1 It was a bit of a cloudy and chilly day, but compared to last week's hot and humid weather, this was a perfect morning for a garden tour. Today, we welcomed two groups from the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College. http://www.sunywcc.edu/about/npc/
2 Guests looked at my cold frame located next to the cutting garden. A cold frame has several uses including: overwintering dormant plants, giving seedlings an early start, hardening off young seedlings, and extending the season past the first frost.
3 Guests had the opportunity to look at the cutting garden also. Every group experiences a different tour when they visit the farm depending on what is blooming at the time.
4 The Bearded Iris 'Batik' looked splendid in the perennial border outside the cutting garden. Bearded Irises are among the most elegant flowers of spring. They are easy to grow in well-drained soil where they can have access to at least six hours of sun.
5 These plants require good air circulation, so plant them about 16-inches apart, and feed them a low-nitrogen fertilizer twice a year.
6 The Pin Oak Allee is looking fuller every week. A recognizable trait of the pin oak is that its lower branches hang down. It also has horizontal middle branches and upright upper branches forming a most interesting growth habit. Yet, it is one of the most popular trees for landscaping because it's so easy to transplant and is very hardy.
7 This is the American Beech Grove. The American beech, or Fagus grandifolia, is the species of beech tree native to the eastern United States and Canada.
8 Weeping willow trees are fast growers. They can easily grow 10-feet per year and can dominate the landscape.
Their rounded, drooping branches give the tree a distinctive shape. They looked so pretty this week.
9 Here is the Linden Tree Allee. The Linden is one of three English names for the tree genus Tilia - also known as lime and basswood. Linden trees have loose canopies that produce shade on the ground below - look how lush and beautiful they are.
10 As the group descended onto the stable - the Friesians were ready to greet them.
11 My stable manager, Betsy, is always present when visiting groups tour the stable, so she could answer any questions that may arise about the horses, donkeys or ponies.
12 Clive, one my my three Sicilian donkeys, loves meeting anyone who comes near his stall.
13 Aesculus hippocastanum is a large deciduous tree commonly known as the horse chestnut or conker tree. The flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen to insects, particularly the bees.
14 The individual flowers have four to five fringed petals, which are white with a pink flush at the base.
15 After the walk through the stable, the group was led past the horse chestnut trees toward the azalea and tree peony collections.
16 The garden behind the summer house is always a favorite stop on the tour. Although it is still a "work in progress", the boxwood looked very lush and green.
17 And, the large ginkgo tree looked as majestic as ever in all its foliage.
18 Tree peonies are actually woody shrubs, and can reach about four or five feet tall. There are few plants that can compete with a tree peony's flowers in full bloom - look how beautiful the blossom is!
19 Tree peonies prefer well-drained soil with at least four to six hours of direct sun, or dappled sun all day.
20 Tree peonies come in a variety of colors - from pure white to shades of pink to dark red.
21 Most varieties of tree peonies are hardy in zones 4 through 8. They don't typically require any pruning, but if it is necessary to control its size, do so in the spring after they finish flowering.
22 These tree peonies look so amazing in bloom. They always get lots of attention when guests tour the collection.
23 There were no buds on the peonies last week, but this week, the entire garden is filled with peony buds ready to pop - I can't wait.
24 My peony garden will soon be bursting with color - you can see hundreds and hundreds of buds waiting to open. Peonies are herbaceous perennial plants with compound, deeply lobed leaves and large, fragrant flowers ranging from white or yellow to red.
25 The group enjoyed the first part of the tour, and then stopped for a friendly group photo with Ryan.
26 Here on the Terrace Parterre, everyone loved the boxwood and barberry. The colors add a dramatic touch to the terrace.
27 My housekeepers, Laura and Sanu, made some delicious pomegranate punch to serve our guests. It's made with pomegranate concentrate, lemons and some slices of orange.
28 These are 'Miss Kim' lilacs, which bloom in May. they are some of the most fragrant of all the lilac bushes. The light lavender blooms stand out nicely against their dark green leaves. These lilacs prefer full sun to thrive but will also live in partial shade.
29 'Miss Kim' lilacs are very popular for borders or as specimen plantings. It will grow to about seven feet with a mature spread of five to six feet.
30 These lilacs are resistant to powdery mildew, but not to drought. It tolerates light shade, but best bloom is in full sun. It prefers rich, moist, somewhat neutral soils and good air circulation.
31 These chive blossom buds are almost ready to open. Chives are bulb-forming herbaceous perennial plants. They are disliked by insects, but their flowers do attract bees.
32 In the afternoon, the second group from The Native Plant Center arrived for their tour. Ryan welcomed everyone to the farm and told them a little about what they would see on the walk.
33 The first stop on the tour was the main greenhouse. Here they saw my large collection of begonias and other tropical plants.
34 On this side of the greenhouse, an aisle of succulents.
35 The long tables can slide from side to side, making it easy to access them for watering and moving.
36 Outside the main greenhouse, all the hostas were just exploding with foliage.
37 The beautiful Allium. Allium species are herbaceous perennials with flowers produced on scapes. They grow from solitary or clustered bulbs.
38 Some allium species are used as border plants for their ornamental flowers - they are looking so colorful at this time.
39 The Boxwood Allee on the way to the stable always grabs everyone's attention.
40 Ryan explains how we cover the boxwood in burlap and netting during winter to protect them from the cold and harsh winds.
41 At the stable, Betsy talks about the care needed to keep my Friesians, ponies and donkeys healthy and happy.
42 The group headed up the carriage road toward the Summer House.
43 Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron. They bloom vibrantly in spring with their flowers lasting several weeks.
44 Azaleas are shade tolerant and prefer living near or under trees. They do best in well-drained acidic soil.
45 Lady's mantle is a nice addition to shady garden borders. It is also commonly used as ground cover. Lady's mantle is an attractive perennial plant with soft gray-green foliage and chartreuse blooms.
46 Just before the group walked up to the terrace parterre, a stop for a "class" photo.
47 All the guests were offered a delicious snack of cookies and biscotti.
48 And a refreshing cup of pomegranate juice.
49 G.K. always loves meeting everyone on the tours - I think he also hopes for a few crumbs to fall nearby.
50 Camassia is a genus of plants in the asparagus family native to Canada and the United States. They are perennial plants that emerge in spring. The six-petaled flowers vary in color from pale lilac or white to deep purple or blue-velvet.
51 Bald cypress, or Taxodium distichum, is a deciduous conifer. It is a large tree with gray-brown to red-brown bark. they are popular as ornamental trees grown for its light, feathery foliage.
52 This plant is ornamental Chinese Rhubarb. It grows as a perennial and matures at about four to five feet tall. It is a fairly low-maintenance plant and easy to grow in a location where it can get morning sun and afternoon shade.