April 24, 2016

Hedging Hornbeams, Planting Onions and other April Chores

A hedge of English Hornbeam (Carpinius betulus) gets trimmed twice a year, once in June, and once in September, but every few years it needs to be topped-off, as I don't want it to get too tall. This must be done in the early spring, which provides us with pea brush, as well.

 Training a hedge of hornbeam is a very European thing to do. Rarely seen in the US, a hornbeam hedge makes a lovely statement in the garden, as well as a fast-growing hedge. I have two hedges on the property, one, planted 18 years ago (this one), which runs along the long walk, and second one which we planted between our neighbors and our Martin House gravel garden, near the greenhouse, which makes a sort-of tunnel which the dogs love, but which is actually a secret shade garden.

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April 22, 2016

My Earth Day Giveaway - Disposable Compost Bins by Postmodern

These new compostable food scrap boxes introduce a new system which is 100% compostable, all designed by two of my good friends. I want to share a month's worth with you, as an Earth Day Giveaway.
Thanks everyone! Contest is over.

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April 15, 2016

How to grow primroses that return year to year

Primula elatior (this one grown by primrose expert Amy Olmsted in Vermont) as dug from the garden for a primrose exhibition, proves how resilient primroses can be in the spring, as all tolerate being dug and potted for a few days and brought indoors, only later to be returned to the garden often after dividing them (this is usually what most growers do).

I've struggled with growing primroses, and I suspect that I am not alone. Sure, I could buy pre-grown plants in the late winter and spring, and set them into containers and into garden displays, but they rarely or never returned. I wrote it all off for years as something not that I was doing wrong, but that my lack of wintering over primroses was because of our climate. USDA Zone 5, New England, and my neighbors and friends gardens all reinforced this theory - none of them ever had primrose borders or plants that wintered over. But all of that changed, once I joined the American Primrose Society, and started visiting gardens in New England that not only had primroses in the spring, but also found some with loads of primroses. Clearly, there is a lot to learn here.

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