Aster 'Purple Dome'

Lots of folks wondering about the pretty light purple flowers proliferating in Chittenden County this October. They are the Aster dumosus 'Danny Boy', also known as Michaelmas daisies; or Aster novae-angeliae 'Purple Dome'. The latter is a darker colored variety; the 'Danny Boy' is more lavender.
Home Depot has been selling the 'Purple Dome', which might explain the increase in sightings.


October (section I)             
by Louise Glück

Is it winter again, is it cold again,
didn't Frank just slip on the ice,
didn't he heal, weren't the spring seeds planted

didn't the night end,
didn't the melting ice
flood the narrow gutters

wasn't my body
rescued, wasn't it safe

didn't the scar form, invisible
above the injury

terror and cold,
didn't they just end, wasn't the back garden
harrowed and planted--

I remember how the earth felt, red and dense,
in stiff rows, weren't the seeds planted,
didn't vines climb the south wall

I can't hear your voice
for the wind's cries, whistling over the bare ground

I no longer care
what sound it makes

when was I silenced, when did it first seem
pointless to describe that sound

what it sounds like can't change what it is--

didn't the night end, wasn't the earth
safe when it was planted

didn't we plant the seeds,
weren't we necessary to the earth,

the vines, were they harvested?


'Sunny Day' Coreopsis - Can you spot the bumblebee?
  Lots of luck this summer with various Coreopsis, or is the plural Coreopsi, or maybe Coreopsisis. Ha- ha. Who knows.
These plants are one of the workhorses of the garden, with long-lasting blooms and very low on the "needy" scale. Just plop them somewhere with a lot of sun, deadhead 'em once in a while, and they'll do the rest. This particular cultivar is hardy to 30 freaking below. Man!
Now that I'm thinking of it, A lot of my customers don't grow Coreopsis. Maybe this snappy little plant will be moved up on my recommendation list.
If you love the color yellow, go for it!


Cosmos in an Essex Center field
One of the pleasures of being a working gardener is plying my trade in the most beautiful of locations. On a stunning early fall day in Essex Center, I had the pleasure of dividing old treasured Peonies, a family of such going back generations.
The roots were the size of Baby Ruth candy bars, some of them, and the flowers back in June were not spectacular, meaning it was time to cut 'em up. At the end, I was honored with a few divisions, which is a great perk in my business.
Throwing Peonies back in the ground can be tricky; plant too shallow and the eyes freeze, plant too deep and you might not get great blooms, if any at all.

Here's a link to a cool Peony place on the web. Peony's Envy is a well known nursery in New Jersey.


Hey! It's not 4 o'clock yet!
* My Four O'clocks woke up early this morning. Maybe it was the beautiful sunny start to the day.
I'd like to say I have a green thumb when it comes to Mirabilis, but not really. Truth is...I CAN'T GET RID OF 'EM. But I'm actually happy about it now, since they give off fall color.

*Some other flowers notable for fall color are Marigolds, Asters, Zinnias and Dusty Miller. If you plant Dusty Miller in late spring, don't give up the ship if they look beleaguered during the summer - they usually come back to a roaring presence in late summer/early fall.


Yup. It's Sedum time. A bittersweet experience, knowing that the beautiful fall season is here, but also knowing that driving on icy roads is right around the corner. Oh, c'mon Brian - just enjoy autumn and worry about winter some other day!

  • Also known as Stonecrop, which is the perfect name to me. I have a gardening client who has pink Sedum growing on a bank with stones interspersed. Great contrast.
  • After the first frost this fall, cut the stems back to about an inch from the soil.
  • Every spring, sprinkle some compost around the base. No need for fancy additives.
Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant’s living roof has 10.4 acres of Sedum!


*What a welcome sight in September to have our dear Turtleheads back with us.
I have two clients, one in Burlington and one in Essex, graced with the presence of the genus Chelone (kay-LOW-nee), otherwise known to most of us as Turtleheads, or Hot Lips.
These pretty pink flowers give great color to a garden in September, when choices are limited. Chelone is Zone 4 hardy, requires adequate moisture, and some type of  acidy soil amendment once in a while, maybe some coffee grounds.


These baby blue Petunias (pictured above) have been cranking since May. Amazing! We threw in some Dusty Miller for contrast.
Petunias are native to Argentina and are really a tropical flower, which is why I wait til the end of May to plant them - I find they are stronger, more vibrant and last longer if I don't throw them in the ground too early.


Ladies and Gentlemen - the...Honeysuckle
  • We've been waiting for the splendid Lonicera (Trumpet Honeysuckle) sempervirens to dazzle us; it's at its best right now. A little unruly, but, hey, that's what my shears are for.
  • I'm always interested where plant names come from - Lonicera come from the dashing renaissance botanist Adam Lonicer, who, in 1500's Germany, was a doctor, math whiz, botanist, publisher, writer and scholar. Whew! I guess one can accomplish a bunch when one isn't tied to a TV or cell phone.
  • I'm always reminded to mulch the roots of my client's Honeysuckle, never do, and the thing always looks fabulous, darling. La-de-da.


3-in-1 Butterfly Bush
Hydrangea - up close and personal
  • What a great time for Butterfly Bush lovers. One of my clients has a beautiful multi-color Buddleia, ordered through a catalog. The lavender, magenta and white flowers are mixed together and look positively stunning - right now. Up top is a pic of a 3-in-1 Butterfly Bush from Spring Hill Nursery.



Absorbed in planting bulbs, that work of hope,
I was startled by a loud human voice,
“Do go on working while I talk. Don’t stop!”
And I was caught upon the difficult choice—
To yield the last half hour of precious light,
Or to stay on my knees, absurd and rude;
I willed her to be gone with all my might,
This kindly neighbor who destroyed a mood;
I could not think of next spring any more,
I had to re-assess the way I live.
Long after I went in and closed the door,
I pondered on the crude imperative.

What it is to be caught up in each day
Like a child fighting imaginary wars,
Converting work into this passionate play,
A rounded whole made up of different chores
Which one might name haphazard meditation.
And yet an unexpected call destroys
Or puts to rout my primitive elation:
Why be so serious about mere joys?
Is this where some outmoded madness lies,
Poet as recluse? No, what comes to me
Is how my father looked out of his eyes,
And how he fought for his own passionate play.

He could tear up unread and throw away
Communications from officialdom,
And, courteous in every other way,
Would not brook anything that kept him from
Those lively dialogues with man’s whole past
That were his intimate and fruitful pleasure.
Impetuous, impatient to the last,
“Be adamant, keep clear, strike for your treasure!”
I hear the youthful ardor in his voice
(And so I must forgive a self in (labor).
I feel his unrepentant smiling choice,
(And so I ask forgiveness of my neighbor).

May Sarton

 (If one enjoys the garden, one might appreciate May Sarton's journals, especially Plant Dreaming Deep)


  • If you are looking for a cool perennial that can go for a while without water, try the Globe Thistle, or Echinops. Also, GT makes a super cut flower, lasting for weeks in the vase.  If you have a friend with too much Thistle, they (the plant, not the friend) can be divided in the spring. Hint, hint.


What is more beautiful - a rainbow or Phlox?
* It's time for the Phlox festival! This wonderful native plant is a joy for working gardeners, as it gives us a shout from Mother Nature, as if she is saying," Hey, I ain't done yet!"

Please don't let water puddle up with Phlox; they can suffer from mildew and fungi, along with mites looking for food and moisture.

Believe it or not, Phlox don't need a lot of fert this time of year, better to give them a good dose in the spring.
Have you seen hummingbirds feeding from your Phlox? Turns out that Phlox has a high nectar count, enabling the H-birds to beef up for their winter trip down south.

TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2011


 * Remember - you can take cuttings from Coleus in the fall and grow neat looking houseplants for winter. Most Coleus root easily.
* The variety 'Black Magic', is sun tolerant and can hang out in crappy soil.
* If you keep Coleus inside, don't water too much. Let the soil dry a bit before watering. If your Coleus is outside, don't let it stay wet. It's a tropical plant, and is semi-drought tolerant.

TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2011

Quiz: What are these?

'Magic Fire'
  •   Spent yesterday planting Rhododendrons and 'Magic Fire' Hydrangeas. With Rhodies, one must make sure not to set the base in too deep, for the roots are shallow and poor placement can affect flower production.                                       With the 'Magic Fire', the flowers turn, magically, from white to red in late summer.

    THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2011

    July blooming 'Lion King' Iris
    3 shades of Astilbe
    • Planted some Dwarf Bee Balm for a customer today (Monarda x. 'Petite Delight'). Beautiful lavender pink flowers and dark green foliage. Let's see if it stays at a foot and a half!
    • What a glorious time to have many colors of Astilbe to greet us in the morn. The reds, pinks, creams and lilacs. An old-timer told me that Astilbes can be divided even in flower but I've never tried it. They are one tough plant, though.
    • Want an Iris that is still in bloom in July? Think about the 'Lion King', a stately Japanese Iris which is lighter purple with a splash of white. A customer has three in bloom right now, July 14.(See above pic which came from White Flower Farm)

    THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2011

    • - Time to give the tomatoes some chow; they like seafood, more particularly fish emulsion. After spreading it, you just have to hold your nose for a couple of days!
    • - Aren't the Astilbes brilliant this year, most likely from the soggy spring. One of my clients has a beautiful spread of burgundy, creme and soft red Astilbes mixed in with some cute Primula. Or would it be Primuli?
    • - Ahhh! My Brussel Sprout leaves have holes! Time to get in the shed and see where I misplaced the Neem Oil.
    • - The Jerusalem Artichokes are getting there, about 7 feet tall and looking feisty. Can't wait for those darling yellow flowers. Thanks for the division, Gwen. I hope you can smell the flowers from above.
    • - Sometimes I can't believe I get paid to weed, among other things. Weeding can be super when one has Bach Cello Suites on the headphones.

    23rd of June, 2011

    Lovely iris hangin' with Sammy Spirea

    - Still planting. Threw in some Cinnamon Basil (cute little flowers), Peppermint, Greek Oregano and dill.
    - Some tips for your annuals.
       Celosia - they love sun but droop if overwatered.
       Cosmos - only water if plant is wilting.
       Marigold - deadhead liberally
       Petunias - love the sun and water

    - Hollytoned the Astilbes, as they like their dirt on the acidic side.
    - Peonies saying bye-bye. Must remember to add wood ash to the roots this fall.

    11th OF JUNE, 2011


    TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011


    * Planted "Ruby Glow" Sedum, making sure to ensure plenty of air circulation, to avoid rot, which can happen with these buggers.

    * After working in the garden, it's time for Iris spring. (pun, pun, pun)

    * If one hasn't cleaned up their ornamental grasses, one should promptly do it now.

    * Threw some coffee grounds around the Bleeding Hearts and could swear they instantly got stronger, bigger, and better!

    * Planted some Dutchman's Pipe. (They're great if you need something to climb up the side of the house!)

    TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2011

    Lots of rain - lots of Trilliums

    * Almost time to put in the Supertunias; they are remarkable annuals that come in cool colors, a vibrant pink, black velvet, sangria, and many more.
    * Great time to sprinkle some coffee grounds around the Astilbes; they like their soil a little on the acidy side. With all this rain, my personal Astilbes are looking strong.
    * Had some extra Muracid left, so I threw it on the Bleeding Hearts. Keep an eye out for aphids on these plants.
    * I have one client with healthy Geraniums all over the place. I like to shake them and smell the sweet perfume for a while.
    * Put up the Peony cages

    MONDAY, MAY 9, 2011


    Lilac injured yet putting out buds
    * Cut back Buddleia Davidii; a little late for my taste
     but soon enough not to do any harm.
    * Also cut back Astilbe; new growth looking positive.
    * Spread coffee grounds around Rhodies and Viburnums.
    * Cut back Dusty Millers. They are a tricky plant; in some areas in Chittenden County they thrive with zero attention, other areas they need protection, ie: near a wall or hedging.

    FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2011


    Do you use Roundup or know someone that does? Check this out from Dr Mercola.

    Monsanto Chemical Shown to Cause Infertility and Super Weeds

    Posted By Dr. Mercola | April 29 2011 | 4,699 views
    GMO Soy BeansMonsanto's herbicidal chemical glyphosate could cause infertility or cancer. It may also be speeding the growth of super weeds and causing worrying changes to plants and soil.
    The chemical, which has long been touted as a safe part of global food production, is now at a crossroads. Regulators in the United States and Canada are conducting a formal review of glyphosate's safety, even as lawsuits are pending and some groups are calling for a global ban.
    According to Reuters:
    "Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries are warning that heavy use of the chemical over the years is causing dangerous problems for plants, people and animals alike."
    Monsanto is also only an FDA approval away from its latest monstrosity -- soybeans that have been genetically modified to produce omega-3 fats. That FDA approval is expected this year.
    Monsanto plans to include GM soybean oil in every product it can -- baked goods, baking mixes, breakfast cereals, cheeses, frozen dairy desserts, pasta, gravies and sauces, fruit juices, snack foods, candy, soups, and more.
    According to Forbes:
    "Monsanto is so despised by environmentalists that Google's first suggested search term for the St. Louis company is 'Monsanto evil.' Readers ... voted Monsanto the world's most evil corporation in a January poll, giving the corporation a whopping 51 percent of the vote."
    Marie-Monique Robin, author of The World According To Monsanto, says that for all Monsanto's talk about the ecological and humanitarian benefits of its chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the solutions have never been delivered.
    According to Robin's extensive documentation, this is because what really matters to Monsanto is control of the world seed market. To that end, they have genetically engineered seeds that are resistant to, and therefore dependent on, Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide, which nets them gigantic profits.
    Green Left reports:
    "GMOs and Roundup, says Robin, are amongst the 'most dangerous products of modern times', joining a list that is heavily populated by other Monsanto products such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin and bovine growth hormones.
    In all cases, Monsanto has been fully aware of their harmfulness yet has lied about their dangers with an impunity conferred by the collusion between the company and the public health and environmental authorities of successive U.S. governments."
    You can click on the Green Left link below to read the full story of Monsanto's criminal history.



    Dr. Mercola's Comments:

    Glyphosate, the world's bestselling weed killer and the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is emerging as one of the most dangerous Monsanto products to date.
    As the mastermind behind polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin and bovine growth hormones, Monsanto is no stranger to toxic products -- PCBs alone have polluted the planet for decades and health risks remain to this day -- but the vast quantities of Roundup being poured over U.S. land could lead to damage of unprecedented proportions.
    In a letter sent to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, retired Purdue University professor Don Huber warned that tests show glyphosate "could be contributing to spontaneous abortions and infertility in pigs, cattle and other livestock," Reuters reported. The chemical has also been linked to a growing army of superweeds that now cover about 11 million acres of farmland, up fivefold from just three years ago, according to Penn State weed scientist David Mortensen.
    Today there are more than 750 products in the United States that contain glyphosate, and the problems to human health and the environment are only slated to get worse if drastic changes are not made in the massive use of Roundup herbicide across the United States.

    How Did Roundup Become so Popular?

    Millions of pounds of Roundup are used every year on U.S. gardens, lawns and farms. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called EPSP synthase, which is necessary for plants to grow. Without it, plants are unable to produce essential proteins so they slowly yellow and die.
    Ordinarily, if you were to spray Roundup on crops, it would kill them . So Monsanto created genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready crops, which produce an enzyme that has the same function as EPSP synthase, but is not affected by Roundup. This allows farmers to liberally spray Roundup directly onto their Roundup Ready crops, killing only weeds and leaving the crops to grow unharmed.
    However, this convenience comes at a steep price, as evidence shows that Roundup's active ingredient glyphosate is actually devastating crops and human and animal health around the world.

    Cancer, Infertility and Plague Epidemics

    GM expert Jeffrey Smith has reported that glyphosate promotes the formation of certain types of fungi that are dangerous to people and contaminate food and animal feed. One such fungi, the Fusarium fungus, has been linked to plague epidemics, cancer, infertility and animal diseases.
    Residues of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide found in GM food and feed have also been linked to cell damage and death, even at very low levels. Researchers have also found it causes membrane and DNA damage, and inhibits cell respiration.
    And in one animal study, rats given 1,000 mg/kg of glyphosate resulted in a 50 percent mortality rate, and skeletal alterations were observed in over 57 percent of fetuses!
    It's also possible that glyphosate is significantly altering the nutrient content of our food, through its chelating mechanism, leading to widespread mineral deficiencies in animals and humans. Smith writes:
    "The same nutrients that glyphosate chelates and deprives plants are also vital for human and animal health. These include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, boron, and others. Deficiencies of these elements in our diets, alone or in combination, are known to interfere with vital enzyme systems and cause a long list of disorders and diseases …
    Glyphosate-induced mineral deficiencies can easily go unidentified and untreated. Even when laboratory tests are done, they can sometimes detect adequate mineral levels, but miss the fact that glyphosate has already rendered them unusable.
    Glyphosate can tie up minerals for years and years, essentially removing them from the pool of nutrients available for plants, animals, and humans. If we combine the more than 135 million pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides applied in the US in 2010 with total applications over the past 30 years, we may have already eliminated millions of pounds of nutrients from our food supply."

    A Threat to Future Food Crops (and the Food Chain That Depends on Them)

    Monsanto's Roundup weed killer is thought to be contributing to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a deadly plant disease that causes plants to turn yellow and die.
    Numerous studies have linked glyphosate to increases in SDS, including in crops that have never been sprayed with the herbicide but were planted in a field that received an application the previous season.
    If an herbicide were actually weakening crops, wouldn't farmers know? Not necessarily, as the herbicide does not kill plants outright. Rather, it creates what Jeffrey Smith calls "a unique perfect storm of conditions" that ultimately weakens the plants and promotes disease. 
    This includes:
    • Acting as a chelator of vital nutrients, depriving plants of the nutrients necessary for healthy plant function
    • Destroying beneficial soil organisms that suppress disease-causing organisms and help plants absorb nutrients
    • Interfering with photosynthesis, reducing water use efficiency, shortening root systems and causing plants to release sugars, which changes soil pH
    • Stunting and weakening plant growth
    • Promoting disease-causing organisms in soil, which then overtake the weakened crops
    Roundup may actually be changing the makeup of soil and boosting the number of disease-causing organisms, a deadly recipe for crops around the globe.
    As Don Huber stated:
    "There are more than 40 diseases of crop plants that are reported to increase with the use of glyphosate, and that number keeps growing as people recognize the association between glyphosate and disease."

    Superweeds are Getting Out of Control

    More than 75 percent of soybeans, 65 percent of cotton, and 10 percent of corn grown in the United States contain the GM Roundup Ready gene -- and all of these crops receive numerous applications of Roundup each and every year. Even John Ramsay, chief financial officer of plant sciences company Syngenta, told Reuters:
    "Glyphosate resistance has built up to quite concerning levels in the United States … It is not surprising that with every single farmer pouring glyphosate over virtually every acre, plant life is going to have something to say about it."
    Indeed, it's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant. As a result, farmers are applying even more herbicides to crops. This is, in fact, the National Research Council's advice to farmers who are facing issues with superweeds:
    "In particular, farmers who grow GE [genetically engineered] herbicide-resistant crops should not rely exclusively on glyphosate and need to incorporate a range of weed management practices, including using other herbicide mixes."
    But applying even more chemicals to the soil is only adding to the problem, as Center for Food Safety analyst Bill Freese told Reuters.
    "That is going to spell big problems... even larger problems with herbicide-resistant weeds … It will just accelerate this toxic spiral of increased pesticide use."

    Monsanto's in it for the Money

    Monsanto long used the slogans, "It's Safer than Mowing," "Biodegradable," and "Environmentally Friendly" to describe Roundup -- until the real effects of this toxic herbicide were revealed and they were forced to discontinue their deceptive advertising. As always, their ultimate goal remains to protect their lucrative profits and virtual monopoly over GM crops and related herbicide use.
    In 2010, glyphosate-based herbicides including Roundup brought in more than $2 billion in sales for Monsanto.
    As Green Left Weekly reported:
    "All Monsanto's talk about the ecological and humanitarian miracles of its chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is so much hot air, says Marie-Monique Robin in The World According To Monsanto.
    The reduction of pesticide pollution, the end of world hunger, plants producing biodegradable plastics, corn containing antibodies against cancer -- none of these promised GMO solutions have been delivered.
    This is because what really matters to Monsanto, as Robin documents, is control of the world seed market and the genetic engineering of those seeds to be resistant to, and therefore dependent on, Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide with the real miracle; gigantic profits."
    Unfortunately, as it stands Monsanto is set to introduce even more GM crops to the marketplace, with their latest creation -- soybeans genetically modified to produce omega-3 fats -- just one FDA approval away.

    Will the EPA Take Action Before it's Too Late?

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally looking into the damaging effects of glyphosate on humans and the environment and plans to make a decision regarding its future by 2015. At that time, Roundup could either continue to be used as it is now, be required to have some modifications to its use or be banned from use entirely in the United States.
    Hopefully they will not continue their history of leniency with the chemical. As Reuters reported:
    "Though the Food Quality Protection Act requires the EPA to use an extra tenfold (10X) safety factor to protect infants and children from effects of the pesticide, the agency determined there was adequate data available to show that the margin of safety for glyphosate could be reduced to only a 1X factor."
    The potential health ramifications of these worldwide experiments with our food supply are frightening to say the least. And unfortunately the EPA will NOT be conducting its own studies for the glyphosate review, but rather will be reviewing data that comes from the agricultural chemicals industry, including Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical and BASF. Industry-funded studies are notorious for being biased in favor of the corporate side, so only time will tell whether the EPA's review will be beneficial for public health and the environment -- or big business.
    In the meantime, if you care about the health and future of your family, I strongly urge you to refuse to participate in this destructive trend and help to give Monsanto the boot.
    By boycotting all GM foods and instead supporting organic (and local) farmers who do not use Monsanto's GM seeds, you are using your wallet to make your opinions known.
    Most people want to avoid GMOs but it is virtually impossible to do so, since the government prevents GMO labeling.
    However, Jeffrey Smith has compiled a resource for you to avoid the government block of information -- the free Non-GMO Shopping Guide. You can also print out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and give it to your friends and family.
    By making your shopping choices according to this guide, you can help ensure that Monsanto will fall further and further from public favor, until one day perhaps they will disappear from the radar entirely.

    March 22, 2011

    Hi folks -

    Crocus Pocus
    - Guess whose Crocuses are blooming. Yes. The purple and yellow darlings are on their way. It helps to have them close to the house, facing east.

    Batman and Robin
    -Super gardeners and WJOY showmen Charlie Nardozzi and Len Perry teaming up for a tour of Vermont gardens and nurseries in July. Some of the places visited will be the Rockefeller gardens in Woodstock, Hayward Gardens in Putney, and Walker Farms in Dummerston. Here's a link from Perry's Perennials.

    Get Crabby
    If you have crabapple trees, now is the time to prune 'em. If you can get through the snow, that is.

    MARCH 3, 2011

    Hi folks -

    It's a sure sign of spring when you turn on WJOY  in March and hear Charlie and Ginny talking "In the Garden".
    Yup, their first show of 2011 was this morn, and they mentioned various flower shows, seed starting (get your onions going!), new varieties and a few other things. Charlie was also told that he needs singing lessons from Stan the Cabbie. Good stuff. Catch the replay Saturday at 10 a.m.

    Heard some grumbling about the 15 dollar admission charge at the upcoming Vermont Flower show.
    It'll cost a family of four about 36 bucks just to get in the door. Wow! Hope it's worth it.
    Essex Junction squirrel enjoying cookie
    Click photo to enlarge