May 27, 2016
Preparing the Plants for Skylands
For me, every Memorial Day weekend signals a significant change of seasons. It is traditionally the weekend I go to Maine, to my home called Skylands, to plant the outdoor urns, pots and planters. I take more than 100 tropical and exotic plants from my Bedford, New York farm to fill the many pots there for summer enjoyment.
This week, my outdoor grounds crew worked hard to prepare the plants heading north for the season. It’s a tedious task, but well worth the effort to see the Skylands terraces full of color and plant life once again. Enjoy the photos…
1 Before I leave for Skylands, I carefully go through the plants that have wintered in the greenhouses and select those that will spend the summer in Maine.
2 Wilmer and Dawa take out the plants I usually send north for the season and line them up outside where I can see them once I return home.
3 I like to take palms, ferns and succulents in various sizes to fill the many pots I have at Skylands.
4 Wilmer wheels out a large and beautiful fern - any plants that go are loaded onto a trailer and driven up the day before I arrive.
5 To carry some of the heavier plants, Dawa and Wilmer use this handy PotLifter. It comes from Gardener's Supply Company and can carry pots up to 200-pounds. It's easy to use - just place the pot within the support straps. http://www.gardeners.com
6 And lift up - the straps grip securely onto the pot and the handles make it much easier to carry.
7 Dawa and Wilmer can now lift the pots with ease.
8 This week has been pretty warm here in the Northeast - temperatures have been in the high 80s. Once the plants were outside, Wilmer gave them all a good drink.
9 In the citrus greenhouse next to my Equipment Barn, I also keep agaves, and a collection of alocasia and colocasia - many of these will go up to Maine for the summer as well.
10 Dawa carefully lines the potted plants outside. These Alocasia plants are dormant during colder months, but they all come back with their impressive and stunning leaves in spring.
11 Early the next morning, the big trailer is set-up for loading.
12 I placed flags in all the pots I wanted to be packed in the trailer. Agaves are so beautiful, but be sure to keep them in low traffic areas, as their spikes can be very painful. And always wear gloves and eye protection when dividing because the sap can burn.
13 It is a tedious task, but the crew has done this every spring for several years, so they are experts at packing the plants onto the trailer.
14 Larger potted plants are loaded first.
15 And then carefully positioned and secured on the floor of the trailer.
16 Once all the larger potted plants are packed and secured, Wilmer and Dawa put in a wooden shelf specially made for this vehicle.
17 It slides right into place, so smaller items can be safely loaded and secured on top - so far, so good.
18 Next, all the flagged agaves and Alocasias are loaded onto the trailer.
19 The most critical factor in moving houseplants is temperature. Avoid prolonged exposure to heat or cold, with temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit or higher than 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
20 I love this large, beautiful and bright Alocasia, or more commonly referred to as elephant ear because of the huge green leaves that closely resemble the ears of an elephant. Most Alocasia plants prefer high humidity and grow larger faster in humid conditions.
21 Chhiring secures some of the larger pots with tie-downs for added stability during the long ride.
22 Smaller plants from the main greenhouse are brought to the trailer for loading.
23 These plants will sit on the upper shelf.
24 Wilmer packs the smaller pots very carefully to prevent any injury to the plants.
25 Long pieces of wood are temporarily screwed to the wooden shelf for added security.
26 Everything fit perfectly. I can't wait to do some spring gardening up in Maine.
27 All set and ready to go!