an invasion of rabbits one summer. Mary Lynn says, “I’m not kidding you, everywhere you looked were clusters of little rabbit families all over the yard. We had one very young bunny who would take his dirt baths by the front door and let me pet his stomach.”

Inside the Goff Creek studio and retail space

Inside the Goff Creek studio and retail space

Inside the Goff Creek studio and retail space

Inside the Goff Creek studio and retail space

The Goods would love to have chickens but fear that the foxes who regularly sail right through the property could crash that party. Deer are abundant in the woods but so far, mercifully, have left the extensive Goff Creek display gardens alone.

Goff Creek Pottery, open to individuals and groups by appointment, is a delightful place to spend a couple of hours. “When I was a kid, my family would go to this one garden center, Amling’s Flowerland, in the suburbs of Chicago,” Mary Lynn says. “My favorite thing was looking for the hidden sculptures among the plantings—I loved to be surprised! That was something that influenced me a great deal. I like to give that experience of surprise and delight to other people.”

Michelle Sutton (michellejudysutton.com) is a horticulturist, writer, and editor living in New Paltz, New York.

 

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Almanac: September-October 2107

by janem on August 31, 2017

What To Do in the Garden in September & October

Hairy bittercress

Hairy bittercress

SEPTEMBER

The best time to renovate or install a lawn is late August through September. Cooler, longer evenings and moist weather encourage root growth. It’s easier to keep the seedbed moist for germination, and annual weeds such as crabgrass will be unable to set seed before frost.

Plant colchicum and the true fall crocus bulbs as soon as they are received. Otherwise, Colchicum may bloom in the bag! Go ahead and plant them anyway, and they will be ok.

Replace tree guards around vulnerable tree trunks to prevent “buck rub” deer damage.

Start planning to bring houseplants inside, especially tropicals. This allows for an adjustment period (maybe even quarantine in case they have pests). Holiday cacti and cymbidiums need cool temperatures to set flower buds, but not cold or frost. A cool room inside should suffice.

It’s your last chance to plant veggies outside—only radishes and maybe spinach are fast-growing and hardy enough to get a crop. Consult ccetompkins.org/gardening/food-gardening/last-planting-dates.

Plant a hardy cover crop such as winter rye in vacant garden spaces. Otherwise, I sheet-compost there instead (flattened cardboard covered by leaves).

Consider planting hardy veggies in a cold frame or low (or high) tunnel for winter crops. Think about overwintering potted herbs on a sunny windowsill. I have had good luck with basil, parsley, and sage. Rosemary needs careful watching and watering, as it doesn’t wilt when dry, it just dies.

Keep up with the weeding, but ease off on the deadheading. Roses, for instance, will be better prepared for winter if allowed to set hips.

Visit your local nurseries for great sale plants. Also, tour display gardens and note what is blooming now. There are many fall-blooming perennials besides mums! Hybrid anemones that have not become invasive at my house, even after 20 years, are ‘Honorine Jobert’ and ‘September Charm.’ Cimicifuga ‘White Pearl’ is a fragrant late bloomer susceptible to early fall frosts, so plant it in a sheltered part shade location. Ditto for Korean wax bells (Kirengeshoma spp.) and hardy begonia (a zone six plant that has overwintered for me several years in a sheltered spot). Mark the hardy begonia well since it doesn’t come up until almost June. Fall monkshood is very frost-hardy and brings that deep marine blue to the garden (remember it’s poisonous, though). There is even a late-blooming hosta called ‘Red October’, but only the petioles and flower scapes are red.

Divide and replant hardy spring-blooming perennials as soon as possible. You can also move or divide the hardier perennials such as tall perennial phlox, hosta, or daylilies. Avoid disturbing shallow-rooted perennials like heuchera that are prone to heaving.

Make maps or take pictures of your plantings before the first frost hits and the leaves fall. Replace labels if needed. Pencil lasts a long time on plastic labels and doesn’t fade in the sun. Take notes about what needed to be moved/divided/replaced next year. Finish planting container perennials and woodies. Keep them well watered. I mulch right after planting to allow more root growth before the soil cools off too much, despite the usual recommendation to wait until the ground freezes.

 

OCTOBER

October is the best month to move peonies (both herbaceous and tree peonies, if necessary, but this is a big job!). We dig, divide, and pot up herbaceous peonies in October for the May plant sale, and most of them will bloom in the pots around sale time. It’s also the best month to dig up and divide hardy lilies. Its time to finish planting your spring-flowering bulbs outside! I mulch crocus and tulips with pea gravel to deter the critters that might be inclined to start digging. Start potting up the hardy bulbs you want to force (you can finish this task in November). Protect potted crocus and tulips from mice.

Mid-October is the best time to plant garlic. Be sure to rotate the garlic to a well-drained area, and mulch after planting. It’s recommended to plant the biggest cloves and save the smaller ones to eat.

Late October is a good time to start cleaning up around your perennials. Consider cutting down dead stalks (except for mums, Japanese painted ferns, kniphofia, and semi-woody plants like lavender, sage, Russian sage, and butterfly bush, which overwinter better with the protection of the old stalks). You may choose to leave stalks in place for winter interest (sedum, e.g.), birdseed (echinacea, black-eyed Susan, e.g.), or overwintering beneficial insects, including pollinators. Pull those winter annual weeds that have sprouted! Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is a particular pest because it blooms at such a tiny size. If you see little clumps of circular white objects resembling tapioca, those are snail or slug eggs. Get rid of them (not in the compost).

This is my best opportunity to apply mulch because my flowerbeds are full of bulb foliage by early spring.

Use your mulching mower on the leaves on the lawn, if possible. Consider collecting leaf bags from your neighbors! I have a special compost bin for leaves. I leave them in the bags (plastic preferred) until the leaves turn into “leaf mold”, which is my main organic soil amendment. Most leaves are wet and ‘dirty’ enough to compost right inside the bag. Any really light bags contain dry leaves—these are set aside for use as mulch in the veggie garden the next season.

Clean up all the old veggie plants, debris from the veggie garden, and fallen fruit. Although most recommendations are to dispose of this in the trash, I have too much to do that. Instead, I put it in a long-term inactive compost pile, so I’m isolating diseases and pests that the debris may hold. Applying fresh mulch will help isolate disease organisms. Be sure to protect fruit tree trunks up to four to five feet above the ground from nibbling wildlife.

Continue preparing to protect vulnerable plants from deer, rabbit, and rodent damage – with fencing, hardware cloth (which is actually wire), plastic tree protectors, and/or repellents.

Move a bucket of good garden soil and/or woodchips into a freeze-proof location. This can be used during winter thaws, to cover the roots of frost-heaved, shallow-rooted perennials such as heuchera. Otherwise, heaving causes the roots to dry out, and generally the ground is still frozen enough a few inches down to prevent replanting. This tip is from the late Elisabeth Sheldon, author of several excellent gardening books, who used to have a nursery near Ithaca.

It’s too early to wrap evergreens in burlap, but not too early to get prepared. The goal used to be to prevent winter wind and sun from desiccating and killing the foliage, especially of broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons and hollies. This is still important, and despite the controversy about them, I have been applying antidessicant sprays the last few years, but generally not until Thanksgiving or even later. But now with global warming, early spring damage has become just as important. Warm weather in March is no blessing when it is followed by drastic cold snaps that kill twigs, buds, and leaves that have become de-acclimated. Be sure not to let woody plants go into winter in a drought-stressed condition.

—Pat Curran and the Tompkins County Master Gardeners

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From the Publisher: September-October 2017

by janem on August 31, 2017

I visited Carl Linnaeus's garden in Sweden this summer! (See story, page 20.) While in Europe, I got around the cities mostly by bike.

I visited Carl Linnaeus’s garden in Sweden this summer! (See story, page 20.) While in Europe, I got around the cities mostly by bike.

Hi there! Thank you for picking up this issue of Upstate Gardeners’ Journal. We are very pleased to have you.

There is a lot going on in the great world of upstate New York horticulture these days. If you are in the Western New York area and not living under a rock, then you already know that Buffalo was host to the Association for Garden Communicators convention this summer, and that garnered a whole lot of well-deserved press for the area, press that will continue in the months and years to come, all promoting the amazing Buffalo horticulture scene.

In Ithaca, check out the Cornell Botanic Gardens (formerly Cornell Plantations) Fall Lecture Series. Shannon Dortch, associate director of communications and marketing, writes, “A few of the speakers may be of particular interest to upstate gardening enthusiasts. R. William Thomas, executive director of Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, will talk on the art of gardening on September 27. Cassandra Quave (October 12) is an ethnobotanist who will speak on plants as remedies. And Alizé Carrère (November 8) is a cultural ecologist and National Geographic Explorer, who will talk on living in a climate-changed world.” I’ve been to many previous lectures in this series, and (assuming you live outside of the area) they are definitely worth the drive. (If you’re near Ithaca, this is a no-brainer.) Stay overnight and take in all the botanic gardens, and the city, has to offer. While you’re at it, visit some of our advertisers there—you will find unique offerings, knowledgeable people, and great prices.

Sara‘s Garden Center Stone Wall Follies

Sara‘s Garden Center Stone Wall Follies

Just outside Rochester, visit Sara’s Garden Center for its annual Stone Wall Follies. While registration for the workshop is full, you can witness amazing craftsmanship firsthand—and who knows? You might just catch the “walling” bug yourself. See more on Sara’s ad in this issue, inside front cover.

And guess what! GardenScape is back for 2018. Yes! Dates are March 8 through 11, and it will again be at the Dome Center in Henrietta. We are very excited. Keep an eye on rochesterflowershow.com for details, and “like” the GardenScape page on Facebook.

July-August 2017 Stump the Chump stumper

July-August 2017 Stump the Chump stumper

Wondering about last issue’s Stump the Chump? Well, we do have a winner, Barbara Lassen, who gets a gift certificate to one of my favorite eateries (especially if I’m lucky enough to be dining with the great stumper himself, Ted Collins), Aladdin’s in Pittsford. The correct answer was lilac, apple blossom, rose of Sharon seed heads, allium in bud, purple smoke bush, and tulip.

The Winter Photo Contest is back for 2017. See page 31 for information on how to vote for your favorite. Winners will be announced in the November-December issue. Good luck to all who entered!

There’s so much going on! If we’ve missed anything, and I am sure we have, please email me at jane@upstategardenersjournal.com or, for calendar listings, deb@upstategardenersjournal.com.

Thanks again for reading. And remember, fall is for planting!

—Jane Milliman, Publisher

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