Virtual Gardener

This is a series of articles written by Lesley Parness, former Superintendent of Horticultural Education at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.  They include links to further information on the internet.

Click the titles to read the full articles.

  • 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. A schematic image of a Hügelkultur mound. (A = wood with soil, B = leaves (possibly turf), C = compost, D = ...

  • Pteridomania

    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”

    Ritratto Museo Ferrante Imperato

    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 ...

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