I thought I’d pass along this announcement from Greenworks, (Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association).  If you’ve got the time- it would be a rare opportunity to hear Dirr speak- he’s the preeminent expert on trees today.

  • Tomorrow: October 1, 2009 Green Works-VNLA; VT Urban & Community Forestry Program & NE Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture present:
  • TREE TIME WITH MICHAEL DIRR at Middlebury College – Dana Auditorium from 9-11am.
  • SPACE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE MORNING and we will be taking walk-in registration! Take the day off and come hear the fabulous and famous Michael Dirr speak about his passion.
  • Directions and Parking: From Rte 7 (north or south) follow the signs for Route 30. The Center for the Arts is about 4/10 mile down Rte 30 to the left. To park – turn at sign: Parking-Center for the Arts. Then walk northwest, up towards Route 30 and pass a giant Burr Oak. Cross Rte 30, pass a Serbian Spruce, turn right and walk down Old Chapel Road, heading north. Pass the state’s largest Littleleaf Linden at the end of this road. Dana Auditorium is the building on the right across Route 125.

final fall sale…mmmm

September 28, 2009

Stewartia psduocamellia

Is time running out for planting?  Well soon.  We recommend planting through mid-October.  Of course there is plenty of planting done past that date, but one must really be keen with watering, spraying evergreens with an anti-desiccant, wrapping burlap around sensitive evergreens, and mulching over perennials.  We recommend “mudding in”  new plantings.  After you dig the hole, place the plant in the hole, and water thoroughly- two or three times, before gradually filling in the hole with a soil/compost blend- water, fill, water, fill- until it’s just soggy.  This will get out any air pockets and fully saturate the root mass- aiding in overwintering.

So- here’s a final offer for the season- come on in and buy us out!

  • Perennials-30% Off
  • Conifers- 40% Off
  • Trees and Shrubs- 50% Off
  • Cast Stone Fountains, Pots, and Statuary- 25% Off
  • Glazed and Terra Cotta Pots- 25% Off
  • DeWitt Tools (we never do this)- 10% Off

Have fun and enjoy the beautiful fall weather!

fall color

September 28, 2009

Here are some images taken from the garden and the nursery.  We have many things continuing to bloom:  Phlox, Aster, Gentian, Heptacodium, Hydrangea, Rudbeckia, Hibiscus x ‘Kopper King’, various Echinacea, Platycoden, Tricyrtis, Chrysanthemum, Cimicifuga, Chelone, Ligularia ‘Desdemona’, Persicaria ‘Fire Tails’, Boltonia, Sedum, and Ornamental Grasses.

In addition to blooming, fall color is setting up.  I love the garden this time of year.  Many perennials have beautiful fall color, and berries start appearing on the deciduous hollies- Ilex verticillata.

In the blog entry right below this one- we’ve listed some of the garden chores you can do this fall.  If you have time on your hands this fall, it will save you time next spring!

We find fall a great time to catch up with work in the garden that we haven’t gotten to all summer long.  The weather is cool and the gardens start looking so worn that it’s almost a relief to cut things back.  Unfortunately, the weeds we didn’t get through the summer will have deposited their seed into the great ‘seed bank’ that lies in the soil- an endless supply of everything you don’t want to crop up in your garden!

Another reason we try to perform some of these chores in the fall, is because there is always too much to do in the spring- if we can cut that workload, even a little bit- the better off we’ll be.  How great is it if you don’t have to trample your spring bulbs when raking out your garden in April?  Still, the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition and there is always spring-clean up.

Fall Chores

Edging– If your garden beds have a cut edge, you may want to re-edge them now.  The edge should last well through next spring.  We like to have a cut edge so that we can enlarge the bed as needed.

Cutting Back– You want to wait until the perennials look a bit dry.  Many perennials have beautiful fall color and it’s a shame to miss it.  Once we think that color has faded and we’ve had our fill of the ‘fall garden’, we will go ahead and cut things back.  For us in Vermont, winter interest from perennials- even ornamental grasses, is a short-lived aesthetic- heavy snow usually blankets the ground.  We do like to keep the grasses standing for a long period of time, but they look silly as lone sentinels in a garden that’s been cut back- they’re better off as a group or part of a vignette that can last through fall together- that’s why we like to use them in combination with conifers.

Top-dressing– If there’s time- this is a great chore to get done in the fall.  Top-dressing with composted manure after you cut back your perennial garden will give you the best head start in the spring.  The compost will be there as soon as the ground thaws and aiding soil nutrition right away.  Emerging perennials and bulbs won’t have their crowns covered with “hot” compost in the spring and your initial weed barrier will be in place!

Milky spore application for Japanese Beetle– We try and remember to apply Milky Spore for the control of Japanese Beetle, at least 4 times a year.  Fall is the last period before spring.  Milky Spore builds up a bacteria in the soil that discriminately works to attack the grubs of Japanese Beetle.  (Milky Spore is not harmful to beneficial insects, birds, bees, pets or man. The product is approved and registered with EPA, Milky Spore will not affect wells, ponds or streams).

Lawn aeration– Aeration is a great thing you can do to your lawn, (especially well trafficked lawns), to revitalize and green it up.  We rent an aerator and make a couple of passes.  We then put down Pro-Gro 5-3-4 general Organic Fertilizer as a late fall feed.  Fall is a great time to throw down some grass seed too.  If it doesn’t germinate now- it’ll be there in the spring and germinate as soon as temperatures are right.

Application of ‘Wilt-Pruf’– Wilt-Pruf is an anti-desiccant, (anti-transpirant) that is a natural pine oil emulsion.  It works well to protect conifers, and broad-leaf evergreens such as Rhododendrons, Holly, and Boxwood by creating a clear and flexible coating to protect plants against drying cold winds.  We find it worthwhile to spray plants that are in exposed sites that receive winter sun and winds and also newly planted conifers and broadleaf evergreens.

A-frames and burlap covers– We don’t need to do this, but you might have to.  If you have shrubs that are planted at the base of your house where snow falls off the roof- you must protect your plants with an “A-frame” to prevent the plant from being crushed.  We recommend planting herbaceous or  non-woody plants at those locations.  A good plant for a site like this is Annabelle Hydrangea.  It grows quickly from the ground each year and has the look of a woody shrub.  However, it can be cut to the ground each spring, so winter snow load isn’t a problem.

If you have sensitive conifers, like Dwarf Alberta Spruce, that are in direct sun from the south and /or west, you’ll want to protect them by wrapping them in burlap.  An anti-desiccant spray like Wilt-pruf, won’t be enough to keep them from getting winter burn.

Watering– Many gardeners put there hoses away too early.  Sometimes fall can be dry- if it’s been dry, we need to water-especially evergreens.  New plantings need water until the ground freezes, somewhere around Thanksgiving.  Fall is considered a good time for planting because it’s cooler, the plants aren’t stressed by heat and it usually is wet and because it’s cooler, the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly.  While the air is cooling off, the soil cools off at a slower rate- thus root growth continues long after the leaves have fallen.


Pruning is best left until late fall-mid October or later.  Pruning can be done right through winter up through March when dormancy is broken.  If you don’t want to miss any flowering on your shrubs next spring, it’s important to know which plants produced flower buds this summer for next year’s bloom, and which plants will produce flowers on next year’s new growth. Lilac, Rhododendron, Withhazel,  Philadelphus, Viburnum, and Forsythia are a few well-known plants that form their flower buds the previous season.  These plants are generally pruned after they bloom, however- if it looks ratty and needs an overhaul- we’ll forego the flowers and prune it when we have time.  Spiraea, Potentilla, Hydrangea, Weigela, and Rosa are some examples of plant the bloom on new wood.  In most cases, these plants can be cut back quite hard in the late winter or early spring and still grow vigorously and produce flowers in the same season.  There are many books on pruning, and the internet is loaded with information on when to prune, how to prune and which plants bloom on “new wood” or “old wood”.

Fall Planting and Dividing

The general rule of thumb is that plants with fine fibrous root systems are better divided in the spring and that plants with thicker, fleshy root systems, (ie. Paeonia, Iris, Hemerocallis, Echinops, Echinacea, and Geranium) are best divided in the fall.  Of course anything with a bulb or corm, (tulips, daffodils, etc.) are also best divided in the fall.  And there are perennials like Monarda and Hosta that will thrive no matter when you divide them.  We’ve left clumps of Hosta sitting above ground with no soil around their roots, and they have lived to tell the tale, (over and over again).  We don’t recommend it, but sometimes you just don’t have enough energy to plant one more Hosta!  Dividing plants can create vigorous new growth and better bloom.  Many plants will tell you when they need dividing- their growth forms a circle around a dead and hollow center- the donut effect- very common in plants like sibirian iris.

Fall is a great time for planting, (see above “Watering”).  Plant fall bulbs for spring color- be the envy, not envious!  Plant conifers and perennials.

Wintering Over Annuals:

One has to wonder how many of your outdoor plants can come indoors for the winter…and is this a feeble attempt to prolong the summer and deny where we live?  We’re all guilty and usually by the time February gets here- the white flies, fruit flies, and aphids have you sacrificing your plants to 20 degrees below zero…with glee!

If you put your regular houseplants outside for the summer and are bringing them in this fall- here’s a tip- spray them with superior type dormant horticultural oil and allow them to dry before you bring them into your home or greenhouse.  Not every plants likes to be sprayed, so read the label first.  When we’ve done this task- it has greatly reduced the occurrence of white flies, aphids and scale to a point where it wasn’t a problem- highly recommended!  Also be sure you weed your potted plants before bringing them in and check for any ant infestations in your pots- (really not fun until you kill the ants with the plant when you throw it outside in the middle of winter- but by then you’ve got a science project in your home!).  Repot your plants if necessary but don’t put them in much larger pots.  They are entering a period of slow growth and possibly dormancy- they won’t be needing as much water and you don’t want to encourage root rot by having too much soggy soil around the roots.  Once we get into February, if plants are in a sunny position, (and you are too), you can repot them and start feeding them a mild dose of fertilizer.  Prune off dead branches and cut back for tighter growth.

Some of our bulbs arrived today and the bulk of them will be here by the end of the week. Most of the bulbs we’re carrying have been grown in our garden; since we liked them so much, we’re offering them for sale.  And then a few are new for us-  we were intrigued, and hope you are too!

Here’s a list of what we’re carrying this year with some of our own photos and  some taken from that great library called “the internet”.  If you scroll over the image and leave your curser there for a second, it will reveal the name of the bulb depicted in the photo.  Enjoy the show and see you soon!

  • Allium ‘Christophii’
  • Allium ‘Gladiator’
  • Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

Allium aflatuense 'Purple Sensation'

  • Chionodoxa Lucilliae

Chionodoxa labitica

  • Crocus Chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’
  • Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’
  • Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor"

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty'

  • Eremurus himalaicus
  • Eremurus ruiter ‘Cleopatra’
  • Fritillaria persica

images-2 images-1 images

  • Iris danfordiae
  • Iris histrioides ‘Katherine Hodgkin’
  • Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

iris histrioides 'Katherine Hodges'

Iris reticulata

  • Muscari ‘Valleri Finnis’
  • Muscari ‘Dark Eyes’

Muscari armeniacum

  • Narcissus ‘Fortissimo’

Narcissus 'Fortissimo'

  • Narcissus ‘Hillstar’

Narcissus 'Hillstar'

  • Narcissus ‘Katie Heath’

Narcissus 'Katie Heath'

  • Narcissus ‘Professor Einstein’
  • Narcissus ‘Palmares’
  • Narcissus ‘Altruist’
  • Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’

  • Narcissus ‘Thalia’

Narcissus Thalia

  • Narcissus ‘Accent’
  • Narcissus ‘Sailboat’

Narcissus 'Sailboat'

  • Narcissus ‘Pistachio’

  • Scilla siberica

Scilla sibirica

  • Tulip ‘American Dream’
  • Tulip ‘Daydream’
  • Tulip ‘Ivory Floradale’
  • Tulip ‘Kingsblood’
  • Tulip ‘KungFu’

  • Tulip ‘New Design’
  • Tulip ‘Passionale’
  • Tulip ‘Princess Irene’
  • Tulip pulchella violacea
  • Tulip saxitallis

Tulipa pulchella 'Violacea'Tulipa 'Princess Irene'

  • Tulip ‘World Expression’
  • Tulip ‘Antoinette’
  • Tulip ‘Ballerina’
  • Tulip clusiana ‘Cynthia’
  • Tulip ‘Early Harvest’
  • Tulip ‘Apricot Impression’

Tulips 'Ballerina'  (the orange ones)Tulipa kauffmanii 'Early Harvest'Tulipa kauffmanii 'Early Harvest'

Half Price Tree update…

September 12, 2009

The following is an update on our half price trees.  Included are the varieties, the quantities, and the original price.  These trees are on sale through the end of the season at half their original price.  Be aware that quantities are limited and will change daily.  I’ll try to keep the list updated regularly.  Hope you see something you like!


Fruit Trees:

  • 3 Gala Apples Original price: 79.00
  • 5 Golden Delicious Apples Original price: 79.00
  • 6 Granny Smith Apples Original price: 79.00
  • 2 Liberty Apples Original price: 79.00
  • 5 Macintosh Apples Original price: 79.00
  • 6 Red Delicious Apples Original price: 79.00
  • 2 Four-varieties on one Apples Original price: 125.00
  • 1 Toka Plum Original price: 79.00
  • 1 Superior Plum Original price: 79.00
  • 1 Sungold Apricot Original price: 79.00
  • 1 Bartlett Pear Original price: 79.00
  • 3 Moonglow Pears Original price: 79.00

Acer pseudosieboldianum  3 LEFT  Original price: 229.00

Acer tataricum ‘Hot Wings’  4 LEFT  Original price: 109.00

Acer tegmentosum ‘Joe Witt’ SOLD OUT

Acer triflorum  5 LEFT Original price: 79.00

Betula nigra ‘Summer Cascade’  10 LEFT  Original price: 69.00

Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’  7 LEFT  Original price: 79.00

Catalpa bignoides ‘Variegata’  2 LEFT  Original price: 189.00

Catalpa bignonioides ‘Purpurea’  2 LEFT  Original price: 119.00

Cercidiphyllum japonicum  3 LEFT  Original price: 2@ 89.00, 2@ 159.00

Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Amazing Grace‘  SOLD OUT

Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Titania’  2 LEFT Original price: 189.00

Cladrastis kentukea ‘Arnold’s Pink’  1 LEFT Original price: 109.00

Cladrastis kentukea ‘Perkin’s Pink’  2 LEFT Original price: 69.00

Cladrastis kentukea  1 LEFT Original price: 95.00

Corylus avellana ‘Red Majestic’ 2 LEFT Original price: 269.00

Crataeguus laevigata ‘Crimson Cloud’ SOLD OUT

Liriodendron tulipifera 1 LEFT Original price: 109.00


  • Adams  1 LEFT Original price: 79.00
  • Golden Raindrops SOLD OUT
  • Indian Summer  2 LEFT Original Price: 79.00
  • Red Jade 1 LEFT Original price: 149.00
  • Robinson  4 LEFT Original price: 79.00
  • Spring Bride  5 LEFT Original price: 79.00

Parrotia persica 1 LEFT Original price: 189.00

Platanus occidentalis  2 LEFT Original price: 119.00

Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula Plena’  1 LEFT Original price: 159.00

Prunus subhirtella ‘Snow Fountains‘  SOLD OUT

Quercus bicolor  1 LEFT Original price: 119.00

Quercus rubra  3 LEFT Original price: 119.00

Quercus x warei ‘Long” SOLD OUT

Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Purple Robe’ SOLD OUT

Syringa reticulata  7 LEFT Original price: 109.00

Tilia americana ‘American Sentry’  3 LEFT Original price: 129.00

Ulmus americana ‘Valley Forge’  1 LEFT Original price: 149.00

Ulmus procera ‘Argenteovariega’ SOLD OUT

Ulmus procera ‘Aurea’  2 LEFT Original price: 139.00

We’ve woken up to some chilly weather recently.  Though not near freezing, temps in the 40’s lets you know the seasons are changing!  Is it too soon to make a fire in the wood stove?  My partner, Ethan has taken up the clarinet- and this mornings’ practice has produced quite a few more squeaks that I attribute to the cold, so I may just have to warm the place up, for his clarinet practice of course!

The light is beautiful this time of year, (though driving when the sun is low creates problems), walking through the garden is a joy.  Plants are illuminated in a way that shows them to their best advantage.  The inflorescence of ornamental grasses catch the light particularly well.  Changing colors in leaves are also backlit by this magnificent light.  The color in conifers seems to deepen, and they begin to show their winter coloration.  Hydrangeas are incredible this year- and have begun to turn that incredible deep pink with white.

Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia'

Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva'

Asimina triloba - Paw Paw Tree

Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder'


Gentiana makinoi 'Royal Blue'

Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus', Helictotrichon sempirvirens, Sedum spectabile 'Brilliant' and Euphorbia myrsinites

Hibiscus 'Kopper King'

Annual Celosia 'Cramer's Amazon'

Helictotrichon sempirvirens with Rhododendron 'Ramapo'

Miscanthus sinesis 'Variagatus'

Cimicifuga romosa 'Atropurpurea'

Conifers, Japanese Maples and Grasses

Calamogrostis brachytricha

It’s also a time of year when we start looking ahead to next year.  We’re able to forgive certain plants their poor performance and give them another chance next spring having great hopes that they will outperform our wildest expectations and that the weather will be glorious.  With that, we’re delighted to cut back their speckled, mottled, moldy, and generally ugly foliage- “next year, babe!”  It’s a relief.

My mind turns to organization in the fall.  I’ve been looking at the four groupings of hazelnuts I have that form a one-sided allee down the central corridor of the garden.  The story is that the family that lived at this house, before it was Rocky Dale Gardens,  had planted them.  They are one of the last vestiges of what was here before Rocky Dale Gardens was created.  In Rocky Dale’s history, a giant mulberry was taken down to make way for the greenhouse, and several fruit trees were removed to make way for nursery and parking.  Of course many other plants were displaced and removed for the creation of the display gardens.
The Hazelnut Allee

Back to my dilemma: the hazelnuts.  I removed several clumps a few years back so that what remained did create a nice formal line or allee, and I was pleased with that.  It opened up space in a garden that has become very crowded and had developed what I call “the green wall”, (when you can’t tell one plant from the other and the overall effect is a mass of foliage without definition or texture).  Now I think I want to remove all the hazelnuts and create a long border that may be even more formal, but will give us the opportunity to show off a greater variety of  plants.  Of course, that involves a retaining wall and leveling the ground, and on and on- big project.  So I thought of starting with the first lobe of hazelnuts- taking them out and putting a dent in the “green wall”.  We’ll see if I have the heart to do this as the bluejays really go for the hazelnuts this time of year.

Part of my problem is I go from one project to the other without really getting them done.  My “garden in the ledges” is still waiting for attention, but I fenced it off this year because I knew I wouldn’t have time for it.  I could go back to that, and give the hazelnuts a reprieve, but that wouldn’t be half as much fun because I’ve already envisioned it and it’s just work now.

That’s what fall is about- envisioning and generating ideas for the future- because you can start seeing the bones of your garden and the experience of what worked and what didn’t is fresh in your mind.  I’ll take off my designer hat and start pulling weeks and attending to fall chores.  Maybe this winter I can get out the chain saw!

Please enjoy the latest photos from the garden and stay tuned for more posts about fall garden chores.

Heptacodium miconioides - Seven-sons Flower.

Heptacodium- Late blooming small tree with attractive exfoliating bark. Rare plant native to China which may no longer exist in the wild. Good source of nectar for butterflies in the fall.

Heptacodium miconioides - Seven-Sons Flower.

Labor Day Sale- Sept 4th-7th

September 1, 2009


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