October 21, 2014

COVET THY CONSERVATORY

On my way up to visit my favorite conservatories at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden last weekend, I passed this impressive pile of New England squashes and pumpkins. Gotta love fall!
Raking leaves aside, we here in New England are in full, blown autumn - and it's gorgeous. It's one of my four favorite seasons, probably coming in second after winter ( I know, crazy, right?). It's true - winter just might be my favorite gardening season - mainly because of my greenhouse. I can totally see why the cold conservatories and greenhouses of the 18th and 19 centuries were so popular - their scent, their collections of plants, and their escapist environments - let's face it, there is nothing like a warm, humid greenhouse on a snowy day - all fragrant with jasmine vines, minty shrubs, forced bulbs and camellias. The same assemblage on a summer day just isn't the same.  This luxury is inexcusably rare - but there are great conservatories around worth visiting, and surely, there is one near you at a university or botanic garden which deserves a visit this autumn.

Underglass, an entirely new season is emerging - so rare and precious that I am convinced that earlier generations really knew the the value of a glasshouse - those Victorians, well, the ones who had money certainly did - a conservatory in autumn is an experience few people get to enjoy.  I can sort-of get close with my greenhouse, but it's no botanic garden. Still, it was something that I wanted to have built - I was one of those kids who decided that a new pick-up truck just wasn't as cool as a greenhouse. I understand that not all readers can build one, but if you can, you will never regret it. In America, it is curious how so few people build a glass house whereas in England, so many middle class people do - then again, they are not buying 30,000 SUV's. It's just a lifestyle choice, and one has to decide what is most important to them. 

In the man time - I encourage you to visit a well-populated greenhouse or conservatory - one with a good collection, such as the sort found at a botanic garden this autumn - bring your kids, introduce them to the wonders of scent and science - It might just be what you need before the onset of the Holidays and the madness.

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October 20, 2014

THE MANY PRICELESS GIFTS WITH GARDENING, AND A FIRST FROST

WITH OUR FIRST HARD FROST EXPECTED TO HIT , SUCCULENTS ARE REMOVED FROM ALL OUTDOOR CONTAINERS AND BROUGHT INTO THE GREENHOUSE. NO WORRIES ABOUT POTTING THEM RIGHT NOW, THAT WILL NEED TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEKEND.


Last night we had our first killing frost. Well, we were supposed to. Close enough though, as the temps dipped to 32º F. We gardeners know the routine - rushing home barely enough time to haul in everything that is frost tender, throwing sheets over dahlias (for some reason - as if we need any more in the house this time of year!), or packing in pots of begonias, citrus and succulents - dragging tubs of plants onto the porches which are packed so densely that one can't even get to the dog food or to the recycling bins. For us, it means sore backs and muscles from dragging heavy tubs of tender trees and shrubs back to the protection of the greenhouse too - these are the bigger 40 inch pots. Each year we say "We really need to start this earlier" but for whatever reason, we seem to rationalize leaving plants out for all sorts of reasons "Oh, they really should get a few more days of sunshine." or, "Hey, remember that year when we didn't get a killing hard frost until nearly Thanksgiving?" or, "This year, let's just leave everything outside and save some money by not heating the greenhouse.".

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October 17, 2014

THE NEW TROY BILT JET™ LEAF BLOWER -- AND IT'S A GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate my 2 millionth page hit, Troy Bilt is giving away this brand new Jet™ Leaf Blower - you have until this Sunday, October 19th at 10 PM EST to leave (leaf) a comment and a nice social media share, or join as a follower to be blown away with this game-changing new design.

 ++++++++AND THE WINNER IS….ANONYMOUSE!

Please contact me via email at mmattus@charter.net and I can connect you with the folks at Troy Bilt for delivery. Thanks to everyone who entered!+++++++


The leaves are falling, the pine needles are pouring down, and yes...it is fall across most of the country. Thanks to the great folks at Troy Bilt, we tested a new product called the Jet™, a super-strong leaf blower that really gives those professional back-pack leaf blowers a run for their money.  I know, because we bought one of those back pack models from another manufacturer for over $350 - we loved it, but it's heavy, cumbersome and honestly just a little too professional for us guys who honestly, rarely use a leaf blower except when the leaves are falling. Which means that we rarely use it when we cut the grass, or even weekly like our noisy neighbors. We come from the camp that believes that leaf blowers are not everyday tools. Lawns and gardens should be raked by hand, it's better for the plants, and better for the people.

But there are times when a leaf blower is very useful - like when the leaves are falling - and with two acres of leaves and pine needles, and only a couple of hours a week available for raking in the fall and early spring, a leaf blower is necessary for a few weeks out of the year.

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October 11, 2014

THE BLUES, AND THE BEES, (OH, AND THE BULBS)

FALL BLOOMING GENTIANS TAKE OVER THE ALPINE GARDEN AND TROUGHS WITH A 'LAST HURRAH' BEFORE OUR FIRST FROST.


Some of the gardening year's most striking plants bloom just before frost, and so it is with many of the plants within the genus Gentianacea - the gentian family. Gentians a generally high elevation mountain plants - alpines, which are familiar to hikers in the Alps and in the Rockies, but there are some very choice species from China just coming to a few specialist nurseries. Gentians are not something that most gardeners turn to, as they are rarely in bloom at garden centers, and they have a reputation for being fussy, requiring very specific soil nutrients, temperatures and aspect - but you might be surprised at just how easy some species and new selections can be - I mean, check out these beauties that I found at all places, my local Lowes hardware store.
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