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Fall

Thousands flocked to the annual Long Island Fall Festival, hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Town of Huntington, in Heckscher Park from Oct. 6 to 9. The event was lively Saturday as unseasonably warm weather brought attendees out to enjoy a variety of live performances, street vendors, carnival rides and games. Rainy weather thinned the crowd later in the weekend, but did not stop the festivities.

Cerise mum, second year.

By Kyrnan Harvey

This year the deer have left our chrysanthemums alone. So far. This is our third year in the Three Villages, and the assumption originally was that aromatic plants are passed over by the white-tailed browsers. Wishful thinking.

 

Old-fashioned Korean mums naturalized

Last year, the mums were left alone all summer, until the buds formed on the flower stems, which apparently are a delicacy for discerning deer in the know. This year, we sprayed deer repellent once on the cerise mum near the driveway entrance but none on the ‘Dark Bronze Daisy’ or the unnamed Home Depot orange mum. And who knew? These latter two are a square yard untouched and flowering beautifully for a month already and the cerise one is just now popping.

This morning, while pulling up unwanted goldenrod volunteers, I became reacquainted with a gorgeous white one, very tall and promising in bud now, that I had plucked last year from the florist shelves at the market.

As a garden designer favoring naturalistic plantings, I generally eschew the seasonal mum installations. But I do love the colors; who doesn’t? There are many varieties grown, often two apparently identical colors are actually merely similar colors, subtly different varieties. Usually you will find a small label with a cultivar name on it, like ‘Plumberry Purple’ or ‘Flamingo Pineapple’. Every year one or two colors at Home Depot or Stop&Shop or my myriad wholesale sources catches my fancy. I am often asked “Are they perennial?” “How do you know which ones will come back next year?”

Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’

In years past I would answer that the “old-fashioned” single ones, formerly called Korean mums and rarely seen in garden centers, are reliably hardy and perennial. There is a charming single pale apricot must-have called ‘Sheffield Pink’ that is absolutely perennial and that flowers very late. But I am now convinced that the brilliantly colored doubles will naturalize too and need not be regarded as throwaways. I buy just one piece (as the nurserymen say) and find a suitable location for that color.

I cannot account for the gustatory vagaries or the culinary whimsies of our graceful quadripeds, but here is how to get “dem” mums to survive the winter and to increase in girth. Don’t plant them too late and don’t let them dry out.

Don’t buy a pot in September for your front door, neglect to water it three straight sunny 75 degree days, and then not plant it outside until Thanksgiving.

Typically chrysanthemums are root-bound in those green plastic pots. Root-bound means they dry out quickly and watering can’t penetrate the density of roots. The good independent garden centers have staff that know how and how often to water them to keep them from drying out — not so at the box stores. There is a point of no return, if left unwatered for too long. Haven’t we all seen inventories of mums fried and roasting at the edge of the parking lot, wilted to a crisp? It’s okay to decorate the porch for a couple weeks, but put saucers under them and if they’re in the sun err on the side of too much water.

Chrysanthemum ‘Dark Bronze Daisy’ third year

Another common pitfall is to assume that once it is planted and you have thoroughly drenched it, you are done. Not necessarily the case, never more so than the past few weeks when it has been unseasonably warm and it hasn’t rained. We did a large mum installation at a client’s temple for the holidays. No automatic irrigation, and we watered by hose two times a week for a couple weeks. Checked in after a long weekend and sure enough a few of the 70 were wilting. Even where there is automatic irrigation, hand water if there are no good soakings from mother nature.

When planting out your mums, they will want, like most daisies, a sunny spot if your intention is for them to perennialize. Also needed is good, loose soil that’s been dug free of tree roots and soil compaction. Water in well at planting and as necessary for a few weeks, so that they will root in to their new soil. This is the key; this is what determines whether they survive through to next year: Are they established in the garden well before the hard frosts of January? I usually leave the unsightly spent flowers uncut until March. My sense is that these provide insulation from winds to the basal foliage, visible even in a flowering plant, upon which the plants’ future depends.

Of course, you can still plant mums with no expectation that they will provide perennial pleasures. You still have to keep them watered, but you can cram them into crummy builders’ fill under oak trees — as we did at the temple — and do it again next year. But it is really delightful and gratifying to see drifts of sprays of that superb color year in, year out. They actually are carefree and drought tolerant once established. And if the deer one year take a fancy to that color? You’ll live, and next year you will enjoy the show more.

Kyrnan Harvey is a horticulturist and garden designer residing in East Setauket. For more information, visit www.boskygarden.com.

All photos by Kyrnan Harvey

The Huntington Historical Society hosted it’s annual Apple Festival at the Kissam House on Park Avenue in Huntington this past Sunday, Oct. 16. Residents enjoyed hayrides, scarecrow making, bobbing for apples, militia demonstrations and more.

Councilwoman Susan Berland first tried to limit leaf blowers two years ago. File photo

There was a strong desire for change blowing into town hall during a Huntington Town Board meeting on Jan. 12.

More than a dozen residents spoke out asking the board to reconsider a limit on gas-powered leaf blowers, citing the health problems the blowers can cause. But board members are divided about taking action.

“Lots of people have asthma in Huntington and gas leaf blowers make it worse,” Donald Payne, a Centerport resident said at the meeting. “The particles they release stay in the air for hours.”

Payne also brought up the fact that the town could be losing money by continuing to invest in gas-powered leaf blowers.

“When you pay someone to rake or sweep, most of that money stays on Long Island,” he said. “If you buy gasoline, most of that money leaves Long Island.”

Peter Calcandy, a Halesite resident, said he was concerned with the noise disturbance these blowers continue to have on the community.

“The daily noise from gas-powered leaf blowers that occur nine months out of the year seven days a week and up to 12 hours a day has eroded this wonderful lifestyle,” he said at the meeting.

Bonnie Sager, a Huntington resident, said that residents are not asking for a ban, but merely a restriction during June, July and August.

“There are no leaves in the summer and all gas leaf blowers do is create more emissions and unreasonable levels of noise,” she said at the meeting.

Sager said the town should make the switch to lithium battery blowers, which do not use gasoline, have batteries that can last several years, are recyclable and are much quieter.

She is part of Citizens Appeal for Leafblower Moderation, an organization that wants Heckscher State Park to be used as a model for a green zone, which is an area maintained with zero emission lawn-care equipment. CALM’s goal is to limit the use of commercial gas leaf blowers during the summertime and educate the public about the health hazards gas blowers have.

More than 700 residents have signed a petition asking the town’s board to limit the use of these blowers during the summer months, but this is not the first time this issue has come to the board.

In May 2014, Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) drafted legislation to limit the use of leaf blowers. However, there was not enough support from the board to pass the bill.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said at the meeting last Tuesday that this idea was left open-ended in 2014 because he felt the board needed more information and added that the issue needed to be tackled gradually.

“One of the issues at the time was the fact that it must be, one, phased in or, two, there has to be an educational promotional program that will bring people to an understanding and, number three, there has to be an explanation of the various forms of technology,” he said. “Until then, it’s a project that’s very difficult to examine and implement without doing a full-fledged program.”

He said the town had success when they used an educational program for limiting grass clippings a few years back. The program included teaching residents about mowing fewer times a week and using a specific type of blade to reduce the impact of clippings. Petrone said it was highly successful.

“This is the direction we have to go with,” Petrone said. “We said we would be willing to examine a program and that offer still sits there from my point of view.”

He also said the program would have to focus on educating landscapers and giving them proper direction.

Berland said at the meeting that she is still “absolutely in favor of this,” and that her challenge is convincing the rest of the board to agree.

In a phone interview, she said she would be open to starting with just banning the blowers on Saturdays and Sundays and then working their way up to the entire summer.

Berland said she thinks enforcing this would not be too difficult, because if any resident sees a gas-powered leaf blower in use when it shouldn’t be, they need only take down the name of the landscaping truck or residence and report it to code enforcement.

Some of her fellow councilmembers disagree.

“I think it would be very difficult to enforce,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said in a phone interview. “It could be a significant hardship on business. We would need to see if it’s even feasible for our workforce.”

Councilman Gene Cook (I) said he thinks banning the leaf blowers for the summer months would be too much of an abrupt change, but he is open to learning more about the alternatives and seeing if there is a possible way to enforce change.

“I think we would need a slower method to get people used to the idea,” he said in a phone interview.

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It was a howling good time at the Port Jefferson Harvest Festival on Sunday, Oct. 25. Dogs came out in their best costumes to celebrate Halloween a little early and there were woodcarving demonstrations and activities for kids.

Huntington Town celebrated fall this weekend at the annual Long Island Fall Festival. The event, free to the public, is organized by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and spans Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. Festivities include a carnival, food courts, entertainment, vendors, animals and more.

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By Wendy Mercier

As summer fades into fall, many plants and flowers will continue to bloom until the first frost of winter. Annuals, such as geraniums, marigolds and begonias, can have an extended growing season with proper watering and pruning. Plants such as Montauk daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and hardy mums are just beginning to come into season, and are a sign that autumn is upon us.

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Come Oct. 9, Heckscher Park in Huntington will transform into a hub of fall festivity.

The 22nd annual Long Island Fall Festival, which will run until Oct. 12, throughout Columbus Day weekend, will fill the park with fun, featuring vendors, music, food and more. The event is hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Town.

According to the festival’s website, “This community event highlights the best Huntington has to offer — from its civic-minded businesses, cultural institutions and service organizations, to its restaurants, pubs and retailers.”

More than 300 craft, promotional, retail and non-for-profit vendors will line Prime and Madison streets, adjacent to Heckscher Park, as well as within the grounds of the park.

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza
A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Much like previous years, the festival will have a number of returning vendors, but there will be some new faces, according to Ellen O’Brien, executive director of the chamber. Those include vendors who make birdhouses, sea glass jewelry and more. And for the first time in many years, the festival will feature a farmers’ market.

“It’s always changing,” she said in an August phone interview. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Some of the main attractions include four stages of live entertainment, a beer and wine tent, a world-class carnival, two international food courts, a Sunday main stage dedicated to youth talent and more.

O’Brien said that tens of thousands of people frequent the fall festival each day. She also said she’s heard that the festival’s grossed 200,000 park-goers in one weekend.

The chamber’s always on the hunt for new vendors, but space does fill up fast. People learn about the festival through different venues, O’Brien said.

“I think it’s word-of-mouth,” she said. “I think it’s got a mind of its own at this point.”

Those interested in attending the festival can take the Long Island Rail Road to Huntington. There’s free parking at the LIRR train station during that weekend, and round-trip shuttles will run all day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., for $1, on Saturday and Sunday, she said.

The festival begins Friday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m., and that night will feature a carnival, food court and music on stage. The fun will continue Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and that day will include vendors, music and shows, a food court and a carnival.

The same activities will be available the following day, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. And Monday, the festival wraps up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information and to get involved in this year’s festival, call (631) 423-6100 or visit www.lifallfestival.com.

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