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

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

Gardening for Health, or Believing in the Seed Fairy

Maymont Herbs Galore

It’s spring gardening season, and there’s no better place to start your plant shopping than Maymont’s Herbs Galore & More festival, coming this Saturday, April 26 from 8am to 4pm. You’ll find more than 50 vendors selling herbs and other plants as well as garden accessories, herbal cosmetics, delicious food and much more, and you can gather great gardening tips during Meet the Experts sessions and at the new Interactive Herb Station, presented by Whole Foods Market. As our guest blogger reminds us below, gardening is an inspirational source for both our physical and mental well-being. Dig in!

Guest Post By Leslie Vandever

“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.” -Mirabel Osler

As the Endless Winter of 2014 finally slouches toward the exits, gardeners everywhere are peeking out from beneath their layers of blankets, feeling the fresh, gentle tug of springtime. Seed catalogs appear in the mail, crocuses crown, daffodils pop up here and there, and colorful seed packet displays burst forth in the local supermarket.

It’s an itchy, tickly creature, the spring gardening bug. But there are few activities as simple, healthy and satisfying. Whether you start your seeds indoors or plant small, sturdy starts from the nursery, launching the year’s garden is hope and joy combined.

“In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.” –Robert Brault

Even for the most serious and stoical person, gardening taps directly into Wonder. Will these seeds grow? How big will the plant get? Will I really have fresh tomatoes? What will I do with all that zucchini? Please can I have a gorgeous bunch of flowers to make me smile? In the beginning, gardening is all about anticipation, too.

What’s that you say? You live in an apartment, surrounded by other buildings and parking lots? Plant your garden in pots. Line them up along sunny windowsills, or on your patio or balcony. Don’t have any of those? Volunteer at an urban community garden. Or try soul-gardening: get yourself to a park, a nursery, or a horticultural center (or all three) as often as you can. Stroll about, immersing yourself in the green, the plant-y smell of moist, dark soil, and the sheer beauty of the flowers, shrubs and trees. Gardens lift the spirit, lighten the mood, and refresh the soul. Soak it up. Store it for later contemplation.

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” -Author Unknown

The reasons for gardening—or even visiting gardens—are many. Gardening gives you something to do with your leisure time as the days grow longer. Being outdoors in the sun and fresh air, digging in the soil, discovering earthworms, arranging rows, deciding what goes where, even learning how to do it all is therapeutic and good for mental health.

And it’s not bad for physical health, either. Gardening requires movement. It pulls you out of your customary sitting position (at work, or in front of the TV) and provides a reason for muscles. When you’re squatting or kneeling while you plant or weed, your perspective on the world is all new. You discover again why you have knees. You get actual dirt under your fingernails.

There’s this, too: according to the Harvard Medical School, 30 minutes of gardening can torch as much as 200 calories! Be gone, sinful breakfast donut!

Playing in the garden means walking, lifting, and digging a hole anywhere from the size of your fist to one the size of and depth of an upholstered armchair (for planting young trees, of course). Weeding requires lots of ups and downs: up while you drink a cooling lemonade in the sun, then back down to tackle that shifty, invading Bermuda grass. Then there’s the mowing and raking, the edging, the pruning and trimming. The sniffing, then snipping the blossoms for the kitchen table. Phew! It’s work, but oh, it’s good.

Finally, when you create a garden, you get to eat sun-warmed tomatoes right there, right off the very vine you planted, tended, watered, nurtured, and saved from tomato worms. Bite into that glorious red fruit just like you would an apple. Never mind the juice. Enjoy it! Then pick the other good things you grew: the green beans, the zucchini(s), the eggplants, the peppers, the peas, the lettuce. Be still and watch that jeweled red dragonfly perch on tip of a sunflower’s petal.

Know peace. Know joy.

Leslie Vandever—known as “Wren” to the readers of RheumaBlog, her personal blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis—is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.

References:
• Calories Burned In 30 Minutes by People of Three Different Weights. (2004, July) Harvard Medical School. Retrieved on March 28, 2014 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities.htm.
• Goodman, Heidi. Backyard Gardening: Grow Your Own Food, Improve Your Health. (2012, June 29) Harvard Medical School. Retrieved on March 28, 2014 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/backyard-gardening-grow-your-own-food-improve-your-health-201206294984
• Ness, Sheryl M. Gardening Restores Body and Soul. (2012, July 28) Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 28, 2014 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/cancer-and-gardening/bgp-20056406

April 23, 2014 at 4:32 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

5 Plants for Garden-Inspired Holiday Decorating

Nandina (Nandina domestica) or Heavenly Bamboo

Nandina (Nandina domestica) or Heavenly Bamboo

At Maymont, we are fortunate to have a landscape filled with fresh greenery to use in classes like our upcoming Wreath Workshops (Dec. 3-5) and Deck the Halls Workshops (Dec. 7). With a little planning and care, your garden can be a source as well. Consider planting the following plants for your own holiday décor.

1. Boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Beauty’)
With the concern over boxwood blight, we recently replaced the overgrown English boxwood surrounding the Herb Garden with the blight resistant Buxus ‘Green Beauty’. Full sun, mulch and organic or slow release fertilizer plus a 6.5 pH provide optimum growing conditions for most boxwood, especially ‘Green Beauty’.

2. Native Hollies (Ilex opaca, Ilex verticillata and Ilex decidua)
Virginia’s native hollies are a source of berries for the holidays. While not every gardener has room for the evergreen Ilex opaca, American holly, most gardeners do have room for the red berried stems of deciduous hollies, Ilex verticillata and Ilex decidua. Hollies grow best in full sun with well-drained acidic soil. These plants are diecious, meaning some plants have male flowers and some have female flowers, so a gardener must grow both cultivars for the beautiful berries to form.

3. Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
We have learned that Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese cedar, holds up very well in outdoor decorations and indoors in water. With a plethora of cultivars that grow to varying heights and widths, it is easy to place one in any landscape with full sun and acidic soil. The extra bonus is that they are deer-proof!

4. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Our sun loving native Eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana, is a type of greenery we can’t do without during the holidays. Consider growing the cultivar ‘Emerald Sentinel’ as it is filled with the beautiful blue berries and has a conical shaped growth habit. Junipers are diecious, just like the hollies, and the berries appear on the female.

5. Nandina (Nandina domestica)
The Japanese native, Nandina domestica, is another source of holiday color. Sometimes called Heavenly Bamboo, this plant grows and berries in full sun with acidic soil. This easy-to-grow plant has one challenge: the berries do drop, so decorate with it in areas away from foot traffic both indoors and out!

Peggy M. Singlemann, Director of Horticulture

November 19, 2013 at 2:51 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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