Tags Posts tagged with "Garden"

Garden

A peek into the closed garden along Terryville Road, currently covered in weeds. Photo by Kyle Barr

Overgrown with weeds, the lone park on Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station looks forsaken. Where students once grew plants for harvest, now the only thing cultivated there are weeds.

A peek into the closed garden along Terryville Road, currently covered in weeds. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though that could change, if local civic leaders manage to get the community involved.

“One day, I said to myself, maybe we can get this going again,” Sal Pitti, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association said.

The community garden, as it’s known, is owned by the Comsewogue school district, though it has been unused for years, according to Pitti.

The civic has asked community members for aid in repairing the garden, located just north of St. Gerard Majella Church on the other side of the street. The garden already contains an existing greenhouse, planter boxes, a gazebo and shed, though they have been unused for several years.

Susan Casali, associate superintendent at Comsewogue, said the property had been taken care of in the past by the Comsewogue Youth Center for years, but suddenly ceased operations several years ago. She added the district is looking forward to having the community revitalize the small patch of greenery along Terryville Road.

“The school district is very excited to have the community revitalize the garden and we have spoken to Sal and Ed about what we can do to help make the project a success and beautify the community,” she said.

Pitti and the civic are looking for a rotating cast of aid, with the civic president saying he did not wish for “the same five people to be doing the work every two weeks.”

The garden has been mowed enough to keep the grass from getting too long, but vines currently strangle the garden’s surrounding fence. On the inside, the greenhouse stands intact along with flower boxes, but those have similarly been surrounded by weeds.

Ed Garboski, the vice president of the civic, posted to the Comsewogue Community Group Facebook page asking if any community members would be interested in volunteering. Jennifer Dzvonar, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, said she would look into ways her group could help, while Rob DeStefano, school district board member, said he would look into getting Cub Scout Pack 354 families involved in aiding the project. Other community members mentioned getting local Girl Scout troops on board as well.

While Garboski expects they will gather enough interest and volunteers for the initial cleanup, what they truly require is people dedicated to weekly maintenance.

“Our future hope is to create a location our kids can use for school-related activities of all capacities, as well as a place our senior community members may relax,” Garboski said.

Once the project is up and running, Pitti said they could potentially donate the food they produce to local churches for soup kitchens or other such outreach programs.

Those who are interested in assisting in the project can visit the civic’s website at www.PJSTCA.org and send an email with one’s information and availability.

by -
0 1651
Linda Nuszen, Maryann Natale and Janet D'Agostino, parents who have lost children to opioid addiction, during an event dedicating a new garden at St. Charles Hospital May 18. Photo by Kyle Barr

They say it’s becoming impossible to walk through a crowd and not find at least one person who hasn’t been affected by the opioid crisis. On May 18 a group of more than 50 people, nearly all of whom have lost loved ones, or at least experienced the strain of a loved one having gone through the throws of addiction, gathered at St. Charles Hospital for the unveiling of a new “Remembrance and Reflection Garden” just outside the Infant Jesus Chapel on hospital grounds.

The idea started with Port Jefferson resident Marcia Saddlemire, whose daughter Nicole passed away as a result of opioid addiction in 2015. She said she didn’t want to leave the memory of her daughter as just an opioid addict.

“I was getting angry watching the news, when they say so many died from overdose in Suffolk County this year, I said dammit, she’s not a statistic, she’s a person, she has a name and a life,” Saddlemire said. “All the mothers agree with this, they don’t want to grow up to be addicts. This is not what they wanted from their lives, they had dreams, they had goals.”

Stones dedicated to families affected by opioid addiction in a new garden at St. Charles Hospital. Photo by Kyle Barr

Saddlemire said she didn’t have the connections or know-how to create such a project, so she managed to get in contact with three women — Janet D’Agostino, Maryann Natale and Linda Nuszen — all of whom belong to multiple anti-opioid organizations and support groups. They gathered together to plan and create the new garden.

“We want it to be public — we don’t want to hide it,” said Natale, whose son Anthony died of an overdose. “We want them to know it’s an epidemic. This garden also helps those families who are going through such time with an addict.”

St. Charles Hospital was chosen as the location for the garden because of its existing programs fighting opioid addiction, according to the mothers. The hospital has 40 beds that are allotted for chemical dependency rehabilitation, 10 for supervised detoxification for adults and four for detoxification of adolescents age 12 to 18. Jim O’Connor, the executive vice president of St. Charles Hospital, said administration expects to receive another 10 beds for detoxification services. He said he also expects to develop an outpatient center at the hospital for addicts who need ongoing, comprehensive care in the next several years.

“We are honored that these families have chosen St. Charles Hospital as the site for this very special garden, as St. Charles is committed to hosting hospital programs which combat Suffolk County’s current addiction crisis,” O’Connor said.

Stones dedicated to families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction in a new garden at St. Charles Hospital. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nearly all work for the project was donated by local businesses. The garden includes stones engraved with the names of victims of opioid addiction and quotes from their families. Ron Dennison and his son Alan from Bohemia-based Long Island Water Jet donated their time to create a heart sign featured in the garden. The sign features large words like “forgiveness” and “understanding” along with small words like “pain” and “fear,” to show positive emotions overcoming the negative.

Dennison’s daughter, Sarah, went through the St. Charles rehab program when she became addicted to opioids. She is out of the program now, and she has a daughter named Serenity.

“When your kids are addicted, you deny it, you deny it, you deny it,” the elder Dennison said as he fought to speak through tears. “And then one day you wake up you say, ‘what is going on here.”

Nuszen and her family founded Look Up for Adam, a foundation dedicated to her son who died from an overdose in 2015. Her organization helps to raise awareness.

“So many people don’t know how to show up for our loved ones,” she said. “So many people don’t know how to be themselves, or how to be here for each other. So now that we can come here and have a place where we’re not isolated — so they come here and know they’re not alone, that there are people who care about them.”

Tranquility Garden owner Walter Becker sits on a bench in his Mount Sinai backyard. File photo

On July 9, visit private gardens in Mattituck and Mount Sinai, open to the public rain or shine, through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to each garden is $7, benefiting the Garden Conservancy, and children 12 and under are free.

Tranquility Garden is located at 42 Jesse Way, Mount Sinai.

The Becker garden can be described as an explosion of color, fragrance, sound, and texture. Hundreds of perennials, shrubs, trees and annuals are combined with water features, lawn art and recently relocated garden trails that allow the visitor to enter the owner’s vision of an impressionistic garden painting. Unique shrubs and flowers and winding paths permit the visitor to stroll and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Visit www.opendaysprogram.org, or call 1-888-842-2442 for more information.

Volunteers from National Grid worked to improve the community garden in Huntington Station on Wednesday, April 20. Photo from Wendy Ladd

Everything’s coming up roses in Huntington Station, thanks to volunteers who spent last Wednesday afternoon working on improvements to the Gateway Park Community Organic Garden.

In honor of Earth Day, more than 70 volunteers from energy company National Grid’s Power to Serve program worked to develop a drainage system, clean up debris and plant flowers.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) thanked the volunteers for their efforts, including a new rain garden “that will make the garden more environmentally efficient and enjoyable for the many gardeners and children who attend the educational programs there.”

Many other local legislators were present at the scene, including Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) and Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport). Lupinacci also gave National Grid’s President Ken Daly a proclamation for the volunteer work.

The community garden on New York Avenue, at Lowndes Avenue, covers more than an acre and has 115 garden beds for families to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Food grown there is also donated to local food pantries.

According to National Grid, flooding had been an issue in the garden, so the company worked with the town to develop a drainage plan to capture the runoff and prevent flooding in the raised planting beds. Volunteers hand-dug a 4,000-foot trench to install an underground drainage system and put down rocks to capture runoff and direct that water into the newly planted rain garden.

Rain gardens provide environmental benefits, as they capture and clean rainwater before it enters the groundwater system.

Volunteers also planted colorful moisture-tolerant plants, removed litter and weeded the garden.

The effort came “at a perfect time for Huntington Station, with two redevelopment projects underway and renewed community support for revitalization,” Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a nonprofit geared toward smart growth, said in a statement. “Tangible improvements including a new rain garden were made from the National Grid volunteers and gave a lift to the garden and the Huntington Station community.”

by -
0 577
A fairy house (Bayport Flower House). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven’s annual Home & Garden Show welcomed spring early last weekend. More than 1,400 people visited the event at the Holtsville Ecology Site that featured over 30 local vendors offering a plethora of home improvement ideas. In addition, free adult educational workshops and hands-on classes for children were offered.

Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton
Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The event will continue on March 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and March 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 per adult, children 16 and under are free. For more information, call 631-758-9664, ext. 18.

Adult workshops, Saturday, March 19
11:30 a.m. — Guide Dog Foundation/America’s VetDogs with Susan Stevens, Certified Health Coach
1 p.m. — Tree Care & Organic Options for the Homeowner by Evan Dackow of Jolly Green
2:30 p.m. — Composting by Mike DesGaines of  TOB Dept of Waste Management
4 p.m. — Dahlias, the Bloom With Many Faces by Joe Lysik and Joe Bonomo
5:30 p.m. —  Caring for Your Houseplants by April Perry, Ecology Staff

Kids Workshops, Saturday, March 19
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Recycled Birdfeeder Activity by Nicole Pocchiare of TOB Dept of Waste Management
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Water Conservation Craft by Molly Hastings — Environmental Educator/Park Ranger, TOB

Adult workshops, Sunday, March 20
11:30 a.m. — Hydrangeas on Long Island by Judy Ogden, Ogden’s Design & Plantings Inc.
1 p.m. — Herbs in the Kitchen by Anne Marie O’Neil,  President of HALI
2:30 p.m. — The Carmen’s River: An Amazing Natural Beauty by John Cardone, author and photographer
4 p.m. — TBA

Kids Workshops, Sunday, March 20
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Kelly Smith, Ecology Site horticulturist
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Rosa Goncalves, Ecology Site horticulturist

Please note: Kid’s classes while supplies last and adult workshops subject to change.

by -
0 1437
A cold frame is the perfect way to get a jump on spring gardening. Stock photo

By Ellen Barcel

When I was a kid, my father always started his tomato (and other) plants indoors as seedlings and then, as the weather warmed, gradually moved them outdoors to harden them off. He did this by first moving them to a cold frame and then finally out into the garden itself.

What exactly is a cold frame and how is it different from a greenhouse? A cold frame is a small structure, with a transparent roof, like a miniature greenhouse. It’s built low to the ground, just high enough to accommodate the new, baby plants. When the weather becomes unexpectedly cold or very rainy, the cold frame keeps the plants warm and dry.

On an unexpectedly hot day in early spring, my father would go out to the cold frame and prop the “roof” open so the temperature wouldn’t become too hot for the little plants. He’d make sure to close the cold frame at night so low night temperatures wouldn’t shock the plants. Once the weather had warmed enough, especially overnight, he’d then move the plants to their permanent home in the garden.

So, think of a cold frame as a transition from the protection of the house or greenhouse where the seedlings are started to the various weather conditions outside — a way of prolonging the growing season.

Cold frames can be bought from nursery supply stores or catalogues or can be homemade. The size depends on how many baby plants you hope it will hold. Usually, it is two or three feet deep by four or five feet wide, depending on the space available and six to 12 inches high.

To make one using leftover materials around your house, use leftover lumber to create the sides of the rectangle, placing them directly on the ground. Then use an old window and attach it to one of the longer sides in the back with hinges so that the window can be propped up to allow excess heat out. If you decide to build your own cold frame, there are a number of videos online that give you detailed instructions.

Yes, you should place your cold frame in a sunny location (a south-facing location is ideal) or you’ll find that your plants will become very leggy. Since it will also protect against heavy rain, make sure the location is one where water doesn’t pool.

Does every gardener need a cold frame? Not necessarily — only if you like to start seedlings indoors to get a jump on spring gardening. If you prefer to buy from your local nursery, then it will have plants out when it is warm enough to plant them directly in the garden.

What’s the difference between a cold frame and a greenhouse then? A greenhouse is a much larger structure, usually designed to grow plants year round or at least overwinter them. A hothouse is a greenhouse with temperature control (heat in winter) to keep plants warm enough while a cool house is a greenhouse used in a hot (desert) environment to protect them from the hot outside temperature, cooling them as needed.

The temperature in a greenhouse is adjusted (frequently automatically with a thermostat) to make sure that the plants are kept at a given temperature. The only adjustment the gardener does to a cold frame is opening the glass to let out excessive heat on a warm spring day. It’s a transition and not intended for long-term growing of plants.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

by -
0 680
Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Holidays are a time when people enjoy a rest, take a vacation from work and like to celebrate special occasions. But, holidays can also serve as markers for gardeners, a calendar of sorts, reminding them what needs to be done and when.

February 2 is Groundhog Day, a day in midwinter where whimsy takes over and the rodent “predicts” either an early spring (as this year) or six more weeks of winter. In any event, February is the perfect time to check out the gardening catalogues, plan your future garden and start your hardier crops indoors in a sunny location. Check the seed packages to see how many weeks before moving them outdoors you should sow the seeds. Cuttings from early flowering shrubs, like forsythia, can be made in February and brought inside to force early flowers.

Poinsettias can be toxic to children and pets, so place them out of reach during the Christmas holidays. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Poinsettias can be toxic to children and pets, so place them out of reach during the Christmas holidays. Photo by Ellen Barcel

March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, is the traditional start of the pea planting season. Of course, it’s really important to check the weather and the soil conditions. Peas are one crop that prefers cool weather but can’t grow in the extreme cold we usually have on Long Island in mid-March. Think of this as a heads-up to get ready to plant as soon as the soil is workable and warm enough.

Easter is a holiday when people tend to bring forced plants, grown in nurseries, into the house. Be really careful here as lilies, while traditional for the season, are toxic to cats. Even the water that the cut flowers are placed in can cause series health issues for them if they drink it; so keep lilies away from your cats. Generally, plant Easter gift plants in the garden as soon as possible but usually after the blooms have faded — so you can enjoy them in the house.

Memorial Day (some people say Mother’s Day, which is a bit earlier) is usually the start of really warm weather, so that tender annuals, such as tomatoes and herbs such as basil and dill can be moved outdoors. Marjoram and summer savory will also die in a late frost; so wait till the weather is warm enough.

Fourth of July is usually considered as the last date in the growing season that perennial flowers, like Montauk daisies and mums, can be pruned back and still complete a flowering cycle, blooming in very late summer to autumn. The rule of thumb is to start pruning them when green buds appear in spring, and stop 100 days before bloom time. That is usually July 4.

Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Labor Day is generally the last day in the growing season that second (or third) season crops can be planted. The first frost day on Long Island is generally considered to be early to mid-November; so count backward from that day for the exact planting time, based on the number of days each plant takes to mature. Some varieties of bush beans will produce a crop in 50 to 60 days, which means plant them in early September, that is, Labor Day for a crop before frost. Also, very tender houseplants should start to be brought indoors if they have summered outside. Particularly watch the low night temps.

By Columbus Day all your houseplants should be indoors. Move tender shrubs or small trees like figs to an unheated garage once the leaves fall. Lift tender bulbs and store them in a cool dry place once the leaves have all died back to the ground.

Thanksgiving, late November, is usually the last time you can plant spring bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, etc, outside. Those and other spring bulbs can actually be planted as long as the ground is not frozen. If you miss the cutoff date, consider storing them in the fridge till spring.

Christmas is a time when many decorative plants are used in the house. Be particularly careful with indoor plants, such as poinsettias, which can harm both young children and pets if ingested. And we all know that little kids and pets put everything in their mouths.

While the above are generalities, always take into consideration the actual conditions at any given time. If a sudden cold front is predicted for mid-September, make sure that your houseplants are indoors. If the ground is still frozen in early April, then you just can’t plant your early/cool weather plants yet.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

by -
0 1028
Tree hibiscus do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

 

Last week we took a look at some specific plants that can grow in small spaces. Since there are many options, we’ll take a look at a few more this week.

Tree hibiscus do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Tree hibiscus do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

A wide variety of vegetables can be grown in pots or tubs including string beans, cucumbers (with a trellis) and squash. Remember to replant for a second crop when the plants cease bearing. String beans, for example, can continue to grow well into the fall.

Roses can also be grown in tubs (medium-sized plants) or window boxes (for tiny rose plants). Like herbs, roses need sun; so select a location for your pots, rock garden etc. that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Miniature roses come in a wide variety of colors: ‘Sun Sprinkles’ is a bright yellow, ‘Hot Tamale’ is a gorgeous mix of deep pink and yellow, ‘Cinnamon Girl’ is a burgundy and ‘Innocence’ is the palest shade of pink, almost white.

Remember to check your rose plants for thorns. If the one you select has a lot of them, make sure you locate it where someone won’t trip and hurt themselves. Miniature roses are prone to the same problems that medium and large rose bushes are, namely black spot (a fungal disease) and aphids. So, you need to take the same care that you would if growing a full-sized plant, that is, use a rose spray unless the variety you select specifically says disease resistant. Also, avoid watering the leaves — aim the hose at the soil. Keeping the leaves dry helps to prevent fungal diseases. If you have a deer problem, make sure that the rose bushes are planted where the deer can’t reach them.

Since roses prefer soil that is only slightly acidic (6.5) to neutral (7), growing roses in pots works well from the soil pH since most potting soil is closer to neutral. If you decide to plant your small roses in your garden soil, test it first. If it is very acidic, you need to add lime.

String beans do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel
String beans do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

In addition to shrub roses, consider a tree rose — a wide variety of colors are available — which can be grown in a large tub. Tree hibiscus also does well in tubs.

If you have enough space on an open porch, deck or patio, you can grow dwarf evergreen trees. Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea clauca) is a sturdy evergreen that grows well in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 8. This dense, slow growing tree prefers full sun and because of its small size fits into small spaces as well as large tubs. Putting a pair on either side of an entrance way gives a formal appearance. You can even decorate with small Christmas lights and ornaments come the holidays. It can be pruned into a topiary if you wish. While the tree can reach 10 feet tall, it’s such a slow grower that it will not usually be a problem for 25 to 30 years.

Squash plants do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Squash plants do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Dwarf deciduous trees grow well in tubs. Dwarf fruit trees provide flowers in the spring and fruit in summer or fall. ‘Juliet Dwarf Cherry,’ for example, grows just five to eight feet tall, is self-pollinating and does well in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 7 (Long Island is zone 7). Because of their small size, it’s easy to prune them and easy to put netting to protect the fruit from hungry birds. Other dwarf trees include dwarf apple, pear and fig. Dwarf lime, lemon and orange can be grown outdoors in summer but must be moved indoors in the colder weather.

Bonsai: If you’re really into gardening as a hobby, consider bonsai, plants deliberately kept miniature by root and branch pruning. Bonsai are grown in small containers, but, a warning, this hobby is for the dedicated gardener as it requires a fair amount of work and knowledge. Deciduous plants such as Japanese red maple make for beautiful bonsai but must also be wintered outdoors, in a protected area, as the bonsai version needs a period of rest just like the full-sized plant.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

by -
0 582
Coleus looks stunning in a decorative planter. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Last week we took a look at how you can turn your need to garden, even in tiny places, into a reality. We looked at some generalities then. Now, we’ll take a look at some specific plants that can be grown in small spaces.

Flowering annuals
Any number of flowering annuals can be grown in hanging baskets, including hanging geraniums, petunias, chenille plants and fuchsia. Look for plants that trail down like nasturtium or sweet potato vine. But you can also grow herbs in hanging baskets, perhaps even mixed in with the ornamentals.

Full-sized tomato plants can be grown in a large tub or specially designed planter while grape or cherry tomatoes can be grown in hanging baskets. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Full-sized tomato plants can be grown in a large tub or specially designed planter while grape or cherry tomatoes can be grown in hanging baskets. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Hostas
Hostas are wonderful plants for a shady area. They come in a wide variety of sizes, so select carefully if you have a tiny place. One of my favorites is ‘Mouse Ears,’ but there are many tiny hostas, some variegated. Consider ‘Blue Mouse Ears,’ which grows to eight inches tall; ‘Chartreuse wiggles,’ a 10-inch-tall plant with narrow golden leaves; or ‘Bedazzled’ just eight inches tall with blue green leaves trimmed in yellow.  ‘Crumb Cake’ is just four inches tall. Most will spread, easily two or three times their height. They can be grown in a small rock garden or a small container or around the edges of a larger planter.

Dwarf hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are beautiful shrubs filled with colorful and long lasting flowers. But, be very careful here. Some hydrangeas can easily reach 10 to 15 feet tall or more. In general, Hydrangea paniculata tend to be large shrubs or small specimen trees; however, there are dwarf varieties. Again, oakleaf hydrangeas tend to be large shrubs, but ‘Ruby Slippers’ is a dwarf variety that reaches just three to four feet tall and produces flowers that come out pink and deepen to red as the summer progresses. They grow in full sun to partial shade. The flowers will not turn blue, however, in acidic soil.

Tomatoes
Tomato plants are divided into two types of plants: indeterminate, that is, vining plants that continue to grow throughout the growing season, and determinate plants, bush-type plants that flower at the end of each branch and cease growing. Indeterminate plants can be grown in large pots or tubs since they have the room to produce a large root system. Determinate plants do better in a smaller hanging basket since there is a smaller amount of soil in hanging baskets. Cherry tomatoes are ideal for hanging baskets. I’ve even seen them growing in outdoor restaurants, both functional and decorative. Put one or two per basket, possibly interspersed with herbs or flowers. Remember the fertilizer since tomatoes are heavy feeders.

A sweet potato vine spills over a large planter. Photo by Ellen Barcel
A sweet potato vine spills over a large planter. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Herbs
Herbs are great for a small garden since most of them are small plants to start with. Most herbs prefer a sunny location; so take this into consideration when selecting a planting location. Herbs can be grown in pots, even grouped together in a large pot, but a really great place is in a sunny window box. If the window box(es) are located outside your kitchen window, so much the better. Just open your window and pick the herbs you need.

Small herbs include sage (some are larger than others, for example, pineapple sage can easily reach two feet tall, and has beautiful red flowers while common sage is smaller), thyme (common thyme, lemon thyme, lime thyme, orange thyme, red creeping thyme, French thyme, etc.), parsley [curly parsley, flat leaf parsley, Chinese parsley (cilantro), etc.], mint (chocolate mint, orange mint, spearmint, banana mint, variegated mint, pineapple mint, apple mint, etc.). Note that orange mint has a hint of an orangey flavor, pineapple sage a hint of a pineapple flavor, etc.

Basil, chives, dill and oregano are a few other herbs that you can grow in a window box. Scented geraniums have the advantage of pretty flowers as does nasturtium.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

The Kousa dogwood fruit has a surprising sweet tropical flavor. Stock photo

By Ellen Barcel

Well, it’s finally winter with real winter weather. However, I just heard on the news that the first hurricane of 2016 has formed — yes, I know they don’t normally start until June 1 and the last time a hurricane formed in January was in 1938. According to CNN, it’s only the fourth known hurricane to arrive in January since records have been kept starting in 1851. Weather has been really weird this past year. The cherry tree I wrote about in December was still blooming on January 1. It will be interesting to see what spring brings.

Passionflower vines produce fruit late in the growing season. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Passionflower vines produce fruit late in the growing season. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Well, now that the cold weather is finally here (sort of), we can’t really do much in the way of gardening, except, perhaps repair some tools or clean out the garage. But, it is a great time to put your feet up by the fireplace, look out the window at the snow outside, leaf through the gardening catalogues which invariably come this time of year and plan your new garden. Perhaps you wish to make some jams or jellies from produce in your garden but want to focus on landscaping plants. Here are some possibilities. All make unique jellies and jams.

Kousa dogwood
Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), Japanese dogwood, is sometimes recommended as a replacement for our local dogwood (C. florida), since it is more resistant to a tree blight, anthracnose, which can kill our local species. One of the nice things about Kousa dogwood is that the fruit is edible and can be used to make jelly — I’ve tasted it and it really is good. There are a number of recipes online. The berries can also be used to make muffins. The tree does well in our acidic soil and produces beautiful white flowers in spring. It’s a small tree so won’t take over your landscaping.

Beautyberry
Like the Kousa dogwood, the beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) bush is deciduous. It is known for its brightly colored purple berries that can remain on the plant into winter providing winter interest. The berries, which have a metallic luster, will be eaten by birds, but they don’t appear to be their favorite food. Squirrels, raccoons and other small animals seem to enjoy them. The berries are edible and can be used to make jelly.

Beautyberry produces berries in the summer, but the berries stay on the plant even when leaves have fallen and winter snows fall. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Beautyberry produces berries in the summer, but the berries stay on the plant even when leaves have fallen and winter snows fall. Photo by Ellen Barcel

I planted the bush just because I like the look of the berries. The plant can grow four to eight feet tall and about as wide. It prefers light shade and a well-drained soil. This is not a problem with Long Island’s generally sandy soil. While the plant can be a specimen plant, a row of them makes an interesting, informal hedge. Remember, however, that since it is deciduous, the screening benefits will only be provided during the growing season. While it is mildly drought tolerant, it does need about an inch of water a week. So, if we go for more than a week or so without rain, water should be supplemented.

Passionflowers
Passionflowers are native to both the Americas and Asia, there being in the neighborhood of 500 species in the genus. Most have edible fruit that can be made into jelly. The vines, depending on variety, can grow up to 30 feet tall, so this is a plant that needs a trellis of some sort or can be grown as a trailing plant in a hanging basket. The flowers of Passiflora incarnata are exotic in appearance. Generally, they are purple, but some are purple and white. P. alata ‘Ruby Glow’ is purple and dark maroon — absolutely gorgeous. The plant is hardy in zones 5 to 9, and does best in full to partial sun.

Yes, there are a number of other landscaping plants that can be used to yield jelly, such as roses and sunflowers. You can also use the flowers of Queen Anne’s lace and dandelions. Remember to always check out whether the flower you are interested in is edible. If in doubt, don’t consume it.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.