Virtual Gardener

Hugs for Hugelculture

Whilst dreaming of all the stuff I want to grow this spring and perusing the latest seed catalogs my eye catches a picture of a giant mountain of produce. What is this, I wonder.

Turns out, it’s a hugel and growing plants in a hugel is called hugelculture. Hugelculture are no-dig raised beds. They hold moisture, build fertility, maximize surface volume for soil warming and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. Developed centuries ago in Eastern Europe, permaculturists are drawing renewed attention to it now.


Lidderdale: The Fern Gatherer

This past summer, the Virtual Gardener fell in love with ferns. She is not the first to succumb to their charms. In the Victorian era, pteridomania was a craze which obsessed England at every level of society, from the Royal family to impoverished farm workers.

Wiki tells us that “the word is a portmanteau of the biological name for ferns and ‘mania’ in the sense of a craze”; in other words, pteridomania was a passion for ferns. It manifested in a huge range of ways, from going on collecting expeditions to gather specimens, to including fern motifs on every decorative object imaginable. The term was coined in 1855 by author Charles Kingsley: “Your daughters, perhaps, have been seized with the prevailing ‘Pteridomania’ and wrangling over unpronounceable names of species and yet you cannot deny that they find enjoyment in it.”

Yes You Canna!

Canna 'Lucifer'

Yes, you can add pizazz to your garden with Canna, Caladium and Colacasia.

The strong focus on spring flowering bulbs in our gardens can overshadow the many wonderful choices of summer flowering bulbs that will perform quite well here in an increasingly hot New Jersey.

Cannas bring tropical splendor and architectural interest to summer borders and they also flourish along the damp margins of a pond. These bold plants feature clustered, flaglike blooms in a brilliant array of colors. They are deer resistant, easy to grow and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Join us to make a “Cabinet of Wonders”

What better amusement in this Season of Wonders might there be than to create a “Cabinet of Wonders?”

No ordinary piece of furniture, but a repository of the unusual and the remarkable, Cabinets of Wonder have contained objects of ethnographic or archeological interest, religious or historical relics, and medical oddities.

Frederick Law Olmsted

A special guest is scheduled for January 12th’s New Year’s Party – Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted. Yes, we know, he died in 1903. But that was not an obstacle for Mr. John Bartram, who died in 1777, and appeared at the 2011 Friends New Year’s Party. Thanks to the theatrical excellence of Kirk Brown, it will not be an obstacle for Mr. Olmsted either. Here is some homework to do before the Members Only New Years Party. Garnering information about Mr.

Swat and Scratch!


What is this gardener’s bane? Worse than weeds, the mosquito can damage my garden by keeping me out of it! There are some 63 species of mosquitoes living here in New Jersey. Some will travel just a few yards for a meal, others can fly as far as 50 miles. The potential for contracting St. Louis Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis or West Nile Virus through a mosquito bite makes them more than a simple pest.


Kokedama Planting
by Lesley Parness

Around this time of year, my fingers are itching to touch soil and roots. So learning about kokedama offered the perfect winter time planting technique. I first saw these charming plantings at last year’s Philadelphia Flower Show in the booth of City Planters, a Philly florist. I was enchanted, bought one and have been learning about them since then. At each of the following websites, you will need to search “kokedama.” Start at for a quick intro. Pretty cool, yes?


by Lesley Parness –

This year, fragrance is the Plant Sale’s theme. Likewise, it is the topic of programming for Garden State Gardens ( and for a new cell phone tour here at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum. To get you up to speed, follow your nose to these sites.

Start at to learn about our funder’s history.

Our Pollinating Pals

by Lesley Parness –

Virtual Gardener Fall, 2011 Guiseppe Arcimboldo

Virtual Gardener Fall, 2011 Guiseppe Arcimboldo -

This season's ArTboretum offering is an exhibit of pumpkins carved by artist Nelson Hancock. Nelson found his inspiration in the work of Italian painter, Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1526 - 1593).