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Spring Garden Chat – March 2, 2011

Spring Garden Chat – March 2, 2011


At the home of Joan Wright


Joan Sargent was not able to come to the Hort Chat today so Andrea Wells led us in our discussions.  We are hopeful that Joan will again lead us at our next meeting.

In attendance were the following:  Tricia Albus, Jayne Rogers, Susan Rein, Amy Masback, Catherine Sturgess, Mimi McMinimim, Lydie Hummel, Fran O’Neil, Lauren Bromberg, Mary Tanzi, Jane Gamber, Katie Stewart, Alice Parker, Andrea Wells, Joan Wright, and Mary Griffin.  


Jane Gamber opened the Chat with a discussion of the new Garden Club use of the Nature Center greenhouse.  There has not been a horticulturalist at the Nature Center for four years so the greenhouse was not in great shape.  The NC staff bombed the greenhouse twice to rid the space of unsuspecting varmints.  They threw away dumpster loads of unwanted debris.  They have rebuilt the potting benches.  It is ready to go.  We must decide on what seeds to plant for the Historical Society, the Nature Center, and the plant exchange.  Sign ups were taken.


Andrea then opened the subject of roses.  Everyone is a rosarian at some time.  Joan’s question of the day is “Do you succumb to a passion for roses and do you intend to add to your inventory this year?”   Roses are one of the most discussed topics in horticulture.  A discussion ensued as to who to follow for answers on roses.  

The David Austen catalogue usually comes in January so people over order since they are desperate for gardening.  The plants then don’t come until May.  But you have enjoyed looking and choosing them.  Stephen Scanniello, who wrote, among other things, A Year of Roses,  seems to be the person most people like to read.  He has caused a resurgence in old roses.   The newer ones, however, are much more disease resistant and don’t require the nefarious sprays we so often smell in gardens with older roses.  He is recommending going back to the Heirlooms for now.

Lydie Hummel is “itching” to start pruning now.  She starts with the forsythia blooms, which is pretty soon now.  She loves the Year of Roses by Scanniello.  

Jane Wappler always looks up roses in her computer to see how to trim/prune them.  The videos are great if you search rose pruning in Google.  Andrea has used this method but has found one has to run into the house often to recheck the video before continuing pruning.  Perhaps an Ipad for Andrea?  Andrea also mentioned reading something somewhere that there was a study done that used a hedge clipper and exact pruning on several similar roses.  The result, oddly enough, was the same.  Oh, watch the video anyway, it’s interesting and what have you got to lose.

Tricia trims her roses by half in the fall (not climbers and not rugosas) and to about 6” in early spring.  She cuts her heritage roses when it is very cold.  

Andreas’s roses are very resilient.  She cut her New Dawn back with an ax in August to less than 12”, thinking to end its existence.  Three weeks later, it was showing new growth.

Both Katie and Lydie grow Knock Out roses.  They are the largest selling rose in America now – disease resistant, rebloom every month or so, but not much fragrance.  Knock Outs should be trimmed when they are absolutely dormant.  

In the Peggy Rockefeller garden at NYBG, they are not spraying any more.  If you look on their website, they list all the roses they are trying, how they are doing and if they have any scent. They are also self-cleaning and do not need to be dead-headed either.  It would be a good field trip in June.  If the rose doesn’t do well, they eliminate it and try again with ones they think have a better chance.  The University of Minnesota is trying to produce disease resistant roses now.


Fertilizing was the next topic.  Jane Wappler’s dogs ate her organic fertilizer so that wasn’t useful.  She puts epsom salts on it the spring with tomatoes and clematis as well.  She used 5-10-5 fertilizer in the spring.  Dr. Earth is a good brand for roses.  They sell it at Pound Ridge Nursery.  Put it on again six weeks later.  

Lydie doesn’t fertilize at all but Dan Weed sprays some sort of mystery stuff in the spring.

Susan Rein brought up Hydrangeas once again, to the great dismay and boos from the group.  You have to find out if your hydrangeas bloom on old growth or new growth.  If it’s on new growth, trim in the spring;  old growth, prune after they bloom.  For Annabell’s, cut off the old growth when new stalks come up.  Andrea puts green fencing in front of hers to keep them from flopping over.  Old peonies can use the same support, up to 3’ high.  Leave it up all the time.  

Joan Wright cuts her lilacs then crushes the stems so they bring up water. Do the same thing with hydrangeas and the blooms last weeks at Jane Wapplers.  Jane puts them in water out in the yard then recuts then inside.  Hang them upside down in a closet to dry with color.

Tricia puts her hydrangea blooms in water until they develop air roots.  She then puts a little soil into the water each day until the glass is full of soil and voila, a new plant ready to be put out.  Sedums and geraniums work well with this as well.  

Lauren is going to look for her article from Horticulture magazine on pruning hydrangeas.  If she finds it, she’ll send it around.  She grows hydrangea limelight at the Cape – great and easy.


An interesting website is:  www.centralparknature.org if you want to look at all the trees in the park.  


That’s all for now,

Susan Rein, done with the notes for today