The Joys of Perennials

Martin’s Garden Notes

Perennials, plants that return every year, offer forms and blooms that can’t be found with annuals. With perennials, the garden becomes more dramatic and colorful each year, with out replanting. The challenge is to have a long season of bloom with the understanding that each variety provides a few weeks of bloom. This makes for a garden that offers a changing look from week to week all season long.

While annuals have their place in the garden to bring all season bloom,perennials offer shapes and flowers that annuals can’t. The graceful display of Bleeding Heart or the elegance of Japanese Iris can’t be found in an annual.

Perennials, being more or less permanent residents in the garden should be prepared for fairly deeply with lime, compost and modest amount of fertilizer. This preperation will support growth and bloom for years to come.

As the hot summer weather comes, watering is helpful. Water deeply on a 7-10 day schedule to keep the plants happy. Mulch will aid in keeping weeds at bay and moisture conserved.

Happy New Year 2012

VOL. 2 # 1

Everyone at “” wishes all our customers, friends, and subscribers a very Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe another new year has gone by, at this time of the year people review the past year, both the good and the bad. At the same time we wonder what the new year will bring, wishing the New Year will be better than the last. With this newsletter I’d like to offer you some thoughts regarding your home and garden, and how they can make your life more beneficial, and rewarding.

Since 2007-2008 we have lived through a period of time not seen since the Great Depression, high unemployment, with few jobs available, lost earning power, people feeling down, sick to their stomach, wondering when will things get better, ( NORMAL ). It would seem that the new normal will be quite different than the old one! If that was it, it would be more than enough, but it’s not, homes have been lost, many more under water, many with no chance of recovering soon, home values have falling to new lows and no one knows for sure when the tide will change for the better. WHAT TO DO !

American’s have been though tough times before, and although difficult we always get back on track. If you own your home, rent, or have a condo, what better place to relax, and think of easy ways to do it. If you rent or have a condo this is the time to think about a garden (no not a big back yard type) find a spot near a window, you’ll need sun, go on line, look over the catalogs, maybe seed for flowers, vegetables, whatever you enjoy. You can make a garden bed or buy one. A little soil, nothing complicated, set up something simple, get it together, and watch yourself and mother nature work a miracle. Let the kids have a part too, they absolutely love watching the seeds sprout. It won’t cost much and in a few months, it can be flowers, vegetables, or whatever will start to reward you. Relax and enjoy a simple pleasure.

If you own your home and have a garden, you know now’s the time to start planning, if you have no garden ( why not ) I don’t mean you need a big one! How about one the size of a sheet of plywood 4×8 start one now ! I know you’re on line, you’re here, like the other folks, read up, review catalogs, and plan your spot, I assure you this will become a special time. Depending where you live weather wise, you can start today! If you’re up north you can do what the condo/renters are doing! In either case get started, there is no more relaxing time than gardening, and won’t cost much money.

The economic condition will improve and it will get better, consider a garden, even on your window sill, plus talk to someone who has a garden, get their input, you’ll be sold. Most important relax and enjoy the time planning your garden, and watch it grow.

This is a good time to look at “” have a seat relax and check out what we offer plus our affiliates. Imagine in a year or two when things are better, gardening will be part of your life and relaxing in your garden will offer special moments alone or with family and friends.

A New Use for an Old Adage

Written by Lynn Merrill

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue — every bride has probably heard this saying. There’s a reason it resists getting passé. When those items are combined, they bring together a pleasing and meaningful composite both to the psyche and to the eye. But the adage is not just for brides anymore. Experiment in the garden, and you’ll find that the old adage is a winning formula for gardeners, too.

There is a touch of history when bringing something old into your garden. Old is defined as tried and true plants that have been mainstays of gardens since Shakespeare’s time. “A rose is just a rose” becomes a link with the past, as well as a connection to the future. There are a number of “old” roses that can add a wonderful dimension to your garden. Roses evoke an element of romance, especially those introduced before the first hybrid tea rose was developed in 1867. These have survived because of their own toughness, without human interventions such as the use of pesticides. Old roses have a variety of different shapes and sizes. While they come in fewer colors, they have something that’s missing in the newer roses — their strong fragrance!

The majority of the old roses existed before the yellow rose from China, so colors are limited. Old roses bloom all at once in late spring, with no need to deadhead — a plus. The spent blooms make attractive rosehips that feed wildlife. They are undemanding and pleasant in every other way. Old roses have a gracefulness, charm, and delicacy rarely found in modern plants. These vintage charmers should have a place in the modern garden. The one drawback is they are not usually found in your local nursery. Instead, most are sold through websites by small growers. 

“Something new” conjures up thoughts of going out to your local nursery to see just what is on the shelves for the 2011 season. It has always puzzled me how the nurserymen/women come up with the names of new varieties. Take these, for example:

  • Pretty Petticoat Penstemon, Cassian Fountain Grass, Double Trouble
  • Helenium, Mr. Goodbud Sedum, Just Plum Happy Daylily, Freckle
  • Face Candy Lily, and Bonbini Lily to name a few.

Hybridizers are always coming up with new varieties to impress gardeners. If you find you like a certain plant in your garden, it may have a new strain at the nursery this year. Let’s say you like the way hollyhocks look and grow in your garden. Well, there is now a new one called Mars Magic that is truly a perennial plant. This “something new” has brilliant red flowers.

For your shade garden, you may wish to try the Uvularia. It’s a North American native that brings a bright yellow hanging flower from emerging green plants. It’s easy to grow and a long lived perennial for under trees or the edge of woodlands. Or you could always try a Thunder and Lightning Knautia. It produces rich ruby red double flowers above light green and cream foliage. If you like a more familiar-sounding plant, how about the Geranium Striatum? It’s a hardy geranium with lots of salmon flowers with rosy ink highlights. It makes a neat mound in a container or can serve as a ground cover. It’s always a treat to try something new so that your garden never becomes static or tiresomely commonplace.     

Something borrowed may require further explanation. Gardeners everywhere love to share a particular favorite plant in their gardens with friends, relatives, and special people. They know those people will give that shared plant tender loving care. The borrowing comes into play when the first gardener’s favorite plant is spent or no longer appears, and the friend with whom she shared the plant returns the favor. It’s a custom that revolves around taking cuttings, separating offshoots, dividing root systems, and other methods of division and propagation. As far as gift giving is concerned, these are the treasures that remind us of the gift giver each time the plant reappears.

My own experience involves a dear friend who had shared with me a slip of her “chocolate soldier” begonia. It had a beautiful red flower — unusual for a begonia, I thought. The same year her husband passed away, she lost her begonia. At that time, mine had tripled in size and I was able to return to her an offspring of her own plant. There is a certain reward in returning a borrowed gift. Information about the proper way of “sharing” through division can be found if you Google that particular plant or research it at your local library.

Something blue! Gardeners could talk about blue flowers until they were blue in the face! The problem with blue flowers is that they are limited in selection, especially the “true blues.” For a flower to be truly blue, it should not have any hint of pink or purple in it. There are many common terms used to describe blue flowers, such as baby blue, light blue, powder blue, sky blue, flax blue, forget-me-not-blue, gentian blue, and cornflower blue. So there are many tones and hues of blues. One of my favorite blues is the Amsonia tabernaemontana, a hardy herbaceous perennial. It comes in several varieties and shades of blue — some almost ice blue, while there is also a navy blue. This is a plant that is non-demanding and will return year after year as beautiful as the first year.

While the Amsonia is less formal in a garden, the Lily of the Nile or Agapanthus is anything but informal. It is usually found in containers because of its distinctive, showy appearance. It requires large containers with good drainage to support the development of its fleshy tuberous roots. The genus name is Greek for “love flower.”

Some of the first blue flowers to appear in spring are the muscari or grape hyacinths. Scilla bifolia var. taurica is a deeper blue. Then there is Delphinium ‘Summer Skies’ which tends to be more blue-violet. Another blue that is close to a true blue is Plumbago auriculata (cape leadwort). It has the distinct feature of leaving beautiful dark pods in the fall that make a soothing clicking sound in the wind. Still another blue flower is the hydrangea, most popular

in the PeeGee variety. Echinops exaltus (Russian globe thistle), Eryngium alpinum ‘Blue Star’ (Sea Holly), and Allium beesianum all have a common round shape and similar blue color.

A list of blue flowers would not be complete without including Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ or Gentiana andrewsii. The salvia is the darkest of blues, while the gentian is closer to a true blue. Blue flowers should be incorporated in every garden because the color plays off other colors, especially yellows and reds. Try some combinations with blue flowers and you’ll see for yourself.

Versatile Lilacs

Martin’s Garden Notes

lilacs are shrubs that offer a lot of diversity. We are all familiar with the Old Fashion Lilac with it’s wonderful fragrance. Related varieties include all of the ” french hybrids” which were derived from our old fasioned favorite. Most offer the nice fragrance and a wide range of colors. Powderly mildue, common on these lilacs, can be unsightly but will cause no permanant harm to the plants. Spraying in early summer will make it less of a problem.

We have recently started to grow a selection of ‘hyacinthaflora’ types that offer great scent and a blooming period that is a little in advance of the old fasioned and the French Hybrids.

Following up these lilacs are several small leafed forms that bloom later to extend the season. Miss Kimm a lavender blue is a fovorite because it flowers freely, has nice scent and blooms after old fashioned types. A nice dwarf, the korean lilac (Syringa palabaiana ) often blooms twice.

Most lilacs can be pruned by removing a fwe older limbs to the ground every year just after bloom. This will generate new healthy shoots to keep the plant productive and contained.


In some ways January has been difficult in the Northeast especially when driving, the roads have been awful during the many storms. Even though the snow plow drivers have done an excellent job.

As I look out my window there is at least four feet of untouched snow on the ground, I know that’s not the case through out the country as some of you folks can see grass. Whether you see snow or grass now is the right time to start thinking of your garden seed order. In other words what are you going to plant this year ! Same as last year or are you ready for something new besides the usual. Check the web sites, get the catalogs, get your ideas together, and get started remember just about 50 days to go till spring J


As you plan your garden and grounds around your home what better time to think of ways to make even more enjoyable;

The news today in the automobile market is ” electric ” cars like the new Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are just the beginning of things to come. Why do I mention this: as you look to replace some of your old worn-out garden equipment consider ” electric “. On the market today there are many new products available as examples, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, edger’s, lawn tractors the list goes on. You surely will help to clean the air but also cut our need for gas plus other petrol products.

You’ll most likely be adding or replacing hand tools, consider ergonomic hand tools, make it easy on yourself, again just a thought so check the web sites and catalogs and this year really consider updating your gardens and garden tools.