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A Note from Rick: Warmer weather is here, and the Gardens are showing off their spring finery … come visit!

Bridge Gardens
June 14, 2019

By Rick Bogusch

I’m always impressed by the reaction plants have to a good rain. Without much rain, they play it small, and after it rains, they seem to grow overnight! This has certainly been the case after this past month of May, when we had cooler temperatures than normal and heavy rainfall. Now that it is beginning to warm up, we are being rewarded by a show of color. These Alliums stand tall over four feet tall and offer a friendly magenta greeting as you enter the inner garden.

As a gardener, you know that change is a constant — gardens are always a work in progress. We constantly evaluate what looks good and what can be improved, especially as plants grow bigger, overhead shade increases from nearby plants, or your design ideas change. When you visit in the coming weeks, you may notice some new plants in the inner garden. I’ve added Goldie’s fern and Collinsonia, both native, to some bare areas and will soon replace Japanese painted fern with a variety of the native lady fern called “Lady in Red.” Collinsonia grows in the rich woodlands of the Northeast, reaches 2-3 feet in height and sports yellow flowers in summer. It is a member of the mint family and is appreciated by Native Americans for its medicinal qualities. Goldie’s wood fern grows an imposing 3-feet tall and wide. ” Lady in Red” sports brilliant dark red stems in spring and will be in place after our Member’s Only Music Night, scheduled for June 28 this year. The bamboo structure in this photo above supports some of the lilies that have been in this bed for several years.

As you explore the four quadrant herb garden, Woad commands your attention. A member of the mustard family, woad is a perennial herb found in our textile/dye section and stands about 3 feet tall. It is native to southeastern Europe. While its flowers are brilliant yellow, the greenish-blue leaves are what have been valued for over 5,000 years as a source of blue dye. Woad also has been appreciated for medicinal qualities. It has a tendency to self seed, so if you decide you must have it, make sure to give it plenty of space and careful tending to keep it well behaved.

Elsewhere in the herb garden, I’ve just added annuals including basil, Vietnamese coriander, and Mexican tarragon. Perennial herbs like curly and flat leaf parsley, several varieties of thyme, sage and dill are reliable sources for wonderful flavors I count on in my cooking, and many are easily dried for winter use. Most herbs are not difficult to grow and reward you with delicious seasonings for your culinary creations. Give them a try!

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What to Do Now? Everything!

In the vegetable garden, now is the perfect time to plant or sow seeds for all the summer crops including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, and herbs like basil.

It’s too late to plant arugula unless you grow it under a row cover. Arugula is often a victim of flea beetles, which bore holes in the leaves. The best time to grow it is March and April before the beetles emerge. They and potato beetles also enjoy eggplants, so monitor new plantings well and hand pick potato beetles for good control, or use a Pyrethrin-based dust or spray. Diatomaceous earth works also, but must be applied daily.

Now is also a good time to cut back the foliage of faded spring-flowering bulbs, deadhead your daffodils, tulips, and iris, and prune off spent lilac blossoms. Pruning lilacs now will help promote a good showing next year.

Now is an especially good time to start fertilizing roses monthly and spray weekly with a soap or horticultural oil, or use an organic fungicide like Seranade. These activities will reward you with strong flowering roses that will be the envy of your friends and neighbors.

I’ve been busy weeding, watering, fertilizing with fish emulsion, carefully spraying for caterpillars and pesky rabbits, and applying dust for beetles. It’s an intensive time in the garden with much planting of annuals and perennials. I hope you’ll stop in and see what’s new!

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