The Plant Exchange
The plant exchange is May 27. Same program as last year. Bring a food item to share. Finger food. Cheese cubes. Those little hotdog things wrapped in a tiny bun. Small bunches of grapes. Apple slices. Popcorn. Cookies. Cupcakes. Watermelon wedges. But I can say last year we had the most amazing selection of desserts. I think I might have been heading for a sugar coma. Those lemon bites that came in the round plastic tub were amazing. I couldn’t eat just one. Or two.
A bit more of a balance though might be appreciated. Bringing plants to exchange is the fun part, but you can also bring tools, clay pots, seeds, vases, garden decor, or anything you think might be useful in the garden. Even the occasional gnome will be welcome. We will have some drawings. Tommy will play some music. If you can come early to help let me know. Or the day before. Or the day after. The event will run from noon to four. If you have a lot of stuff to bring, I suggest you bring a table. I will have a quite a few out but the plants tend to overflow onto the ground. I have been starting seeds and propagating plants in the greenhouse. Dug out a bunch of cannas. They will be out as well. If you haven't been here before please email me for the address.
Three New Things for the Exchange.
1. One of our gardeners lost a lot of tomato plants in a late frost. This was at a garden for the needy where the produce is harvested and given away. So we need lots of tomato plants to help her out. Bring all you have to spare please.
2. We will have the purple Christmas tree out on display. Bring something interesting to hang on it. Get creative!!!
3. We are planning a rock painting table. And maybe some ornaments. Or clay pots if you want to bring some. We will have the paints set up. And some rocks. They make good garden markers.
My New Tree Friends!
We have done a tremendous amount of planting this spring. On my wanderings from nursery to nursery I came across a bunch of things I could not resist. In addition, I finally found the tree I have been searching for the last 3 years.
First, my Tricolor Beech has leafed out.
It is a variety of the European beech. The native beech is a lovely tree that has gone a long way to fill in the gap left by the decline of the American Chestnut. But for some reason there does not appear to be any varieties available other than the species. It is the European that comes in assorted flavors. One of the first trees we planted here at Tiny Farm is our Purple Weeping European Beech, but it comes in green as well. We had a gorgeous upright purple at our farm which I am happy to say was not affected by the fire. And we had a weeping green. There is also the copper beech, which has the same botanical name as the purple beech, so making a distinction is tricky at best. My guess is that different specimen will show a range of the coppery purple color. But the Tricolor is the grandest of them all. The significant amount of pink on the foliage just ramps up the impact to an electric level.
Second, Mel from Maddens Family Farm gifted me a Corkscrew Willow. I had one of these at Blooming Acres that we had grown from a twig. It grows up to two feet per year and was massive by the time we left. It is not a really huge tree. At maturity it is only about 20 feet but the trunk was thick and all knobby and contorted. The branches and foliage are all twisty and the younger branches are yellow. I loved that tree. I had not intended to plant another shade tree at tiny farm. As a rule, you plant shade trees first and fill in around them. So squeezing in this tree into an almost complete landscape was a challenge, but for one of my favorite trees we had to do it. We found a spot on the east side of the property right next to where we planted a Clethra last spring. The Clethra has just leafed out so this is not a great time to move it. It can stay where it is until next spring. It is a small enough shrub that finding a new spot should not be difficult. Now I am thrilled with my new Corkscrew Willow.
I smile every time I walk by it. This is my third member of the Willow family here at Tiny Farm. We have a Weeping Pussy Willow and a Fan-tailed Willow, also called Sekko Willow. The Weeper stays on the small side but the Fan-tailed has fan like branches that are "fasciated". The branches forget how to grow straight and spread out like a fan. They make amazing cut branches in arrangements. Our new one hasn't started to fan out yet and we are training it to be sort of flat against the chimney. Can't wait to see it what it turns into!
My third new tree is a Weeping Siberian Peashrub. I have searched for at least 3 years for this tree. The only one I had ever seen was the one I had at Blooming Acres. It did not survive the fire. It was right up against the house. I got it from my first nursery friend called Mel, at Livingston Park Nursery back when it was really a nursery and not a place to get paving stones. I would pop in there every week after my show on my way home and he always had weird, interesting things. I miss that place. The day I found the Peashrub I had to have it. It is a small weeping shrub in the pea family. The gorgeous yellow flowers become thin green pods that mature in the fall and are edible for both humans and livestock. Although I admit to never having tried them. Even the flowers are edible and can be tossed in a salad. I will at least collect some for the chickens. They contain up to 36% protein. The leaves are very pea-like, rounded, turn yellow in the autumn and the whole plant fixes nitrogen in the soil. In the winter the weeping habit adds significant winter interest and rarely needs pruning. It is hardy to zone 2. I continue to scratch my head as to why this plant is so difficult to find. Most nursery professionals I have spoken to have never heard of it. But I finally got lucky. I visited Barton's Nursery in Edison and asked. Once again no one had heard of it. I had asked last year as well. But this time I got a text a week later that they found one in their field in Cranbury. I suspect it had been there last year as well but all alone and forgotten. It is not a small tree. Well, it is a small tree but clearly had been in the ground for a while so definitely not a young tree. So it was kind of expensive. And it came with a big root ball which made it was very heavy. Absolutely gorgeous.
Already finished blooming, the pods are beginning to form. I picked it up on Mother's Day and it is my MD present from Tommy. He planted it for me since it was too big for me and it is heaven. I had saved a key spot for it so it is easily spotted in the back yard. Can't wait to see it bloom next year! In my head I do a little happy dance every time I glance that way. Sometimes in my feet, too!
There are a few other amazing things in bloom right now. A couple of Alliums did not come up but the ones that did are spectacular.
The Van Hout Spirea is finished now but it overlapped with the red Weigela. The red is still spectacular.
There is a wood peony that has also just finished while the herbaceous peonies and the Itoh yellow Peony are now in their glory. The wood peony actually blooms in serious shade. Hard to find but worth the search. I got mine online at Quackin Grass Nursery. They ship quality material.
The yellow Itoh is a cross between a tree peony and an herbaceous one. So it is sturdier and seems to not ever want to put its face in the mud. The white peony got rained on yesterday and was so droopy this morning. I jumped out of the truck before leaving for my radio show to shake off the excess water so the blooms would perk up. They did a little and the sun is out now so they are looking better but not as upright as yesterday. These are a family heirloom handed down several
generations and a gift from Ann Marie. Droopy or not they are gorgeous.
Next expect to see the Baptisia. There are three. They appear to be staggered in their development. The yellow will be first, then the burgundy followed by the pink. Will show you next time.
Just a reminder that if you missed any of The Garden Show broadcasts, but would like to hear them, they are now available on the website archives. http://www.woldradio.com/garden_show.html The show can be heard on 95.1 FM every Sunday from 10 AM to Noon. You can also stream on WOLDRadio.com. But even more amazing is that you can tune in via your telephone. This connection is not internet streaming (of course you can do that) but just a phone call from any telephone, landline or mobile. Dial 518-737-0158 and join us.
If you have questions, you can send them here to the website or save them to call into the show. That number is 908-448-zero-95-1 (908-448-0951). It is a tricky way of getting the place on the dial imbedded into the phone number. Talk soon. And hope to see you Saturday.