Category: Uncategorized

A Winning Combination for Shade

Cornus kousa‚ÄîKorean Dogwood,  cv. Wolf Eyes

This is a terrific small variegated Dogwood that makes a perfect focal point in a shady garden.  The variegation holds up well and doesn’t burn or darken.  The white edges actually turn pinkish in the fall, giving the whole tree a lovely glow. The flowers are numerous, but small and creamy.  They last a long time, but are not as noticeable as some of the recent hybrids.  This is a tree to grow for its variegated leaves, which really light up a dark corner.

Asarum europaeum—European Ginger

If you are looking for an elegant, well behaved, low evergreen groundcover for full shade, this is a good one to try.  It grows 4-6″ tall with glossy dark green leaves, and spreads very slowly from rhizomes.  It likes moist soils high in organic matter, but once established it can withstand dry conditions.  In early spring it has a globular brownish flower that hangs down underneath the leaves, but you have to get down on your hands and knees to see it.  This is a great plant to place at the feet of rhododendrons and azaleas, or any shrubs in the woodland garden.


Astilbe chinensis—Chinese Astilbe

I have grown the original A. chinensis cv. ‚ÄòVisions’ (a strong dark pink with upright flower stalks) for many years and give it highest marks.  It seems sturdier than most of the A. arendsii hybrids on the market.  Mine is sited in moist, organic soils in part shade.  If it gets too much sun or dries out, the edges will burn, like most astilbes.  My clumps have been growing gradually larger over the years.  I divided some and moved them to the edge of a woodland garden, where they make a dramatic focal point when they’re in bloom.  The very attractive foliage starts out with a bronze tint in the spring, and then turns greener in the summer.  I look forward to trying the pale pink and white versions of this outstanding plant.

Judy Snow



Look again at Grasses

Ornamental grasses come and go in popularity but serve so many purposes that a collection of different types can enhance your overall design. 

'Aureola'Grasses have more than one season of interest and there are grasses that flower in Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Some even have spectacular Fall color. If left standing over the winter, grasses provide a strong element in the landscape.

Grasses are unequaled in bringing texture and sound to the garden. The sound of the wind rustling through grass is soothing  and tranquil. There are tall grasses and short ones, fine textured and impressive, with wonderful flowers. Grasses for sun and shade.

There is a grass for every garden.Some are fillers, some are ground covers, some are container plants,some make a very strong statement and all are deer resistant.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Hakonechloa macra is not particularly colorful but it makes an impressive statement planted en masse  or mixed in a perennial border, or grown in a container. It cascades gracefully at about two feet. It grows more quickly, tolerates more sun and is very hardy. My collection of grasses would not be complete without it.

Hakonchloa macra ‘Aurieola’ is a beacon in the shady garden. It grows more slowly than macra but is well worth the wait. It looks beautiful cascading over a wall or the side of a container.

'Northwind'Panicum North Wind  A tall upright blue grass growing to five feet with airy white plumes in September makes a statement in the border and remains upright through the winter.

Carex Ice Cream  Although technically a sedge, C. Ice Cream reminds me of Cousin It from the Adams Family. A rich green with creamy white stripes growing to two feet it makes an excellent ground cover in the shade.

Sue Acheson

Iris for the Home Garden


I think of irises the same way I feel about comfort food.  It was a plant that was in my grandmother’s garden, and probably there before her time too.  The cheery flowers, the pale green, swordlike foliage, and upright stance are valuable assets to any garden.   And there is a wide variety of cultivars are available for varied sites and soil conditions.

Iris germanica, or the familiar bearded iris, has an amazing array of colors.  Earl of Essex has white petals stippled and edged in violet, and has the distinction of being a rebloomer.   Feed-Back is fragrant and a stunning blue-violet.  Immortality (at right) is fragrant too, with ruffled soft white petals and pale lemon beards.   It is also a rebloomer, as is Clarence, a near white with light blue falls.  Jurassic Park has a buttercup yellow standard and lavender falls, and is a multiple award winner in the iris world.

The variety Iris pallida ‚ÄòArgentea Variegata’ (below) features soft green leaves with creamy white edges and a violet flower.  The foliage makes it a standout in the garden.

Argentea Variegata

Iris ensata or Japanese Water Iris lives happily in wet sites, unlike its bearded cousin.  It is also tolerant of partial shade.  Fortune has purple falls while Loyalty is deep purple with yellow stripes on purple crests.  Lion King is a collector’s favorite with strong white centers edged in deep violet.  And Rose Queen is a delicate beauty with a unique pale rose pink hue and flowers in a pendant form.

Last but not least is Iris siberica or Siberian iris, with grasslike leaves topped by showy, beardless flowers.  Tolerant of both wet and dry sites, Caesar’s Brother is a deep blue violet.  White Swirl is similarly site tolerant, with a yellow throat surrounded by creamy white petals.

All irises are low maintenance and have that all important feature, great deer resistance.


Sally Hemsen

Cornus — a Tree for Your Garden

The common name for cornus is dogwood. These are small trees growing to 20 feet or so and are valuable additions to any small garden or as an understory layer in a larger one.

Cornus florida

Cornus florida is the wonderful native species that blooms for almost all of May with a cluster of tiny flowers that turn into beautiful berries later in the season (read Doug Tallamy on how much robins and other birds thrive on them). The flowers are surrounded by four large bracts that are big waxy petals that are typically misnamed the tree’s flowers. These bracts decorate the tree for almost the entire month of May. Later, there are the colorful red fruits and beautiful orange and red/maroon fall foliage. We have the most disease resistant variety available at this year’s sale: Appalachian Spring.

Cornus kousa

After the native dogwoods finish their display, the cornus kousa start blooming and their bloom usually lasts through June. We have several new and different varieties at this year’s sale: Summer Gold has white bracts and striking yellow variegated foliage. Then we have two white variegated foliage dogwoods that we’ve carried before but that continue to be among our favorites: Miss Santomi with blush pink flower bracts and Wolf Eyes, which is smaller and slower growing than most. It has brilliant variegation that shines in a shady corner. I’ve also seen it used effectively in large urns at the Mansion in May in Far Hills a few years ago. The last kousa is ‘Kristen Lipka’, which is an amazing weeping form. A final great thing about the kousa dogwoods is their big raspberry-like fruit that, although seedy, tastes like banana. It’s a special treat for my dogs and me, but we do leave most for the birds.

Cornus hybrids

Then, overlapping the bloom of the floridas and kousas are the Rutgers hybrids, known for their disease resistance and large blooms. We have several new ones: Rosy Teacups, which has pink blooms as adorable as it’s name; Variegated Stellar Pink, which has light pink bracts and white variegated foliage; Celestial Shadows, developed by the well known dogwood breeder Don Shadow, who gave it the botanical hybrid name of ‚ÄòMichael Steinhardt’. Mr. Steinhardt is a benefactor of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and has the most amazing, not-to-be missed garden in Mt. Kisco that is part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days program. Plan to spend the whole day when you go.

== Patti Millar & Ilona Ontscherenki, Co-Chairs

Shady Ladies

Thalictrum ‚ÄòElin’

My yard is dominated by large trees of varying types. Oaks, hickories, maples, white pines; beautiful majestic beings that provide coolness in summer and protection from harsh winter winds. As a gardener, I have learned that while the shade these trees provide limits my choices from plant lists, I can still create a beautiful garden where soft colors weave in and out and create an atmosphere of coolness, serenity and calm.

One important technique to achieve visual interest in the shade garden is variation in elevation. I love Thalictrum ‚ÄòElin,’ with its height up to seven feet and its soft, lacy leaves. Purplish stems topped with lavender flowers and blue-green foliage give color variety as well as height. ‚ÄòElin’ will be happiest with a few hours of sunlight. Find a spot under a high tree canopy and you will be rewarded by her charms.

A. pachypoda ‚ÄòMisty Blue’

Another vertical plant is Actaea pachypoda ‚ÄòMisty Blue,’ also know as white baneberry or Doll’s Eyes. This eastern U.S. native forms a mound of almost blue tinted foliage with stalks of white flowers in the spring, reaching 2-3 feet. When the flowers fade, small white fruits with distinctive black dots in the center form on the stalk, thus the name ‚ÄòDoll’s Eyes.’ The fruit is readily consumed by birds but the entire plant is highly resistant to deer.

H. americana Dale’s Strain

Moving down to lower level plants, every shade garden needs to have heuchera, and one of the best is Heuchera americana Dale’s Strain. Also derived from a native plant, Dale will benefit from a higher canopy. The plant can grow to a foot tall, with white flower stalks of up to 24″ tall. But it is the beautiful marbled foliage that makes this plant stand out in the garden.

You don’t have to rely only on pachysandra as a groundcover in the shade garden. Pulmonaria, particularly a variety such as ‚ÄòSilverado’ with its silvery leaves, is a great substitute. Don’t forget all the many varieties of epimedium, with its dainty foliage, and about as trouble free a plant as you can find. And plant breeders have been providing us with new varieties of Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa, with varieties such as Beni Kaze, All Gold, and Macra.

And, all of the above are deer resistant. What more could a gardener ask for? Go forth, plant, and while others wilt in the heat, revel in the glory of the shade garden.

==Sally Hemsen, President, Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum

Making Stevia Extract

A “recipe” for making your own homemade stevia liquid extract.


Author: McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN


  • vodka
  • 1 cup stevia leaves, washed and dried
  • SUPPLIES // dark glass bottles


  • DRY //
  • Dry stevia leaves in the sun or dehydrator for one day or 12 hours (respectively)
  • Once dried, place whole leaves (don’t crush up too much or else you’ll have a hard time filtering out the leaves from the vodka), in a glass mason jar (preferably dark colored).
  • Fill to cover the leaves with vodka.
  • Steep at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
  • Filter out the stevia leaves using a fine strainer.
  • To remove the alcohol from the vodka, heat the extract on your stovetop in a pot for about 20 minutes (do not boil!).
  • Simply use a funnel to pour stevia extract into small medicine dropper bottles or other bottles and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.


Recipe by Nutrition Stripped at

Have You Ever Grown Bay Laurel?

Have you ever grown bay laurel? It’s such a dignified plant.

Reserved in its rate of growth, a bay laurel grown in a container will not need replanting for 5 years or so. Bay is often kept pruned, either to keep the size in check or to create a more ornamental tree. Pruning is usually done in the spring, as new growth is just beginning. You can prune as much or as little as you like, to keep the tree small or to
create a topiary artwork.

Modest in its needs, bay trees wintered over in a sunny window need even less water than during summer months and no feeding at all. Bay is drought tolerant, but appreciates regular deep watering. Always allow the soil to dry out between waterings, so the roots don’t rot. But don’t let it sit for long periods without water. Come spring add two inches of nice rich topsoil and do feed while the plant is setting out new leaves. Fish emulsion is a good food.

Neat in its habits, bay is mostly pest free and in days past a leaf of bay was used to deter pests in the pantry.

Bay is a very attractive shrub but mostly we grow it it as a seasoning. The leaves don’t soften much in cooking so must be removed before eating. Bay is used in stews, soups, tomato sauces, on fish and in bean dishes. It is a traditional component of the French ‘bouquet garni’ and is best used in that form or in a cheesecloth bag.

Several varieties of laurel are edible, we are offering Laurus nobilis ‚ÄòAngustifolia’ the willow-leaf laurel. With so much to commend it, this plant can easily rest on its, well, on its “laurels!”

==Lesley Parness

Pleasing Plant Combos

Pleasing Plant Combos

Brunnera variegata

For Shade

Here is a great combination for the shady garden with the added bonus of deer resistance.

The early Spring blooming Brunnera variegata offers delicious sky blue flowers in May and white flecked, heart shaped leaves for interest the rest of the Summer. Combine this with the textural foliage of the pink flowered Astilbe Rythm ‘n Blues which has plumey pink flowers from June to August. For another unique textural element add Rodgersai Fireworks with its large, leathery, copper edged leaves and glowing pink flowers in June and July. Fill in with Lady ferns (Athyrium Lady In Red) for a picture perfect garden grouping.

For Sun

Echinacea Orangeberry

Start with the graceful foliage of Amsonia hubrechtii and its delicate blue flowers in Spring. This 3 foot tall perennial has fantastic Fall foliage of buttery yellow. Add bold clusters of pink, aging to bronze, flowers of Sedum Auntumn Fire. Sturdy stems keep this sedum from flopping. Butterflies and bumblebees love this plant.

And now for the real wow factor add Echinacea Double Scoop Orange for non-stop bloom. This is another deer resistant combo. Why not go bold in the garden this Summer with this great combination.

For a Cottage Garden From Spring to Fall

Anemone Whirlwind

Start with that all time favorite plant, Peony Eden’s Perfume that will fill the air with sweet fragrance in May and sports gloosy foliage the rest of the year. Follow it up with the Summer blooming Leucanthemum Highland’s White Dream whose daisy-like flowers will bloom until frost (a little deadheading please).

For more white for Fall bloom add the 3 foot Anemone Whirlwind. To add some color plant hollyhocks like Alcea Halo White, Alcea Peaches ‘n Dream or Alcea Indian Spring. Alchemella mollis would make a lovely edger for this grouping with dew kissed foliage and chartreuse flowers in June and July.

Our Tarragon Is the Real Deal

We had an interesting question from a member last week about our French Tarragon. The member asked whether the Tarragon that we will have for sale will be really French Tarragon or Russian Tarragon. I want to assure you all, that our Tarragon is the real deal…

French Tarragon does not produce seeds and can be propagated only by cuttings. Grown by cuttings (and organic cuttings at that) our Tarragon can be counted on to add its distinctive licorice taste to your cooking.

Tarragon Cooking Tips

  • When tarragon is dried, the oils dissipate. Thus, fresh tarragon has a much more intense flavor than dried, and should be used sparingly.
  • To retain the most flavor of fresh tarragon during storage, freeze whole sprigs in an airtight baggie for 3 to 5 months. No need to defrost before using.
  • Dried tarragon should be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dark place and used within 1 year.
  • Heat greatly intensifies the flavor of tarragon, both fresh and dried.
  • Tarragon vinegar is easy to make. Put fresh tarragon sprigs into a sterilized bottle of distilled white vinegar. Taste after a few days. Continue steeping until it suits your taste. Once desired strength is achieved, remove the sprigs.
  • Vinegar can also be used to preserve fresh tarragon sprigs. Store in the refrigerator. Rinse and pat dry before use. Use the preserved tarragon in sauces, butters, or any recipe where fresh is not required.
  • Tarragon is also a good herb to use in infused oils.
  • Tarragon is a prime ingredient in B√©rnaise Sauce and the French favorite herb mixture, fines herbes.
  • If you run out of tarragon, you can substitute chervil or a dash of fennel seed or anise seed in a pinch, but the flavor will not be as intended.
  • 1/2 ounce fresh tarragon = 1/3 cup.
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon = 1 teaspoon dried.

Tarragon Recipe

Here’s nice recipe for using tarragon:

Green Goddess Chive Dressing

This creamy dressing is rich with herbs–chives, garlic, scallions and tarragon–and uses far less anchovy than most green goddess dressings. A delightful green salad or seafood topper!


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
1 chopped green onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


In a blender or food processor, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, green onion, garlic, vinegar, tarragon, sugar and Worcestershire sauce and blend until smooth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving. It will keep up to three days in the refrigerator.

==Lesley Parness

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