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

Dear Jane:

I have long thought that you and your readers would benefit from a Letters to the Editor feature. I’ll wager that it would be as well received as Stump the Chump. I’ll also bet that a poll of your subscribers would confirm this belief.


Such an approach to reader feedback would soon allow you to gauge their sentiment on topics, authors, and even the UGJ’s layout. (I recall being stirred by articles on invasive species and would have welcomed a chance to vent by writing you.) In addition, any mistakes could be addresses, controversies aired, and helpful suggestions considered.


Replies from the editor, if used, might be equally interesting and educational and demonstrate that you indeed value response and opinions. Perhaps most important is that your audience would probably love it and participate enthusiastically. I know I would.


Ted Collins

Lilac Hill Nursery


Dear Ted:

Since you came up with the hugely popular Stump the Chump feature, we are inclined to follow your advice on other editorial matters. As such, we present Letters to the Editor, yours first.




The REAL heronDear Editor,


We were vigilant about protecting the Koi fish in the pond we landscaped into a bland back yard seven years ago. We took to placing plastic herons, territorial birds, to discourage other, air borne herons from swooping in and making breakfast, lunch and dinner out of our beautiful and much loved Koi. Endearing to us, many we had raised from sliver glints of metallic scales to gem sparkling 20 pounders.


Over the years we’ve scared off herons around the pond under the trees and as dawn broke, standing at water’s edge. Along with them we had hawks on the tree branches licking their beaks and raccoons rubbing their little hand-paws. Eventually, out of fear for our fish, we just netted over the whole pond and took less worry.


We were unworried until Cheryl Micciche, paralegal at Rochester General Hospital, pond owner, took this picture of the heron waiting and watching from a neighbor’s roof! Now we are back on Heron Watch again.  Cheryl, often in involved in reviewing liability at the hospital, is seriously wondering what the heron’s strategy is now.


Very Best,

William Page

Dear William:


Thank you for the interesting tale. We also would have liked a picture of the beak-leaking hawks. Maybe next time.





I’ve enjoyed your magazine for quite a while now. Or maybe it’s best if I say up until now. Yesterday I made four of the apple galettes using the recipe from the current issue. Each turned out tasting terrible although I used the ingredients as written. The end of a great meal for many friends was a huge flop. The problem was with the topping. It tasted doughy, lacked flavor and sweetness.


I just reread the recipe and figured out that there is an error in it. Please read #2 in the recipe for the filing. I only saw tonight that sugar is mentioned here although no sugar is listed for the filling ingredients. When I mixed together everything for the topping, I mixed together everything from the list of ingredients and added it atop the apples. No wonder the topping taste like buttery dirt! There’s no sugar in it! Even if I had noticed the error as I was making the topping I would not know the quantity of sugar to use.


Please tell either the proof reader or whoever was responsible this that the error cost me money, wasted my time and that this was the first time that people spit food out of their mouths while dining at my house.

Thank you.



Dear M.:


Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are terribly sorry that the galettes were a failure and will run a correction on the recipe page, 17, in this issue.



The REAL heron


Snowy apple tree in neon

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Morgan Barry and the Green Visions Program

by janem on September 6, 2014

Morgan Barry and the Green Visions Program

By Michelle Sutton (michellejudysutton.com)

Photos by Walter Colley (waltercolleyimages.com)

This is a story about young Rochesterians learning critical work skills via a horticultural enterprise called Green Visions. It’s also about Morgan Barry, who coordinates Green Visions, which is a program of Greentopia, which is a project of Friends of the GardenAerial (see sidebar for more about each.)

Morgan Barry is a native Rochesterian raised on Maplewood Avenue. He attended city schools, including alternative high school at the district’s School Without Walls (SWW), which had a community service emphasis; Barry volunteered at Foodlink and as a coach at the neighborhood YMCA.

Even though he attended an excellent school and maintained a great first job at Wegmans, in retrospect Barry says he was following the expected college track, without adequate reflection on what he really wanted to do. He went to SUNY Oswego and got his BA in English. He says, “When I graduated in 2003, I said, ‘Wait, what’s the plan here?’” [click to continue…]


Ear to the Ground: From the Publisher

by janem on September 6, 2014

newJanepiciiGoing through the editorial content of this issue, I realized with some dismay that it skews rather heavily toward the Rochester area. This is coincidence, not intentional. We serve the areas surrounding Buffalo, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Rochester, and want stories from all across the region. We welcome your suggestions—email me at jane@janemilliman.com or Debbie at deb@upstategardenersjournal.com, or call 585-733-8979.

We are always looking for new distribution points, too. Drop us a line!
JaneSig copy


Cathy’s Crafty Corner: Autumn Votives

by janem on September 2, 2014

By Cathy Monrad


These votives bring fall colors and textures indoors and the project is an easy one that kids will love to help create.


Assortment of colorful leaves with stems removed

Waxed paper

Collage and decoupage medium like Mod PodgeÔ

Small bunch of dry twigs (the straighter the better)

Hot glue sticks

Ribbon or twine

Glass votives

Fall scented candles like apple, pumpkin, or spice


Heavy books

Small paintbrush

Utility knife

Hot glue gun

[click to continue…]





Garden Maintenance:

Continue to remove weeds to prevent the perennials from having a head start in the spring and the annuals from shedding seeds into the soil. If you don’t have time to weed at least cut off and discard the seed heads.

Watering trees and shrubs is as important as watering your perennials, especially anything planted this season.

Mulch newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs to prevent heaving in the winter. Make sure the mulch is not touching plant and shrub stems or tree trunks. Pile leaves on your macrophylla hydrangeas.

Add compost to your beds now.

Allow annuals such as nicotiana, annual poppies, cleome, and verbena bonariensis to drop seeds in the garden.

Prevent mouse and rabbit damage to thin-barked trees and shrubs by installing 18 inch to 24 inch high hardware cloth. Cut any grass around the base of trees short to discourage nesting by these critters.


Remove and discard all diseased plant material. Do not place in compost pile as some fungal spores can winter over in ground litter and soil and will re-infect plants next season.

Disinfect your pruner after working on diseased plants before moving to a new plant. A quick spray with Lysol or a dip in a 10% Clorox solution works well.

Remove and destroy iris foliage to eliminate the eggs of the iris borer.

Mound soil around your roses when the temperature drops. Bring in fresh soil to avoid disturbing roots.

You can leave the seed heads of astilbe, black-eyed-Susan, coneflower, daisy etc. intact to provide food for the birds as well as giving winter interest.

Don’t cut back grasses and plants such as red osier dogwood. They provide winter interest.

Divide any perennials that have become overgrown, diminished bloom or have formed a “doughnut” shape with a bare spot in the center of the clump. It’s best to transplant early in the fall while there is still enough time for their roots to settle in for the winter.


Begin planting spring bulbs. You will get better results if you plant when there is a month of 40 degree or above soil temperature (mid Sept. – mid Oct. in our area). This allows the bulbs to set strong roots and will give you better blooming.

Fertilize bulbs when you plant them using compost or 5-10-10. Cover the planting area with 2-3 inches of compost.

With some bulbs it’s difficult to tell the top from the bottom. The skin is loose at the top and attached at the bottom. If you can’t tell, plant them sideways.

To deter moles, voles and squirrels, put a layer of pea gravel or small gauge chicken wire between the bulbs and soil surface.

Plant bulbs 2 to 3 times as deep as their height, a little deeper for naturalizing varieties.


Over seed bare spots in the lawn. Filling in bare spots helps prevent weeds in those areas next year.

September is the best time to fertilize your lawn and seed a new one. A top dressing of good compost is an ideal natural fertilizer.

Remember to water the grass seeds regularly to keep the soil moist and choose high quality seed appropriate for your site.

In early September check your lawn for grubs by lifting up about a square foot of sod. If there are more than 10-12 grubs per square foot you may want to treat for grubs. First identify what type of grub you have so you know the proper treatment. Complete your grub control program by the middle of September. Contact your Cooperative Extension for help in identification and treatment options.

Keep mowing the lawn. Make the last cutting one inchone-inch lower than usual to prevent matting and to discourage snow mold.

If the leaves aren’t too thick on your lawn leave them there when you mow, it feeds your lawn naturally.

Vegetables & Herbs:

Any time after the first frost through late October is a good time to plant garlic.

Pot up some parsley, chives, oregano, or mints to use indoors. You can also freeze or dry herbs for winter use. Be sure to wash off the plants.

Pick off the tomato blossoms that won’t have time to develop tomatoes so the nutrients go into the tomatoes already growing on the vine.

Plant cover crops such as peas or clover as you harvest your vegetables. This will reduce the need for weeding and will add nitrogen to the soil.

Another option is to sow a cover crop such as rye or winter wheat in the vegetable garden. Turn it over in the spring.

Dig mature onions on a dry day. Store in well ventilated mesh bags (or even panty hose).

Plant radish, kale, spinach, and lettuce seeds in early September as your last crops.

Pull up your hot pepper plants and hang them until the peppers are dry. (Or thread them on a string to dry.)

If you had any vegetables with fungal problems make sure that area is cleaned of all plant debris and avoid planting the same variety in the same spot next year.

Mulch your asparagus and strawberries.


Dig and store summer blooming bulbs, caladium and elephant’s ears before frost and tuberous begonias, cannas, dahlias after the foliage is blackened by frost.

Bring in tender perennials such as scented geraniums and rosemary and any annuals you want to overwinter BEFORE you have to turn on the furnace. This cuts down on the shock of moving inside.

To start annuals for next season, take cuttings from plants such as scented geraniums, begonias, strobilanthus, and coleus.

Collect seeds from open pollinated plants such as Kiss-me-Over-the Garden Gate, Big Max Pumpkin, and Brandywine tomatoes.

If collecting seeds be sure to keep them dry and chilled 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Join a seed exchange such as Seed Savers. Contribute extra seeds to organizations such as the American Horticulture Society and the Herb Society of America.

Plant trees and shrubs now. They will have time to develop roots before winter sets in.

Fallen leaves are one of the most wasted natural resources the home gardener has. They can be used as a mulch to improve soil texture and to add nutrients. (Get some from your neighbors as well!)

Small leaves like linden or birch trees can be spread on gardens directly. Larger leaves can be shredded or run over with your lawn mower before spreading. Avoid using black walnut or butternut, as they can be toxic to many plants. Excess leaves can be composted for use next spring. They decompose faster if shredded first.

Begin bringing in houseplants that lived outdoors all summer. Wash off with a good spray of soapy water. Check for diseases and insects before bringing inside.

Take pictures of your gardens. Make notes for next year’s gardens now. What worked, what didn’t, what to add, remove, or move.

Begin to get poinsettias ready for December flowering. They need fourteen hours of total uninterrupted darkness and ten hours of bright light. Let your amaryllis bulbs begin a 2 month rest period.

Lay out thick layers of cardboard or newspaper over areas that will become new beds in the spring. These will kill grasses and/or weeds as they break down making spring efforts easier.

Take notes on what worked or didn’t.  (You think you will remember next year but you probably won’t.)

—Carol Ann Harlos & Lyn Chimera, Master Gardeners, Erie County Cornell Cooperative Extension



This issue’s specimen is a toughie. It is a non-native and rare in cultivation here in the States, despite being reliably hardy. A small tree, it only reaches about 20 feet and is generally multi-stemmed. The flowers are fragrant and all above-ground parts are edible.


The first reader to guess correctly will win a 4 foot tall Hamamelis mollis ‘Wisley Supreme’ (witch hazel) from Holmes Hollow Farm on Turk Hill in Victor. Submit answers to jane@janemilliman.com (fastest) or by calling 585-733-8979.


Answer from last issue (July-August 2014): Yellowwood, or Cladrastis kentukea syn. lutea.

Q&A1 Q&A3 Q&A2


The Magic of Garden Follies

by janem on August 26, 2014


England and many parts of Europe are known for their enchanting and beautifully-designed gardens. A quintessential English garden typically has some sort stone ruin or a garden “folly” that adds, as a point of interest, an accent of antiquity and creates a bit of magic to the layout and flow of the garden. As an architectural term, folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, yet suggests through its appearance another purpose. 18th century English gardens and French garden landscapes often featured Roman temples, which symbolized classical virtues and ideals. Other 18th century garden follies represented ruined abbeys, Chinese temples, or Egyptian pyramids, to represent different continents or historical eras. Some follies, particularly during famine, were built as a form of poor relief, to provide employment for peasants and unemployed artisans.


Typically follies have no other purpose than as ornamentation, to add a sense of majesty and magic. They will often have the appearance of a building constructed for a particular purpose, such as a castle or tower. If they have another purpose, it may be disguised. They are buildings, or parts of buildings, and thereby distinguished from other garden ornaments such as sculpture. Follies are deliberately built as ornaments and are commissioned and built for pleasure.

— Liza Savage-Katz (Lizasavagekatz@gmail.com). Photography by Tracy Grier (Tgrier@juno.com)

Upstate New Yorkers have a rare opportunity to learn the art of building garden follies with dry laid stone with two highly skilled and accomplished artisan craftsmen, John Shaw-Rimmington (founder of Dry Stone Walling Across Canada, or DSWAC) and Norman Haddow (Official dyker of Balmoral Castle, Scotland). The “Walling Weekend” will take place at Sara’s Garden Center in Brockport the weekend of October 11th & 12th. At the workshop, students will build a castle ruin folly. Student space is limited. To register or for more information, contact Kathy at Sara’s Garden Center via email: Kkepler@rochester.rr.com or phone: 585-637-4745.





Name this plant!

mystery1 mystery2

A native ornamental, it grows to 50 feet tall. It sports handsome foliage and bark, and white flowers in panicles, late May to early June. At Lilac Hill there is a pink-flowered variety, which Ted Collins obtained from Coldwater Pond Nursery (and Ted Hildebrand, no fair guessing). This is an underused gem, great as a lawn specimen.

The first reader to guess correctly will win a lilac from Lilac Hill Nursery. Submit answers to jane@janemilliman.com or by calling 585-733-8979.

We already have a winner, but if you want to guess, leave a comment below.

Answer from last issue (May-June 2014): The Pepperidge tree, also known as black gum (Nyssa sylvatica)