FA L L 2 0 1 3
GARDENS Ideas for Smart Gardeners WITH
Plant 100 bulbs in 30 minutes Sow seeds now for spring bloom Grow a winter crop of kale Favorite shrubs for fall color
8 The 30-Minute Bulb Drop
A Mid-South Marvel
05 06 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 35
EDITOR’S NOTE Our New Name
OUR FAVORITE THINGS Gardening Gear & More
TIME-SAVING TIPS Love Those Bulbs
CONTAINER GARDENING A Long Winter’s Nap
COMMUNITY GARDEN An All-Inclusive Garden
KIDS GARDEN Sweet Concrete
SMALL SPACES Straight to Plate
PLANT PROFILES Feisty Fall Color
KITCHEN GARDENING Kale
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Welcome to the fall 2013 issue of Great Gardens—formerly known as Gardeners On the Go!. Why did we change the name? We feel that Great Gardens describes what this magazine is all about. It’s here to highlight great public gardens that you can go visit—but also to offer advice for making your own garden really great. In this issue you’ll find stories on the Memphis Botanic Garden and the hellebore collection at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens— both with tips from the staff for you to use at home. We cover a small but productive NYC
Great Gardens describes what this magazine is all about.
restaurant garden, again with helpful tips from the chef/gardener. And, this being fall, the magazine would not have been complete without a bulb story. We’ve got fun and fast advice from Tom Schipper of Colorblends. And there’s much more within this issue of Great Gardens. I hope you enjoy it.
—Meghan Shinn :: E D I T O R
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Bulb Drop A half-hourâ€™s work this fall brings a big reward next spring by Sally Ferguson photographs courtesy of Colorblends
rom meal preparation to workouts, 30 minutes seems to be the time that modern Americans have to spare for any daily task. At many homes, the garden is lucky to get that much attention each week! Flowerbulb expert Tim Schipper has devised a method to help homeowners plant a dynamite spring-blooming display in just 30 minutes this fall. Tulips, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall. Happily, fall is a lovely season to spend some time working outdoors. And who doesnâ€™t have 30 minutes to spare if the result will be a display of colorful spring fireworks that inspires oohs and ahhs across the neighborhood.
“In spring, color creates big excitement after a long cold winter,” says Schipper, a third-generaTHE QUICK WAY TO PLANT tion bulb merchant and the owner of Colorblends, CROCUS IN THE LAWN a Connecticut-based wholesaler that sells direct to land-care professionals and home gardeners Tuck crocus bulbs right under the grass this fall to coast to coast. “For a dramatic display of spring set the stage for a delightful springtime spread of Beds overflow with blooming perennials in a summer view from Red Butte Gardens. colors, start by planting a minimum of 100 tulips. low-growing, early-blooming color. Colorblends’ Hokus Crocus mix—pictured previous page—of It’s easy to do—anyone can plant 100 bulbs in 30 purple, white and striped varieties is especially minutes, or even less.” pleasing and a very good value. Plus, when they’re Here’s Schipper’s recipe for a quick and easy planted in sunny sites where soil drains well, crocus 100-tulip display: can naturalize and multiply over time. 1. Choose the right spot. Bulbs like sun“To plant into the lawn, a random effect looks best,” light, so choose a planting spot that gets at least says Tim Schipper of the Connecticut-based, six hours of sun each day. Remember, in spring, mail-order Colorblends. Here’s his favorite method: when the trees are leafless, you may have more light than you think. The spot must drain well, Use a shovel to slice into the grass. Flip back a patch of turf to create a hole. Tuck in several bulbs, so avoid places with soggy soil where rainwater press the grass flap back down with your foot collects. Plan for five tulip bulbs per square foot. to leave the lawn surface smooth and move on to Using a bit of easy math, a planting of 100 tulips plant more. needs approximately 20 square feet. Since the area of a space is length times width, the bed could This speedy technique is highly effective, he says, and the resulting spring blooms are fun and measure, for example, four by five feet or two feet enduring. To encourage re-bloom the following by ten feet, depending on the look you want. spring, allow crocus foliage to mature after bloom 2. Keep it simple. Dig out the area you want for six to eight weeks before mowing. to plant (about 15 minutes). Forget special bulb tools or trowels. They’re hard to use and time “After bloom,” explains Schipper, “flower bulbs recharge (through) photosynthesis, (which) takes consuming. Just dig a shallow planting trench place in the leaves. Waiting to mow is simple— with your favorite shovel, first laying out some old crocuses bloom well before lawns need mowing plywood or stiff cardboard to put the dug soil on. and their slim, blade-like leaves look like grass Dig the trench about six inches deep for tulips and anyway.” For Colorblends Hokus Crocus three-color loosen the soil a bit at the bottom. No fertilizer is blend (100 bulbs for $24, 1,000 bulbs for $210) seecolorblends.com or call 888-847-8637. necessary: the tulip bulbs you buy in the fall come fully charged with stored food, plus the embryonic flower inside that is ready to grow.
3. Position bulbs, all at once. Now, position all 100 bulbs in the trench (5 minutes). Place tulips roughly three inches apart, pointy end up.
Previous spread: Colorblends’ Hokus Crocus mix. Left: Colorblends’ Hakari blend includes a miniature daffodil and a species tulip that can be relied on for many years of bloom. This photo: Your Imminence is a mix of pink and purple tulips. Bottom right: Colorblends’ Roadside Yellow daffodils provide easy spring cheer.
4. Refill the planting area with soil.
Slide the soil back into the shallow trench to cover the bulbs (about 10 minutes). Don’t worry if some of the bulbs flip or turn sideways. Tulips are geotropic, which means they’ll right themselves as they grow. If the soil is dry, water thoroughly. You’re done! Put your spade away and wait for the riot of color come spring.
HOW DEEP TO DIG? In general, bulbs should be planted at a depth two to three times the height of the dormant bulb. This distance should run from the soil surface down to the bottom of the bulb. If you aren’t sure which side of the bulb is the top, bury it on its side; it will send its roots down and its stem up. Often if a bulb is planted too shallow, it will use its roots to pull itself deeper. And if bulbs are planted too deep, that may just offer them a bit of extra protection from wildlife and severe weather. Here are planting depths for the most commonly planted flower bulbs: Crocus—3 inches Grape hyacinth (Muscari)—4 inches Tulips—6 inches Daffodils—6 inches Alliums—5 inches Hyacinths—6 inches
A Mid-South Marvel The Memphis Botanic Garden by Rick Pudwell and Jana Wilson photographs courtesy of The Memphis Botanic Garden
he earliest plantings at the memphis botanic garden were 2,500 iris rhizomes dug from the yard of Mrs. Morgan Ketchum and transplanted to a section of what was then known as Audubon Park in 1953. Since that planting, the Memphis Botanic Garden has continually evolved and expanded, adding more gardens and buildings, with many plant collections and funds donated in honor of local citizensâ€”a testimony of the importance of this horticultural jewel to area residents. The gardens and collections are not just exhibits of beauty, however; they also serve as excellent examples of what local gardeners can achieve in their own landscapes. A visit to the Memphis Botanic Garden will leave you with great appreciation for Mid-South plants and gardening style.
A fountain serves as the centerpiece for the Memphis Botanic Gardenâ€™s historic Rose Garden, which includes mostly modern, antique and climbing roses. Youâ€™ll find roses in bloom from late March through Thanksgiving here.
GARDEN HIGHLIGHTS The Memphis Botanic Garden includes 23 specialty gardens on 96 acres. Here are just a few highlights: THE CONIFER COLLECTION Although many conifers do not thrive in the South, the garden has amassed an impressive collection of dwarf, needled evergreens that do survive well here. THE HOLLY COLLECTION One of the most extensive collections at any public garden, these hollies include all major Ilex species plus many common and rare cultivars. It includes the personal collection of Barbara Taylor, a past president of the International Holly Society. NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY GARDEN This unique garden was designed to attract wildlife and display plants to great photographic advantage. Design elements provide perfect views, making it easy to take impressive garden photos. MY BIG BACKYARD This recent addition to the garden is geared toward the youngest visitors and their families. It includes dozens of features that engage children and spark active outdoor play as well as an appreciation for nature, plants and gardening. SEIJAKU-EN The Japanese Garden of Tranquility includes both Japanese plants and locally native plants within traditional elements of Japanese garden style.
Top, left to right: A child splashes in Critter Creek, just one part of My Big Backyard, the expansive new children’s garden that encourages kids to interact with nature in many ways. A swan graces Seijaku-En, or the Japanese Garden of Tranquility. The Blecken Pavilion sits adjacent to part of the Hydrangea Garden and makes a popular site for outdoor weddings.
COMING UP AT THE MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN Head to the Memphis Botanic Garden in the evening this December to celebrate the holiday season with lights and snow in My Big Backyard. Many fun activities are available for families, including Mitten Toss, Tic-TacSnow, cookie decorating and more. See full details here.
Bottom, left to right: Fall is a beautiful season in Seijaku-En, with the season’s changing colors a fine complement to the traditional Japanese arched bridge. Boys play at the Lakefront Pavilion. My Big Backyard’s Treetop Adventure is another place where kids can explore and have active fun at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
TAKE-HOME ADVICE: SOW FLOWER SEEDS IN FALL MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN 750 Cherry Rd. Memphis TN 38117 901-636-4100 memphisbotanicgarden.com IN THE AREA Planning a visit to the Memphis Botanic Garden? Here are just a few other attractions in the Memphis area. Click to visit their websites. Memphis Zoo Graceland
In many modern-day gardens, annuals are planted in uniform beds of one species, usually a low-growing selection. Think petunias, begonias, pansies, dwarf marigolds, vinca. This is a good look in many situations, but it can be a bit boring, and it’s certainly expected. For something different, try a cottagegarden style, which you can achieve with fall sowings of coolseason annuals, like bachelor’s button (Centaurea cyanus), larkspur (Delphinum gradiflorum), love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascene), California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) and pot marigold (Calendula officinalis). All these species are at their best in cool temperatures. There are several places in the landscape where this type of planting would work. Most of these plants require a sunny location, good drainage and average fertility. The edge of a vegetable garden or lawn, beds that line garden paths or blank spaces in perennial borders are all possibilities. Some cool-season annuals can be sown over spring-flowering bulbs, extending the blooming season of the bulb bed by many weeks.
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The trick—if there is one—is to sow the seed late in the fall season, so germination occurs not in the fall but with warming temperatures in late winter. (In our area, for example, that would be around Thanksgiving to early December.) Do good soil preparation as you would for any seed bed. Sow or broadcast the seed according to species just as you would in the spring. If you are afraid of the seed washing away, cover the planted bed with a light mulch of pine needles. Thick mulch could smother the seed. Depending on the winter, you could see some germination as early as late February. In any case, you will have plants up and growing before you would be able to work the ground and do a sowing in the spring. Just like planting spring-flowering bulbs, this is an act of faith by the gardener that spring will come. I’ll bet if you do it, you will be glad you did.—Rick Pudwell, Director of Horticulture at the Memphis Botanic Garden
MBG FAVORITE PLANTS FOR FALL ‘NORTHWIND’ SWITCH GRASS This selected cultivar of Panicum virgatum, a clumping, perennial North American prairie grass, has a distinctly vertical form. The foliage is blue-gray; the large, airy flowering panicles move freely with the wind. Its height depends on soil fertility, but it can reach over six feet. In a large space this grass can look wonderful planted in a mass. In a smaller garden a single specimen can add a wonderful accent to the perennial border. Full sun. USDA Zones 5–9. THREADLEAF BLUESTAR Amsonia hubrichtii, an herbaceous perennial, is worth growing for its foliage alone, though it offers a bonus of blue spring flowers. It forms a large clump of narrow leaves that resemble willow, only much more refined. The fall color is a wonderful canary yellow. It is a great foil for bright colored annuals and perennials and can be used in floral arrangements. (Its sticky sap may warrant gloves.) Full sun. Zones 5–8. BLACK GUM Of all the trees native to the southeastern United States, Nyssa sylvatica is the one that you will not mistake for another species—once you have seen it in fall color. This large tree will reward you with the most magnificent ox-blood red foliage you can imagine. On a clear autumn day you can spot it from a great distance. Full sun. Zones 3–9. TIGER EYES STAGHORN SUMAC Most people are attracted to the brilliant fall color of the common Rhus typhina, which populates difficult sites along ditches and roadways all over eastern North America. The cultivar Tiger Eyes has dissected compound leaves that start out bronze in the spring, change to green with glowing yellow varigation for the summer and finally turns a brilliant orange in fall. The rust-colored seed heads (the “staghorns”) are a bonus. Full sun. Zones 4–8. ‘WINTER RED’ WINTERBERRY Of all the deciduous hollies, Ilex verticillata is a favorite. At maturity it is a full, glossyleaved, multi-trunked shrub 8 to 10 feet tall. Berries can start to color up in October, but this shrub really comes into its own after a hard frost and the leaves have fallen. Every branch is covered with large, brilliant red berries. (You will need to plant a male verticillata, like ‘Southern Gentleman’, nearby.) Full sun to part shade. Zones 3–9.
Above, top to bottom: ’Northwind’ switch grass in summer flower; ‘Winter Red’ winterberry holly showing its trademark berries; threadlea bluestar in summer foliage. Far left: Black gum’s fall foliage. Left: Tiger Eyes staghorn sumac, with rustcolored seed heads developing.
Hellebore Heaven Kentucky’s Yew Dell Botanical Gardens boasts a superb collection of these off-season stars by Maria Woodie photographs by Al Parrish
’Sunmarble’ is a sterile hybrid hellebore with evergreen leaves and flowers to five inches.
ellebores, with their array of colors and lengthy bloom period, are wonderful additions to “off-season” gardens. Their delicate flowers begin to appear in late fall, add fiercely colored displays through the harsh winter season and often last into April. For one of the most impressive hellebore collections around, head to Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., just outside of Louisville. “Hellebores work well as evergreen groundcover,” says Yew Dell’s Executive Director, Paul Cappiello. “They are fabulous cut flowers during the winter, offer tremendous diversity in bloom color and they are very easy to grow.” Working with private collectors and commercial growers, the garden has amassed a collection representing over 90 different species and cultivars. The assortment includes both common and unusual varieties, many of which are hybrids, seed strains and clonal selections, in solid and multicolored variations of pale and deep yellows, pinks, reddish-purples, creams and pure whites, in single and double forms. The Yew Dell hellebores shine alongside favored companion plants such as hostas, cyclamen, camellias and ferns. Most reside in the Secret Garden, though others are sprinkled throughout the 60-acre grounds. Yew Dell’s hellebores are so impressive that they warrant their own special annual event, usually held in early April. “Each year we host Hellebore Day, a day-long celebration of this wonderful group of plants,” says Cappiello. “We offer tours of the collections, sales of unusual varieties, cultural information and related merchandise in our garden shop.” For tips and advice for growing your own hellebores, go to the next page.
HELLEBORE BASICS Hellebores are known as Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), Lenten rose (H. ×hybridus) and stinking rose (H. foetidus), with many other species and cultivars available. For the most part, their care is the same: • grow hellebores in sun to part shade; in sun they will require more water • they thrive in moist but well-drained rich soils, though they also tolerate drought once established • top-dress with compost annually to provide nutrients; other fertilizing is not necessary • hellebore seed needs a cold period before it will germinate; sow it outside or store it in damp paper towels in the refrigerator for 12 weeks before indoor sowing • it can take 3 years before a seedling blooms • if seed/seedlings aren’t desired, snip off the flower stems (at the base) after the flowers fade • hellebores are generally hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9, depending on the species/cultivar
YEW DELL BOTANICAL GARDENS 6220 Old LaGrange Rd. Crestwood KY 40014 502-241-4788 yewdellgardens.org IN THE AREA Planning a visit to Yew Dell? Here are just a few other attractions in the Louisville area. Click to visit their websites. Churchill Downs Jefferson Memorial Forest Belle of Louisville Speed Art Museum Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Farmington
Far left, top to bottom: A small portion of Yew Dell’s hellebore collection. Helleborus ×nigercors. An Ashwood Garden Hybrid. Above, left to right: ‘Sunshine Selections’. Heavy late winter bloom. Left: ‘Optimism’. Below: ‘Phedar Mix’; ‘Empathy’.
TAKE-HOME ADVICE: HELLEBORE TIPS
Follow these tips from Yew Dell Botanical Gardens’ Executive Director, Paul Cappiello, to get the most out of your hellebores at home: 1. You can grow hellebores in containers successfully by letting them dry out between watering. Their roots will rot if they are kept too moist. 2. We always get questions about the best time to cut back the old foliage on the evergreen forms. They put out new leaves both in the fall and early spring. Although the foliage does not have to be cut back in order for hellebores to survive, the flowers tend to show best with all the old foliage cut away. Once flowers begin to appear, it becomes difficult to cut the foliage without damaging them. Therefore, check the plants early in the winter and as soon as there is a hint of flower emergence, cut back all the foliage. 3. Hellebores have a tendency to produce large crops of babies, making them a favorite pass-a-long plant for generations. If you’ve spent a fortune for a spectacular clonal form or wellselected seed strain, the ensuing crops of seedlings, which may not look like their parent, can over time crowd out your expensive purchase. Weed out the seedlings to keep the original plants distinct in the garden. Share them with friends! 4. Hellebores can be divided easily. Divide evergreen species in early fall, before the new leaves emerge. Those that are of ephemeral nature—with no summer leaves—should be divided after their bloom is finished.
TIME-SAVING TIPS •
Love Those Bulbs 5 bright ideas for success with tulips and more by Meghan Shinn FALL-PLANTED BULBS CAN BE TRUE TREASURES FOR THE GARDEN. They’re planted at a time of few other garden chores, in
blissfully cool weather. Their fresh foliage and colorful flowers appear in spring, a true joy after winter’s bleak scenery. And it feels like magic—all that beauty from what is now just a dull-colored lump in the palm of your hand. To ensure the magic happens next spring, keep these five points in mind as you’re planting bulbs this fall:
Get a tulip reality check. Many tulips won’t perform well past their first spring, so resolve to treat them as annuals. The best bets for repeat performances are tulips categorized as Darwin Hybrids, Single Earlies, Single Lates and Species Tulips.
Go for critter-resistant types. If you’ve had problems with squirrels, rabbits, deer and other animals, stick with daffodils, alliums, scilla and snowdrops.
Skip the bone meal and fertilizer when planting. Bone meal will just encourage animals to dig, and newly planted bulbs don’t need food. Add fertilizer next spring, after they’ve bloomed.
Pot up bulbs, then plant the pot. Bury it just up to its rim. When the bulbs sprout in spring, dig it up and set it anywhere for a showpiece container planting.
Know how deep to plant. The packaging should say how deep to dig, but in general bulbs should be planted in holes 3 to 4 times their own height. (For instance, a 1-inch crocus bulb goes in a 3- or 4-inch hole.)
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CONTAINER GARDENING •
A Long Winter’s Nap It’s time to overwinter those tender bulbs by Anthony Tesselaar YEARS AGO, cool-climate gardeners would avoid
tender perennials grown from underground structures like bulbs, rhizomes, tubers and corms. They knew the hassle that would be involved: digging them up in fall and storing them inside till spring. But over the years, gardeners living in those colder regions have caved. They’ve become too attached to the architecture, colorful foliage and exotic-looking flowers of these tropical plants. Now that such beauties are regularly grown in containers, overwintering often means little more than moving them— still in their pot—to the basement and back. Sure, overwintering brings extra work. It also requires patience the following season. Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to buy a leafed-out plant started early in a greenhouse than it is to wait for one that’s still waking up. But there are payoffs to overwintering tender bulbs, rhizomes, tubers and corms. For instance, you can make more plants out of the ones you have, through division and offsets.
Here’s the process, for example, for Tropicanna® cannas, which grow from rhizomes (modified underground stems). The same steps can be generally followed with other underground plant structures that need a cool, dry, dark place in winter—like elephant ears (Colocasia, Alocasia and Caladium spp.) and dahlias: 1. Before a hard, killing frost, but after a light frost has turned the leaves dark, cut the top of the plant off to about four inches from the rhizome. Then move the container to a dim, cool (but not freezing) space (no colder than about 55–60˚F)—like a basement, garage, enclosed porch or seasonal sunroom. Your goal is to keep the roots cool (not cold), dry and dark. If the rhizomes get too cold, they could rot. When stored too warm, they may begin to grow prematurely. 2. Check your rhizomes periodically, keeping the soil barely moist with a sprayer. If the rhizomes start to shrivel, mist them with water and consider covering the pot with a plastic bag to help keep them from drying out. Remove any rhizomes that begin to soften or rot. 3. In spring, after the nights are 50˚F degrees or warmer and all danger of frost has passed, you can move the rhizomes back outside. Water and feed them with controlled-release fertilizer. Keep the soil only slightly moist until you see new shoots coming up, otherwise the rhizomes can drown and rot.
After one to two years in the same pot, it should be noted, canna rhizomes will likely become rootbound as they reproduce (unless the pot is huge). In that case, instead of leaving the rhizomes in the pot for the winter, you might want to lift everything—soil and all—out of the container and let it air-dry at room temperature (no less than 50˚F) for a few days before storing. Transfer the mass to a plastic bag, leaving it loosely open at the top or punching a few holes into it for ventilation and adding a small amount of water to keep the plants slightly damp. In spring, carefully break the rhizomes apart (better to break than to cut) and replant the best-looking ones in separate pots. (Choose rhizomes that look as healthy in appearance as a potato that you’d keep). Ditch the rest. You can also pack canna rhizomes in a single layer in a bulb crate, cardboard box or paper bag, separated and covered by clean dry shavings, peat moss, perlite, or sand. The rhizomes shouldn’t touch each other if possible. The plastic bag method is ideal, however, if your storage area is very dry. Anthony Tesselaar is cofounder and president of Tesselaar Plants, an international plant developer that markets Tropicanna® cannas, Flower Carpet® roses, Storm™ agapanthus, Volcano® phlox and other beautiful, easy-care garden plants. Opposite, top: Dramatic leaves of Tropicanna Black canna punctuate a mixed planting. Bottom: Winter storage options for tender canna rhizomes include (from left) a ventilated storage bag filled with peat moss, the container the plant was grown in and a ventilated storage crate filled with peat moss. This page, top: Tropicanna Black cannas sprouting in spring from stored rhizomes.
A practical and highly illustrated guide to all aspects of bulb growing. Paper $11.50 Distributed by the University of Chicago Press www.press.uchicago.edu
COMMUNITY GARDEN SPOTLIGHT •
People with special needs learn to work with plants in all seasons at TALMAR in Baltimore.
An AllInclusive Garden Plants empower people at this farm and garden by Maria Woodie PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS OR DISABILITIES NEED SPECIAL PEOPLE to
help motivate and encourage them and enrich their lives. One such exceptional person is Cate Murphy, founder and executive director of TALMAR, or Therapeutic Alternatives of Maryland. TALMAR Gardens & Horticulture Therapy Center is a nonprofit organization with an inspirational mission to help “all people of all ages and abilities.”
Murphy, an award-winning registered Horticultural Therapist (HTR), first established TALMAR in 1998 in Howard County, Md. After several years, TALMAR moved to its current location in Baltimore, where it is nestled in the 365-acre Cromwell Valley Park. TALMAR fills 10 of those acres with its organic cut-flower and vegetable gardens, two greenhouses, a few beautiful rustic barns and even a charming picnic area. A vocational training center, TALMAR offers many therapeutic and recreational year-round programs designed to engage the mind, body and spirit while improving the physiological, physical and social well-being of the people it serves. Programs include Horticultural Therapy, a process that uses plants and plant-related activities—such as planting, watering and propagating—to help improve skills such as balance, social skills and mobility; Community-based Instruction (CBI), a program that runs field trips to the farm and greenhouses and was specifically created for
people with disabilities; and Community-supported Agriculture (CSA), where members of the greater community offer financial support in exchange for fresh produce throughout the season. Other programs include a specialty cut-flower program and subscriptions, floral design, organic agriculture internships and seasonal events. These programs are run with the help of donations (monetary or supplies), by sales of produce and flowers and with the support of local volunteers. At the center of it all is TALMAR’s participants. Murphy explained during an interview with Tom Hall of WYPR’s Maryland Morning Show, “It is our job to figure out if they need adaptive tools, or do they need to be positioned a different way. What sparks their energy? Where do they need to be? So that person can feel really good about themselves and the achievements they have made.” That feeling is evident in the faces of the participants gardening at TALMAR each day.
KIDS GARDEN •
Sweet Concrete Cast a planter and start some seeds by Meghan Shinn photographs courtesy of NativeCast IT’S NO SECRET that starting plants from seed
is a great activity for children. Arts-and-crafts has long been a go-to rainy-day pastime. Here’s a project that combines both! With NativeCast’s “Cast Your Own” kits, kids can actually make a seed-starting pot using the company’s green concrete, a cement mix that includes shells, sand and pine needles local to its Delaware headquarters. NativeCast uses this same mix to craft beautiful planters and home and garden accents. I created the Cast Your Own heart with my three-year-old daughter. In retrospect, she’s a little young to be casting concrete, though the seed-sowing part went great. I’d recommend this project for kids ages eight and up—and for any adult gardener, too! The kit includes everything you need to make your own planter and plant it up. The instruc-
tion sheet is basic—but so is the process! (You can also watch an online tutorial.) Really, all you do is add water to the concrete, mix it up and spread it all over the interior of the mold. There’s a wooden spatula—like the type that comes with Italian ice—you can use to spread the concrete, but I donned dishwashing gloves and used my hands. (As the kit’s label warns, concrete can be caustic, so avoid touching it with your bare skin. You may also want to wear eye protection, or at least take special care that the dry mix doesn’t puff up into your eyes. This is why I recommend the project for older kids.) Once I had the concrete all spread, I then used the wooden spatula to smooth out and refine it. You may want to add a drainage hole or two. I simply poked my gloved pinky finger through the base of the planter before it completely dried. In a day or two the concrete will be dry and you can tear the mold off and start planting. The kits come with soil and herb seeds. The finished planter is quite small, and the instructions point out that it’s just for starting the seeds; you’ll need to soon transplant them to larger pots or into the ground. Don’t ditch the planter, though. We’ve found that ours makes the perfect home for a small, slow-growing succulent, whose rounded blue-gray leaves look great against the concrete. Far left: NativeCast is known for its beautiful concrete gardening containers and decorations. They also sell “Cast Your Own” kits that let you make a pot in which to start seeds, which are included in the kit. Left: A finished planter and seedling.
SMALL SPACES •
Straight to Plate Chef Paul Gerard tends fresh ingredients behind his NYC restaurant by Maria Woodie photographs courtesy of Exchange Alley WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT NEW YORK CITY, you might
picture ridiculously tall buildings, high-end fashion and irritating traffic. There isn’t much room for lush gardens, unless you find yourself on a stroll through Central Park. However, nestled behind Exchange Alley, a restaurant located in Lower Manhattan’s East Village, is a small but robust edible garden. It’s full of tantalizing flavor that appears throughout the restaurant’s “Big Apple meets the Big Easy” menu. When plans to turn the small space into outdoor seating failed due to zoning regulations, coowner and chef Paul Gerard immediately decided to create an edible garden. Although he lacked gardening experience, he quickly learned that he had a natural green thumb. With the help of his good friend and fellow chef Sisha Ortuzar of Riverpark (the restaurant with the largest farm within in NYC limits), he was able to start a thriving 25-by-50foot garden. He grows vegetables and herbs in planters made from recycled shipping pallets, win-
dows and doors, milk crates and more. Yet Gerard swiftly discovered that quantity doesn’t always mean quality. “Last year I [planted] a huge variety of okra, grapes, squash, tomatillos, chilies, herbs, tomatoes and lettuces,” he recalls. “It was too much. I didn’t get a big enough yield and I couldn’t sustain even a daily special.” So in 2013, the Brooklyn native narrowed it down to different varieties of herbs, tomatoes and chilies, with a little extra room for some arugula, red frill mustard and microgreens, and even some kale and rainbow chard for a few fall-harvested selections. “I planted kale last year and it was still coming up in February,” he says. “It’s really nice to look out the back doors, past the snow-covered ground, and see me clipping some greens you’re about to eat.” The small garden isn’t just full of plants, however. Gerard also has a knack for art, transforming old sinks, timeworn tubs and even toys into planters.
He also added a New Orleans– style courtyard filled with antique gas cans, old searchlights, mannequins and old watering cans and sprinklers for quirky appeal. (He worked in New Orleans for 15 years, and while his food isn’t strictly of that city, it includes aspects of its cuisines.) Since opening in 2012, Exchange Alley has been off to a successful start, offering a unique menu filled with the freshest ingredients around. “I utilize everything I have,” explains Gerard. “I am very herb heavy in my food. I love the freshness of herbs, and being that they are usually very expensive, it’s great to have an abundance on hand. This isn’t even ‘farm to table’; it’s ‘straight to the plate.’ It’s picked, washed and served. Nothing is wasted, and everything is day-of.” Read the transcript of Maria’s interview with Paul Gerard—including his strategy for dealing with the city’s tomatoloving squirrels. Exchange Alley is located at 424 East 9th Street, NYC.
VEG-GARDEN TIPS FROM PAUL GERARD Don’t be afraid to water—especially in the summer months. I don’t ever water from above or during the hottest hours. I always run the hose gently and directly on the soil, preferably at dusk. (It also gives me time to have a minute to myself.) Keep cutting your [tomato] suckers. Train your tomato plants up. I have tomato plants in the yard almost 10 feet tall. Be careful not to trim herbs too far down. I learned this with a few basil pants. You always want to leave enough to allow photosynthesis and regrowth. Cutting too much will just stunt it and possibly kill it.—PG
Top photos: The garden behind Exchange Alley, a unique East Village restaurant with a New Orleans twist. Above left: Chef Paul Gerard learned to garden to provide his menu with the freshest ingredients. Photo by Sarah Keough. Above: The front entry offers a hint of the inherent horticulture.
PLANT PROFILES •
Feisty Fall Color Leave it to shrubs by Meghan Shinn LITTLE HENRY SWEETSPIRE (Itea virginica Little Henry, or ‘Sprich’) makes a great alternative to invasive burning bush. It stays 3 feet tall and has fragrant summer flowers. Zones 5–9.
WITCH HAZEL (Hamamelis virginiana) is a large shrub with lovely yellow fall foliage. Spidery, fragrant flowers appear in winter. USDA Zones 3–8.
SPICEBUSH (Lindera benzoin) takes on pretty yellow hues in autumn. It too has fragrant flowers; they arrive in early spring. Zones 4–9.
OAKLEAF HYDRANGEA (Hydrangea quercifolia) has large, coarse leaves that color bronze, purple and crimson in fall. Flowers occur in summer but can hold into autumn. Zones 5–9.
Even though we have changed our name
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KITCHEN GARDENING •
A hardy, leafy veggie full of flavorful nutrition by Maria Woodie KALE COMES IN A VARIETY OF TEXTURES, sizes and col-
ors, with hues ranging from vibrant greens to purplish blacks. With its tender, sweet-tasting leaves, kale makes the perfect addition to soups, stir-fries and other delectable dishes. Kale is relatively easy to grow and very hardy. Although this nutritious vegetable can be grown in spring, it’s better through fall and winter. Cold weather enhances the taste of the leaves and diffuses any bitterness. When direct-sowing kale seeds or planting transplants, select a location exposed to lots of sunlight. Plant in late summer to early fall, or later in a hoophouse or other cover. Kale will prosper when grown in rich, well-drained soil high in organic matter, so mix a two- to fourinch inch layer of compost into the soil. Sow the seeds around a half an inch deep, spacing them 12 to 18 inches apart and leaving up to 2 feet between rows. Mulch around your plants and make sure to keep the soil consistently moist—up to 2 inches of water per week. You can fertilize kale around 4 weeks after planting to encourage more growth. In climates with rougher winters, try to add thicker mulch, row covers or plastic tunnels to protect the kale from damage. Kale can be harvested as soon as leaves are large and rich in color—usually 2 to 3 months
after planting. Select the older, larger leaves toward the bottom first, to keep the top of the plant producing new leaves for additional harvests. Homegrown kale’s tangy flavor beckons you to reach for seconds. Have a little extra— these nutritious, leafy veggies will leave you feeling guilt free and oh, so satisfied.
Leafy Kale & Potato Soup
4 cups fat-free chicken broth 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced 1 medium bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped 1 medium onion, finely chopped salt, to taste fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
• CHICKEN BROTH • POTATOES • KALE • ONION • SALT
1. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine the broth, onion and potatoes. Bring to a boil and season with salt.
• BLACK PEPPER
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender. 3. Add kale; stir well. Simmer 7 to 10 minutes longer. Season with black pepper and serve.
TIP: Kale is loaded with vitamins A, C and K, all powerful antioxidants. It’s also a good source of iron and other minerals, plus fiber.
And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun. —WB YEATS, “”THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS”
next issue Look for our winter issue, with visits to more botanical gardens, tips for small spaces and containers, plants with great winter interest and much more. In the meantime, join us on social media: