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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Plant Sale, 10 days until May 12th!

(Daylily 'Russian Easter' has the most amazing color combination. I've never before offered any daylilies that are similar to this one.)

Here I am, back again with Wednesday mornings post. Yesterday was one of those run-around, go crazy kind of days and I barely made my daily quota of potting up 30 plants. While I still had about 50 smaller pots left, all the large pots have already been potted up and I still have tons of daylilies to divide.

Don and I made up posters and laminated color flyers that are being distributed as I write this, so hopefully we'll get lots more viewers here. If you are visiting for the first time, you can start reading here and as you scroll down you'll find each previous day's post.

For those of you with limited time, here's the basics. Our plant sale is going to be held May 12th, rain or shine at 259 Beverly Road, South Huntington NY (use google maps for directions) We open up at 10:00 am and close down at 3:00 pm although in past years we have sold out before closing.

ALL profits will be donated to the participating students of the Walt Whitman High School Marching Band. The money will be held in an account to pay a portion of band camp. With your help, it will hopefully be a large portion. Students will cheerfully help you load your plants into plastic bags and bring them to your cars (you will have to park along Beverly Road). We take cash and checks made out to the Walt Whitman Marching Band Parents Association.

Ready for today's questions?

What do you mean by "perennial"? What's the difference between perennial, annual and biennial?

Perennial plants are plants that die back over the winter but return again next spring. Generally they do not bloom as long as annuals which might bloom for many months before being killed by a frost. Perennials need time to gather strength for our long winters which is one reason for their shorter bloom season. Some perennials have extremely short bloom times, others can bloom for 6 to 8 weeks. My tip to you is to consider the foliage of the plant. If the foliage is beautiful to look at, you will enjoy the perennial even when it's not in bloom.

(This perennial hardy geranium was rescued growing up through a crack of ground cloth at Fox Hollow farm, just over on Foxhurst Road. It has rewarded me by growing into a lush clump over the past 5 years and puts out these delicious lilac colored blooms)

Annuals are plants that will survive for one garden season. Some plants that we consider annuals are actually very long lived in tropical climate like Coleus but here on Long Island they are killed by a frost. I've had people tell me that their impatiens can't be annuals because they've come back. Well, yes, your impatiens can come back but those are actually new plants that grew from seeds that last years impatiens dropped.

Biennial's are probably the least known type of flowers. A biennial is a plant that lives for two years. The first year it grows foliage and the second year it blooms. Once it blooms it drops seeds and then dies. Many nurseries call these plants "short lived perennials" which I think is a sales gimmick that is unfair to the buyer. Foxgloves (Digitalis) are a well known biennial and I cringe when I see people buying a whole wagon full of foxgloves in full bloom knowing that they are almost finished with their life span.

Why do your plants look different than those at the garden centers? Garden centers have found that they can only sell plants that are in full bloom or are about to burst into bloom. Since most people get the gardening fever in May, garden centers import plants from other parts of the country that have been pushed ahead of our bloom season. If you buy a Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) in full bloom in late May, you might be surprised next year when they are still very small in the ground at that time. Black eyed Susan's typically bloom late July and all through the dog days of summer in August. The Black eyed Susan's here are growing at our time table, not that of southern Georgia and will bloom for you when they are supposed to bloom on Long Island.

(Coreopsis 'Zagreb' is one of those plants that doesn't look like much in a pot right now but when it gets to your garden it will quickly shine!)

What does the future hold? If only I had a crystal ball... What I'd like to see in the future is to bring this plant sale up to the high school. I'd like us to add other booths, maybe two or three photo spots for younger children to have a picture for Mom made by one of our schools clubs. I'd also love to be able to hold lectures that show actual plant propagation or talks on how to maintain your lawn.

Today I'm going to finish up this post with a photos and a brief spotlight on plants that we will have for sale.
Aruncus athusifolius is also known as dwarf goats beard. When it comes to plant names, there are nicknames and true botanical names. Since nicknames can change from one part of the country to another, the only way to get what you really want is to ask for a plant by the botanical name. Don't worry if you pronounce it wrong, everybody puts their own spin on how they say things. This Aruncus is one of the best plants in my garden. It has lovely foliage all season long, frothy white blooms in June and it maintains this perfect ball shape as if a bonsai fairy came over night and trimmed it for you.

Alchemilla mollis (Ladies mantle) is one of those plants that some nurseries have stopped selling. It looks so sad in the pot that people just don't buy it. Yet, it's a must have in the garden. In fact, if you walk around my garden here (and please do take the time to walk around) you will see that I have Ladies mantle in at least 15 different places. First of all, it does well in a good amount of sun as long as you water regularly but even better is that it also tolerates shade quite well! First thing in the morning it's studded all around with diamond dew drops, just like the hem of a Ladies mantle (cloak). This plant is included in just about every lecture I've ever done. As far as I'm concerned, I compare it to putting up decorative molding in your dining room. It makes every plant near it look better.

This afternoon I hope to have an inventory of the 410 plants that are already potted up so stay tuned.

Getting muddy today,
Melanie Vassallo

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