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


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)





Stump the Chump

This issue we continue with our “reverse Q&A,” because our readers are having such a good time with it.

The late Professor Donald Wyman, of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum fame, asserted that this was the tree most often sent in for identification. This tree sports brilliant fall coloration and its fruit is an ovoid drupe about half an inch long.

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.


Nyssa sylvatica pepperidge bud 1 pepperidge bud 2 pepperidge tree silhouette



Give up?
It’s Nyssa sylvativa, aka black gum, or pepperidge tree.

Answers from previous issues: March-April 2014, Dunstan hybrid chestnut; November-December 2013, Sorbus alnifolia, Korean mountain ash.


Q&A: We ask, YOU answer

by janem on March 24, 2014


We’ve had dozens and dozens of guesses, and want to announce that this issue’s mystery plan is the Dunstan chestnut. You can read all about it here.

Congratulation to the first correct guesser, Sue Eick! She wins a lilac from Lilac Hill Nursery.

••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• •••

Back in November we ran a “reverse Q&A” wherein we asked you, the reader, to Name This Plant. It was such a popular feature that we’ve decided to do it again. It’s a toughie, so if we don’t get any correct guesses by the end of March we’ll post a clue here.

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.

The pictures are of a seedling, the winter foliage of a mature specimen, and some fruits (nuts).





Q&A: We ask …YOU answer?

by janem on November 1, 2013

This issue, we’ve decided to turn the tables and ask you the question. Can you name this plant? The first reader to guess correctly will win a lilac from Lilac Hill Nursery. Comment below or on Facebook or submit answers to jane AT janemilliman.com.



Erin Luchsinger Hull

Erin Luchsinger Hull

This issue’s guest expert Erin Luchsinger Hull, a fourth generation farmer in Onondaga County, where she works as a general agriculture educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Q: I found this vine in my garden. What is it?

Japanese hops
Humulus japonicus =

A: The vine you found is Japanese hops, Humulus japonicus, an extremely invasive and noxious weed. It is an annual not used in beer production, and it should never be intentionally planted.

Humulus lupulus, on the other hand, is an extremely useful plant that many dearly love—and this is the kind of hops for making beer.

Humulus lupulus courtesy flickr: Matt Lavin

Humulus lupulus = good

Here’s an easy way to tell them apart: common hops leaves have three lobes or none, while Japanese have five, seven, or nine.

In the 1880s, 80% of all hops produced in the United States were grown in central New York, but plant diseases and prohibition caused the region to lose its foothold to the Pacific Northwest.

Hops do very well in our climate. They require a lot of water and are prone to powdery mildew, which thrives in moist areas with little air movement. The easiest way to prevent it is to strip the lower leaves from the plant and keep weeds down.

If you plan to grow hops, be prepared. They grow tall and they grow fast. Hops can easily grow to heights in excess of 20′ and poles or trellises should be sized accordingly.


Q&A: You Ask…the Experts Answer

by janem on June 28, 2013

Q: Is the tomato blight still a problem for upstate gardeners?

Steve Reiners and Spikes

This issue’s guest expert is Steve Reiners,  an associate professor with the department of horticulture at the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.

A: Unfortunately, tomato (and potato) late blight will always be a potential problem for gardeners in New York as well as the rest of the country.  The disease is caused by the same pathogen that caused the 19th Century Irish Potato Famine and is still with us today.  Up until 2009, we saw it occasionally and usually only later in the season.  2009 was different. There are three things needed for a plant disease to thrive. First, we need the pathogen to be present.   That year, some tomato transplants for sale in the spring were already infected. Second, we need a susceptible host and we have that with tomatoes and potatoes grown everywhere in gardens and farms.  Finally, we need the perfect weather conditions.  Late blight thrives during wet and mild summers.  Day temperatures of 70 to 80F and night temps of 50F to 60F are ideal, but if the season is dry and hot, the spread will be limited.  The airborne spores can travel several miles but will only germinate and infect susceptible plants if “free moisture” is present.  That means leaves are wet from dew, fog, rainfall or sprinklers.  The spore and disease will have a hard time surviving more than an hour in hot and dry conditions.

The pathogen can only overwinter on living tissue.  So if tomato plants were infected last year, it won’t survive on those.  The plants die with frost and so does the pathogen.  Where it can survive is on potato tubers that overwinter in soil and “volunteer” the following spring.  As of mid-June, we have not seen the disease exploding throughout the Northeast as we did in 2009, so we won’t have that early inoculum. With a hot and dry summer, we should be fine.  Gardeners should try watering using trickle irrigation to keep leaves dry and reduce disease spread.  If you need to use sprinklers, water in the morning so leaves are dry by evening.  In addition, some excellent varieties are being bred with resistance to the disease.  Finally, Google “late blight Cornell” and you can find updates on where the disease has been found this season.  Cornell, along with other Universities, is tracking the disease so we can sound the alert if it is spreading.