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A Southern Summer in the Garden

DSCN1313Our first wave of serious summer weather just passed in sunny Richmond, VA.  The number of hours spent working in the full sun gardens were limited by heat indexes of 100+.  For my friends and family up north this is a measurement of what the air feels like when factoring in the relative humidity to the air temperature, aka humiture.  It is beastly uncomfortable as you sweat just standing still in the thick hot air.  Regardless, the summer chores fill the never ending list of things to do.  Last week’s rains spurred every weed seed to germinate and grow overnight. This week we spent a lot of time weeding, cutting back the spent blossoms of peonies and manually removing algae from the Japanese Garden pond.  We found sawflies enjoying the hibiscus, flea beetles on the eggplant and residual spruce mite damage on the junipers surrounding the Three Graces reflecting pool.  The confederate jasmine is still blooming and the annual bedding plants are finally coming into their own while a number of evergreen trees are showing signs of winter’s damage with brown needles or small sections spotting a tree.  The late spring filled with cool weather has delayed the gardening cycle about 10 days and so the typical Father’s Day peak of bloom for the daylily bed is still to come.  However, Marie’s Butterfly Trail is glorious and filled with every pollinator imaginable for this time of year.

Happy Digging!

Peggy Singlemann

June 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

To Dig or Not to Dig…Tulips, that is!

With the falling of the flower petals and the foliage waning many gardeners wonder whether or not to dig their tulip bulbs from the garden.  At Maymont we treat tulips like annual flowering plants and remove them from the gardens.  We keep all other bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, camassia, puschkinia, anemones, scilla, alliums and hyacinths, to name a few, in the garden from year to year but, dig up the tulips.  Why?  Tulips originate in a part of the world where the summers are hot and very dry coupled with cold winters, the Himalayan Mountains and the steppes of Eastern Turkey. Central Virginia does not match that weather set.  Due to the warm summers, with high humidity and clay soils to boot, plus not so cold winters (sans this past one) many tulip bulbs decline rather than thrive. Within a year or two the flowers are smaller and on shorter stems or not present at all.  However, there are some anamolies who do thrive in the conditions of Central Virginia such as the botanical or species tulips and their cultivars.  In addition, Emporer Tulips, some Darwin Hybrid Tulips and some Triumph Tulips perennialize as well.  If you wish to focus your efforts on these perennializing tulips then do a bit of research by reading up on the different cultivars before visiting your favorite garden center.  As for Maymont, we will continue to renew the gardens annually creating new color combinations for all our guests to enjoy!  Happy Digging!

Peggy Singlemann

May 31, 2014 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Planting “summer” at Maymont

While the cool weather kept the tulips blooming longer than usual an old saying omes to mind…all good things must come to an end.  Last week we marked that end by removing the spent tulips and pansies from the Italian Garden and planted the summer annual bedding plants.  Each member of the horticulture staff designs different garden spaces rotating between one another the gardens from year to year.  This year the Italian Garden’s color palette is pink, blue, lavender and purple framed by Rosa ‘Ginger’ and R. ‘Spartan’.  The garden is going to be stunning with Eucalyptus, Scaveola, Callibrachoa, Lantana, Angelonia, Petchoa, Cartharanthus (vinca) and Impomoea ‘Tricolor’ providing color throughout the summer. Staff and volunteers planted the small bedding plants, then applied a slow release fertillizer and finally a layer of mulch.  Before planting we augmented the beds with a thin coat of our homegrown compost to enrich the soil.  Regular watering, via nature or a watering wand, will ensure the garden matures quickly for our guests to enjoy. Image

May 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

First Day of Spring at Maymont!

It’s here!  That day we have all been waiting for is here!  The First Day of Spring is upon us!  This day promises longer days with the sun creeping higher into the sky, bygone memories of warmer days and warmer soil will be a reality soon.  Amazingly, At Maymont our What’s in Bloom calendar is on track despite this chilly weather.  The dates of bloom were noted 30 years ago and have pretty much been on target since.  As I walk the estate I see the 100+ year old Quince, Chaenomeles japonica, the Tree Peonies, Paeonia suffruticosa and the Weeping Willows, Salix sp., budding with color of blossoms and leaves.  For trees that bloom earlier  the blossoms were frozen to brown on the state champion Yulan Magnolia, Magnolia hetapeta, and some of the Star Magnolias, M. stellata.  With more buds to open these trees will be clothed in color within a few days.Image

Come out to Maymont to enjoy the glories of spring unfolding as you enjoy a walk through this beautiful gift Mr. and Mrs. Dooley left for all to enjoy, their private country house estate, Maymont.  Please consider perpetuating this gift by leaving a donation at the entrance to help the Maymont Foundation pass it forward for all to enjoy.

March 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

March is Garden Madness at Maymont!

Horticulture Volunteer Pruning RosesThe days are ticking by, and despite the erratic wintry weather, spring will be here soon.  At Maymont, the Horticulture staff is busy pruning the roses, getting the last of the ornamental grasses cut down, cleaning up the perennial borders, spreading mulch and making those final pruning cuts on trees and summer flowering shrubs, like Butterfly bushes.   Rose pruning is a task that should not be procrastinated. Getting the canes cut back before bud break is ideal but if that cannot be achieved, then prune as soon as possible.

Roses, except climbing roses, need to be cut back annually to a bud along the cane that faces outward. Typically two-thirds of a plant is removed at this time unless the bush is very small or in poor health. Deadwood is removed along with any diseased wood. We put a dab of white glue on each fresh cut to protect the cane from the Rose Cane Borer.  Throughout the season, roses should have their dead flowers removed by clipping above the first five-leaflet leaf found down from the spent flower.

Please note that climbing roses are not pruned in the same manner as shrub roses, they are pruned to direct the growth of the new canes by cutting only canes that need to have their growth redirected.  To do so make the cut above a bud facing in the direction you want that cane to grow. It is important to remove all deadwood from climbing rose bushes to reduce disease and insect problems.   I encourage you to clean your clippers with 91% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol, don the gloves, and start pruning so you can enjoy the roses come May!

March 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

Fall is a whole new gardening season!

At Maymont we celebrate the fall, and as the days shorten from August to October our gardening to-do list lengthens.  The cool weather invigorates the garden and the gardener alike.  For instance,  the third week in September is the perfect time to renovate a lawn in Central Virginia. In preparation to do so test the soil for fertility and pH, then amend according to the instructions on the soil test results.  In mid-September aerate your lawn while the soil moisture is high and apply seed according to the directions found on the bag’s label.  In addition, apply a light application of grass seed starter fertilizer to aid the new grass seedlings in getting established. 

Water the lawn only when there is a lack of rain during germination, be water-wise by allowing the shorter days, cooler temperatures and abundant rainfall to nurture your new lawn.  If you do not know where to begin call your local extension office and talk with a Master Gardener for DIY advice or contact your local garden center for referrals to have a professional evaluate your landscape.  Creating a beautiful lawn for you while saving the bay for the future is a goal worth pursuing.

Peggy M. Singlemann, Director of Horticulture

August 26, 2013 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

Summertime Gardening

Summertime Gardening

Maymont’s horticulture staff tends the Italian Garden 2-3 times a week. The staff removes spent flower blossoms to encourage the roses, annual bedding plants and perennials to continue flowering. Applying fertilizer by following the instructions on each label will encourage continuous bloom as well. During dry periods it is important to water, preferably in the morning, but thankfully this year that is not an issue here in central Virginia. With a bit of care your garden will be filled with flowers all summer long.
Peggy Singlemann
Director of Horticulture, Maymont Foundation
Co-Host of Virginia Home Grown, WCVE

July 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm Leave a comment

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