Tags Posts tagged with "Flowers"

Flowers

Sup. Losquadro with Jen Carlson

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro recently assisted with the distribution of donated flowers and plant material from the Holtsville Ecology Site to be used for beautification projects across Brookhaven Town.

Bea Roberto with Sup. Losquadro

Grown in on-site greenhouses, the flowers and plant material are requested by local non-profit organizations, civic groups, school districts and hospitals. Some groups choose to borrow the plants for decoration at specific events; others use the plants to enhance community gardens or beautify local parks. Each year, Mather Hospital requests a donation of seasonal and sensory plants which are used in hands-on gardening experiences to advance healing among patients.

“The Ecology Site staff do such a wonderful job propagating, growing and caring for a beautiful variety of flowers, from annuals and perennials to flats and house plants,” said Superintendent Losquadro. “We are happy to provide them to assist local groups and organizations in their efforts to beautify our Town.”

Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto said, “This program allows us to put color in our community and beautify our parks. Especially now, a program like this means a lot. Being able to again plant flowers in our public spaces shows that Brookhaven is coming alive after more than a year that’s been hard.”

Rocky Point Civic Association President Jennifer Carlson said, “Two years ago, I became the park steward to the park behind Tilda’s Bakery (Veteran’s Park) in Rocky Point. I requested flowers and it makes a huge impact on the park. The addition of the flowers welcomes visitors and makes the park look more cared for. When the park looks cared for, people are more respectful of the space.”

Flower and plant donation requests can be sent to Superintendent Losquadro, 1140 Old Town Road, Coram, NY 11727. Requests are approved based on availability.

Photos courtesy of Town of Brookhaven

Passerbys accept free flowers as part of the Society for American Florists Petal It Forward campaign from Flowers on Broadway. Photo by Kyle Barr

On a busy Wednesday morning, as people moved in between the parking lot and Planet Fitness along Route 25A in Rocky Point, two young women held fistfuls of flowers, arms outstretched. 

Carmen Pettus from Sunshine Barre Studio accepts flowers from Li Guo. Photo by Kyle Barr

As part of the trade association Society of American Florists’ Petal It Forward campaign, Rocky Point flower shop Flowers on Broadway looked to make people’s early day commutes a little more colorful. 

Taylor Wagner and Li Guo, who both work for Flowers on Broadway, handed out bouquets to those passing by. Some looked confused at them as they presented the flowers, others questioned if the pair wanted anything for the flower arrangements. They were free, they said, and would get two so they could pass one onto the next person they see.

One man offered a bouquet said, “I don’t do flowers,” while others, like Carmen Pettus, the owner of SunShine Barre Studio in Rocky Point, said the flowers “made my day.”

Wagner, a junior designer at the flower shop, said she’s often surprised how many people seem estranged by the thought of free flowers.

“We went to the Blue Grass concert last weekend, and we were handing out flowers, and most of the guys said, ‘No, I don’t want flowers,’ while a lot of the women said, ‘Oh yes, flowers,’ she said, laughing to herself. “It’s amazing, it’s just a bunch of daisies guys.”

Passerbys accept free flowers as part of the Society for American Florists Petal It Forward campaign from Flowers on Broadway. Photo by Kyle Barr

Over the course of the day, the duo stopped at three places, the RP Planet Fitness, outside the Pompei Pizza in Rocky Point and by Branchineli’s Pizzaria in Miller Place. By the end of the day, they had given out 300 bouquets to around 150 people.

Stephanie Navas, the owner of Flowers on Broadway, learned about the yearly event being put on by the flower society the past several years.

“We wanted to give back to the community that’s supported us all these years with a small act to brighten their day,” Navas said. “Through the positive effect of flowers, we hope to make someone’s day special, and provide a much-needed moment of calm amidst the hectic pace of life.”

Flowers from a boxwood hedge. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

When botanists speak of flowering plants, many people think of really showy plants such as rhodies or Kwanzan cherries or Montauk daisies. But most of the plants we commonly grow are all flowering plants; it is just the flowers are really tiny, sometimes so tiny we hardly notice them — really inconspicuous. Nonflowering plants include ferns (reproduce by spores), conifers (cones) and moss (spores).

Oak trees

Like many flowering plants, the oak has separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Note that this is true of squash. Some flowering plants, like holly and gingko, have male flowers on one plant and female on another. To get those beautiful red berries on holly, you must have at least one male plant in the area. And, some flowering plants have male and female organs in the same flower, like tomatoes. Now, back to the oak tree. There are hundreds of species of oak trees. The long-lived tree is a symbol of strength.

In 2004, the oak was adopted as America’s national tree following a vote hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation. Oak trees do extremely well in Long Island’s acidic soil so grow here natively. Oak trees produce male flowers known as catkins, a string of tiny flowers hanging off the branches, before the leaves appear, usually in April. People allergic to oak pollen soon begin to have symptoms. The female flowers, which are incredibly tiny, come out after that. They are so small, notes the University of Tennessee Extension Service that they “require a magnifying glass for identification.” Then, the fruit of the flowers, that is the acorns, form developing over the summer and falling to the ground in fall. Very few acorns survive to sprout since they serve as food for wildlife. Unprocessed, acorns are rich in tannic acid and are not edible by humans. They can be processed and made edible, however. I once had acorn cookies, made by an expert. To my taste, they were dry and not very tasty, but definitely edible.

Dogwood

Looking at dogwood, the white (or pink) flowers we see are actually not flowers but modified leaves known as bracts. The flowers are the really tiny yellow centers. This is also true of poinsettias. The showy red petals are not petals at all but modified leaves. A hint, when selecting poinsettias, look for ones with the yellow centers (the flowers) still tightly closed. Ones that are open and spreading pollen are more mature and won’t last as long in the house.

Boxwood

Another plant that has really tiny flowers is the boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) hedge. The cold hardy, evergreen varieties are native to Europe.

According to the American Boxwood Society, the first planting of boxwood in the Americas was on Long Island’s own Shelter Island at Sylvester Manor in 1653. Boxwood plants are usually used as hedge plants due to how easily they can be pruned to keep them at a given size. Without pruning they can easily reach 15 or more feet. Because boxwood are usually pruned to a given height or shape, we rarely see the flowers that develop in June. Boxwood are so easy to prune, that very overgrown and woody hedges can be cut back almost to the ground, usually a foot or so, and they will grow and fill in nicely, rejuvenating them. The society notes that they do best in a soil pH that is only mildly acidic (6.5 to 7.2) through neutral to mildly alkaline. Despite this, it’s been my observation that boxwood planted near me do extremely well in any soil pH.

Although boxwood can be propagated from stem cuttings, I’ve had a number seed themselves on my property despite the fact that I’ve planted none. For more information on boxwood, go to The American Boxwood Society at www.boxwoodsociety.org. Many other trees and shrubs have very inconspicuous flowers including that of the maple (which sheds its seed pods, the “helicopters” or “whirlybirds” that seem to be everywhere) and mulberry. A really strange flower is that of the fig tree — the figs actually form around the flower so you virtually never see the flower itself. How’s that for tiny?

Next week, not only inconspicuous but unwanted flowers on common plants will be the topic.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

by -
0 2197
Fungus on dead tree stumps helps to break down the dead wood, returning the nutrients to the soil. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

One of the things that a gardener needs to do is to identify fungi on plants and take appropriate steps to control the fungi (if possible) if it is detrimental to the plant. But not all fungi will kill plants. Some just make the plant look bad. And some actually are beneficial.

In the past, I’ve had several trees which didn’t survive because of fungus. My beautiful mimosa trees died due to a fungus (mimosa wilt) which could not be stopped at the time. Leaves turned yellow in midsummer and dropped. The tree never sprouted the following growing season. The trees literally died within a few weeks.

A rust killed a mountain ash I had. I was really disappointed, and missed the beautiful orange berries the tree bore and which persisted on the tree well into winter. Mountain ash is a native of North America and has white flowers in spring.

Cedar apple rust can also be found on trees on Long Island. It particularly attacks cedar, apple and crabapple trees. The fruiting body develops as a brownish growth on the tree. Then orange tentacles emerge from the growth. The rust is not fatal to the tree but definitely unsightly, almost looking like something out of a sci-fi movie. Remove the growth making sure to sterilize gardening tools afterwards, so as not to spread the pathogen to other trees.

Orange ‘tentacles’ emerge from the cedar apple rust fungus. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Orange ‘tentacles’ emerge from the cedar apple rust fungus. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Now for some generalities on fungal diseases and their prevention:

First of all, weak plants are more prone to getting a fungal disease than strong ones. So, make sure you feed and water your plants appropriately.

Plants that are crowded with no air circulation are also more prone to fungal diseases.

It’s better to water plants at ground level, especially in the evening, so leaves don’t stay wet overnight. A drip irrigation system works well sending water to the roots and not the leaves.

Look for fungus-resistant plants such as rust resistant apple and crabapple trees, tomatoes which are resistant to tomato blight, roses resistant to black spot, etc. The tomato blight, for example, will prevent you from getting a decent crop of tomatoes. So this one definitely falls in the bad category.

Know that some trees are prone to the fungal disease anthracnose, but generally it is more unsightly, than dangerous. Maples and catalpas in particular develop it in humid weather. The leaves look like they are covered with a white power. Unless the tree is very old and weak it will usually survive with no treatment at all. So, this is a case of ugly, but not really dangerous. When anthracnose develops on the native dogwood (Cornus florida), however, it is much more serious. This is why some recommend planting other varieties of dogwood.

Replace plants that are prone to fungal diseases with those with similar attributes but which don’t contract certain diseases. For example, impatiens in recent years have been attacked by a fungus. They are annuals that do well and bring color to shady areas. Instead, plant coleus which are also annuals that do well and bring color to shady areas but are not prone to fungal diseases.

If you see a fungus growing on a live tree, check out that tree carefully. Usually large fungi only grow on dead or dying trees. I missed this important sign a number of years ago. An enormous section of one of my maple trees broke off the tree and landed across the street. An arborist gave me the bad news that my tree was dying and needed to be removed. I now check periodically to see if any large fungi are growing on my trees.

Now for the good: Some edible fungi, such as chicken fungi (Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus), grow on dead or dying trees or tree stumps. Be very careful here, as most fungi are not safe to eat. Make sure you check this out with an expert. Also, fungi with large, visible fruiting bodies help to break down dead wood, i.e., the cycle of nature, returning nutrients to the soil. Toad stools growing in the grass help to break down organic matter as well.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

‘Lily,’ Oil on Linen Board, by Daniel van Benthuysen of Huntington

By Talia Amorosano

On the sunny afternoon of Saturday, June 18, in conjunction with the beginning of summer, the juried art exhibition, Of a Botanical Nature, organized by the Smithtown Township Arts Council, opened at the Mills Pond House in St. James. For the first time this year, the general public was afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a gallery full of art representative of the intricacies of local and nonlocal flora. 

‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven
‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven

The exhibit, which will run through July 20, features 60 works of art from 49 artists, 22 of whom hail from various nonlocal areas of the country including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and California. The remaining 27 represent the Long Island and New York City area. 

The artists
Mark Attebery
Ross Barbera *
Arthur Bernstein *
Stephen Brucker
Carol Ceraso *
Lisa Conway
Caryn Coville *
Debra Crawford
Audry Deal-McEver
Granville C. Fairchild *
Margaret Farr
Beverly Fink
Ingrid Finnan
Kathy Folino
Elizabeth Fusco *
Janice Marie Gabriel *
Kristine Gaier
Kelsey Gallagher
Vivian Gattuso *
Maureen Ginipro *
Patricia Greenberg
Stella Grove
Jillian Hauck *
Katherine Hiscox *
Kathleen Hollan
David Jaycox Jr. *
Lynn Kinsela *
Amanda Lebel
Katherine Lechler *
Madeline Lovallo
Patricia Luppino *
Louis R. Mangieri *
Lucy Martin
Kelly McLeod
Gary Mulnix
Lois Perlman
Pat Proniewski
Judith Scillia
Irene Paquette Tetrault *
Monica Ray *
Lynne Rivellese *
Robert Roehrig *
Alisa Shea *
Gisela Skoglund *
Gunter Stern *
Susan Tango *
Daniel van Benthuysen *
Camille Warmington
Sharon Way-Howard *
*Long Island artists

The works that appear in the show were chosen by Juror Wendy Hollender, a botanical artist, illustrator and author who currently instructs botanical drawing classes at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. An accomplished illustrator, her work has been published in The New York Times and Good Housekeeping magazine and exhibited at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 

Regarding Hollender’s selection process, the executive director of STAC, Allison Cruz, said, “She really picked a broad range of artwork based in reality. She was looking more for realism, but she did take a couple of pieces that are more abstract.” Accordingly, Hollender awarded first and second place to artists whose works exemplify a command of a photorealistic style of portraying traditionally botanical subjects: respectively, Colorado-based artist Patricia Greenberg for her pencil drawing, “The Flower Loves the Rain,” and New York City-based artist Ingrid Finnan for her color illustration, “Blue Hubbard Squash.” These two artists will go on to participate in a winner’s show next year,  which will also be held at the Mills Pond House.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Margaret Farr for various botanical illustrations, Gary Mulnix for a larger-than-life wooden sculptural representation of “Lupine” and Lois Perlman for a richly saturated color illustration of a “Parrot Tulip.”

‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai
‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai

According to Cruz, this exhibit features a particularly wide range of artistic mediums. In addition to two-dimensional works in watercolor, acrylic, oil, wash on paper and colored pencil, the show includes six three-dimensional sculptural works made of bronze, black walnut wood, glass mosaic, steel and clay, among other materials.

Subject matter depicted ranges from close-up, scientific-looking views of individual flowers or plants with monochromatic backgrounds (Kelly McLeod’s “Wilted Alstroemeria,” Kathleen Hollan’s “Autumn Leaves”), to still life images of staged indoor plants (Katherine Hiscox’s “From the Garden,” Granville C. Fairchild’s “Reaching to Heaven”), to garden landscapes (Pat Proniewski’s “Morning Azaleas,” Carol Ceraso’s “Spring Affair”), to abstract representations of natural subjects (Lisa Conway’s “Grey Swan,” Arthur Bernstein’s “Sprout”).

However, all of the pieces in some way reflect the organic spontaneity of life in the natural world within the ordered structures of scientific classification, together forming a show that fosters an appreciation for the small examples of natural beauty that often go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives.

Cruz said, “There are a lot of watercolors by the nature of most of the flower illustrations, but it really is a broad range … I have everything in this show except photography and digital art. It’s a beautiful mix of media.”

The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present Of a Botanical Nature at the Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James through July 20. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. (closed July 3). Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.

‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit
‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit

by -
0 3904
A healthy crape myrtle in full bloom. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

There’s an old saying, “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” When the weather turned cold last autumn, I believed in tomorrow, that is, next spring, and believed that my plants going dormant would grow again as the weather warmed.

Well, going outside this spring, and looking at my plants with their new little green buds, I was particularly concerned that my beautiful crape myrtle showed no signs of life. As time went by, it became obvious that the plant didn’t survive. Although associated with the southern part of the country, the variety I planted was supposed to be cold hardy on Long Island, as it was rated for U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 6 and Long Island is zone 7. In addition, it had survived the previous two extremely cold winters — remember the polar vortex? So, why did it die?

The most likely answer is cold damage. I had noticed last summer that the plant didn’t look as healthy as it had in previous years. When temperatures drop below 10 degrees for any length of time, crape myrtle tends to die back down to the ground. By mid-May the plant should have begun sprouting, at least from the ground, but, it’s been a cool spring, so it’s possible that the recovery was just slow. As the warm weather really arrived, however, it still showed no signs of growth. That means that the roots died and the plant needed to be replaced.

To replace crape myrtle with more cold-tolerant varieties, there are some which are cold tolerant to zone 5. Consider:

— Pure white: ‘Natchez,’ which reaches 18 feet, or ‘Kiowa,’ which is considerably smaller at six to eight feet

— Deep red: ‘Okmulgee’ at eight feet; ‘Cherokee’ also at eight feet; ‘Tonto’ at just six to eight feet

— Lavender: ‘Zuni’ at 10 feet tall; ‘Blue Lavender’ at 16 feet; ‘Catawba,’ darkest violet purple; and ‘Apalachee, 20 feet, a pale lavender

— Watermelon or coral: ‘Tuskegee’ reaches 25 feet; ‘Miami’ also at 25 feet; ‘Comanche’ at 16 feet

— Pink: ‘Choctaw at 20 feet; ‘Hopi’ at just 8 feet tall

A close up of crape myrtle flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel
A close up of crape myrtle flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Note that the maximum heights indicated above refer to plants that have not died back to the ground over the winter. A crape myrtle that has the potential to reach 20 feet, will only do so if the top part of the tree doesn’t suffer from winter-kill.

Crape myrtle bloom in mid to late summer with a stunning array of flowers. Some varieties are bushier and some more tree-like. Once established they can tolerate some drought, but prefer a warm, humid climate. You’ll get the most flowers if planted in full sun. They do well in most soil types but prefer slightly acidic soil. Prune your crape myrtle in spring, removing any dead branches. Also remove succors during the growing season if they develop on tree-like plants. Some develop fungal diseases (powdery mildew or leaf spot). If yours develops any of these diseases, use an appropriate fungicide. The problem of root rot is usually not anything to be concerned about with our sandy soil, which easily drains.

Winter-kill affects many other plants, particularly Hydrangea macrophylla, which frequently die back to the ground in a very cold winter. The older varieties produce flowers on old wood; so if yours has died back to the ground, you’ll have lots of green leaves in summer but no flowers. When replacing old H. macrophylla, look for reblooming hydrangeas like ‘Endless Summer,’ which blooms on both old and new wood.

In a future column, we’ll take a look at other reasons why plants die unexpectedly. So, where am I off to now? A local nursery to replace my crape myrtle.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

Plant a row of beans every week or two to prolong bearing time. Photo from All-America Selections

By Ellen Barcel

Well, Mother’s Day has come and gone, a heads up that it’s time to start planting your more tender veggies. Plants that fall under this category include corn, tomatoes, certain herbs, beans, squash and melons.

Corn does well on Long Island, if you have enough room. You need enough plants so that they can pollinate the ears. For the home gardener, plant the corn in a square format. Ears grown on the edge of the square may not fully pollinate.

Tomatoes

Just about every gardener puts in a few tomato plants. When selecting plants put in several that are very early bearers, like Early Girl and Early Cascade (at approximately 55 days or so, you should have tomatoes by July) some that come in at a later time and some that bear fruit in late summer. Better Boy and Big Girl produce fruit in about 70 days — by the end of July. Beefstake tomatoes come in even later but are definitely worth the wait.

How soon you get tomatoes depends on how big the plants are that you select. If you buy plants that already have tiny green tomatoes on them, you’ve got a head start.

Remember that tomatoes are tender plants. They will not set fruit unless the night temperature is above 50 degrees, which is why the gardener is told not to put out tomato plants until after Mother’s Day (or better yet, Memorial Day). Night temperature above 75 degrees and day temperature above 85 to 90 tend to keep fruit from setting as well since high temperatures render the pollen no longer viable. Tomatoes are self-fertile so you can even grow one of each variety and not worry about having a second plant to pollinate the first.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders so apply fertilizer. Photo from All-America Selections
Tomatoes are heavy feeders so apply fertilizer. Photo from All-America Selections

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so make sure you either use sufficient compost or compost tea or a chemical fertilizer. Always follow manufacturer’s directions when using a chemical fertilizer. If a little is good, a lot is not necessarily better. You could burn the plants doing that.

Also remember to provide enough water for your tomato plants as well — not soggy, but evenly moist and well-drained soil is ideal. Don’t let the plants dry out.

Squash

Squash should also be planted now. There are many varieties, so consider what you and your family enjoy eating. There are two main groupings of squash, summer squash and winter squash. Summer squash are squash that are harvested in summer, when the rind is immature, soft. Summer squash include zucchini, yellow summer squash, pattypan squash and crookneck squash among others. Squash are low in calories and are great served with a tomato sauce. I steam them (sliced) in the microwave.

Squash can be grown in large containers. Since they are vining plants, they can grow up trellises or fences. They’re easy to grow in a variety of soil types and climates. They have both male and female flowers on the plant, so don’t be surprised if all of the flowers you see don’t produce fruit — the male ones just provide the pollen.

Winter squash are basically squash that are more mature than summer squash and have a hard rind that is not edible. Winter squash include butternut squash, acorn squash, hubbard squash, spaghetti squash (great served as a low-carb spaghetti replacement) and, of course, pumpkins. As with the summer squash, they are low in calories. My favorite way of preparing butternut squash is to cube it, simmer in chicken or beef broth with onions, thyme, salt and pepper and add in cooked sausage.

Green beans

It’s also time to begin planting your green beans. Don’t start beans inside as they don’t transplant well. Don’t plant them all at once, but row upon row every week or two until midsummer. This last planting should provide you with beans well into the fall. Plant them one-inch deep in full sun. Keep them evenly moist but in a well-drained area. A soil pH of 6 to 6.8 is ideal. Since this is only slightly acidic, you may need to add lime to your soil. Test your soil first.

There are basically two types of Phaseolus vulgaris, bush beans and pole beans. Pole beans need some sort of support, such as a trellis, while bush beans don’t. There are many varieties of each. In general, bush beans mature in 50 to 60 days while pole beans take 60 to 80 days. Like corn and squash, they are native to the Americas — particularly Mesoamerica and the Andes region. P. vulgaris comes in a variety of colors besides green, including purple and yellow. The yellow ones are commonly called wax beans or butter beans.

Tender herbs, like basil and cilantro as well as melons should be planted now as well.

All of these are ideal plants if you are gardening with children or grandchildren. They can check day by day to see how their plants are coming along. You may also be able to get them to eat more veggies — fresh and right out of their garden.

It is my personal preference to grow veggies and fruits organically and definitely without pesticides. If, however, you must use chemicals, read the package directions and follow them carefully. They will indicate how long before harvest you can still apply the chemicals and be safe eating the produce.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

by -
0 1058
White flowers from a catalpa tree put on quite a show in the evening. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Gardens reflect the personality of the gardener. Some gardeners like to grow specific colored flowers. In the past I’ve done columns on chocolate gardens, for example, and red, white and blue patriotic gardens and even gardens filled with red-leaved plants. Suppose you want a garden filled only with white flowers, which make a stunning contrast against the dark green of leaves. If you enjoy your garden in the evening, white flowers really stand out at night while the brightly colored flowers seem to fade into obscurity as the sun sets. Here are some suggestions for a garden filled with white blooms.

Spring

Flowers that bloom in the spring are generally shrubs and trees. If you have very acidic soil, like most of us do, consider white rhododendron and white azaleas. Both generally bloom in May.

Japanese lilac put on quite a show in the evening. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Japanese lilac put on quite a show in the evening. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Cornus florida is the native dogwood on Long Island. That means that not only will you have beautiful white flowers, but, since it is a native plant, you’ll have less work to do as it’s already adapted to our summer heat and winter cold. ‘Cloud 9’ flowering dogwood is an improved version of C. florida with larger white flowers.

Cornus kousa is also a white flowering dogwood. It blooms later in spring than the C. florida and tends to be a bit more disease resistant.

Rhododendrons do extremely well on Long Island. They thrive in our acidic soil and there are a number of rhodies with white flowers. ‘Baroness H. Schroder’ is an old cultivar, white with burgundy splotches. ‘Blanka’ has pale pink buds that open up to reveal white flowers. Other varieties are white with yellow throats.

Azaleas also do extremely well on Long Island. ‘Bloom-A-Thon White,’ ‘Girard’s Pleasant White’ and ‘Delaware Valley White’ are just a few of the many white varieties available. Some primarily white varieties have flowers tinged in pink.

The advantage of both white rhodies and white azaleas is that the shrubs are evergreens, making them ideal as foundation plants or plants to create a living wall.

Other white spring flowering shrubs include bridal wreath, viburnum and some varieties of white lilacs.

Summer

Montauk daisies put on quite a show in the evening. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Montauk daisies put on quite a show in the evening. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Come summer there are a number of white flowering plants. Big showy shrubs with large white flowers include a number of hydrangeas. Snowball hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) produce large white blooms early in the season. They are the native hydrangea to North America. Oakleaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia) are also native to North America and produce enormous white flowers. Their enormous leaves resemble those of the oak tree. The leaves of many varieties turn a deep burgundy in the fall.

Japanese white lilacs are deciduous shrubs. They bloom later in early summer, later than spring lilacs and produce clusters of delicate and fragrant white flowers.

If you’re looking for climbing plants, consider climbing hydrangeas with their delicate white flowers or moonflowers. Moonflowers are annuals, related to morning glories but they open in the evening, rather than during the day as morning glories do.

Other white flowered plants include varieties of astilbe, white geraniums and the really unique Peruvian daffodils. Consider also the white scented Nicotiana (flowering tobacco), which will provide a beautiful scent.

White roses are stunning in the garden and some will rebloom later in the season. ‘Wedding Dress’ is a ground cover rose while ‘Moonlight Melody’ is a shrub rose with single blooms. The latter blooms freely all summer long.

Fall

Peruvian daisies put on quite a show in the evening. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Peruvian daisies put on quite a show in the evening. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Fall is known for its blazing colors, trees and shrubs filled with yellow, orange and red leaves, but, fall also has some really nice white flowers. For fall, the ideal white flowering plants include Montauk daisies and some white varieties of mums.

Remember the rule of 100 when pinching back Montauk daisies and mums to make nice busy plants. You begin pinching them back when you first see little green leaves appear. Stop 100 days before expected bloom date. For both of these, that means stop around July 4th to give the plants time to form blossoms.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

Passionflower vines are a nice addition to a garden. File photo

By Ellen Barcel

Last week, we took a look at climbing plants in general and specifically annual vines. This week we’ll examine perennial vines, productive vines and vines to avoid.

Perennial vines
I love perennial plants since they’re a plant once and enjoy for many years thereafter plant. Perennial climbing or vining plants include:

Trumpet vines add some color to a garden. File photo
Trumpet vines add some color to a garden. File photo

Trumpet vines produce lots of orange colored, trumpet-shaped flowers. It needs little care but can get out of control, so be careful. It’s a vine that does well in some shade. The trumpet shape is a tip-off that it can attract hummingbirds.

Clematis is another vine that does well with some shade. There are several basic varieties, those that bloom in the spring and those that bloom later in the season. Know which one you have since this determines when you are able to prune it back if needed. The rule of thumb to control a plant’s size is to cut it back immediately after a flowering plant blooms, so as not to interfere with next year’s blooming cycle. Clematis are known for their beautiful flowers, making them ideal as decorative plants on a trellis.

Climbing hydrangeas are beautiful plants but can get very large since they grow up as well as sideways. Be prepared to prune it to the desired size and shape. It can take some shade, but the flowers appear where the sun reaches the plant. As a result, you will see lots of greenery closer to the ground and lovely white flowers up near the top. This is an ideal plant for a chimney, for example.

Native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) is native to the eastern part of the United States. It is much less aggressive and therefore easier to control than Asian wisterias. It’s a perennial, woody plant in the pea family. Like the Asian variety, it has clusters of purple flowers and grows in hardiness zones 5 to 9. In addition to being less aggressive, its flower clusters are smaller and the overall size of the plant is smaller.

Productive vines:
If you have limited space and want your vines to do double duty, consider vines that are productive.

Cucumbers are easy to grow and generally very productive. Plant them where their tendrils can grasp onto something, like a chain-link fence, a trellis or wire support of some sort. They do need plenty of water, so don’t let the plants dry out during times of summer drought. Cucumbers are annuals, so you need to replant them each year.

Clematis can be a good addition to the garden. File photo
Clematis can be a good addition to the garden. File photo

Another productive, and perennial, vine is the grape vine. See my column of March 10 for more detailed information on growing grapes. Make sure you know how you plan to use the grape so you can select the appropriate type (table grapes, jellies, wine, etc.)

Indeterminate tomato vines keep growing throughout the growing season. They keep setting fruit as long as the weather is mild enough and can get to be very large plants. Tomatoes need plenty of sun and are heavy feeders, so make sure you fertilize periodically.

Honeyberry is a vine that produces edible fruit as does the passionflower. I particularly like the unusual purple flowers of the passionflower and would grow the plant for its flowers alone.

Vines to avoid
There are a number of climbers that are not the best to include in your garden. English ivy is one. It takes over. Many years ago I planted a few tiny plants. I’m still pulling out this terribly invasive plant. It seems to have a mind of its own. While a “vine-covered cottage” may seem charming, you will probably regret planting this one. As a result of its nature, English ivy is on the Management List.

Another is the Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). It volunteered in my garden and, before I realized it, had grown through my stockade fence, breaking it. Once I thought I had removed it, for years later, I found tiny plants springing up where the seeds had dropped. While very pretty, with its red berries that break open to reveal yellow seed pods, it’s a real pain to control. It climbs by wrapping itself around things, like your good trees, strangling them. As a result of its extreme invasive nature it’s on Suffolk County’s Do Not Sell list.

Avoid the Oriental varieties of wisteria that, although beautiful, can become invasive. File photo
Avoid the Oriental varieties of wisteria that, although beautiful, can become invasive. File photo

A third vine that is difficult to control is the Oriental (Chinese and Japanese) varieties of wisteria. This one is filled with beautiful purple racimes of flowers, so is very impressive, but, it too, takes over the garden. If you insist on planting it, make sure you are ready with the pruning shears, so you can keep it under control. It’s a quick grower, which needs little care and seems to have no natural enemies (insects or disease wise). It sends out runners along the ground so can go out as well as up. I’ve seen abandoned houses with gardens gone to weed, but the wisteria is still growing beautifully, even attaching itself to power lines. As a result, it too is on Suffolk County’s Management List — technically legal but do you really want to plant it?

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.