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Bridge Gardens | A Note From Rick | May 2017

May 9, 2017

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens celebrates National Public Gardens Day with our two sister public gardens, Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack and LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, and admission is free at all three! While our guided walks are sold out, garden staff will be available throughout the day at each garden to meet you and answer questions. 

If you have time to linger on the East End for dinner, you can also enjoy a delicious prix fixe dinner offered by two top local restaurants, Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton, and Plaza Cafe in Southampton! Reservations are requested at your favorite restaurant.

Something else to celebrate: 

It’s the 30th Anniversary of Bridge Gardens! 

While Bridge Gardens has only been operated by the Peconic Land Trust since 2008 when the the property was donated to the Trust by garden founders Jim Kilpatric and Harry Neyens, pictured above, the gardens have been around for much longer. Kilpatric and Neyens began the garden 30 years ago this year, designing and installing the gardens over the ensuing 20 years to create a wonderful horticultural oasis that spans over five acres. While some aspects of the garden have changed, we’ve worked hard to stay true to the inspiration for its creation: to offer the public access to a beautiful and peaceful place, to enjoy and be inspired by its collections, and to promote the benefits of public garden spaces in the community. 

Our thanks to Jim and Harry for their commitment to  local horticulture and community!

Taking a walk at Bridge Gardens this month, you’ll see daffodils beginning to fade, but there are a few varieties that bloom into mid-May, like Poet’s Narcissus, and jonquils like Pipit and Hillstar. If you get here in the next two weeks, creamy white Summer Snowflake, pictured here, will still be in bloom. This bulb, planted in fall like daffodils and tulips, has flowers like snow drops but they are larger and hang from 15” stems. The variety at Bridge Gardens are 5 years old, are deer resistant, and are great repeaters that do well in heavy shade.

Before long, ornamental onions will be in bloom. These large purple globes are eye catching, and can provide you with a long season of color, starting with Purple Sensation and ending in early June with super tall varieties like Gladiator and Globemaster. 

Bridge Garden’s herb garden sees a flush of color from the mass of woad planted in the textile and dyeing herb bed. A member of the mustard family, woad has been a source of blue dye since Roman times and was the only source until the discovery of indigo in the 18th century. It’s tall sprays of yellow flowers, blue-ish leaves, and attractive seed heads are a welcome sight in May. As June approaches, look for foxgloves and poppies in the medicinal bed.

Moving into the vegetable bed, we’ve already had an early harvest of spinach and kale, and arugula, mustard greens, radishes and broccoli raab are coming in too. Thinking of planting your own healthy greens? Now is the time! Its lettuce season, and I like to mix seeds of Merlot and Tango for a colorful row and salad bowl of leaf lettuce. Bibb varieties like Sparx, Yugoslavian Red and Rosaine make colorful, tender, tasty heads, as does the butterhead variety called Skyphos. If you’re more of a romaine person, try Plato II or Truchos - they produce early, and can be sourced from Johnny’s Seeds, Fedco, The Cook’s Garden, or Territorial Seed Company. Finally, your first crops of beets and carrots should be heading into the soil now if you haven’t already planted them. 

So what things should you be doing now?

  • Plant your vegetable garden with beets, carrots, and lettuces of all kinds.  Hold off a couple of weeks for tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers and basil - its too soon. These will do better when night temperatures stay in the 50’s. The end of May or even early June works better for these, as well as cucumber, squash and beans. 
  • Weed, weed weed! Spending a few hours now will reward you with reduced weeding chores later in the growing season. 
  • Begin mowing on a weekly basis at a 3 1/2” high setting to shade out weeds and stop weed seeds from germinating. Don’t begin irrigating just yet, we’ve had plenty of rain so far this spring. When it does get dry, water deeply - no more than 3 times weekly - to encourage deep root growth for a healthier lawn.
  • Roses should be pruned if you haven’t already done so.  Paul Wagner of Greener Pastures Organics joined us last Saturday for the first in his series on Organic Rose Care and provided pointers on pruning, fertilization, pest and disease management.