If you’re planning to be in or around Hartford, Connecticut this summer, and want to see some of the most beautiful roses, I encourage you to visit the Elizabeth Park Conservancy.
Elizabeth Park is on the national register of historic places and offers more than 100-acres of formal gardens, green space, recreational facilities, and walking loops. The centerpiece of Elizabeth Park is the country’s oldest public rose garden. It was designed by Theodore Wirth in 1904. The Rose Garden is two-and-a-half acres with 475-beds and more than 15-thousand rose bushes and arches.
Enjoy these photos from my talk and visit, and from the pruning workshop attended by Ryan and Wilmer.
Here I am with gardener, rosarian, historian, and author, Stephen Scanniello. He is the Chief Rosarian at the NYBG. He is also best known for transforming the Cranford Rose Garden of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden into one of today’s most acclaimed rose gardens. We’ve known each other for many years.
I spoke at the Hartford Golf Club, not far from Elizabeth Park Conservancy in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Christine Doty, Executive Director at the Elizabeth Park Conservancy, welcomed all the guests to the event.
After my keynote, Stephen gave me a rose – a climbing rose, ‘Flying Kiss’, created by rosarian, Ping Lim – perhaps one of the best rose hybridizers of today.
More than 100-guests attended the Lecture Series – it was so nice to see such an enthusiastic crowd.
For lunch, we were served several dishes from my book “Vegetables: Inspired Recipes and Tips for Choosing, Cooking, and Enjoying the Freshest Seasonal Flavors”. This is Steamed Asparagus with Mint Butter – one of my Steamed Asparagus, Three Ways recipes.
This is Steamed Asparagus with Eggs Mimosa.
And, this is Steamed Asparagus with Lemon Aioli.
Here is another recipe from “Vegetables” – a delicious mix of greens topped with pancetta.
Everyone’s plate was filled with healthy, tasty vegetables. I was happy to see everyone enjoying the dishes from my book.
Dessert was also from “Vegetables” – cornmeal shortcakes and corn ice cream with blueberries. The chef embellished it with a white chocolate bark with corn and blueberries.
Here I am with Arline Croce – she’s the grandmother of our PR manager, Alexa Stark.
After the talk and lunch, I conducted a book signing for “Vegetables” – it was a great way to end the event. This little girl is a big fan, and she made this gift for me.
This week, my gardeners, Ryan and Wilmer, along with our intern from the School of Professional Horticulture at The New York Botanical Garden, went to Elizabeth Park to participate in a rose pruning workshop led by Stephen.
It was a cloudy and rainy day, but the group enjoyed the workshop and learned many useful rose care tips.
Stephen is also a raconteur – a good storyteller – and shared many tales on the history of various rose cultivars.
Stephen showed the group how to properly cut dead, or dying canes – by cutting at a 45-degree angle about 1/4-inch above the outward-facing bud.
Here are Ryan and Wilmer – Stephen gave them one of the more challenging beds – one that also needed lots of weeding.
Always prune with clean, sharp equipment. Wilmer is an excellent tool sharpener.
Here is Wambui – she spent some time working here at the rose garden as part of her NYBG rotation curriculum.
In the end, the bed Ryan and Wilmer pruned was clean and well-weeded.
The rose garden is the oldest municipal rose garden in the United States and the third largest rose garden in the country. This gazebo is in the center of the rose garden.
This is a view from under the gazebo looking up into the roof. This gazebo was built in 1903 and rebuilt in 2005.
The original main garden, the “square,” is an acre in size and has 132 rose beds.
The North and South gardens, which are semi-circular sections, were added later to make up a total of 2.5 acres of roses, 475 beds, and the eight grass pathways.
There are over 15,000 rose bushes and 800 varieties of old and new roses in the garden.
Ramblers grow on arches that radiate from the “gazebo,” The arches are in full bloom in late June, early July.
In mid-October, the Conservancy oversees the planting of more than 11-thousand tulips. The tulips are in bloom in early May.
When the tulips die back, they are dug up to make way for the Annual Garden. The bulbs are sold in bags to the public.
For formal gardens, it is better to replant new ones in the fall, as tulips do not always rebloom.This allows the Conservancy to change the colors and patterns of the garden beds.
These tulips are just about to bloom – there are some tulips that are already blooming in my garden at Bedford.
Here are some beautiful bright yellow tulips.
Not far from the tulip garden is this giant Metasequoia glyptostroboides, or dawn redwood. I also have dawn redwoods at my farm.
And this is a Japanese red cedar tree, Cryptomeria. Cryptomeria japonica wood is extremely fragrant, weather and insect resistant, soft, and with a low density.
Stephen took the group to Heritage Garden, where exceptionally old varieties of roses are located, including some that predate 1867. Here is an old variety rose that was protected through the winter under cut branches.
In the Heritage Garden, there are five raised beds edged in stonewalls that form the outline of a five-petal rosette. The rosette symbolizes a centifolia, a 100-petaled rose, which is typical of heritage roses.
Stephen showed the group how to use marker stakes to pin down long rose canes.
Stephen also talked about feeding roses. The Conservancy uses this Sanctuary fertilizer for all their roses – it is sometimes hard to find, but a favorite among professional gardeners.
Everyone had a great time. Here are Josh, Stephen’s assistant, Wambui, Wilmer, Stephen, and Ryan. At the end of the workshop, Stephen held a raffle and gave some wonderful rose specimens to everyone who attended.
Everybody is thinking about the gardens. Here at my Bedford, New York farm, we have been very productive - we potted-up hundreds of new bare root tree cuttings, prepped and planted the flower garden, and sowed one of our first crops in the vegetable garden - peas!
Peas thrive in cool weather, and young plants can even tolerate light frosts. It’s important to plant peas as soon as possible in spring in order to get a full harvest before hot summer temperatures arrive. My head gardener, Ryan McCallister, planted several varieties of shelling peas and edible pods along our pea trellis in the vegetable garden - but first, he soaked them in water to expedite the germination process.
Here are some photos - enjoy.
There are many different varieties of peas, but all fall under one of two categories: shelling peas or edible pods. Shelling peas are those that need to be removed from their pods before eating. Edible pods are those that can be eaten whole, like snap peas and snow peas.
Many of our pea seeds are from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. ‘Penelope’ has extra long fancy pods, with eight to nine peas per pod. They are very easy to shell and have very good eating quality. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
‘Maxigolt’ is an outstanding late variety with large, very sweet, dark green peas and attractive, broad, three-and-a-half inch pods. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
‘Premium’ is a very flavorful early pea variety, with a three-inch pod that carries an average of seven or eight very sweet, medium-sized peas.
‘Sienna’ peas are very flavorful for a mid-season variety. The pods are about three-and-a-half inches long and provide about seven to eight peas per pod.
‘Royal Snow’ peas have large pods, and a mild bitter flavor. They’re a great addition to salads and slaws. Their color stays purple, but turns muddy when overcooked.
‘Avalanche’ peas are tender, sweet, six-inch edible pods that add rich flavor and depth to salads and stir fries.
‘Oregon Giant’ has sweet peas inside large sweet flat pods.
‘Green Arrow’ peas from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange are ultra sweet. The plant is very strong and tolerates certain diseases, such as powdery mildew. http://www.southernexposure.com
‘Amish’ snap peas from the Seed Savers Exchange are delicate and sweet. They were grown in the Amish community long before present snap pea varieties were developed. They have curved sickle-shaped pods. http://www.seedsavers.org
‘Sugar Ann Og’ is an early, edible pod pea that’s ideal for small gardens. Its short, bushy vines do not need support, and it produces about 10-days earlier than other snap peas.
This all-American favorite from NE Seed is the original snap pea. Six foot vines produce three-inch round, fleshy pods that are edible from the flat stage to maturity, with great flavor. http://www.neseed.com/
‘Sugar Sprint’ is a variety that is almost stringless. These peas are one of the earliest maturing types of peas that is also ideal for eating fresh or frozen.
The ‘Super Sugar Snap’ is delicious raw, steamed or stir-fried. The plant produces thick, full sized ever-so-sweet snaps.
Snow, snap, and shelling peas are all members of the legume family. Snow peas are also known as Chinese pea pods. They are flat with very small peas inside, and the whole pod is edible. Snap peas are a cross between snow peas and shelling peas – the whole pod is eaten and has a crunchy texture and very sweet flavor.
Shelling peas are also sometimes called garden peas, sweet peas or English peas. The pods are firm and rounded, and the round peas inside need to be removed, or shelled, before eating. The peas are sweet and may be eaten raw or cooked.
Some pea (Pisum sativum) seeds will look wrinkled. Most of them have hard coats, and all benefit from soaking before planting. Soak them overnight in warm water. This will expedite the germination process. Each pea variety is in its own plastic container filled half full with water, so the peas are well covered.
Only soak seeds for about eight to 12-hours and no more than 24-hours. Over-soaking them could cause them to decompose. When removing the peas, discard any that have floated to the top of the water – these are not viable and shouldn’t be planted.
Using a strainer, thoroughly drain them and also remove any broken seeds or seed fragments.
The pea is among the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. Peas were found in excavations in Switzerland dating back to the Bronze Age. Peas were also very popular foods with the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Peas are known to help fix the nitrogen content in the soil, but need an inoculant added to their soil to do this. Rhizobium leguminosarum is a nitrogen fixing bacteria that is often added to soils where peas and lima beans are planted.
Garden inoculants are available at most garden supply stores.
Simply sprinkle a little inoculant powder onto the drained peas.
It is not possible to over inoculate, so don’t worry about how much is added to the peas.
Once the inoculant has been added, toss the peas to make sure they are all well coated. The inoculant will boost the pea plants.
Here, Ryan fills out the appropriate markers for the peas for easy identification during the season.
This is our long pea trellis down in the vegetable garden. Peas are one of first crops we plant outdoors at the beginning of the season.
When ready to plant, first dig a furrow in the soil using a hoe.
Peas do much better when given some kind of support such as a fence or a trellis. Since the furrow is up against the trellis, the pea vines should find the supportive netting very easily.
Drop the seeds into the furrow about one and a half to two-inches apart.
Sow seeds four to six weeks before the last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45-degrees Fahrenheit.
Once all the seeds are in the ground, cover them with an inch-and-a-half of soil. Ryan uses the back of a rake to also tamp the seeds gently, so there is good contact between the soil and the seeds.
Ryan gives the newly planted peas a good drink. Water deeply once a week, and never allow the soil to dry out. This stresses the plants and drastically reduces pea production.
Large markers clearly show which pea varieties are shelling, snap and snow, so they are easily identifiable when it’s time to harvest. The peas should be ready to pick around mid-June to early July.
Every year, I try to plant a good number of trees - some in the woodlands, and some in designated areas around my home. I have planted thousands of trees since I purchased my Bedford, New York property. They look so pretty planted in allees, in groves, and as privacy hedges. I feel very strongly about giving back to the earth - the more trees planted, the better.
I recently visited one of my favorite sources, Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, Connecticut, to select some plantings for a hedge I am building in one area of a field. I chose a collection of European beech trees - Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Gold’. 'Dawyck Gold' beech trees are dense deciduous specimens with a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. Its average texture blends into the landscape and can grow to about 50-feet tall at maturity. This type of tree is new to my farm - I can't wait to see them grow and thrive.
Here are some photos.
This is Broken Arrow Nursery sales manager, Chris Koppel. He delivered the trees directly to the farm. https://www.brokenarrownursery.com
Broken Arrow acquires, develops, and grows rare, unusual, and garden-worthy evergreens. I purchased about 240 bare root tree cuttings. They were all packaged together in a mound of moistened wood chips.
Wilmer removed the bundles, placed them in big trash bins and gave them all a good drink of water.
All the trees were organized in front of my Hay Barn. Each bundle includes five bare root cuttings. Healthy bare root trees get off to a more vigorous start because their abundant, fibrous roots have already had a chance to develop unrestricted.
Here is Ryan holding one of the bundles and showing the healthy root systems. These trees are ready for potting. Each bare root cutting is about four to five feet tall. Bare root plants are dormant perennials that are dug up and stored without any soil around their roots.
Bare root plants should not have any mold or mildew. The cuttings should also feel heavy. If they feel light and dried out then the plant probably will not grow.
They are all Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Gold’ – a type of European beech tree.
European beech trees have strong upright limbs, which when mature surround a central trunk with smooth pale gray bark. It is one of the most beautiful and brilliant of all columnar trees.
The important thing is to pot them up and to keep their soil moist. For this project, we needed lots of five-gallon pots. It’s always a good idea to save these plastic post whenever you can – they always come in handy. And always make sure they have adequate holes, so any excess water can drain, and air can access the soil.
Each pot was laid out ready to be filled. The trees will only remain in these pots temporarily – eventually, they will all be transplanted into the designated area where they can thrive.
Ryan examines the root systems of the trees before they are planted.
And then untangles the roots, spreads them out and cuts any that are broken, dead or diseased. He also shortens any roots that will be too long to splay out in the container.
Here is Wilmer making sure the pot is the right size for the tree. It should be substantial enough to support a tree, but small enough to move easily.
These pots will definitely accommodate the trees well until they are planted into the ground.
The tree is placed at the same level it was grown by the nursery – where the roots start and the top shoots begin. The soil is then gently filled in around the roots, but not packed too tightly.
Wilmer plants the seedling into each pot. If they are in good condition, the plant should sprout leaves in the same year it is planted. If planted in spring, a bare root plant should have leaves by summer.
We use what I call “black gold” composted manure. Composting manure above 131-degrees Fahrenheit for at least a couple weeks will kill harmful pathogens, dilute ammonia, stabilize nitrogen, kill weed seeds and reduce any objectionable odors.
This “black gold” is made right here at my farm, and used for all my garden beds.
Wilmer holds the seedling in place as he fills the container – the tree should be placed in the center of the pot.
And then fills the pot to the rim with soil.
The outdoor grounds crew had a lot of trees to plant, so they formed a productive assembly line to get the task done – here, they’ve already potted a good number of trees.
As each seedling is planted, Wilmer makes sure to tamp the soil down around the roots in order to remove any air pockets.
Another one done.
As the day progresses, dozens of root cuttings are potted. All the potted seedlings are then grouped together, in one location, where they will be maintained until they’re transplanted in the field.
The goal in handling bare root plants is to maintain adequate moisture so they don’t dry out.
These trees were placed on the gravel in neatly organized and identified rows.
And then fed a good quality tree fertilizer.
I am looking so forward to seeing all these trees thrive – you will love where they’re finally planted. I will be sure to share photos!