Friday, April 29, 2011

They're Back and They're Early

As a gardener in New Hampshire, I often wonder what terrible deed I did to evoke the wrath of Mother Nature because there are days when it seems like Spring will never arrive and I will never get out there in the garden.  And then, when Spring finally does get here, she has more tricks up her sleeve.

It all starts in early March when I'm listening on the phone to friends and family living in other parts of the country go on and on about how all their forsythia and daffodils are blooming.  And here I am stuck in New Hampshire still fooling around with the snow blower.  Then, as March wears on, and the snow disappears, it's replaced by mud.  It's no use thinking about gardening then.  I can't even get a wheelbarrow full of mulch through all the muck.  Finally, April arrives and the mountains of snow start to recede, only to reveal millions of fallen leaves that I swear I had already cleaned up last Autumn.  So I spend most of April raking leaves and picking up branches that were ripped from the trees by all those winter storms we had to endure.  There is load after load of debris to be hauled away but finally, toward the end of April, I have walked the last ten miles with the garden cart, the garden is all cleaned up, and I get to enjoy a small taste of gardening bliss.  And then they show up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dig In- Pruning Azaleas

image courtesy of
Dig In- Tips from Nettie at Uncanoonuc

How Do I Prune my Azaleas?

Neglected Azaleas, both evergreen and deciduous types, can be rejuvenated by pruning. You could do this now or right after bloom, but before summer when they start to set buds for next year's show. Don't shear them which would ruin their natural gracefulness and result in lots of twiggy growth.

Remove about a third of the older stems at the base of the shrub each year for the next three years. Also remove any dead, broken or inward growing branches. If it is still congested, remove some of the side branches aiming for a balanced framework. (Overgrown lilacs can be rejuvenated this way too.) Don't worry about taking too much wood out - they are forgiving.

For more gardening tips from Nettie, click here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Amorphophallus titanum

image courtesy of
This week, over 10,000 people showed up at a tiny greenhouse in Basel, Switzerland to watch a flower bloom. But this was no ordinary Easter lily.  It was Amorphophallus titanum, and even a rough translation of its Latin name will tell you that this plant is obscene in more ways than one.

Amorphophallus titanum ( aka, Titan arum) is not the kind of plant you would want to grow in your herb garden.  Its flower is no good at all for filling a sachet under your pillow or for strewing over the floors of your cozy little cottage dwelling.  Its common name is the 'corpse flower' and its fragrance has been compared to rotting human flesh. Flies absolutely adore it and if P.T. Barnum or R.L. Ripley could have put their hands on one of these plants, you can bet that it would have been the star of every sideshow from Kalamazoo to Krakatoa.

The Easter Bunnies

For more Beatrix Potter Bunnies, click on the photo above.

To learn more about Beatrix Potter, click here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Angel Face

photo by Kirby Fong
This is Angel Face 3W-YYO, The American Daffodil Society's 2011 National Gold Winner that was exhibited by Steve Hampson.  And, if she isn't enough to convince you that not all daffodils are created equal, click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Explore Indonesia's Forests

Here's your chance to explore Indonesia's forests without any of the bugs or the snakes!

Arnold Arboretum Senior Research Scientist and renowned tropical biologist Cam Webb will be spending the next three years researching forest biodiversity in Indonesia, a collaboration with Sargent Fellow Sarah Mathews and senior Indonesian collaborator Teguh Triono. Join Cam and his colleagues as they collect plants, take photographs, and analyze botanical and ecological data gathered in research plots on five Indonesian islands. Examining hundreds of species of plants and their respective habitats will contribute to our understanding of how forests and the plants in them evolved and respond to current environmental pressures. Along the way, you will be introduced to fascinating organisms, encounter the full forces of nature, and meet the wonderful people of Indonesia who assist with the research efforts to protect these remarkable forests. This work is made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

You can link to them by clicking here, through the links sidebar section of this blog or at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Featured Garden- The Gardens of Colonial Williamsburg

Last week marked the 65th annual Garden Symposium at Colonial Williamsburg which usually takes place during the first or second week of April.  Unfortunately, we didn't make it to Virginia this year but during our attendance at last year's symposium we had a chance to visit many of the wonderful colonial gardens scattered throughout the Historic Area.  For someone like me who is in love with colonial architecture, kitchen gardens, Williamsburg paint color charts, unique outbuildings, beautiful fences and gates, symmetry, and especially boxwood--this was heaven!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rachel's Garden- Rachel at Chanticleer

Rachel Goes to Chanticleer.

For a peek at some of the wonderful Spring vignettes that Rachel got to draw and photograph at Chanticleer, check out these shots taken by Andrea Geesaman on April 10th by clicking on the photo above.

To see drawings from Rachel's Garden, click here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dig In- Pruning Dogwood

I am happy to introduce Dig In, a new post on Notes from Juniper Hill that will feature gardening tips and how-to from Annette "Nettie" Rynearson.  Nettie is a Cornell educated horticulturalist who, three decades ago, founded Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials, in Goffstown, New Hampshire.  Uncanoonuc specializes in low maintenance and cold-hardy perennials, shrubs and roses that are suitable for New England gardens.  They grow almost 80% of what they sell at their 2-acre facility in Goffstown.  They have gorgeous display gardens so you can see what your newly purchased plants will look like when mature, and most of the perennials are conveniently planted in blocks so you can compare varieties easily.  If you haven't yet visited Nettie and her friendly staff at the nursery on top of Uncanoonuc Mountain, you should head up there as soon as possible.  This year's opening day is Wednesday, April 27th.  For more information on Uncanoonuc, along with hours of operation, you can visit their website by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


For a slideshow of some great Spring shots of Winterthur taken by Andrea Geesaman, on April 9th, click on the photo above.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Featured Gardener- Pearl Fryar

Almost every year my good gardening friend, and optometrist, Michael Gordon, does a wonderful thing and takes a trip to Haiti for a week long eye mission.  This year, in addition to providing eye care to many Haitians who live in poverty, he returned with a terrific photo of a proud Haitian gardener who had created a very beautiful small garden right smack dab in the middle of one of the most impoverished areas of Haiti (you can see this photo on Michael's great gardening blog, The Gardener's Eye, by clicking here).

The photo got me thinking about what gardens really represent.  The best gardens don't come from a fat wallet, or a team of skilled manor-house gardeners, or from emulating the latest design craze seen in gardening magazines.  The best gardens are born of passion; they are an artistic expression of the gardener's desire to create their own little piece of paradise, no matter where they live, and they have little to do with preconceived notions or what the rest of the world thinks a garden should be.  There are few individuals who better illustrate this type of passionate gardening than Pearl Fryar.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Groundcovers- Northern Mountain Cranberry

Each Spring, when the snow melts away, one of the first plants to appear is one of my favorite little groundcovers with a long Latin name.  It's Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. ssp. minus and we have a large patch of it growing just off the stone path at the entrance to the courtyard garden.  Also known as 'northern mountain cranberry,' you can tell by its Latin name that it is a member of the blueberry family.  Among its relatives are Vaccinium macrocarpon, the American cranberry, Vaccinium angustifolium, the lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, bilberry, and Vaccinium vitis-idaea, which is lingonberry (aka cowberry).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bits and Bites- How My New Gardening Tool is Also Helping Me Eat Better

I'm practically a card carrying Luddite (except, of course, for the cars, TV, radio, blogs, Twiiter, Facebook, IPod--things like that) and so the last thing I thought I would be writing about in this gardening blog is an IPhone.  Yet, I have discovered that my smarty pants phone has turned out to be a rather interesting little gardening tool.  And, if it doesn't first burn out my brain cells from low-level radiation, it may even have some potential health benefits by helping me to improve my miserable diet and eat a little better!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools?

Hold it right there, Hyacinths.  Not quite yet, Narcissus. Could you come back in awhile, Crocuses?  Perhaps we'll see you a little later, Snowdrops?
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