1 Here I am with Brent Heath, who picked a great day to visit the farm.
2 Brent was really taken with the beauty of the paddock fencing, which I found in Canada. These rails are more than 100-years old and they add so much dimension and character to the landscape.
3 Like myself, Brent takes pictures of everything that inspires him.
4 My Gardener, Shaun Kass, came on his day off to take Brent around the farm. Suzie Ercole, my executive assistant, offered to watch Kylie, Shaun's adorable baby girl. Shaun gave some instructions.
5 Kylie took to Suzie immediately!
6 Shaun began by telling Brent that the entire farm is 153 acres and that off in the distance is the Cross River Reservoir and its surrounding wilderness, which will never be built upon.
7 Brent noticed these two ancient apple trees and wondered if they had anything planted beneath them which, besides grass, they don't.
8 He suggested that to add some nice spring color to the vista, we should plant en masse Hyacinthoides hispanica, or Spanish bluebells. The light conditions beneath the trees would be perfect for them.
9 A photo of Hyacinthoides Hispanica from Brent and Becky's Bulbs.
10 Brent wanted to know if we have any insect problems. He likes to use diatomaceous earth, a naturally occurring soft siliceous sedimentary rock. It would be good for the mole crickets in the vegetable garden.
11 This crumbly powder dehydrates the insects by absorbing lipids from the waxy outer layer of the the insects' exoskeletons. He also suggested wood ash, from the fireplace, to help control the horrific red lily beetle. Brent is anti-chemical.
12 They had a conversation about creeping thyme and various succulents that grow well between stepping stones, rather than allowing weeds to take over.
13 Brent was impressed with the size of this potted cycad in my courtyard called the sunken garden. This is where many of my large tropical plants live during warm weather. Soon, these will need to be sheltered for the winter.
14 He liked this variety of oxalis, tetraphylla 'Iron Cross' and made another suggestion, which also does well as
'shoes and socks' or under-planting for large container plants.
15 His suggestion - Oxalis Tetraphylla as photographed in Brent and Becky's Bulbs
16 This rarely seen area of the farm is called the boxwood room and it has yet to be developed into any sort of garden design, although I do have some ambitious plans.
17 Shaun likes to hear what other garden experts have to say about this place. Brent pointed out that certain tall trees are a problem, as they are blocking sunlight.
18 Next, they walked to the daffodil border, where thousands of daffodils bloom each spring.
19 Presto! This was taken last April.
20 Brent noticed a lot of shade being cast here, which could explain why certain areas of the border have spotty blooms. Rather than lose the privacy screen, by removing lower branches, crown thinning of upper branches may help.
21 He also suggested that we apply a thick layer of compost to the surface of all bulb borders every autumn right on top of the leaf litter to add even more nutrients. He doesn't advocate the use of any chemical or top-dress fertilizers.
22 Next, it was onto the allee of linden, where we planted 116,000 blue-flowering bulbs a year ago. These borders were stunning last spring!
24 With this border in mind, we created our own collection, available at The Home Depot - the very popular Blue Border Assortment (Pack of 180). These low-growing varieties offer an explosion of colorful blooms in spring.
25 This is Brent and Becky's blue bulb collection called Rhapsody in Blue.
26 Shaun explained to Brent that he covered these beds with nylon netting to prevent squirrels and other critters from digging up the bulbs.
27 Brent told him to leave the netting and top-dress with compost. The bulbs will find their way through it all in the spring.
28 To control future problems with rodents digging up bulbs, he suggested the use of Plant Skyyd, a liquid dip for the bulbs before planting. After dipping, the bulb is no longer attractive to the animal, lasting for about six months.
29 Brent was also impressed with the beauty of the boxwood allee and they discussed the joys of hand-pruning so many bushes in order to keep their shape.
30 Shaun told Brent that the crocus planted beneath the oak trees in this allee are extremely spotty with blooms and asked for his advice.
31 Brent suggested Crocus Tommasinianus from Brent and Becky's bulbs. It, and its cultivars, are the best crocus to naturalize in the garden, spreading much better than the ones already planted there.
32 Kylie joined the tour as Shaun took Brent towards the greenhouse.
33 Brent chuckled and explained that the nickname of amaryllis, or belladonna lily, is 'naked lady' because the stalks are leafless.
34 Amaryllis make excellent flowers for cutting because they last a long time in water.
36 Brent thought these pots would be perfect for layering spring flowering bulbs, a technique he shared on my TV show.
37 He loved the Alocasia!
38 And also my begonia collection
39 Shaun pointed out my favorite begonia, the Lotusland.
40 It's going through a dormant period now, but come spring, its leaves will turn glossy dark green and will send up stately stalks of pink blossoms.
41 Many of my begonias were propagated from leaf cuttings.
42 Brent really enjoyed his time at the farm and Shaun was really appreciative of all of his sage advice.